On Nigeria and the Non-negotiability Debate

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Despite more than 100 years of nationhood and over half a century of independence, the issue of Nigeria’s unity has, regrettably, remained a minefield for many of the nationalities. President Muhammadu Buhari seemed to touch the old mines last week when he reiterated the refrain that Nigeria’s unity was not negotiable. Buhari made the remark while addressing guests who visited him at the presidential villa for the Sallah celebration.

The Ijaw Youth Council disagreed with the president, describing his statement as another “old fashioned approach to the resolution of national problems.” IYC said it was in the country’s interest to negotiate a future that would guarantee justice and independent development to the component parts.

The apex South-west socio-political organisation, Afenifere, and the South-east umbrella group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, also faulted Buhari’s comments on Nigeria’s unity. Afenifere said the president’s views represented a misreading of the country’s mood, while Ohanaeze Ndigbo believed there should be a “review of the terms of the country’s unity”, because the union had not favoured all the constituent parts.

Expectedly, it was the pan-northern socio-political organisation, the Arewa Consultative Forum, which backed Buhari’s declaration on Nigeria’s unity, in a defence of one of their own.
The people’s verdict cannot be rigged: no part of Nigeria is fiercely agitating secession from the union, what everyone wants is justice.

There is still a lot of suturing to do, and Buhari needs a strong thread of justice to sew up the divisions tearing Nigerians apart. – Vincent Obia