Future Of Nigeria: Yoruba, Igbo Leaders Back North’s Call For Referendum

  FOLLOWING a call for a referendum on the restructuring of the Nigerian federation by the pan-Northern Nigeria group, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), key Yoruba and Igbo groups and leaders have expressed their readiness for the exercise.

Secretary-general of the ACF, Murtala Aliyu, had on Thursday told a national newspaper that “the North is not afraid of restructuring.

“What we want is to define what it is that we want. If we want to be in Nigeria and if we don’t want to be in Nigeria, let’s sit down and agree.

“We can restructure. We can become a confederation. We can devolve powers. We can have state police and all that we want. 

“But I can tell you that the thinking of the North now is that we should have a referendum if we want Nigeria or not.

“If we want Nigeria, then, we must sit down and see how Nigeria will work. If we need the country, let’s sit down and decide that we need the country first. 

“Then we can now sit down and decide on how our country can work for all of us. 

“If we decide that we don’t want the country as it is, then… I mean, countries have gone apart, Czechoslovakia and quite several other countries, including Sudan, had gone apart. We don’t want to go to war. The North is not going to be intimidated again to accept anything. 

“We have to sit down and resolve whether we want this federation or this country as it is.”

The Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Afenifere, in separate reactions, told Saturday Tribune on Friday that what the ACF called for fit into their own demand, on the future of Nigeria.

We are ready for it – Ohanaeze

The Ohanaeze Ndigbo described the call by the ACF as a welcome development. The president-general of the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Chief John Nwodo, said: “Ohanaeze welcomes the idea of a referendum. This is what IPOB has been calling for – a referendum for the aggregating geopolitical zones or the people to decide

whether to still remain in the present unwieldy marriage of convenience or go their separate ways.

“ACF is just talking because they know that there is no provision for a referendum in the constitution and that it will inevitably lead to the republics of Biafra and Oduduwa which the North has been dreading.”

On restructuring, Chief Nwodo, who spoke through his media manager, Emeka Attamah, said: “the term is very clear to everybody unless they are pretending. They are just trying to buy time as they know it must come to pass. 

“The earlier the ACF faces reality and restructuring is carried out, the better for all components of the country and the country at large. They are just putting off the good, not evil, day.”

It’s a shame descendants of those who wanted confederation in 1953 no longer understand federalism –Afenifere 

On its part, the pan-Yoruba sociopolitical group, Afenifere, said it had a simple message for the ACF: “bring it on.”

Afenifere’s spokesperson, Mr Yinka Odumakin, was unsparing in his group’s response.

He restated the position of Yorubaland on the issue of togetherness.

He said: “It is shameful that descendants of those who demanded for confederation in 1953 are telling us they do not understand federalism which restructuring is all about in 2020.

“We have been advocating that referendum should be in our constitution and we are not scared of holding one on the future of Nigeria.”

Referendum is the only alternative to war –Gani Adams

In his own reaction, the Aare Ona Kakanfo of Yorubaland, Chief Gani Adams, said he welcomed the call by the ACF, emphasising that a referendum is the only alternative to war.

He suggested that each geopolitical zone should decide what it wants. He told Saturday Tribune that a referendum “is the peaceful way of deciding should we continue to be a nation called Nigeria or not.”

According to him, “it is very clear that the majority of the Yoruba people want a new nation and I respect their views as a leader. That is a peaceful way we can have a peaceful nation. 

“Instead of going to war, we should have a referendum for Nigerians to decide if we can be citizens of this country or not. On the basis of that, each region should do its referendum, to decide.

“ So, I commend the statement coming from the Arewa Consultative Forum and I support that move as the Aare Ona Kakanfo. I support the Yoruba people having their own nation, in a way that will not involve war or crisis.”


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