President Muhammadu Buhari has described those calling for restructuring of the country as persons with parochial interest. The president said the discussions and arguments of such Nigerians have not captured his attention. Buhari stated this yesterday when he received traditional rulers and the leadership of Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) and members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Delta State. Prominent Nigerians and groups, especially Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, comprising Afenifere, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Niger Delta leaders, have been agitating for restructuring.
UPU was led by a 101-year-old traditional ruler, His Royal Majesty, Dr. Laiyeguen, Ogbon-Ogoni Oghoro 1, the Ohworode of Olomu Kingdom. Speaking at the meeting held inside the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, President Buhari said some of the views being expressed by different interest groups for the restructuring were also uncoordinated.
He stressed that the comments by different stakeholders were also not supported by constitutional provisions. Responding to some of the requests made by the Urhobo leaders, the president said his government will not forget Urhobo nation in his development agenda. He pleaded with the Urhobo leaders to also protect oil installations in their communities the way they protected it during the 16 years’ administration of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Among demands made by the leaders were the needs for restructuring of the country, reclaiming of Urhobo lands given to the military in the past, which are currently being sold.
He said: “You mentioned something, which is topical these days, the cause of restructuring Nigeria. Every group asking for restructuring has got their agenda and I hope it can be accommodated by the constitution.
I assure you that you are not forgotten and I am pleased you appreciate the appointments by this administration of some citizens of your kingdoms.”
The Urhobo nation had, in their address read by the President General of UPU, Olorogun Moses Taiga, told the president to ensure the restructuring of the country and that there was serious hunger and poverty in the country, which required immediate solution.
They also demanded that President Buhari should appoint an Urhobo indigene in his cabinet, stressing that Urhobo is the biggest ethnic group in Delta State and the fifth biggest ethnic group in the country. The leaders also explained that “grinding poverty is still a fact of life in nearly all our communities. Our youths are unemployed and frustrated, but we rein them in regardless in the hope that tomorrow might be a better day.
“Hunger, despair and disease stalk our lands and our waterways, which have been devastated and poisoned by years of oil exploration conducted quite obviously outside global best practices.
“But we keep the peace because we believe tomorrow will be a better day. In the past few years, our children have started asking us when tomorrow will come.
“It is in this regard that we wish to commend the initiative by the ruling APC to give serious thought to restructuring our country and going as far as setting up a committee under a serving governor to take a critical look at it and make recommendations on the way forward.
“We humbly request Mr. President to give kind consideration to appointing an Urhobo son or daughter as a minister in this administration. We will be grateful if this request is kindly granted.”
They also asked President Buhari to consider the development of the Sapele port, which was once a bustling economic hub in the old Mid-Western region. Other requests by the group were the Federal Government’s presence in Urhoboland and additional gas plants given to them as they claimed that they have the largest proven gas reserves in the country.