The Southern Leaders Forum on Sunday gave Acting President Yemi Osinbajo an ultimatum to implement the report of the 2014 National Conference.
The leaders, who arrived at this resolution at a meeting held in Lagos, also implored Mr. Osinbajo to facilitate and allow the 36 states assume their status as federating units, as guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution.
The meeting was convened by leaders from Southern Nigeria including a former governor of Akwa Ibom state, Victor Attah; Afenifere chieftains, Ayo Adebanjo and Femi Okurounmu; and a former managing director of Niger Delta Development Commission, Timi Alaibe.
Others are Tony Uranta, Joseph Eva, Bassey Henshaw and Afenifere spokesperson, Yinka Odumakin.
The president of the forum, Albert Horsfall, was also in attendance.
The forum also handed Mr. Osinbajo an ultimatum, urging him to inform the zone of the Nigerian government’s plans to protect southerners residing in the North.
The call came against the backdrop of an October 1, 2017 deadline issued by a northern group, Arewa Youths, purportedly asking the Igbo to leave the region.
The forum insisted it will not tolerate any threat or attack against any part of the South, stressing that any attack against any part of the zone would be regarded as an attack against the entire region.
According to the forum president, Mr. Horsfall, a former director general of the State Security Service, SSS, southern leaders will not tolerate any threat and would ensure that any attack against the South will get the response it deserves.
Mr. Horsfall, who noted that Southern leaders were unhappy that no action had been taken by the Federal Government on the threat, said Mr. Osinbajo must inform Nigerians of the government’s actions and plans to protect southerners living in the North.
He said, “We are disconcerted that, up till now, no action appears to have been taken regarding the October 1 threat issued by Arewa youths.
“We, therefore, demand that (Mr.) Osinbajo inform Nigerians of what actions and steps has been taken to protect the Igbo and all Southerners who live in the North against the the threats of the Arewa youths.
“We reiterate that any threat or action against anyone from the South will be treated as a threat or action against all Southerners.”
Speaking further, the forum urged the Acting President to act on his statement on restructuring, saying it was an integral part of the ruling party’s manifesto.
“We note with gratitude, a statement by the acting president, that the issue of restructuring will be addressed soon and we urge him to follow his statement with immediate action by acting on the recommendations of the 2014 National Conference.
“The issue of restructuring and change was an integral part of the All Progressives Congress (APC) manifesto. We want the 16-point agenda that was submitted by the South-South delegation, submitted in their meeting with the acting president to be acted upon immediately, to avoid youth restiveness and sustain the current peace.
“There is an urgent need to restructure Nigeria to achieve true federalism. We will not be distracted by individuals who claim ignorance of what restructuring means or those who try to imply a non-existent sinister plan to break up Nigeria because of the demand for restructuring. We affirm our commitment to the unity of Nigeria and also, insist on the urgent need to restructure Nigeria, to achieve true federalism.
“For the avoidance of doubt, restructuring is a return to the constitution of independence which our founding fathers bequeathed to us. That constitution allowed the states autonomy in the management of their affairs.”
The forum explained that the states will be federating units, with its own rights to have their own constitution, adding that they will equally have control over their resources and make agreed contributions to the federal government for general services.
“We will identify those areas of our Constitution which should allow for effective administration in the states,” it said.
“It is important that action be commenced immediately, to ensure that the entire changes are implemented by December 2017.”
Commenting on the activities of armed Fulani herdsmen and proliferation of Fulani armed settlements in the South, the forum called on the Nigerian government to nip their activities in the bud.
“We want to alert the international community and we also want the FG to take appropriate actions against them.
“We want the FG to make an official statement on this and take appropriate action to put them in check,” it said.