On Monday, socio-political groups including Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere and the Pan Niger Delta Forum, affirmed that Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo’s warning that cracks in the country could lead to its breakup should not be taken for granted.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Afenifere and PANDEF, in separate interviews, supported the Vice-President, saying Nigerians could not continue to live in denial.
But the northern socio-political group, the Arewa Consultative Forum, admitted that there were unhealthy cracks in Nigeria. It, however, said the Vice-President should not make statements that would worsen tension in the country.
Osinbajo, who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Mustapha, at an interdenominational church service in Abuja on Sunday to mark Nigeria’s 60th independence anniversary, said, “Our walls are not yet broken, but there are obvious cracks that could lead to a break, if not properly addressed.” At the service, the SGF read Osinbajo’s speech.
In its reaction, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, agreed with the Vice President that cracks in Nigeria could lead to its breakup.
The National Publicity Secretary and acting Secretary General of Ohanaeze, Prince Uche Achi-Okpaga, who spoke to one of our correspondents, said the Vice President’s concerns weren’t different from what other Nigerians had been saying.
Govt doing nothing to address cracks, prayers not enough, says Ohanaeze
Achi-Okpaga said government was not making efforts to address the problems, adding that prayers were not enough.
Although he described Osibanjo as a man of unimpeachable character, who knows where the problems of Nigeria lie, he noted that it was not enough to ask Nigerians to pray.
Achi-Okpaga said, “By his pedigree as the Vice President of Nigeria, law professor and pastor, he knows where the shoes pinch the government.
“In so many areas he is right. You can’t take his words for granted. He has been inside there and he knows where the shoes pinch the government and the people of Nigeria. So when he drops a word like that you can always know he is serious and he knows the nitty-gritty of what he is saying.
“What he is saying is not even different from what Nigerians are saying. This thing is not rocket science; we are seeing it. Look at the economy, the prices of the commodities have increased. Look at the electricity tariff increase and fuel pump price hike. Is it the gift that the government is giving Nigerians at the heat of this COVID-19 pandemic that has ravaged Nigeria economically?
“Look at security; how Fulani herdsmen are ravaging communities and agricultural lands; killing Nigerians every day. The government is aware of this and no effort is being made to stem it.”
On the Vice-President’s call on Nigerians to pray, Ohanaeze spokesman said it was apt but noted that there should be a balance of prayers and actions.
On his part, the Afenifere National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, in an interview with The PUNCH, said, “This is a perceptive observation and bold declaration by the Vice-President. It is an honest admission better than playing the ostrich. When you admit the problems you can begin to find solutions to them. But when you live in denial, you won’t find solutions to your problems. We hope his admission will.
Also, PANDEF said that what Nigeria needed was restructuring, justice and peaceful coexistence to bring about progress and development.
Spokesman for the group, Ken Robinson, during a telephone interview with one of our correspondents on Monday, said the Vice President was right that there were cracks in the country.
He stated, “PANDEF feels that the Vice-President is partly right that there are cracks, there are disaffections. Nigeria is in a precarious state.
“People are not happy with the way the affairs of the country are being conducted, so various groups are asking for self-determination. There is a Yoruba group that is asking for self-determination.
“There are the IPOB, the Igbo youths and there is general disaffection in the country, with the nepotistic attitude and disposition of the Muhammadu Buhari administration.
“So, VP Osinbajo, who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, is right that there are cracks, But the answer is not prayer. We talk too much about prayers in Nigeria, when we know what to do.
“What to do is restructuring of Nigeria to give federating units power. What we need is fiscal federalism. What we need is devolution of powers. There is too much power at the centre.
“The constitution as it is today makes the President the God of Nigeria. This is not right. He can wake up one morning and do whatever he likes and it stands.”
The National President of the Middle Forum, Dr Bitrus Porgu, also supported the Vice President’s warning.
Porgu, in an interview in Jos, noted that the British Colonial masters brought different nationalities together without recourse to their individual differences.
He lamented that the present regime led by Buhari had continued to promote policies in favour of his Fulani and Muslims to the detriment of the interests of other Nigerians
Porgu said “I think the Vice President said the right thing because we have been talking about the issues bedevilling the country including insecurity ,bad governance, the structure of government which needs to be restructured among others. Unless these issues are addressed and urgently too, such that all the components that make up the country are happy with coexistence, things can fall apart.”
ACF admits unhealthy cracks, cautions VP against utterance that can worsen tension
But the ACF cautioned Osinbajo against comments capable of creating further tension in the land. The northern body acknowledged that the cracks in the country were unhealthy, but noted that the nation would overcome such.
The National Publicity Secretary of the ACF, Emmanuel Yawe while reacting to the Vice President’s comment, cautioned other Nigerian leaders, to “watch their words.”
The ACF’s spokesman, in an interview, said, “The cracks are unhealthy but we expect the Vice President to calm nerves and not make a pronouncement that will aggravate the situation.
“The ACF is hopeful that Nigeria will overcome its current travails as it did in the past and even overcame a fratricidal war to break up Nigeria. To do this, Nigerian leaders like Osinbanjo should watch their words.”