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North-South Presidency Will Not End Agitations For Secession, Only True Federalism Can – Rights Activist, Ikimi

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Human rights activist, Mr. Oghenejabor Ikimi, has said that a Northern presidency or southern presidency in 2023 will not end the intermittent agitations for secession by a section of the country.

BIGPENNGR reports that Mr. Ikimi spoke in an interview over the weekend, saying that Nigerians would continue to agitate whether a Southerner takes power or a Northerner becomes the next president until true federalism is established.

Ikimi averred that only a candidate that is ready to implement restructuring or give true federal system of government that would have full support of Nigerians irrespective of geopolitical zone.

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According to the rights activist, a lawyer by profession, amidst the growing concern over insecurity in nearly every part of the country, the federal government should embark on town hall meeting across geopolitical zones to feel the pulse of the people.

He also postulated that Nigerians need a sovereign national conference of all ethnic nationalities with a view to draft and give themselves a “people oriented constitution that’s acceptable.”

Ikimi contended that the Federal Government goofed in it’s handling of insecurity in the South East geopolitical zone, particularly the issue of secession by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).

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He said that it is insanity for the federal government to continue using the same method of using the military, the DSS and  police to suppress the people instead of addressing the vexed issues of injustice in the constitution that have been the bane of Nigeria’s problems.

“Unfortunately, the federal government is not dealing with the issues of secession in the Eastern part of Nigeria.

“The government is not properly dealing with the issue. Let me just say it here that the government has totally failed in handling issues of secession across Nigeria.

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“The government has been using the army, the police to suppress the agitators but this style is no longer fashionable. It is not working for them. Why don’t the government use another method? When you are using a method and it keeps failing, you’re not getting any result, and you continue to try and try, that’s insanity.

“It means that the military, the army, police have failed when it comes to quelling this issue of secession. They have failed. It has happened in several countries. What is happening in Ethiopia today where they are asking for their own country, is the same thing we have here. And they’re using military to suppress it. All these will not work.

“I agreed with the governor of Abia State,  Ikpeazu, his call for the Federal Government to interface with the people.

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“If the federal government doesn’t want to interface with IPOB because IPOB has been branded a terrorists group why don’t the federal government interface with the leaders, governors and various ethnic nationalities in the South East?

Ikimi stressed that the root cause of the issue of secession in the country is the federal government failure to tackle the issue of diversity.

“The root cause of the issue of secession is the failure of the federal government to deal with the issue of diversity in Nigeria. A country like Nigeria is charged with various tribes. There are several nationalities in Nigeria. I think as of the last count, there are over 200 ethnic nationalities in Nigeria. And the constitution says that the national assembly can only conduct the business of the house in Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba, and English language. What about the other tribes?.

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“So this is where we have the problem because the constitution recognizes only three major tribes in Nigeria whereas there are other tribes in Nigeria. We have over 200 tribes but the constitution is not dealing with the issue of diversity. Look at the 1999 constitution, is not dealing with issue of diversity. Look at our currency. You see the Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba in the currency. What about the other tribes? What about the minority tribes.

“So because the constitution doesn’t recognize diversity, the constitution has failed to tackle diversity and the government has failed to deal with the issue of diversity, there is now injustice in the system. The volume of injustice has gone to a dangerous crescendo that other tribes, there is diversity, disrespect and suspicious among the various tribes including the minority tribes.

“They suspect one another, there is no mutual respect for one another again. And the country is not even helping matters”.

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Ikimi, however decried the manner of appointment given by the Buhari’s government, maintaining that none of the appointment from NNPC, EFCC, NIS, Army, Police and other government agencies and parastatals are in tandem with the spirit and letters of the Federal Character Commission which ought to regulate the manners of appointment for the seek of justice, equity and fair play.

He said that Nigeria, as a nation has been receding instead of progressing for the past 10 years under the democratically elected Government because of the kind of system of government being practiced in the country.

“We’re receding as a nation. All the ills we are having now are as a result of the kind of system we are running. So the problem of insecurity, corruption and injustice are associated with fake federalism that we are practicing”.

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On the 2023 presidency, Ikimi postulated that only a president from the southern geopolitical zone can establish and guarantee true federalism in the country, emphasizing that the Northern oligarchy mindset wouldn’t allow the region to want to implement a system that would work for Nigeria and make life worth living for citizens.

“For us to settle this problem of Nigeria, is for us to embrace restructuring. If you ask me that a Northern presidency or southern presidency which one will embrace true federalism, I will personally tell you that a Southern president will usher in true federalism than a Northern President because the north are usual to this mindset that they own Nigeria.

“They think they own Nigeria, they have the idea that we are the owners of the oil in the Niger Delta, we are born to rule because they feel that their population is bigger than the South and that with this population they will rule Nigeria forever.

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“But the population in the north always count when there is an election but Internally Generated Revenue, the population doesn’t count. It is the South that feeds the North. All the foreign exchange we are having here and there comes from the South. Not just the South but from the South-south. And not just from the South South but from my backyard here, Gbaramatu. It is a seabed of crude oil and gas. Yet we buy a bottle of cooking gas for N8,000. From the back of my house here gas is being flared, so whether there is a South president or Northern President, our concern is a president that will pursue the restructuring of this country as a political agenda.

“That’s who Nigerians should support. Because it will be quicker to achieve when a Southern president is there than a Northern President. The north is usual to what’s happening up North. And no Northern President would want to demolish the structure because they are benefiting from the system.

“The north has 19 states while the South has 17 states. It was not like that before. When Yakubu Gowon came , there was 6 states in the North, 6 states in the South. When Muritala Mohammed came, he created 10 states in the North and 9 in the South.

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“But today, we have 19 States in the north and 17 states in the South so when you add the local government councils in Kano, Katsina and Jigawa states together, these three Northern States are more than all the local government in the South East. This is injustice.

“So when the whole of the South East go to the parliament in Nigeria – the national assembly, their voices are drowned by just these representatives from three states in the North. And you call that Justice? This is injustice.

“So I sympathised with the people of the South East, South-south and South West. The North are enjoying it and they feel that it will be waste of time exploring their mineral resources.

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“They are waiting for the oil to dry up. The gold in Zamfara, the people of Zamfara are enjoying the gold in Zamfara. They said it is not Nigeria’s property again. It is for Zamfara.

“So the people have decided that, it is high time we address these injustice and that’s why you have this call for secession.

“The solution, I recommend that the federal government should dialogue with the people of Nigeria. The Federal Government, in my final analysis should call for a sovereign national conference if the town hall meeting doesn’t work”, he added.

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