The national question on whether the togetherness of Nigerian ethnic nationalities is negotiable is being answered in the affirmative by pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, the Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG).
In a statement issued on Sunday, the group upbraided its northern counterpart, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) for taking President Muhammadu Buhari’s back on his non-negotiable stance.
Apart from taking the side of Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka, who called for unity negotiation, Afenifere vowed that the Yoruba race would not be anyone’s slave in the emerging political landscape, wherein the North had been heavily favoured in political appointments by Buhari.
The statement, signed by its chairman, Honourable Wale Oshun read: “ARG condemns the public statement made recently by the ACF, in which it expressed strong support for President Buhari’s position that Nigeria’s unity is non-negotiable.
“ARG asserts that neither President Buhari nor ACF loves Nigeria more than those advocating renegotiation of what bind us together as a country.
“ARG states unequivocally that the unity of Nigeria is only sustainable by voluntary acquiescence of components ethnic nationalities. In our view, the problem has more to do with President Buhari’s conducts – utterances and perceived lopsided appointments – which appear to portray him as a north-centric president instead of a pan-Nigeria president.
“Both the president and ACF need to take lessons on managing an all inclusive, pan-Nigerian government. We wonder on what consensus or authority the so termed non-negotiable unity of Nigeria stands. Is it based on government’s ability to silence all dissenters or the capability to manage a diverse society in a manner that makes every component proud?
“Nigeria was envisioned by its founding fathers as a federal republic, sadly its governance structure as dictated by its constitution is akin to that of a unitary state. Hence, the insistence of ACF and by extension the president to keep the provisions of Nigeria’s constitution from being renegotiated is a cause of many unsolvable agitations in the country.
“These agitations can only be managed successfully and sustainably when all Nigerians appreciate that they need one another to bequeath a strong country on the coming generations.
“Yoruba people will never agree to becoming slaves in their country and the peaceful agitation coming from their space on the restructuring of Nigeria, as against the violent agitations coming from other areas, is to carefully underscore our belief in peaceful change, the mantra under which the last election was won and lost.
“All who wish Nigeria well align with Professor Soyinka’s assertion that Nigeria’s unity is “bloody well negotiable and we had better negotiate it…not even at conferences, but everyday in our conduct….
“ARG, therefore, concludes that Nigeria’s unity and mode of governance are negotiable and the earlier we all start working towards this, the better for the development, peace and unity of the country.”