The Senate President, Ahmad Lawan has cautioned States Governors and other elected leaders against lending their voices to the agitations for secession, restructuring or other divisive sentiments been expressed across the country.
Senator Lawan’s admonition comes just a day after senators and members of the House of Representatives of southern Nigeria extraction supported the resolution reached after a meeting by their Governors on Tuesday, in Asaba, Delta state.
The Governors’ meeting, which was attended by 17 Governors, agitation for restructuring of the country, national dialogue, ban on open grazing, the worsening security situation and calls for President Muhammadu Buhari to address the nation on the incessant security challenges, was top on the agenda.
While speaking to State House correspondents in Abuja, Thursday, the Senate President said that he was not against those calling for restructuring. he however said that elected officials must not be among those advocating for such calls.
According to him, state governors must ensure that they restructure their respective states first before calling for restructuring at the federal level.
He said: “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. 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 when you may accuse the federal government of whatever it is, you may also be accused of the same thing in your state.
Lawan also advised the Governors against all forms of regionalism or sectionalism.
“We should avoid regionalism. We are all leaders and we are in this together. The solutions to our challenges must come from us regardless of what level of government we are – whether at the federal, state or the local government level. I believe that Nigeria is going to come out of these challenges stronger.
He traced some of the challenges to the steady erosion of the role and place of the local governments in the country.
“I also want to take this opportunity to say that we have diminished the local government system. I think we can attribute the security issues to the absence of a functional local government system.
“I think that the time has come for us to take up the challenge and ensure that the local government system functions. This is as we look for ways to curb the security challenge. We must never neglect the local government system. We must go back to our local government system to ensure that they are autonomous and functional. For the nation to address its security challenges the local government system must be functional and efficient,” he said.
Senator Lawal also said that the different tiers of government must be made to work in a holistic manner for the interest of the citizens.
“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.’’
“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 had worked even though in 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, continues to be functional in order to compliment whatever the States and the Federal Government would be doing,’ he said.
Also, 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. (With agency report).