By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah,
The Federal Government has been accused of fueling the separatist agitations and expansionist agenda with its appointments that allegedly favour a particular section against others.
This is as participants at the October 1, Independence Lecture in Abuja have canvassed for the inclusion of referendum, devolution of powers among others in the ongoing constitutional review in the National Assembly.
The virtual Independence Lecture with the theme, ‘Beyond the Colonial Union: Building Unity and Equity in a fractured Nigeria’ was organized by the National Association of Seadogs, NAS, Abuja (Zuma) and Western Canada (Rockies) Chapters.
The discussants, Dr. Katch Ononuju, Director General of the Heritage Centre, a Think Tank dedicated to economic, political and opinion research, Dr. Emeka Okengwu, Chief Executive Officer of Agro and Allied Green Technologies Resources Centre Ltd, Mr. Ayokunle Fagbemi a planning and developmental strategist and Senator Magnus Abe, x-rayed pressing societal issues affecting the nation.
Participants at the event noted that one of the greatest challenges facing the country was the notion of ‘Unity in Diversity’ which they said was a misnomer; stressing that “you are either united or not.”
They said that societies are built on justice and the rule of law and that “no nation succeeds without the rule of law’, adding that, “In Nigeria the inability of the justice system to protect the citizenry has led people to run to the political and governance system for protection.”
They were also of the view that there is nothing in the world that is not divisible including Nigeria, contending that, “If the union does not work it will break up. Nigeria is divisible but undivided as at now and the unity is currently fragile.”
They argued that the increase in the agitation for self-determination was direct fallout of the current system not working, alleging that the ruling class has been fueling separatist agitations through lopsided appointments that tend to favour a particular ethnic group against the others.
“To correct it, we need to sit down and have a discussion’, they contended. We must have a plan on how we will build a united Nigeria. Whatever our origin as a people does not prevent us from building a united country. It does not have to be called restructuring since this word means and evokes different emotions from different people but that conversation needs to be had.
“No nation is completely organic. Every nation is a concept of some people who sat down to create it and made it work through the sacrifice, hard work and dedication of their people.
“Federal Character has not really helped this country. Federal Character implies trying to achieve a spread, but in achieving that spread are you bringing your best people forward or just imposing people on the collective. More often than not we are not concerned about merit that is why we have some of the people we now have in positions of authority.
“The failure to implement the Mali peace agreement of 2015 has led to an aggressive push by the Fulani’s displaced from Mali for land and other resources which has led to the recurring clash between the Fulani’s on one hand and farmers and other ethnic groups on the other leading to a fragile security situation.
“The absence of social security safety nets has led to the apathy and distrust the citizenry have for government and governance.
“The noncompliance and non-enforcement of policy and legal frameworks has led to the corruption pandemic. Till these are addressed the pandemic cannot be tackled,” they said.
In a communique signed by Dr. Randie Dikeukwu, and Mr. Anderson Kolawole Oseh, Presidents of Rockies and Zuma Decks respectively, it was resolved that, “Our Government and Fulani leaders spearheading this expansionist move need to be told and made aware that their actions are threatening the peace and unity of this country.
“As a people we need to address the destination of our country. We need to define the end goal so we can measure our progress towards achieving it and anytime we stray from the path it is easily noticed and corrected.
“The political super structure needs to be restructured from the fraudulent system designed and handed over to us by the former military regimes.
“Our political and electoral system needs to be cleaned out so truly independent leaders can be elected into the legislature and not the current system where the Governor of a state can single handedly determine who gets elected.
“The recruitment process into the police needs to be improved, a case in point being the educational qualifications. A case where barely literate persons are recruited does not arguer well for our security architecture.
“For any constitutional review to work the following must happen. A referendum must be held, there must be devolution of powers, roles must be designed for our religious and traditional institutions in building Nigeria, and the various ethnic groups must forgive each other for past wrongs and begin to talk to themselves.
“It is only by talking and working together can we build the unity of Nigeria. No one group can do it alone. There has to be a national consensus to take back the country from those who have hijacked it. To begin we must begin to organize in small units and grow from there to working with other units.”
One of the discussants, Dr. Katch Ononuju in his submission, had claimed that those behind the separatist agitations had complained of exclusion by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
Some also made reference to the alleged lopsidedness in the recent recruitment in State Security Service and the dominance of the head of security architecture by a particular ethnic and religious group.
Dr. Ononuju said, “They (separatist agitators) said if there is no country to inherit, they rather go on their separate ways. And I tell you today, President Buhari more than any other President is the biggest provider of the fuel for the separatist movement across Nigeria.
“So we need to stand up, come together and tell the man, Oga, your actions are dividing our country. The SGF has said it politely; cracks in the country are going to cause the country to go. How do we do this? We can’t keep quiet, it has reached the point where we must come together today and confront that cracks that we have, our country needs to be redeemed.”
The event was attended by members of the public, public analysts, members of civil society organisations and members of NASS.