Lagos based lawyer and Human Rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) says the perceived decision by Nigerians to stay united as an indivisible country must be discussed at the forthcoming national conference, just as leaders of the South-south geo-political zone will once again pursue the issue of Resource Control at the proposed talks.
Ozekhome, who lauded President Goodluck Jonathan for initiating the conference, however, warned that it would end up as a jamboree if the issue of the unity of the nation, fiscal federalism, resource control, devolution of powers, ethnic nationalities autonomy, corruption, the type of government needed, and whether we are satisfied with the presidential system of government are not all discussed.
The Federal Government had warned that the country’s unity was non-negotiable hence it was included as a no-go area for discussion at the conference.
But in his reaction to the modalities for the conference, Ozekhome said: “I disagree that the federal government said there is a no-go area. We have passed the stage where we can say we cannot discuss Nigeria in all its ramifications, we even discussed God and how He created the world, it is in Genesis. Why are we afraid of discussing ourselves?
“We were coupled together by the British. Even the name Nigeria was a name given to us by Flora Shore, the daughter of a British General. That lady was later married to Captain Lord Lugard, the man who in 1914 forcibly amalgamated the Northern protectorate, Southern protectorate and the Lagos colony into an amorphous contraption called the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We were never united.
“Before 1914, we had different nationalities in Nigeria, we had the Benin Empire and then the British killed Oba Ovonranwen. So we never negotiated to stay together and that is why till tomorrow, Nigerians believe more in their ethnic groupings. And you cannot blame anybody because before the 1914 amalgamation we were already recognized ethnic nationalities in this country, and how can you now give 90 slots to ethnic nationalities out of 380 while Mr President alone is having over 90 delegates, 25 per cent each.
“Nigeria’s unity is negotiable. The so-called indissolubility and indivisibility are mere rhetorics that cannot stand the test of time. Nigeria’s unity is negotiable, because failure to negotiate it is to postpone the evil day. India and Pakistan were once one country, but where are they today? Already in Nigeria you have some separatist movements, the Boko Haram has already planted flags in some communities in the North”.