Abimbola Akosile

The former President, Catholic Brothers United, Lagos, Mr. Vincent Uba has asserted that those Nigerians who are fanning the embers of marginalisation have a hidden agenda as a disguise to agitate for secession.

Uba has also called on Nigerians to shun hate speech as well as other unlawful conduct that can threaten national unity and peaceful coexistence of all citizens irrespective of their religions or ethnicity.

He made the call in a press release titled ‘In One Nigeria I Stand’ made available to THISDAY, in the wake of the recent clamour for secession as well as the widespread rumour that President Muhammadu Buhari has plans to Islamise Nigeria.

While remarking that the outcry of marginalisation in certain quarters of the country was not new, Uba maintained that right from Nigeria’s independence, there have been cries of marginalisation from every section of the country; hence the clamour for secession from Nigeria.

In his view, those who fan the embers of marginalisation are the ones who have hidden agenda. “They are hiding under the umbrella of marginalisation to clamour for secession from Nigeria,” he claimed.

According to him, “Over the past two years, since President Mohammed Buhari became the President of Nigeria, there has been what I may call “Buhariphobia” in the country residing in the minds of some group of persons. These groups of persons include corrupt individuals, some religious groups and ethnic groups.

“For the corrupt group, they are afraid of Buhari because they know that a no nonsense Buhari will not continue to condone corruption in whatever guise and that those found wanting will be persecuted. These corrupt persons know that Buhari will not allow business as usual in governance and that he will not be easily compromised, hence they resort to blackmail of his government, saying that the “fight against corruption is selective” or that he is abandoning all other aspects of governance and concentrating on corruption alone. For them, fighting corruption is witch-hunt. So they employ all kinds of negative propaganda, against his government, using their ill-gotten wealth to fight back.

“For some religious groups, they reason that Buhari being a Muslim is working in the interest of Muslims – that he is out or has an agenda to Islamise Nigeria. How erroneous! These particular groups posit that Boko Haram was a creation of president Buhari. They also claim that the kidnap of Chibok girls was a stage managed affair. How Genial!

“How can one rationally claim that Buhari is working in the interest of Muslims or out to Islamise Nigeria when the same Buhari administration dealt with Muslim Shiites in Kaduna who became lawless in their activities? Yes, Buhari had the courage to do that even though they are his Muslim brothers/sisters. One thing I know for certain is, if it were to be under Jonathan government he would not have had the courage to do that, but Buhari did”, Uba added.

To him, “For some ethnic groups, they reason that they are being marginalised under Buhari government and so they clamour for autonomy or secession. Truth is, I have not seen any government in place in Nigeria that has not been accused of marginalising one ethnic group or the other. There has not been any government in Nigeria that has not been accused of favouring a particular section of the country in appointments, development etc.

“The clamour for Biafra has become so rampant. The social media which is awash with this Biafran clamour is now a medium to disseminate lies, insults and negative propaganda against Buhari Government. Yet the originators of these lies and insults mostly some of my Igbo brothers claim they were descendants of Israel, that God is on their side and I ask in consternation and anger, how can God support lies, insults and evil propaganda to advance a purpose? How can God be associated with hate speeches geared towards achieving selfish agenda?

“Cases abound when the Israelites were only required to be still, to be quiet to allow God act. But some of these my brothers are here and now making inciting comments, spreading falsehood, insulting constituted/constitutional authorities, heating up the polity and in some cases resorting to violence. In the light of all these, I ask, what happens to love that Jesus preached and His disciples are preaching? What happens to tolerance and peace that were or are the hallmark of Jesus Gospel to Christians and to the world at large?

“How do you reconcile the notion that God is with Biafran agitators with the heinous epidemic of falsehood and insults spread across the social media by Biafran agitators? May I give a word of caution; our God should not be mocked. Do not use the name of God in vain. I do not have anything against agitation for self-determination, but it has to be done in a civilised manner. If you want to involve God, pray silently about it, ask His will to be done and at the same time display conducts that are Godly – Christ-like conducts. Those who go to equity must go with clean hands”, Uba admonished.

He also warned against undue pressure against elected officials in government in this scenario of marginalization.

According to Uba “May I also caution that you don’t blackmail those elected under Nigeria constitution, sworn to protect, defend and uphold that same constitution expecting them to breach that oath of allegiance and support Biafra; doing that will be ensuring a grave conflict of interest. Some of the South-east elected officials are boxed to a corner in this regard. They are at loss as to whether to support Biafra or bear true allegiance to Nigeria.

“My advice to them is that since they did not elect themselves, and were rather elected within the context of Nigeria and under Nigerian constitution and sworn to protect that same Nigerian constitution; until Nigeria ceases to exist, they must continue to bear true allegiance to Nigeria and to the Nigerian constitution.

“Let me also caution our fellow Nigerian northerners, tread with caution no matter how highly provoked or how highly you feel that your brothers are insulted. We are in one Nigeria. Issuing threat and ultimatum to fellow Nigerians living in the north to leave is a height of constitutional breach. Churning out anti-Igbo songs to register your grievance is counterproductive. You do not solve problems by creating more problems. Two wrongs, they say, do not make a right. Nigeria is our country for Ibos, Hausas, Yorubas and other ethnic groups. No one ethnic group can lay claim to Nigeria alone”, he added.

He urged government to ensure that every Nigerian feels a sense of belonging. “Let every Nigerian, in the spirit of unity, love and tolerance act and work to safeguard the sanctity and sovereignty of Nigeria for growth and development of one indivisible Nigeria”, Uba advised.

He advised the federal government to bear true allegiance to Nigeria and the constitution and avoid paying lip service to protecting the sovereignty of Nigeria.