VETERAN Yoruba cultural campaigner Professor Adebanji Akintoye has faulted the recent declaration by the Southern Governors Forum calling for a national conference on restructuring saying what is needed is a gathering to debate self-determination.
On Tuesday, the Southern Governors Forum met in Asaba, the Delta State capital and at the end of their meeting they issued a communique urging the federal government to urgently convoke a national dialogue to address the widespread agitations growing across the nation. In addition, the governors also called for enforcement of a ban on open grazing in the south of Nigeria and the prohibition of cattle movement by foot.
They also called for restructuring of the country and the creation of state police forces to combat insecurity. However, Professor Akintoye faulted their request for a national conference just to discuss restructuring, saying he believes any summit should go further and debate the vexed issue of self-determination, effectively calling for the balkanisation of Nigeria.
He added that the kind of conference that Nigeria needed was the one where peoples of the south and Middle Belt would be allowed to negotiate their national self-determination. However, Professor Akintoye commended the governors for their boldness to speak in unison about banning open grazing but said they failed to discuss terrorism that is causing serious tension in the country.
Professor Akintoye added: “The kind of conference that Nigeria needs is a conference for the purpose of negotiating with the various peoples of the south and Middle Belt of Nigeria concerning the assertion of their national self-determination. That is the greatest need of the moment and behaving as if it does not exist is unfortunate.
“Every nationality in Nigeria has a right to self-determination and the right to seek to assert its self-determination. The people of the south and Middle Belt are doing just that now and the Nigerian government needs to step forward to negotiate with them in order to prevent ultimate chaos in the dissolution of Nigeria.
“Self-determination of the various nationalities of Nigeria is today the idea whose time has come and it will have its way, one way or another. Our governors in the south deserve the gratitude of all of us their people for hurrying to hold a meeting on the terrible insecurity that is ravaging all the peoples of the south and we their people should commend them for the considerable amount of bravery that they have shown in their communique.”
He added that while there is agitation for inclusiveness, there is bigger and wider agitations for self-determination of the various peoples of the south and the Middle Belt, who account for about three-quarters of the population of Nigeria. According to Professor Akintoye, the governors should go back to the meeting table and give serious consideration to this determination of the people of the south and Middle Belt to assert their self-determination in a peaceful manner according to international law.