The leader of the Yoruba Socio- political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo has described President Muhammadu Buhari as a small boy and ignorant following his Independence day speech.
The nonagenarian said this while interacting with Punch over the Presidential speech and pointed out that President Buhari was wrong to have said the unity of Nigeria remain non- negotiable.
While dissecting his speech, Adebanjo revealed that if President Buhari was not too young and had not been ignorant of the political history of the country, he should have vividly remembered that the unity of the entity called Nigeria had once been negotiated in 1953 after the north where he hails from, had opted for secession as against the move for independence. He said the duo of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe convinced Sir Ahmadu Bello, who led the northern leadership at that time to negotiate on terms of their unity and the essence of achieving independence from the British colonial powers.
” He (Buhari) is talking nonsense. These are the kinds of things that cause trouble. How can the President of a multinational, multilingual and multi- ethnic society say the unity of Nigeria is non- negotiable? We negotiated the unity of Nigeria in 1954 before independence. The 1960 Constitution was a product of negotiation that arose from the London constitutional conference” – the 93- year old said
According to him, due to the unitary system of government that was adopted at that time, crises erupted before it eventually led to a constitutional conference where a lot of vital conversation took place among the key leaders of the three regions.
He sad Chief Obafemi Awolowo used the conference platform to educate and re- educate the leaders present especially the northern leaders on the need to embrace a more democratic system of government called Federalism. Awolowo’ s constructive and more detailed explanation led to the declaration of federalism as the way to go by Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe after landing at the airport He also Azikwe’ s statement could be verified in the Daily Times publication of 1954.
The Afenifere founding father added that the 1960 constitution which is also known as the independence constitution empowered all regions to grow independently as they lord over their individual resources. He also intimated that the unitary system of government had an adverse effect on the growth of the country after the military hijacked the civilian government in 1966 through a bloody coup.
In conclusion, Adebanjo opined that until the restructuring is embraced, the country will remain the way it is and the first step or sign to show that the incumbent government is ready for restructuring is by throwing the 1999 constitution into the dust bin. He however slammed the Vice- President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo for not doing enough in ensuring the country is finally restructured.
What Did President Buhari Say On Independence Day?
While delivering his Independence message to all Nigerians, President Muhammadu Buhari in his usual way emphasized that the unity of Nigeria is non- negotiable.
He said this while calling for peace and cooperation among the citizen and assured them of using dialogue- based solutions to address legitimate grievances.
” Nigeria is for all of us. Its unity is not negotiable. And its ultimate success can only be achieved if we all come together with a common goal of having peace and prosperity for our nation” he said
Recall that in 2017 after the President had returned from a 104- day medical vacation in London, said the unity of Nigeria is not only non- negotiable but has also been settled. He also defined the National Assembly and Council of States as the only legitimate avenues through which the people’ s grievances can be channelled, discussed and settled.
Similarly, in his Eid- l- Fiti message to the Muslim faithful back on July 6 2016, President Muhammadu Buhari said that Nigeria’ s unity can not be compromised. This was seconded by the Vice- President who added that we should remain united to enjoy the natural bounties in the country.
The Unity Of Nigeria Can Be Renegotiated- Atiku
The former Vice- President, Atiku Abubakar had during his presentation of the book entitled ‘ Remaking Nigeria: Sixty Years, Sixty Voices, ‘ said that the country can be put up for negotiation.
According to him, he finds it amusing for some people to declare the country as fixed and that which cannot be negotiated when they working more on the disunity of the country through their actions and inactions. He likened their statement to a failing marriage in which one person maintained that it must remain the same it is and keeps doing things that would easily break it.
” This is why I find it amusing when people declare Nigeria’ s unity as fixed and non- negotiable while doing everything in their power to destroy that fragile unity. Nothing in the relationships among peoples is fixed for eternity” he said
” You cannot declare your marriage as non- negotiable while doing everything to sow seeds of discord in that same marriage. Countries can be created by force. You can whip groups of people into forming a country, but you cannot whip them into forming a nation” he added