Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
Members of the Press
Thank you for honouring the invitation of THE MIDWEST MOVEMENT.
THE MIDWEST MOVEMENT is a pan-Edo/Delta group of distinguished sons and daughters of the twelve tribes of the old Midwest Region, later Bendel State. The entire geographical area of the two states of Edo and Delta form the territorial area of Midwest Nigeria. The area covers a total of 35,500 square kilometres. The northern tip of its territorial area stretches from Imoga/Lampese/Bekuma/Ekpe in Edo State at latitude 7.5906/6.1171 to the southern reaches of Gbesa/Burutu/Bulou-Ndoro of Delta State at latitude 5.0126/5.651717. Its western tip stretches from Ofunama in Edo State at latitude 6.302216/5.012297 to the eastern reaches of Mgba-Obiocha in Delta State at latitude 6.16838/6.76840. Historically, the territory was part of the old Western Region of Nigeria. It was created as a separate and equal federating region of the country through constitutional process of plebiscite, which was conducted on 13th July 1963, endorsed by a majority of 89.01% of eligible indigenes of the mid-west area of the Western Region. By 8th August 1963 the Western Region Assembly affirmed the outcome of that exercise and by the next day 9th August 1963 the Midwest Region was born. Today, we mark the 54th Anniversary of that historic moment.
WHY WE ARE CONGREGATED HERE TODAY
It is now a matter beyond doubt that the federation of Nigeria is in dire straits. The current state of uncertainty is the manifest outcome of years of injustice, marginalization, and flagrant violation of the terms agreed by the founding fathers at the point of independence in 1960. It’s a miracle that Nigeria has survived so many onslaughts since the coup of January 15, 1966. For how long can we depend on CHANCE to survive? We barely survived an avoidable Civil War, but we all bear the scars till date. We endured military rule for nearly three decades but continue to suffer the consequences with the near-destruction of the entire fabric of our social, political and economic life. Was this the country our forebears who fought against British imperialism eagerly hoped for? Obviously not! In the past few months, we have been assailed by offensive rhetoric from elements that are determined to further take the country down the path of discord, disorder, strife and ultimate destruction. Can we afford to sit back and hope as usual that negative passions of ethnic jingoists will blow away or that the convenient dismissive stance of apparent gainers of the situation will resolve the current impasse? We of the MIDWEST MOVEMENT are deeply concerned about the situation and we have come before you to declare our positions.
After due consultation with ourselves and a broad spectrum of leaders, stakeholders and the good people of the present Edo and Delta States, THE MIDWEST MOVEMENT wishes to categorically state our positions in the current troubling situation as follows:
- We hereby declare, in the first instance, our allegiance to the Federation of Nigeria because we honestly believe that our fore-fathers did not make a mistake in agreeing to be part of the federation in 1960 despite being denied a region of our own by the British Colonial Government just before independence.
- Nonetheless, we are of the firm position that Nigeria has been badly run for many years as a concomitant effect of the dysfunctional structures foisted on the country in the aftermath of forcible seizure of political power by the military starting in January 1966.
- The federal system agreed upon by the founding fathers including leaders of the Midwest as reflected in the 1960 Constitution and reaffirmed in the 1963 Constitution has been the worst victim of military rule.
- As a result, in the current constitution of 1999 the power sharing arrangement and the fiscal federal arrangement agreed under the generally acceptable pre-1966 constitutional framework have since been jettisoned without the input and agreement of the Midwest people; a situation which is absolutely unacceptable to THE MIDWEST MOVEMENT.
- The net effect of the above is the situation of threats and counter threats followed by publications of dubious maps by self-serving ethnic jingoists outside of the Midwest territorial area. THE MIDWEST MOVEMENT rejects all such rhetoric, which seeks to inflame the country, and vexatious maps which seek to redraw the territorial limits of the various segments of the country.
In view of the foregoing THE MIDWEST MOVEMENT hereby demand as follows:
- That there must be a structural Deconstruction of the Nigerian Federation as presently constituted.
- That the Nigerian federation as currently structured must be deconstructed-to-be-reconstructed through a re-federalization process using the 1963 Constitution as the acceptable template.
- That government and representatives of the Nigerian people in parliament should consciously heed the voices of reason who have called for a re-federalization of the country using all available constitutional means while factoring the interests and aspirations of all ethnic nationalities in Nigeria.
- That government and its officials should refrain from and resist the temptation of casting all those calling for peaceful resolution of the current political impasse as “mere appointment seekers” as such snide remarks are not only insensitive but unwittingly embolden violent agitations across the country.
- That government must take all just and equitable measures within its powers to rein in divisive elements while providing avenues for peaceful coexistence of the entire Nigerian people wherever they may choose to live in Nigeria.
- That government should as a matter of urgency broaden its consultation and engagement with stakeholders of all ethnic nationalities including those of the Midwest territorial area comprising present Edo and Delta States with a view to working out modalities to ease the current avoidable tensions in the country and arrive at a way forward in re-federalizing the country’s current contentious, unacceptable and flawed federal system.
- That in the avoidable event that government continues to play ostrich to the current agitations and proves itself unable to tackle the existential challenges posed by ethnic jingoists, the MIDWEST TERRITORIAL AREA comprising of its TWELVE TRIBES shall resist all and any attempt to annex, attach or conscript it as part of the area of any of its near or far neighbours.
- That if the Federation of Nigeria fails to hold under the weight of government’s inability to play its constitutional role and because of the reckless actions of ethnic jingoists, the MIDWEST TERRITORIAL AREA comprising of its TWELVE TRIBES shall employ, embrace and adopt every available International Instruments, Conventions and Protocols to take its destiny in its own hands as a STAND ALONE TERRITORY to be called BENDEL REPUBLIC or any such name or appellation our people so choose to adopt!
WE CANNOT BE CANNON FODDER TO ANYONE OR GROUP!
WE SHALL NOT BE COLLATERAL DAMAGE TO THE SELFISH INTENTIONS OF ETHNIC JINGOISTS!!
WE ARE A DISTINCT AND UNIQUE PEOPLE.
WE ARE THE EDO (Ben) & DELTA (Del) PEOPLE: THE BENDEL PEOPLE OF THE MIDWEST OF NIGERIA!!!