President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to wake up to his responsibility of safeguarding Nigeria.
The warnings come from Yoruba sociocultural group Afenifere and Ohanaeze Ndigbo amid rising insecurity and the growth of separatism.
The 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).
“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,” Afenifere leader Ayo Adebanjo said in a statement.
“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.’’
Adebanjo also faulted the “false” population of Nigeria as nothing but a means to give the larger share of the country’s resources to a particular region.
As part of the solutions, the Afenifere leader demanded for a change of the constitution to a federal system. He also called for restructuring.
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.
“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,” he said.
“Nigeria’s unity came about through negotiation and has, in fact, 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 decentralisation.
“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.