BY BOLA BADMUS
LAGOS, NIGERIA (NIGERIAN TRIBUNE, JUNE 12, 2017) - Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, has lamented that it is sad that Nigeria is now marking another June 12, 24 years after the annulment of the freest and fairest presidential poll won by late Chief MKO Abiola, amidst an October 1 quit order to Ndigbo by Arewa youths, who have also secured endorsement from the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF).
This was just as the group declared that the country had fumbled and wobbled through 18 years of pretending that its unity was settled, restating the Yoruba nation’s belief that the only way that Nigeria would be able to fulfill its destiny as one country was for all Nigerian nationalities to run their lives according to their civilisations in a restructured polity that practices federalism in its truest form.
Afenifere said this on Sunday in a release entitled: “24 Years After June 12:Whither Nigeria?” signed and made available to newsmen by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin, just as it further lamented that the country is marking this year’s June 12 still labouring under intense strain because it has failed to learn the lessons of history.
“Nigeria marks today, the 24th anniversary of the cleanest election ever held in its history. Unhappily, Nigeria marks this day still labouring under intense strain, palpable uncertainty and extreme apprehension, because Nigeria has failed to learn the lessons of history. And this has confirmed the wisdom of Confucius that, A man who has committed a mistake and does not correct it is making another mistake,” Afenifere said.
Afenifere, while recalling the sad fallout of the annulment of the June 12 election by the General Ibrahim Babangida’s junta, which propelled a five-year resistance during which Abiola and Kudirat, his wife, were assassinated alongside many prominent pro-democracy activists, said Nigeria was faced with another June episode in the making with the anti- Igbo agitation in the North.
“We now mark another June 12 amid an October 1 quit order to Ndigbo by Arewa youths who have also secured endorsement from the Northern Elders Forum, with the Arewa Consultative Forum conceding what they called ‘the frustrations of the youth’ with Ndigbo.
“While the primary targets of the Arewa youths’ quit order are the Ndigbo residents in the North, we are not deceived that when the rubber hits the road, the Almajaris and the Mujaheedin would pick and choose among all Southerners in the North in the baying for blood,’’ the group added.
It said: “This is why the Yoruba nation is warning that this is a déjà vu and that no country has ever survived two civil wars. We recall how events cascaded in the 1960s from the moment emergency rule was imposed on the Western Region until war broke out in 1967.The same arrogance of power, insensitivity and atrocious impunity that were at play then are still very much at play today. The same section of Nigeria that rejected the outcome of Aburi is still shouting down the strident calls of most peoples of Nigeria for restructuring today, because command and control is more important to them than equity, justice, fairness, peaceful coexistence, harmony and a progressing country.
“A climate of fear, apprehension and anxiety now pervades the country as no one knows what can happen, with the absence of a leadership that can rise up to the occasion to save the republic.”
Afenifere pointed out: “Not one member of the group of ‘youth’ organisations who had unfettered access to Arewa House to threaten the unity of Nigeria has been arrested is a clear signal that the butterfly that is dancing on the surface of the Arewa river is dancing to some drummer beneath the water surface.
“When we attained independence in 1960, Nigeria’s pot was standing on a tripod. Two legs out of the three are now in a near-war face-off. It would be an illusion of grandeur to think that this pot can continue to stand in this way!
“To this end, we, Afenifere, restate the Yoruba belief that the only way Nigeria would be able to fulfill its destiny as one country is that all Nigerian nationalities should be able to run their lives according to their civilisation in a restructured polity that practices federalism in its truest form. That remains the unchangeable preference of the Yoruba nation.
“If, however, our compatriots from the North and East are not averse to the continuation of Nigeria as a country, the only acceptable path towards this end is political restructuring. Fortunately, we have a road map in the recommendations of the last confab, which must now be pursued and implemented.
“But in the event that our co-citizens do absolutely insist that we the peoples of Nigeria can no longer live together, we Yoruba nation will not want a violent termination such as happened in Yugoslavia. Even though our Yoruba nation boasts a history of great wars, gallant warrior leaders and warlike people who fear no war, we nevertheless abhor war and bloodshed.
“We are sure that the Nigerian situation can be resolved in whatever direction through a peacefully negotiated settlement. In due recognition of the right to self-determination of all nationalities, we believe in the Czechoslovakia kind of peaceful resolution, so that the various nationalities in Nigeria may peacefully determine their status and their future.
“In accordance with the character of our nation, we Yoruba do not, and cannot, discount the fact that we nations that are members of the Nigerian state today were peacefully interacting peoples for millennia before the coming of Nigeria, and that we need to create the conditions for our being peacefully interacting peoples in all our future.”