Nigeria’s Unity is Negotiable, Ijaw Youths, MASSOB Tell Buhari

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• Urhobo group expresses concern over recent govt appointments

Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa and Charles Onyekamuo in Awka

The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) and Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) yesterday responded to President Muhammadu Buhari who appealed to militants in the Niger Delta to end the destruction of oil assets, adding that Nigeria’s unity was not negotiable.

The youths of Ijaw descent, in response, contended that as presently constituted, the country would soon “suffocate”, adding that the future of Nigeria should be thoroughly negotiated to avoid the consequences of a forced political marriage.

The president had stated that he aligned with a former military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, that “to keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done”.
“…What we were after is (was) one Nigeria. Please, pass the message to the militants that one Nigeria is not negotiable. And I pray they better accept it.

“The constitution is very clear as to what they should get and I assure them there would be justice,” Buhari had said on Wednesday to an audience that came to pay him Sallah homily.
But in a statement by the IYC spokesman, Eric Omare, the groups maintained that such a comment coming from the president was “old fashioned”.

The group was of the view that the approach being adopted by the president had never yielded the desired result for the country to excel.

According to the youths, the unity of Nigeria was being suffocated under the present administration, which they argued had refused to embrace modern trends worldwide.
“The circumstances of the present day Nigeria demand a renegotiation of the future unity and existence of Nigeria,” the group said.

The IYC expressed the belief that it was the general opinion of all ethnic nationalities in the country that Nigeria’s unity is discussed.

“This demand is not peculiar to the Niger Delta region but cuts across all parts of the country. For Nigeria to make progress, President Buhari should dump his old fashioned approach to the unity of Nigeria and face the reality of the present day situation.
“Nigerians want a renegotiated Nigeria that reflects a true federal state and allow people to grow at their own pace.

“Nigeria as presently constituted is suffocating and the federating ethnic nationalities can no longer bear the suffocating effect of the defective structure which hampers the development of the country.

“It is in the interest of all Nigerians to renegotiate the future unity of Nigeria,” the IYC held.
It added: “The Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) worldwide states that the statement by President Buhari to Niger Delta militants on Wednesday, June 6, 2016 that the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable is an old-fashioned approach to the resolution of national problems.

“This is more so as President Buhari, in making the said statement, quoted former Head of State, General Gowon’s comment in 1967 on the unity of Nigeria.

“Nigerians want a country that is united on mutually agreed terms and not the present defective structure. The IYC calls on President Buhari to wake up and face the reality of the situation and stop relying on the outdated notion of Nigeria’s unity. Nigerians demand renegotiation.”

On its part, MASSOB disagreed with President Bushari’s declaration that Nigeria’s sovereignty is not negotiable, saying it is out of tune with reality.

The MASSOB said the president was still being his old self, not realising that a new trend had taken over.
Nigerian sovereignty, the MASSOB said, is negotiable to enable component units determine their destiny.

According to the MASSOB statement, signed by its leader, Mr. Uchenna Madu, “Probably the president was in his inner sense of reasoning talking about the indivisibility of one North which he presides over with his kinsmen occupying the positions in the military hierarchy and other para-military organisations in which the North took the commanding heights including service chiefs, and other high ranking offices and positions.

“He will easily crush Biafra, maybe with his intimidating tendencies over Igbo governors, National Assembly members, religious, opinion and political leaders. He still thinks he can crush Biafra. MASSOB views Buhari’s constant negative comments on Biafra consciousness as a sign of unsteadiness.
Meanwhile, the Urhobo Monitoring and Development Group (UMDG), was expressing concerns over recent federal appointments made by the president.

The National President of UMDG, an Urhobo pressure group, Mr. Kingsley Oberuruaria, told journalists that Buhari’s appointments were tilted to favour northerners and Muslims.
He maintained that such actions were capable of unnecessarily creating ethnic and regional tensions in the country.

The group specifically took a swipe at Buhari with regard to the recent constitution of the board of NNPC for “refusing to give oil producing communities of the Niger Delta region a sense of belonging in the management of resources from the area”.
UMDG said: “We are still shocked with President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointments so far. The truth is that such actions are not palatable.

“Our region where the oil and other resources that feed the nation are coming from is being neglected both in appointments and development, and this government is not helping matters.
“The Urhobo have been annihilated from the Nigerian government and this is not fair to us as a people. Buhari should look inwardd and correct these injustice against our people in the Niger Delta if he actually means well for this country.”