Chief Edwin Clark
By Dapo Akinrefon
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, said on Tuesday that Nigeria would not be in the current mess caused by the coronavirus pandemic if there were federating units operating true federalism, which the calls for restructuring were about.
In a statement, the group said: “We would not be in the mess of states waiting for the Federal Government to come and be opening isolation centres for them if we had run this country as a truly Federal Republic with federating units standing on their own;
“With adequate resources being managed by the federating units and legally agreed taxes paid to the central government for common services.
“The wages of our sins are here with us and we have a little window to amend our ways.”
The forum, however, commended the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 for the steps taken so far in sensitising Nigerians on the global pandemic, noting that “what we had was a total failure of system and not committee per se.”
In a statement by leaders of the forum, Chief E. K Clark (South-South), Chief Ayo Adebanjo (South-West) Chief John Nwodo (South-East) and Dr. John Pogu (Middle Belt), SMBLF said having survived the first wave of COVID-19 with minimal damage, it is time to address the challenges facing the country.
The statement read: “The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, has some words of commendation for the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 for their above-the-usual-average Nigerian performance in sensititising our people to the global pandemic ongoing.
“But for their dropping the ball at the burial of Malam Abba Kyari, the committee would have scored well in our marking scheme.
“We, however, noted their apology which we will always want to see as a pattern in governance moving on.
“Even when the committee was chaired by SGF Boss Mustapha, who confessed he didn’t know much about the bad state of the health infrastructure in the country, we wonder if that would have been the take of the man who was on the ballot if he was given the job.
“The PTF still did their best in the circumstance in keeping our people informed of most of what they needed to keep them abreast of.
“But at the end of it all, what we had was a total failure of the system and not committee per se.
“But for God who was kind to us, we were not prepared to confront a health challenge at the level of coronavirus that was taking down Prime Ministers and kings around the world.
“Now that we have survived the first wave of COVID-19 with minimal damage, it is the time to re-calibrate as only those who have serious challenges would now think we can return to the careless and reckless lives we were living in the past.
“Now that the post-oil order is knocking our door is not when to be looking at oil receipts to determine limited and controlled wealth anymore, as only the competitive in other areas of human endeavours will make it in global endeavours henceforth.
“The era of awarding road contracts, taking kickbacks and issuing checks is gone for good. We may have to convert our youths to road army like the Chinese did in the thirties.
“Unlike in the era we had the time to campaign for federalism, everyone will have to take issues in federalism as a matter of survival this time or to perish is the unkind alternative.
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