Again, Southern leaders meet, canvass unity across Nigeria
PROMINENT Southern leaders again on Tuesday met in Lagos canvassing for unity, particularly in the South and across the country to build a strong, workable and viable Nigeria.
The leaders, who met using a coined name of YIIEGBA, which according to them, connotes cry of anguish and shout of victory, include Professor Anya O. Anya, Nigeria’s former High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, Dr Christopher Kolade; a chieftain of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo; former Minister of Foreign Affairs, General Ike Nwachukwu (rtd); Dr Amos Akingba, former governor of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife; former Director of Ground Operation in Nigeria Airways, Captain Prokeme Porbeni (rtd); Mr Yinka Odumakin, among others.
This was just as the leaders in their various submissions emphasised the need to chart a new path that would lead the country out of her current predicaments and stop the drum beats of war.
The meeting, co-chaired by Anya and Kolade, was convened in response to the recent threat and quit ultimatum by the Arewa youths the Igbo extraction residing in Northern Nigeria.
Dr Kolade, in his address, said it was imperative for Nigerians to stay together in order to build a stronger and viable country, stressing the need to have a peaceful, productive and progressive country based on unity of purpose.
According to Kolade, nothing should defeat this purpose, just as he declared that the gathering of the southern leaders was not looking for any political, ethnic or selfish affinity but purely the good and the progress of Nigeria, adding that the pursuit of benefits for all Nigerians remained the utmost goal.
On his part, Chief Adebanjo charged those who were still sceptical about the trending relationship between the South East, South West and the South-South elders to see beyond their doubts, adding that the bond was not a gang up, as some people tend to believe.
According to the Afenifere chieftain, the bond exists to further make stronger the call to reform the present skewed system in the country.
Prof Anya said there was the need to explore everything that required to create a foundation for a new Nigeria, contending that Nigerians needed a country that would be fair to all where everybody irrespective of their ethnic background, would feel free.
“We need a country that would put its citizens to work and not war and in which all will benefit and not few individuals,” he said.
Speaking further, Anya commended former military Heads of State, Generals Yakubu Gowon and Ibrahim Babangida as well as former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, for lending their voices for Nigeria to be restructured.
He said their voices had given credence to the call to reform Nigeria, noting that Nigerians could be rest assured that the battle to get the country reformed was half won.
“The reason we elders are coming out now is because the country is at a point where we could no longer sit on the sideline. The journey to get a new Nigeria has begun,” he stated.
The former governor, Ezeife, on his part, warned that time was running out for Nigeria to get restructured and further warned that, “If we don’t get restructured between now and next year, we may lose the country.”
He, however, emphasised the need to go back to regionalism and true federating units as handed down by Nigeria’s founding fathers, just as he urged the Federal Government to create a body that would deal with restructuring between now and next year “even if it will involve a referendum.”
A charter was presented after the meeting, stating the acceptability of the equality of all mankind, whether male or female.
It also posited that based on the bitter African experience, “war and violent expressions have produced no benefits, instead dialogue should be encouraged at all times and the non-violent approach adopted to re-engineer our diversities as a strength rather than weakness.’
Lastly, it harped on the fact that the legitimacy of all forms of government should be based on the consent of the governed and must exists solely for the better life of citizens in the form of security, education, healthcare, and social welfare.
The charter further stated that working in this new light of mutual respect and equity on the platform of universal brotherhood, Nigeria could reverse and engineer the negative programming behind Africa’s fractals of failure.