Are the Yoruba nation and Biafra republic agitators in Nigeria rebels with a cause? To answer this question, we need first and foremost to know who the agitators are. The agitators, who are prominent among others as we know today, are those of the Yoruba and Igbo extractions. There are other ethnic minorities who also have a reason to want to detach themselves from the union called Nigeria but whose voices are yet to be heard probably because they are not loud enough.
Going by the African Union charter and the United Nations charter on self-determination, they both provide as follows:
African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, Article 20 states that all peoples shall have the right to existence. They shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self-determination. They shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen.
UN Charter, Chapter 1, Article 1, part 2 states that the purpose of the UN Charter is: “To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace.”
The above provisions are proof as well as attestation to the fact that the unity of all nations who are members of the AU as well as the United Nations is negotiable. People can choose to self-determine by wanting to opt out of a union if they so desire. This should educate Nigerians in particular who are currently witnessing serious agitations from the two major ethnic groups towards the creation of the nations of Biafra and Yoruba. Do these people have the right to do what they are doing? Absolutely yes!
The former running mate of the late chief Moshood Abiola in the 1993 presidential elections, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, in one of his interviews alluded to the fact that the unity of Nigeria is negotiable. This knowledge should guide the judgment of Africans when they see their leaders clamp down on their agitators. Clamping down on agitators for self-determination is a crime and negates the provisions of the AU and the UN charters on self determination of people. What needs to be done now as Nigeria is transitioning into a new political dispensation in 2023 is to allow for all voices to be heard, for not doing so is to embark on an adventure that will lead the country to a disastrous end. Nigerians should not deceive themselves. Not solving the constitutional problem by calling for a constitutional conference or activating the provisions of the 2014 Constitutional Conference is to make the country a non-starter. No vehicle attempts to move when the engine is defective or absent. There is no amount of amendments that will amount to a people-oriented constitution for the country. There can be no substitute for the people. It has to be the people and nothing else.
Also, as a matter of truth, no leader can fix the problem of Nigeria without first looking at the need to fix the Constitution and restructure the country. The country has wasted more that sixty years now beating around the bush, killing the symptoms and not the disease, and that is why the problems that we have today in insecurity, is unprecedented and has refused to abate. If a new Constitution cannot be provided as well as if the country cannot be restructured, the best way out is to allow all the ethnic groups who deem it fit to pull out to do so without any hindrances.
Let me also sound this note of warning to the Nigerian elites who are comprised of the politicians as well as the military and other security personnel that the thought of using force to quell agitations will not be acceptable, for it is against the international norm as provided for in the AU and the United Nations charters. You cannot roll out armored tanks against armless and innocent citizens who are exercising their rights for self-determination.
To my Northern brothers, made up of the Hausas and the Fulanese majority, enough of living with illusions and erroneous complacency. The country Nigeria is not your personal property. If you were born to rule, you must also be born with the ability and wisdom to rule well. Otherwise, consider yourselves as slaves to your conscience.
There are wise and intelligent people who are making Nigeria proud across the globe, and if you look at the margin in terms of where they come from in Nigeria, the discovery should be enough to awaken you from your political slumbers. The Nigeria of today is different from the one you used to know and misrule. Tell yourself the truth now, that the Yorubas and Igbos have a legitimate right, as you have seen above, to pull out of Nigeria. The truth that you shy away from today will only lead people into a regrettable end. There is no point deceiving ourselves. President Muhammadu Buhari is the worst leader that Nigeria has ever produced and from the Fulani extraction. What a shame to that race of people.
What do I think and what future do I see for the Igbos and the Yorubas without Nigeria? No matter what the circumstances may be, there is a guarantee on assurance that going by the makeups of these ethnic groups and their enormous contributions, politically, economically, educationally to the progress of the country called Nigeria, developing nations of their own is a cheap possibility. This is food for thought.
The two prominent political parties, namely the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) are playing the old tricks again on Nigerians. Does APC as a party still have the restructuring of Nigeria in the party’s Constitution? This used to be there before Buhari came into office. He deliberately chose to disregard that provision and declared in one of his interviews that there is nothing to restructure in Nigeria.
The Nigerian youths are believed to represent the highest number of the voting population but how can they translate this into the desire to change if they have no voter’s card. The new opportunity that presents itself before all well-meaning and patriotic Nigerians is to empower the youths. Sponsor the youths, first and foremost, to get registered and have their Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC) in their hands before vying for elected positions. Gone are the days when propaganda on social media were thought of or considered as a weapon of winning elections. Every Nigerian youth has to be armed with his or her voter’s registration card, and that will signal the beginning of the change that is desired. People are not going into the 2023 elections because they believe or see it as a channel that takes them into the new Nigeria but as a way of making the country to “hang in there” until the time comes for the chaff to be separated from the wheat.
The incessant onslaught from bandits and terrorists is a way of putting fears into Nigerians so that the people in power can manipulate the elections and continue with their hold on power. Nigerians are wiser and will not take a chance.
On a final note, pushing for the adoption of a consensus candidate for the presidential position from among the Igbo’s extraction as initiated by the Afenifere Chieftain Par Ayo Adebanjo is the right step in the right direction. All along there are lions between the Southwest and the North has yielded no positive fruits. It has only resulted in making the country to take two steps forward and three steps backward. Enough is enough! Let those who have ears, hear. Nigerian politics will never be business as usual, and those who try to make it so will pay for it dearly. The world is watching.
Samuel ‘Tunji Adeyanju