As agitations for the restructuring of the country continue to take the front burner, some southern leaders on Saturday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to consider the 2014 National Conference report to save the country from an impending break-up, saying the country is currently bleeding on all edges.
The leaders who spoke separately during a zoom interactive session on consolidation of handshake across the Niger said the country would not move forward and may break up eventually because of Buhari’s stubborn stance on the implementation of the 2014 National Conference, which addressed some of the key issues on how the country can progress as a nation.
The leaders maintained that Buhari’s stubbornness is becoming a source of worry for them as they warned that the regions should be allowed to go their separate ways if the conference report would not be implemented. The interactive session, it was learnt, was aimed at fostering unity between the Yoruba and Igbo as they seek to confront some of the obstacles hindering the progress of the country.
The interactive session which lasted for over an hour was monitored on the founder of Ovation Magazine, Chief Dele Momodu’s Twitter handle.
It was attended by a chieftain of the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, political economist, Professor Pat Utomi, The Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yoruba land, Iba Gani Adams, Onyeka Onwenu, Edris Abdulkareem, among others.
Chief Adebanjo in his submission insisted that there may not be peace until the country is restructured, adding that despite calls from leaders from different regions of the country on the need for restructuring, President Buhari has refused to consider the 2014 National conference report.
According to him, the constitution does not say a particular region of the country should continue to be the president, calling on those who believe they own the country to have a rethink and embrace restructuring. He pointed out that if President Buhari truly loves the country, he should stop working against restructuring, adding that “If you don’t restructure now, you are looking for the separation of the country.
“Buhari remains stubborn on restructuring the country and the effect is what we are seeing today. Leaders from different parts of the country have told him to restructure but he has refused. If we want peace to reign in this country, we must go back to the 2014 National Conference but Buhari does not appreciate the country”, Chief Adebanjo said.
Also speaking during the meeting, Nnamdi Kanu knocked those who have frustrated the move for a referendum, saying “the same people who rejected restructuring in 1967 are rejecting it today. They feel it would work against their selfish interest if the country is restructured.”
He added that the banter being thrown around by some people that the Igbo and Yoruba would rise against each other will never be allowed to happen, insisting that “we have been controlled by forces that want to divide us but we must not allow that to happen. I have never seen where people would call for a referendum but some political powers would feel otherwise. It is not done anywhere. If we can’t discuss our togetherness, then we should go our separate ways”.
In his reaction, Professor Utomi said the country should focus on building a mega city where economic development can happen, saying “we need to stop allowing ethnicity to drive us away from the real development because politics has stopped us from focusing real issues. We need to create a phenomenal growth model that will work and bring about development and stop the sharing formula that has kept us grounded for years”, he added.
Onyeka Onwenu in her submission, pointed out that the people need to talk about how they can continue to stay together peacefully, stressing that the only way out of the current problem the country has found itself in is for each region to speak out.
“The only thing that can guarantee our continued stay together is restructuring and we must not allow those who want to burn this country down to continue to divide us. For me, there is nothing wrong if we go our separate ways but we need to sit down and talk about it. While Lagos is not for the Igbo, you cannot wake up one day and say you want to drive them away and take over their businesses. It is not going to work”, she added.