RESTRUCTURING: WHY WE WANT TO MEET WITH AFENIFERE AND OTHERS- ACF

THE northern sociopolitical group, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), on Monday said its intention to meet with various political and sociocultural groups in the South is to arrive at a common front on the issue of restructuring.

Addressing members of the northern caucus in the House of Representatives during their retreat held at the Royal Institute Centre, Zuba, Abuja, chairman of the forum, Chief Audu Ogbeh, said there is no cause for the current conflict of interest between the South and the North.

The two-day retreat was called to discuss the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) and the future of Nigeria.

Ogbeh, also a former minister of agriculture and rural development, applauded the resolve of the federal parliamentarians drawn from the 19 northern states of the federation.

“A lot has been said about the Petroleum Industry Bill, but I will not dwell on that. There is something that will come before you very soon.

“The last time Mr President met with a delegation from the South-South, he made a statement which suggests that was his body language.

“He (Buhari) said that if a bill is presented before the National Assembly on the question of restructuring and the Assembly passes it, he will have no other objection than to sign it. It then means that the matter may not be too far away.

“At our last meeting in Kaduna, we extended an invitation to Ohanaeze, Afenifere and the SouthSouth Peoples’ Congress that we want to engage them and have a conversation on the subject.

“We believe that there is no reason for undue warfare and that we all need to have a conversation across table to solve the problem. However, I will like you as legislators to take note of this.

“Many of the people who are clamouring for restructuring are referring to the 1963 Constitution. Somehow, they believe that the constitution gives to every part of Nigeria whatever resources there are.

“We are trying to get copies to send to all of you legislators to see. Item 25, part one of Section 69 of the First Schedule says that mines, minerals, including oil fields, oil mining, geological surveys and natural gas are on the Exclusive List.

“The 1963 Constitution, an exact copy of the 1960 Constitution and a copy of the 1999 Constitution which has now made to look as if it was written by the government itself. Take out this constitution and read it well.

“We will meet, discuss and something will be presented to you. It will be up to you to make it work after which Mr President will be ready to sign it,” he said.

Ogbeh added that the problem of the North is absolute lack of industrialisation and sluggishness in education.

“We are not doing well in human management. I want to advise you, an advice I gave myself which has worked very well. Let none of you leave the House broke. Make an effort and save some money. It may sound funny, but I am talking from experience.

“There is nothing more terrible later in life than to be a well-known nobody. I know that you are under terrible pressure. I can count how many text messages you get daily asking for financial support and there is no way you can run away from it. However, try and save some money.

“Try and think of a small industrial project to invest in. If everyone of you were to make such an effort, there will be industries everywhere. No matter how small, when you leave here, you can go home and expand it. Make no mistakes.”