Wake up, Nigeria on the precipice, Afenifere, Ohanaeze leaders tell Buhari

By AdvocateNews on 01/06/2021

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President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

… Proffer solutions, insist ‘no brand new Constitution, no election in 2023′

Leaders of major ethnic nationalities in Nigeria Monday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to wake up to his responsibilities, warning that the nation is currently on the precipice.

While Pan Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, through its National Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, called for total overhaul of the present 1999 constitution which it said was “tilted in favour of the North against the South”, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, through its President General, Prof. George Obiozor, said there was need to re-negotiate Nigeria’s unity.

The two regional groups tabled their grievances and also proffered solutions to some of the existential problems facing the nation, at an event,  tagged “Nigeria’s 2023 Presidential Transition Inter-Ethnic Peace Dialogue”,  organised by Youths Off The Streets Initiative, YOTSI.

In his presentation at the event, Afenifere leader, Adebanjo, lamented that the country is currently faced with critical threats of imminent second civil war and forcible political break-up. He said: “Indicators  of these could be seen in part in the scale of banditry going on in the country, in the unprecedented level of kidnapping and destruction of government properties as being witnessed presently in the South East and, of course, the strident voices for secession.

“When the foregoing and many others that we have not mentioned are put into consideration, there could not be any controversy that Nigeria is indeed on the precipice.

“To us in Afenifere, it is possible to reverse this trend and prevent Nigeria from falling into the dungeon and perhaps break into pieces that cannot even be sewn together ever again. Although we are at the precipice now to us, the solution is simple.’’

As part of the solutions, the Afenifere leader demanded for a change of the constitution to a federal system. “Majority of the things causing tension, disharmony, instability in the country today, namely revenue allocation, security, ethnicity, devolution of powers etc, have been taken care of by our founding fathers in the Pre-Independence Federal Constitution.

“Unfortunately, however, the military (dominated by Northern Muslims) incursion into the political arena in 1966 scuttled the constitution and introduced a military unitary system. Since then we have not got our bearing.

“The present 1999 constitution is tilted in favour of the North against the South. It arbitrarily creates more states and local governments in the North than the South, and based on this fraud, prescribe sumptuous monthly financial allocation to the states, that produce very little if at all, while those which produce more get only a bit.

“Let me state here again for emphasis and clarity that the creation of states and local government areas was not based on the principle of equity, justice and fair play. For example against all known demographic norms, the North with enormous areas of unoccupied arid land is said to be more in population than the South.

“It is only in Nigeria that the known rule in geography all over the world that the nearer the desert the fewer the population is obeyed in reverse with the North claiming a population that cannot be physically verified except you are going to count the cows and the cattle in the area.

“This false population is used to give more political representation in the Legislative chambers where decisions affecting the whole country are taken.

“It is firm contention of Afenifere that 1999 constitution is a fraud. Afenifere believes the country needs a brand new constitution agreed to by all the nationalities in the country.

“If a new constitution is made on the basis of true federalism, there will be no more agitations for Biafra, there will be no more agitations for Oduduwa Republic, and other self-determination groups. Because what gave birth to their agitations would have been taken care of”,  Adebanjo added.

Insisting that advocates of restructuring should not be labelled as secessionists, the Afenifere leader said “the irreducible minimum condition of Yorubaland of being part of Nigeria is a restructured Nigeria to Federalism”.

“Yorubaland will not be in Nigeria under the present military imposed constitution”, he stated, even as he proposed the creation of United Regions of Nigeria, URN, that will allow ethnic nationalities to exercise their mandate and sovereignty on how they want to live together under mutually beneficial terms. He said the documents from the nationalities in which they propose the kind of regional government they want to form, should be collated and considered between January and March 2022.’’

On his part, the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. Obiozor, described as “historical fallacy” and “exhibition of political ignorance”, the assertion that Nigeria’s unity was non-negotiable. Prof. Obiozor argued that the prevailing situation of the country called for a national dialogue geared towards devolution of power and  restructuring. He said: “The idea of rotation of power between North and South is a historical imperative. It is what is non negotiable and not Nigeria’s unity.

“Nigeria’s unity came about through negotiation and has infact been staying alive because of negotiation.

“It is indeed a sign of total abandonment of acknowledgement of history to assert authoritatively, with impudence, that Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable.’’

Noting that it was wrong for anyone to brand those agitating for self-determination as secessionists, Obiozor said:  “Call for self determination is not secession. Call for self-determination within a federation is actually restructuring or devolution of power or decentralization.

“In complex societies, it is a continuous imperative. Multinational nations are dynamic and they follow what God or nature offers them. They follow changes.

“The evolution of Nigeria today calls for devolution of power. It calls for continuation of time honoured tradition of rotation of power between North and South.

“People should stop speaking with impunity and impudence or with air of authority. Nobody owns Nigeria. We all own Nigeria. “Nigeria is awake for those who think they can continue living in self illusion and in delusion and denial. Those days are gone.

“From this meeting, in addition to the meeting in Asaba of 17 Southern Governors, it is now clear that majority of Nigerians are aggrieved. It is a law of history of politics that when your people are aggrieved, you find out what is going on and negotiate, if you are a leader. “You will call the people to a dialogue. The idea that problem does not exist, when problems are engulfing the nation with incremental and dangerous propensity, is unacceptable”.

Likewise, President of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, SOKAPU, Mr. Jonathan Asake, described the 1999 Constitution as “the biggest fraud”. He said the union is in full support of the call for a brand new Constitution.

On the issue of rotation of power, he said: “I know that it has been a tradition that power has been rotating and we have always had power shift.

“If for eight years power has been in the North, I think that it is right, for the sake of fairness, peace and justice, that we begin to think of how power will shift to the South. We are thinking of inclusiveness and that is where we stand. This country is in dire need of restructuring”.

Meanwhile, the event got added piquancy after the leader of Northern Consensus Forum, NCF, declared that the northern region is ready for disintegration.

“I am telling you this with all sincerity, Northern Nigeria before now did not want to get any separation. But today, as I speak to you, if there is going to be separation, the North is ready.

“What I am saying may be controversial, but I am speaking the truth and the mind of every northerner”.

He maintained that regional or ethnic considerations should not determine who becomes the President of Nigeria, but competence and track record of candidates.

“I am not speaking for Buhari. If he is doing something wrong, he should be called to order. But not for any particular region to be considered as a threat to other regions”, he added.

Among dignitaries at the event included former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Na’abba, former Governors of Anambra, Ondo and Kwara states, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Olusegun Mimiko and C. O. Adebayo.

As well as former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, former deputy governor of Lagos State, Kofoworola Bucknor-Akerele, Prof. Pat Utomi, Chief Sam Ohuabunwa, among others. - Vanguard 

Posted 01/06/2021 07:32:35 AM


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