Senate President Ahmad Lawan has cautioned states governors and other elected leaders against joining the agitations for secession or restructuring of the country.
Mr Lawan, who stated this while fielding questions from State House correspondents in Abuja on Thursday, said he was not against those calling for restructuring but elected officials must not be among those advocating for such calls.
The senate president was reacting to Tuesday’s demand by 17 southern governors for restructuring of the country.
The governors, during their meeting in Asaba on Tuesday, also banned open grazing and asked President Muhammadu Buhari to address the nation.
The senate president said state governors must ensure that they restructure their respective states first before calling for restructuring at the federal level.
“The call for secession or the call for restructuring – many are genuine calls – even though I never believe that someone who is calling for secession means well or is a misguided person,” he said.
“But I believe that when somebody calls for improving the structure that we have, it is a genuine call.
“But I want to advice here, I believe that as leaders those of us who were elected must not be at the forefront of calling for this kind of thing because even if you are a governor, you are supposed to be working hard in your state to ensure that this restructuring you are calling for at the federal level you have done it in your state as well.
“This is because while you may accuse the federal government of whatever it is, you may also be accused of the same thing in your state.
“So, we are supposed to ensure that we have a complete and total way of ensuring that our systems at the federal, state and even local government work for the people, and that we allow people to participate in governance so that whoever feels that he has something to offer to make Nigeria better does so freely without any hindrance.’’
Mr Lawan said Nigerians must come together regardless of their religious, ethnic or political persuasions to find lasting solutions to the nation’s challenges.
He, therefore, called on all elected leaders across the three tiers of government to always avoid primordial sentiments capable of creating division and social discontent among Nigerians.
“We should avoid partisanship; we should avoid regionalism. We are all leaders and we are in this together. The solution must come from us regardless of what level of government we are – whether at the federal, state or even at the local government level,’’ he added.
The senate president also frowned at the way and manner the local government system was relegated to the background in the country, saying for the nation to address its security challenges the local government system must be functional and efficient.
“I want to take this opportunity also to say that we have diminished the local government system. I think we can attribute some of the security issues to the lack of a functional local government system.
“For me, I think the time has come for us to take up the challenge to ensure that the local government system functions. This is in keeping with looking for ways, for means, for solutions to the security challenges that we face. We must never neglect the local government system.
“I believe that this is one system that has worked even though under a different name. When it was Native Authority it was very effective, very efficient.
“So, we must go back to our local government to ensure that the local government continues to be autonomous, and continues to be functional in order to complement whatever the states and the federal government are doing.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, who also spoke to the correspondents, called for a national spirit of oneness, saying that “If truth be told, we all have equal shares in the blame for what’s happening today.
“Whatever challenges we have, we must all come together to make sure that we resolve these issues we’re facing.
“We must imbibe that spirit of oneness, togetherness, unity and love that would take us through this.”
He enjoined Nigerians to always be their brothers’ keepers and avoid acts capable of creating social unrest.
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