Southern Nigeria leaders, under the aegis of Southern Nigerian Peoples Assembly, SNPA, have demanded for the creation of additional two states in the south.
The SNPA also called for a National Conference to be convened before December 2013, warning that the issue of whether President Goodluck Jonathan should run for second term or not should not be allowed to set the country on fire.
The leaders stated this at the third conference of SNPA, held at Eko Hotel and Suites, Lagos, southwest Nigeria, and attended by the Secretary to Federal Government, Chief Olu Falae; former Chief of General Staff, Lieutenant General Oladipo Diya; former governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife; former Bayelsa State governor, Chief Diepreye Alamieyeseigha; former Minister of Transportation, Chief Ebenezer Babatope; and former Minister of Health, Prof. Adenike Grange.
Others are Secretary of Yoruba Unity Forum, Senator Anthony Adefuye; former President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Dozie Ikedife; former Minister of Education, Prof. Tunde Adeniran; former governor of Delta State, Chief Felix Ibru; former deputy governor of Lagos State, Senator Bucknor Kofoworola-Akerele; President of Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC), Dr. Frederick Fasehun; OPC National Coordinator, Otunba Gani Adams, among others.
Speaking further, the leaders. insisted on the convocation of a National Conference or National Dialogue to discuss the basis of the coexistence of ethnic nationalities in the country to avoid crisis.
They noted that considering that the country was moving towards the precipice, there was an urgent need for all the ethnic nationalities and groups to have a roundtable discussion.
The group, therefore, called on President Jonathan to take appropriate steps towards the convocation of a national dialogue latest by December 2013.
Part of the resolutions state: That the Assembly reaffirms its support and solidarity with President Goodluck Jonathan in all his efforts at repositioning the country most of which challenges he inherited.
•The choice of who becomes the President of Nigeria in 2015 resides with the Nigerian people and not subject to the authority, whims and caprices of any person or persons.
•That the National Assembly should give expedited passage to the Petroleum Industry Bill without any attempt to compromise the 10% provision for host communities that have persistently suffered the brunt of oil and gas exploitation and exploration.
•That given the fundamental need to equilibrate the existing state structures that are lopsided in favour of the North there should be created two additional states for the south one of which MUST be in the South-East.
•That the observed unease in the polity culminating from the several threats and drums of war is a clear expression of the continually shrinking space for national dialogue.
According to the Assembly, “As we move gradually towards the precipice, our rescue lies only in the convocation of a national conference which shall provide an unfettered platform for Nigerians to negotiate and agree on the terms of living together on the basis of mutual respect and trust. This is the only way to justify and make meaningful our centenary celebrations.
“Accordingly, President Goodluck Jonathan is urged to take every appropriate step leading to the convening of a national conference without further delay. That the prerogative to rewrite and/or review the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria belongs to Nigerians because sovereignty resides with the people.
“The responsibility of the National Assembly with respect to constitutional amendment is limited to clauses and not wholesome review to change the constitution in a fundamental way.
“Therefore, the present exercise of wholesome review of the 1999 Constitution being undertaken by the National Assembly is ultra vires and shall not fulfill the aspirations and will of the people.”
The Assembly further stated that the present skewed federalism based on dysfunctional structures that promote inequitable opportunities and privileges for some sections of the country by the use of states whimsically created as federating units has continued to be the bane of our federation.
It says “the present 36-state structure, 19 of which the North enjoys to the detriment of the south, we must say is undeserving and has no fundamental basis of justification.
“A Committee is hereby established to work out strategies and modalities to assist in the convocation of national conference by not later than December, 2013. Government should take a strategic position at reducing youth unemployment as a way of reducing violence and other social malaise,” adding that “whereas corruption had been deeply entrenched in our national life long before President Jonathan assumed the reins of governance, it should be stated that he owes Nigerians the responsibility to not only tackle this unwarranted malaise head-on but bring this cancerous scourge to an end.
“Mr. President is hereby urged to regard corruption as national emergency and set up a National Advisory Committee on the eradication of corruption.Government should enact appropriate legislation that defines the parameters and considerations for plea bargaining in view of its persistent abuse by the Nigerian judiciary.”