The governors of the 17 southern states in Nigeria on Tuesday called on the federal government to “convoke a national dialogue as a matter of urgency.”
They also called on President Muhammadu Buhari to “address Nigerians on the challenges of insecurity…”
The governors also called for the restructuring of Nigeria, saying the “progress of the nation requires that urgent and bold steps be taken to restructure the Nigerian Federation leading to the evolution of state police.”
The resolutions were among 12 reached by the governors at their meeting in Asaba, the Delta State capital.
Many Nigerians have criticised the president for not addressing the country despite the myriad of security challenges citizens face daily.
The security challenges include kidnappings, ethnoreligious crises, farmers and herders conflicts, terrorism and banditry. At least one of such criminal acts occurs daily in the country.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how 85 people were killed and 17 kidnapped in violent attacks across Nigeria last week.
However, hardly does the president directly speak after each of these attacks. When they occur, the best he does is to get one of his spokespersons to release a statement condemning the attacks or expressing sympathy with the victims.
Many Nigerians, including members of the president’s party, thus see him as being detached from the citizenry and not showing enough empathy about their situation. This is believed to have influenced the southern governors’ call for the president to address Nigerians on the security situation.
At least seven of the governors who reached the decision (Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Ekiti, Osun, Imo and Ebonyi) are of the same party as the president, APC, indicating their position was not based on party affiliations.
By calling on the president to convoke a ‘national dialogue’ and also demanding the restructuring of Nigeria, the southern governors join a growing list of Nigerians who have made similar calls. Ethnic nationality groups like Afenifere in the South-west and Ohaneze Ndigbo in the South-east had repeatedly made similar calls in the past.
The National Assembly had also called for a national security summit with the House of Representatives already announcing modalities for one.
President Buhari has, however, never shown support for such calls including that calling for the establishment of state police.
The president’s position is believed to have frustrated the move by his party to take a stance on the restructuring of Nigeria, even though it promised to do so when it was in the opposition. A committee set up by the APC on restructuring, headed by Kaduna Governor Nasir El-Rufai, submitted its report. Over two years after the report was submitted, nothing has been done by the party on the subject.
It remains unclear if the resolution of the southern governors, seven of whom are members of the APC, will make the president act on both a national dialogue and restructuring of the country.
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