Presidency reacts to ex-defence chief’s violent restructuring statement

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Nigerian government has reacted to statements made by a former Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Alexander Ogomudia, that ‘Nigeria may be restructured violently.

“This vituperation, coming from a former military Chief speaks volumes about the mindset of groups of citizens who have yet to accept democracy as a form of government,” presidential spokesman Garba Shehu told The Guardian Nigeria on Sunday.

“It is very important to stress that we as a nation, are a constitutional democracy and changes to the country in structure, its systems, policy and politics must abide by the norms of democracy otherwise they would be extrajudicial and therefore unconstitutional,” Shehu added.

Two decades ago, the military handed over power to an elected civilian leader after 15 years of military rule.

But after 20 years of democracy and four presidents, the country is faced with several challenges, including lagging security and a weak economy. Many believed the country’s troubles may be drastically reduced if it is restructured.

However, Yemi Osinbajo, the vice president, said restructuring is not Nigeria’s major problem, rather, he said “it is about managing resources properly and providing for the people properly, that is what it is all about.”

But former vice president Atiku Abubakar during the 2019 presidential election build-up advocated for the restructuring and promised to restructure should he emerge a victor at the poll.

Ogomudia also shared Abubakar’s view. He said Nigeria practice “a fake federal system” hence restructuring is right for “a right-thinking government should embrace for national integration and development”

“A country where a former Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh, was killed in the streets like an urchin, and nothing happened, is a sign that the nation is not moving in the right direction,” Ogomudia said.

The former Chief of Defence Staff who delivered the keynote address at the Good Governance Lecture organised by the Catholic Church of Warri’s Justice Development and Peace Commission (JDPC) warned that the continued suppression of the agitations for the restructuring of the country could lead to a violent break up of the country.

Shehu, however, insisted that there was no way violence could help Nigeria to become better.

“The biggest challenge of the country today is not necessarily from perceived regional or state imbalances or conflicts between the government at the centre and states but from the mindsets and entities rooted in the idea of violence as a means to change,” Shehu said.

While reacting to the death of Badeh, Shehu said investigation is ongoing and “14 suspects based on their alleged involvement in a report that has been sent to the police and the Nigeria Air Force for further action.”

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