Igbo socio-cultural organisation, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and the pan-Yoruba socio-political body, Afenifere, have faulted the position of President Muhammadu Buhari on the unity of Nigeria.
The two Southern Nigerian organisations said on Wednesday, July 6, 2016 that the president was mistaken and that the unity of the country was open for negotiation.
The president, while speaking with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo who paid him a Sallah homage at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja, rehashed a 1960s civil war quote by former military ruler, General Yakubu Gowon’s saying that “the task of keeping Nigeria as one united entity is a task that must be done”.
Reacting to the president’s position on the matter of negotiating the country’s unity, Afenifere’s national publicity secretary, Yinka Odumakin said that Buhari might not be reading the mode of the nation correctly saying that Nigeria is more divided under Buhari that it was before.
He said that the president is like a “bird which buries its head in the sand and believes that because it is not seeing anybody, that it has become invisible”.
“I think the president is a sincere man but he may not be reading the mood correctly. The country is divided under him than before Amalgamation and armed dialogue are going on all around us over the unity of Nigeria which many sections perceive has treated them unfairly,” Odumakin told Punch.
“To continue to insist that the unity is not negotiable is aping that bird which buries its head in the sand and believes, because it is seeing nobody, it has become invisible too.”
Okechukwu Isiguzoro, the president of Ohanaeze Youth Council, insisted that the unity of Nigeria was negotiable. He maintained that the current structure of Nigeria has not favoured all parts of the country and insisted that the structure favoured those who are insisting that things should not change.
Mazi Isiguzoro proposed that the unity of Nigeria should be subjected to periodic review. He reminded President Buhari that his organisation had canvassed for restructuring Nigeria at the 2014 National Confab.
“We, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, believe that Nigeria’s unity is negotiable. The principles and structures on the co-existence of the various nationalities that make up the country should be reviewed periodically,” Isiguzoro said.
“At the moment, the structure that is in place is not in favour of everybody.Those that it is favouring are the ones who want the status quo to be maintained, but those it has not favoured, like the Igbo, are open to a negotiation of the country’s unity.
“The Igbo demanded restructuring at the last constitutional conference and we are still holding on to that demand. We believe Nigeria’s unity should be subject to periodic review.”