NORTHERN Elders Forum (Nef) leader and former Ahmadu Bello University vice chancellor Professor Ango Abdullahi has lashed out at those calling for the restructuring of Nigeria saying the north is not afraid of a break-up.
Of late, there have been strident calls from across the country calling for the restructuring of the federation, with certain groups in southern Nigeria demanding outright secession. Northern groups like the Nef have been accused of being in the way of restructuring because they benefit from the status quo under which states do not have to raise revenue internally.
Hitting back at insinuations that northern Nigeria is parasitic and afraid of going it alone, Professor Abdullahi said that if the amalgamation of the country by Lord Frederick Lugard in 1914 was a mistake, it would be best for each region to go their separate ways. He lashed out at the critics of northern Nigeria during the recent launch of two books by Dr Hadiza Isa Wada titled Boko Haram: The Charade vs. Reality and The Life and Times of Umaru Turakin Bauchi.
Tracing how several other countries had separated peacefully, Professor Abdullahi queried agitators clamouring for the restructuring of the country from the present quasi-federalism to true fiscal federalism, or even secession, particularly in the south-south and southeast geopolitical zones. According to him, such threats remained baseless, given that no region is afraid of secession.
Professor Abdullahi said: “The white people have brought us together. They tried what they could before they left in 1960 to see whether this country could become a political unit that is stable because without political stability it is impossible to stabilise any aspect of our socio-economic development.
“They succeeded up to a point but they were very lucky because they had our forefathers and founding fathers who were honest. We might not be one, in terms of language or in terms of geographical location or in terms of customs or in terms of history or in terms of religion and so on but as a people put in one country our first job is to understand one another.”
He pointed to the case of India that got independence in 1948, yet one or two years later Pakistan was created and in another one or two years, Bangladesh carved out of Pakistan. According to Professor Abdullahi, this was because there was insufficient basis on which India would stay together in the first place.
Professor Abdullahi held the view that Nigeria’s greatest challenge today is political instability created unfortunately by politicians and the Nigerian elite. While condemning the Niger Delta Avengers as economic terrorists, Professor Abdullahi asked the federal government to deal decisively with the militia group, in order to end vandalism in the oil region.