Two northern groups, the Arewa Consultative Forum and the Northern Elders’ Forum, appeared to have softened their hard-line positions against the calls for the restructuring of the country.
The two bodies had consistently called for caution on such calls, arguing that such attempt might lead to the break-up of the country.
On Sunday, the NEF said the North was ready for dialogue with other regions of the country, but would not give up what it called its advantages.
On its part, the ACF gave conditions for supporting any call for the restructuring of the country.
The National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Alhaji Muhammad Biu, who stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Kaduna, said the forum respected any view that would strengthen the unity of the country with equal rights and opportunities for all citizens.
The ACF and NEF said these while reacting to a statement by a former Lagos State Governor and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
Tinubu, at a lecture organised by the King’s College Old Boys’ Association in Lagos, had stated that Nigeria needed restructuring for correct balance.
He had stated, “It would be better to restructure things to attain the correct balance between our collective purpose on the one hand and our separate grass-roots realities on the other. We must listen to what is being said so that we can determine what it really meant.
“We are like the bewildered couple who has got their marriage licence after a lavish wedding; yet, neither of them really understands the meaning of marriage or their roles as husband and wife in it.
“Legally, they are married but functionally, their union is a crippled one. This couple will be at loggerheads until somehow they forge an agreement on what type of home they want and what are their respective duties in making that home come into existence.”
The NEF said the North was opened to dialogue, but they, because of its political and geographical advantages, would not be stampeded into taking decisions that would be inimical to its development.
The Chairman of the NEF, Mr. Paul Unongo, stated this during an interview with Punch on Sunday.
Unongo argued that the acerbic rhetoric and threat of secession in the South-East were only making matters worse as dissenting views in the North (on restructuring) were becoming more united.
He stated, “The North is very open to dialogue. I am the chairman of the northern elders and nobody can say we will not encourage dialogue. We love Nigeria but we will not be stampeded into carrying out someone’s agenda.
“The uneducated North of pre-independence times was not the same North of today. Today, we have Ph.D holders in every discipline.”