The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has rejected calls by a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), for the suspension of the campaign for the restructuring of Nigeria.

The group insisted that restructuring was the only way to move the country out of its current crisis.

Agbakoba had in a statement said the agitation for restructuring by sub-national groups was causing harm to the country “because President Muhammadu Buhari does not believe in it.”

In place of restructuring, he proposed what he called cooperative federalism in a document titled, ‘Legal and Institutional Restructuring for Next Nigeria.’

“Rather than bring us together and strengthen us, restructuring has pulled us back. I personally will urge all political parties, all sub-nationalities, like Afenifere, Ohanaeze, to suspend it because it is tearing us apart,” he argued.

But the SMBLF in a statement on Sunday described the human rights activist’s views as unfortunate, stressing that it would not bow to public officers who were opposed to what was best for the country.

“The whole suggestion (by Agbakoba) is akin to somebody suggesting to our founding fathers to stop the struggle for independence because the colonial lords were opposed to the idea,” the forum said in a statement by its spokespersons, Yinka Odumakin (South West), Prof Chigozie Ogbu (South East), Senator Bassey Henshaw (South-South), and Dr Isuwa Dogo (Middle Belt).

The political pressure group recalled Agbakoba’s leading roles against the military dictatorship in the country and wondered what would have happened if he had chickened out of the struggle for democracy.

The SMBLF argued that only federalism could save the nation from becoming a failed state.

“Nigeria has entered a terminal crisis under this arrangement as we now reel under unsustainable debt with the government planning to amass more like a drunken sailor.

“Development has ceased nationwide and we are reeling under a system collapse. There is no solution under the suffocating arrangement as the only possibility is disintegration.

”It is the best moment to push for the restructuring of Nigeria to avert its break-up under the crushing weight of over-centralisation,” SMBLF noted.

It added, “On restructuring we stand as there is no other option for the survival of Nigeria.”

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