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Prominent Nigerians fault Prof Ango's call for Nigeria's break up


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The battle for the continued existence of the Nigerian nation was unrelenting over the weekend as some prominent Nigerians took a swipe at the spokesman of the Northern Elders’ Forum, Prof. Ango Abdulahi, for threatening the nation’s corporate existence by declaring that the North is ready for a breakup.

Presidential candidate of the United Progressives Party, Chief Chekwas Okorie; Elder Statesmen, former President General Aka Ikenga, Chief Goddy Uwazurike, Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and Spokesman of Afenifere, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, all said that the statement was least expected of a leader of Abdulahi’s stature.

In an interview with a national newspaper last week, Abdulahi said: “The indicators are very clear. The North appears as if it is the only one that should carry the can for the nation’s unity and this is not acceptable anymore.

… So this is unacceptable anymore. So the North is ready for dissolution anytime.”

But in their separate reactions, they said that the central issues of systematic polarization of Nigeria by the Federal Government through unequal distribution of infrastructures, imbalance in distribution of offices where a section of the country dominates and power does not go round are of serious concern to all.

Okorie said: “I think that was a very irresponsible statement, unfortunately, considering his age and exposure.

It is quite irresponsible. The issue before all enlightened Nigerians is not that of breakup, but that of restructuring the country in such a way that all the federating units will have the latitude to develop at its own pace for the overall development of the entire country.

“The nation is talking about restructuring Nigeria in such a way that Nigeria being a nation of several ethnic nationalities, where all ethnic nationalities will not feel oppressed or suppressed. The issue of breaking up is in the imagination of a man of that age and I am sorry that that was all that could come from him.”

Okorie made allusion to some Nigerians who are at home with the restructuring ides. “Even a man of the stature of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, who is also northern political elite, and other leaders in Nigeria have also emphasized on the need for Nigeria to restructure.

Even the Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi, an enlightened man who had rose to the level of being governor of the Central Bank, has also spoken in favour of restructuring Nigeria and if Prof. Ango Abdulahi could talk about breakup of Nigeria, that will be very unfortunate of a man of his age.”

In his view: “Talking about breakup of Nigeria connotes confusion, war and unsavory things. If we could part ways the ways the former USSR did without bloodshed, even the way India parted ways with Pakistan.

Nobody will quarrel with that. So if he is proposing a round table discussion, a kind of conference for political independence, nobody will argue. Again if he is talking about restructuring Nigeria, we will say he is talking in line with modern thinking.

For him to use the word ‘breakup’, it is very unbecoming of a man of that stature.

Next time, he should actually be careful in selecting his words, especially a man who had attained the level of a Vice Chancellor.” Odumakin, in his response said: “We must make it very clear to Ango Abdulahi that those of us who have insisted on restructuring of this country, that we can live together in peace and harmony under true federalism, know that the option of breakup is there.

If you look at the 222 nations listed by the United Nations, hardly will you list more than 25 nations that are more populous than the Yoruba. They are almost the fourth in Africa. So nobody can threaten us with such statement.” He said the Yoruba have showed in the First Republic how modern nations should be run.

What South-Western Nigeria did in the 40s, 50s and 60s Nigeria has not been able to replicate.

“We had the first university, first television station and many firsts. If we had continued since then, we would have been in the first world by now if not for the constitution that set us back.” Odumakin warned Abdulahi against rubbing it on our face or trying to threaten anybody, “because we can never be taken by surprise.”

Eighty-eight-year-old northern leader, Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, said: “I’m sure Ango spoke in anger.

He would not like that to happen. Personally, I want Nigeria to remain together 100,000 times. We have come a long way as a country and we will not be party to whoever wants to break it.

Our country is so blessed with human and material resources and it does not make sense to say the country is ready to breakup.” Chief Ayo Adebanjo, however, chose to differ as he described the statement as a welcome development but with a caveat.

“It is time for us to agree on total restructuring of Nigeria. In fact, everybody must agree now to restructure the country immediately. Why should we continue like this if we are not making any progress? “We will be deceiving ourselves.

It is complacent to sit down, but we should go about it peacefully. Nobody should force anyone to disintegrate except the conditions are known by all other ethnic groups. If he said the North is not afraid, that is welcome.

We should therefore convoke a national conference and we produce a document and let every federating unit agree on the condition of coming together and not on the conditions imposed on us by some people.”

Former Acting-President, Ijaw National Congress, Chief Charles Ambaiowei stated that Abdulahi only articulated deep-seated desire of the Ijaw nation which has always called for restructuring of the nation and resource control.

“Ijaw people have continued to make impressions to Nigeria that without restructuring this country and operating true federalism, taking away all obnoxious decrees that have become acts of parliament, Nigeria will never get it right.

“Perhaps, Ango Abdulahi, with due respect to him, in recognition of the fact that his own section of the country, the north, which has actually been the perpetrators of imbalance in the polity is convinced that it will not make the changes, and therefore at some point, the bubble will burst. Who are we the Ijaws to say Nigeria should not break up if it wants to?

“We are not going to be like former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, who, in the name of unity said Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable. Everything about Nigeria is negotiable. Ango Abdulahi is just giving us a warning,” he said Uwazurike said: “He was just grandstanding. He does not even have the capacity to make such statement.

If you are a General without an army, you are of no importance to anybody. When Ango Abdulahi is threatening anybody, he may be biting more than he can chew. Remove the South and what do you have in the North?”

Reasoning that what people call breakup can actually be called restructuring, he said the South is ready for that and all that was required was courageous leadership, adding that even some parts of the North, especially the middle belt, is fed up with the present arrangement and are ready for restructuring.

Uwazurike said the agitation for Biafra was the cumulative effect of the “injustice that had been going on for years which oppressors have failed to look into.

Under Umaru Yar’Adua, Goodluck Jonathan you did not have these kinds of violent reactions from MASSOB or IPOB or Niger Delta militants because of the way the issues

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