By James Frank Kevwe, News/Comments, October 2, 2021
Leader of the Pan Yoruba Social Cultural Organisation, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, has once again blasted President Muhammadu Buhari for what he described as mere statement from the president in his independence message. “Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable”
Adebanjo who is 93-year-old noted that President Buhari, 78 years old now, ordinarily should be aware that Nigeria’s Independence and terms of unity were bargained in the 1950s, and he should also know that he (Buhari) was an adolescent then, should he be ignorant of this,no. Mr. President was a small boy at that time.
The nonagenarian made this known while on a live chat with The PUNCH on Friday, reiterating that Buhari cannot say, that the country’s unity cannot be negotiated. Adebanjo however narrated that, precisely in 1953, the North opposed the call for Independence and rather advocated ‘Araba’ (secession), as the late, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe influenced the northern leadership under the late Sir Ahmadu Bello, primarily to discuss terms of their unity and ultimately their self-determination from British rule.
“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. Of course, I can’t blame him (Buhari). He was still in primary school at that time, so, he couldn’t understand. He should go back to the records. Before the constitutional conference, the country was being run as a unitary government and that was what caused the crisis. When we got to that conference, Chief Awolowo re-educated them that you cannot run the country as a unitary system. It was at that conference that Nnamdi Azikiwe was converted to federalism and when he returned from that conference, Azikiwe, at the airport, declared that federalism was imperative. It was in the Daily Times of 1954.”
Meanwhile, Punch Newspaper had earlier reported that the Afenifere leader had noted that the 1960 Constitution gave all the regions financial autonomy, such that every region was able to control its own resources. Stating further, Adebanjo, revealed, after the military coup of 1966 and Nigeria became a unitary state, things began to go downhill. Proffering solution to the country’s challenges, the nonagenarian wants Nigeria to embrace restructuring. “This could be done by first doing away with the 1999 Constitution and come out with a new one where fairness and equity is ultimate, so that no one will feel cheated or exploited as it is now against the south”
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