The Southern and Middle Belt Elders Forum (SMBLF), yesterday, reiterated its call for Nigeria’s restructuring. Led by Elder Statesman, Chief Edwin Clark, the group also called for President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor to come from the Southern part of the country in 2023.
During the meeting in Abuja, the former minister called for the adoption of the 1963 Constitution. He described the ongoing constitutional amendment by the National Assembly as an exercise in futility. SMBLF equally distanced itself from the balkanisation agitations by separatist groups.
Clark said: “The 1999 Constitution (as amended) is a unitary constitution clothed in federal robes. That is what we have been fighting against. We are running a unitary form of government where the Nigerian President is the most powerful President in the world. We want a restructuring of this country.
“Let’s go back to the 1963 Constitution. If the amendment is to be made, it should be amended. What the National Assembly has been doing is fraudulent. Five years now and five times, they have been spending N1 billion every time.
“Nothing will come out of it. We want a new brand constitution based on the 1963 Constitution. We have no confidence in any amendment. What are you amending? You want to create a new person whom God did not provide for?”
He continued: “Nigeria should be restructured into a federal system of government. President Buhari said if we do not kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria. Then I say we must restructure Nigeria and if we do not restructure, Nigeria will die.”
On power shift, the nonagenarian noted: “The South should be ready to have the next President. Without that, no Nigeria. We want the zoning to continue. It is conventional. Zoning is not part of our 1999 Constitution or our party constitution, but it has been an accepted convention that would keep this country together.
“So, if you don’t zone the presidency, we are going nowhere. Presidency must go to the South so that they can decide who to pick and we would look at it ourselves.”
Similarly, the Yoruba Council of Elders (YCE) said the existing constitution had “completely monetised the nation’s political process”, urging a return to the 1963 pro-people Constitution.
The group’s Secretary-General, Dr Kunle Olajide, in an interview at the weekend, stated that there could be no better time to discuss the future of the country, “because it appears everyone, including the rulers and the ruled, realise that there is danger.”