Chieftains of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) on Monday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to convene an ethnic nationalities conference on the way forward for Nigeria.
The chieftains, including former military governor of Lagos State, Ndubuisi Kanu, Amos Akingba and Ayo Opadokun, made the call while addressing journalists in Lagos.
Mr Opadokun, who read the text of the briefing, entitled: ” NADECO, June 12 and the State of the Nation” said such assembly should be made up of leaders of ethnic groups elected through their cultural modalities of choosing representation, and not government nominees.
“The Nigerian state should accept that Nigeria’s prospect to genuine unity, growth and development can only be a reality if it respects the popular will being expressed by majority of Nigerians that our country should return to Federal constitutional arrangement.
“This demand is proven by the fact that until the unfortunate military insurrection against democratic government on January 15, 1966, federal and the regional governments were relatively productive and responding creditably to the genuine wishes and aspirations of their peoples.
“Restoration to federalism should not be based on partisan predilection.
“Centralisation of the vital public sectors by various decrees and the appropriations to the central government of all the regional major means of raising resources have crippled the component units since then.
“Most states now depend on the monthly allocations to run their over-bloated bureaucracies.
“Nigeria should stop living a lie by calling itself a federation when it is in fact governed centrally under unitarism,” he said.
Mr Opadokun said the 1960 Independence Constitution, upon which Nigeria secured its independence based on several negotiations, should be the working paper for the consideration, discussion and resolution of the representative assembly, mainly of ethnic nationalities which are the building blocks upon which Nigeria is constructed.
He said NADECO believed that by restoring the concurrent list of items of the 1960 independence constitution back to the states along with the concomitant resources to execute those responsibilities, genuine development could be better pursued throughout Nigeria.
The NADECO chieftain also called on the government to halt the spate of kidnapping, cattle rustling and herders/farmers conflicts in the country.
Mr Opadokun urged the Nigerian state to formally inaugurate posthumously, Moshood Abiola as a president of Nigeria and name a National Monument of Consequence after him.
“We reject any attempt to falsely presenting him as a regional hero or icon like by naming the University of Lagos after him or even presenting his matter as if it is mainly of a regional interest.
“In the same vein, Alhaja Kudirat Abiola, the heroine of the June 12 struggle must be given national honour for her martyrdom in the quest for revalidating her husband’s popular mandate and for restoration of democratic governance to Nigeria,” he said.
From this year, June 12 is now the nation’s Democracy Day, replacing May 29.
This follows the enactment into law of June 12 as Democracy Day annually in Nigeria.
June 12 is significant in the nation’s history because of the June 12, 1993 election, presumed to have been won by the Late Mr Abiola.
It was adjudged to be Nigeria’s freest and fairest election, but was, however, cancelled by the Ibrahim Babangida military regime.