Saturday, July 8, 2017 9:24 am
Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State has said that those asking the Igbo to leave the country should come and ‘deport’ him first because apart from two or three members of his family who are married to non-Yoruba, his wife, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu, is Igbo. He, therfore, advised those agitating for restructuring of the country (self-appointed messiahs who fan the embers of disunity) to be realistic. Not only that, he blamed present and past leaders who have governed the country for their inability to harmonise all the ethnic groups.
Akeredolu, said these in his recent lecture titled “Beyond Recession: Rethinking the Nigerian Federation”, delivered at Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) Ile-Ife in Osun State. He particularly blamed the military regimes for decrees that seemed to force the people together instead of integration that the British government proposed.
The Ondo governor waved off Nnamdi Kanu of Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Alhaji Asari Dokuboof Niger Delta People’s Volunteer force (NDPVF), and Mazi Nwazurike of MASSOB as self-serving men. He added: “While some call for secession without considering the implications for Nigerians who are living in places other than their so-called places of origin, others clamour for restructuring without proffering any plausible redemptive solutions for a troubled nation.
“Restructuring is desirable and inevitable. However, the nature and character of this seeming cure-all remedy advocated for self-inflicted malady is suspect.
“We must not dissipate energy on what separates us as a people. While the statement that the unity of the country is not negotiable should be considered as insensitive and brash, the equally reprehensible evocation of emotional outbursts by certain elements must be condemned. We must concentrate on building a country which produces what it consumes. We must believe in ourselves and work as a people to succeed.”
On the agitations by different ethnic groups, the governor said: “The current agitations for self-determination by some resurgent groups should be seen as a necessary consequence of certain omissions or commissions of both past and present leaders in the country.
“Any suggestion of disintegration should be seen as self-serving. It cannot be in the best interest of the various peoples of the “federating units”. There have been migrations and continuous establishment of settlements in various parts of the country.
“Those who want this country to disintegrate ignore many facts, the most prominent of which is the artificiality of the state structure in determining origin. The most outspoken of the proponents of restructuring have been unable to articulate their position beyond the incoherent statements made on devolution of powers. Some funny persons are even insisting on the implementation of the recommendations of an appointive committee known as the National Conference, 2014.”
Akeredolu drew the attention of Nigerians to the fact that there is nothing happening to the country at present that is new or strange or out of place with happenings elsewhere in the world. Here, he put in a Yoruba proverb: “A kò rí irú èyí rí, a fi ndérù b’olórò ni” ( there is nothing new under the sun).
To buttress this point, he cited case studies in the international community. In Europe, according to him, the arguments about British exit from EU is resonating with the current, increasingly pronounced security challenges in the UK. “Whereas America, Middle East and even the smaller but economically gifted nations are dealing with economic recessions, insecurity, terrorism, racial prejudices all of which are drawing attention of statesmen to ask the questions : What happened to us? What have we got wrong? When did we take the wrong step? Will this world continue as one piece ?” He said.
He went further that in Africa, particularly in Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, South Africa, Mali and a few more nation – states, leading questions about redefining nationhood are presenting themselves for answers through the wars and social disaffection pervading the entire lands. In nation states like Syria, Libya, France, Iraq and others, the call is equally too close for comfort.
In other words, Akeredolu argued that our vexatious experience today as a country is all a dialectical process of answers asking questions about themselves in order to confirm their state of existence. He maintained: “I believe Nigeria already has answers to its questions; it is just the will to ask the right questions the right way, with the right words, at the right time, with the right temperament and for the right purpose that is our task in building our own nation.”
“The questions which the answer is asking therefore are: when then is the nowness of our now for our rebirth? Will our nationhood come by force of arms or with mutual understanding? What manner of nation do we want to have? Will it be on agreed points and issues negotiated and debated? Will it be with open arms and warmth? Will the risks be worth it? Do we have the capacity to evolve it and so forth.
At this point, he cited the position of some prominent Nigerians: “Let me buttress the worrisomeness of my above assertion with quotes of the words of a few Nigerian leaders. On Tuesday the 3rd, June 2017, Jerry Gana, Professor and former Minister of Information, former secretary, Board of Trustee of the then ruling PDP made a declarative statement when asked about the fate of Nigeria in the future.” I don’t know what tomorrow holds, only God knows it but if they think when it comes to break up, we will go along with the North, then it must be a huge joke. We have already told them that if they allow this country break up, we are not going with the North. We are staying where we are. So, just take notice. If it comes to that, we will tell you that we are not Arewa, we are middle belters, 10 states for that matter.”
“Even Professor Ango Abdullahi, tempestuous academic, controversial administrator and foremost Northern leader, in his comments on the 4th of June 2017, had this to say: “If people are still asking for Biafra after 50 years of Civil war, then it is necessary for us to sit down and ask ourselves how we want the nation to be.”
“Another elder statesman, respected academic, constitutional lawyer and former President Ohanaeze Ndigbo Prof. Ben Nwabueze while ruminating on the current state of Nigeria, argued that Nigeria will not know peace until it restructures itself to reflect ease, consensus and justice. Hear him: “The power at the centre of the federating units is too much. It is prone to abuse and misuse. Every Nigerian has a right of equality and respect in this joint stock company called Nigeria. The Nigerian nation has the responsibility, indeed the obligation to treat every tribe or race equally.”
“Similarly, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, elder statesman and former Secretary General of the Commonwealth, was forthright and resolute in his own precious summation on the current existential challenge of Nigeria . He says: “If we had six federating units, you would have more viable basis for planning economic development. Our country continues to under perform because of the 36 states we now have. We must wake up from our state of denial and face the facts about our underdevelopment.”
“Nigerian elites, and by this reference I mean those who lay claims to some appreciable level of education in the country, not partakers of the current unprofitable parody of the essence, the certification process which ensures the ubiquity of graduates who lack confidence and understanding, continue to romanticise with the idea of a suitable political system. While some have issues with the current presidential system and advocate for a return to the parliamentary system practised in the First Republic, others agitate for devolution of powers from the centre to the so called federating units. Some still feel uncomfortable with that arrangement. They settle for confederacy.
“Restructuring is the new slogan in the political lexicon of the country. Political pundits, jobbers, erstwhile policy makers, former political office holders, civil society organisations, human rights entrepreneurs, upgraded street urchins, among others, are relentless in their agitation for a new political order. Very few have been able to articulate their positions as justification for this call beyond the facile, sometimes annoying, references to some unfortunate incidents involving ethnic groups. Some want more states not minding the fact that the existing ones are on the brink of insolvency.
“Others want more local governments for increased revenue allocation from the centre. For some still, it is “resource control”. There seems to be this pervasive belief that once these divergent political aspirations are actualised, the country slips into a blissful moment without much exaction. Nothing can be more illusory than these hopes hinged on slippery and shifting ground.
“Those who want this country to disintegrate ignore many facts, the most prominent of which is the artificiality of the state structure in determining origin. The most outspoken of the proponents of restructuring have been unable to articulate their position beyond the incoherent statements made on devolution of powers. Some funny persons are even insisting on the implementation of the recommendations of an appointive committee known as the National Conference, 2014.
The above notwithstanding, Akeredolu advised that until Nigerians begin to see themselves first as brothers and sisters with shared destiny beyond the artificial amalgamation of the colonialists, there will be no end to the agitation for self-determination. On the way out of economic recession that Nigeria has found itself, Akeredolu advised the people to go back to agriculture as many countries that have experienced such in the past have done.
The governor said the North had groundnut pyramid, South-West prospered with cocoa while the South-East and South-South had palm oil which could generate enough foreign exchange for the country.
The Federal Government, according to him, must, as a matter of urgency, take steps to discourage the activities of certain elements who harbour extraneous reasons other than the expressed. On no account must anyone be allowed to use our air space to disseminate hate speech.