On Monday tempers rose amongst participants at the ‘Nigeria’s 2023 Presidential Transition Inter-Ethnic Peace Dialogue’ organised by Youths Off the street Initiative when the middle Belt Forum stated it would no longer go with the North should Nigeria split up.
‘Restructuring and 2023 power shift: Nigeria’s make or break factor for political survival’, was the theme of the event, and it had been convened by the President of YOTSI, Kennedy Iyere, which was attended by leaders of ethnic nationalities consisting of the leader of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; President, Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr. Kunle Olajide, and President of Southern Kaduna Peoples Union, Jonathan Asake.
The leadership of the predominant socio-cultural groups from the Southern and Middle Belt of the nation at the event adopted a common stand demanding an emergency national convention that would lead to the emergence of a brand new constitution and restructuring of Nigeria.
They stated it was possible to reverse the present-day challenges facing the nation and stop Nigeria from breaking up if the Federal Government listened to the recommendations they were putting forward.
However, tension mounted when the leader of the Northern Consensus Initiative, Dr. Awal Abdullahi, stated the North was not against a break-up of the country.
“The North, prior to now, was saying ‘we don’t believe separation’; but as I’m standing, I’m telling you that if there’s progressing to be separation tomorrow, the North is ready for it. We also are ready, let’s go our different ways and I am telling you this with all sincerity.
“Northern Nigeria, already, didn’t want to listen to anything separation; but as at today, as I talk to you, the North is equally ready. What I’m saying could be controversial, but I’m speaking the minds of Northerners and I don’t have any apology to anyone inside this hall. Although I respect the leaders and elders here, I have no apology to anybody on what I say,” he said.
However, the confusion generated by his assertion had hardly died down when some other speaker, the President of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Pogu Bitrus, step onto the rostrum to reply to Abdullahi’s position.
“So if my brother says the North is going, be sure the middle Belt isn’t going with you; you’re on your own. We have served and sacrificed for this country. The (civil) war that occurred, the Middle-Belt was used to fight whilst the North sat back to enjoy,” he said.
The nonagenarian stated a range of regions in the nation should be allowed to pick the type of government they desired to adopt within their region under an absolutely federal structure which might warrant some measure of autonomy and control over resources and policing of their entities.
“We are in the last hours of our existence as a nation. We are on the eleventh hour, it’s nearly too late. We have many matters to deal with. It has never been like this. Appointments from one specific region, because you’re the president, has not been so. It has never been like that. We can’t tolerate that; we are saying implement restructuring and devolution of power,” the Chairman, Igbo World Assembly representing 57 countries, Dr. Nwachukwu Anakwenze, who spoke from Los Angeles, united states.