Amidst demands by ethnic nationalities and the Indigenous People of Biafra for secession, a South-East socio-political organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo (Worldwide), on Wednesday, warned proponents of division to have a rethink as Nigeria’s unity was not negotiable.
The Chairman of the Council of Elders, Ohanaeze Ndigbo (Worldwide), Dr Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, raised the concern in Abuja during the third Igbo Nsukka United Front and Zik Annual Merit Award in Abuja with the theme, ‘Nigeria of our dreams: possibilities, challenges and realities’, as part of activities to mark the posthumous birthday of elder statesman and nationalist, late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe.
Other leaders at the event included a former governor of Enugu State, Okwesilieze Nwodo; the Sultan of Sokoto and President-General, Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III; Prof. Uche Azikiwe, wife of late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe; and Governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Zulum.
Iwuanyanwu said, “Secession is never an option. Everybody is thinking of being large or big. Nigeria today is a large area of about 200 million people. Whatever you’re doing, if you’re a businessman, then you have a market for 200 million people. Why do you want to break it and go to a smaller place? So, I think that all these people talking about secession should please think about it.
“I am somebody who fought, got injured and suffered during the (Nigerian civil) war. So, I am somebody who lost to those things better than myself. I am a father and also the Chairman of Council of Elders, so I am talking as a father that we should walk towards peace.
“I am also warning Nigerians; nobody should come and say that there is a law everybody must obey. Nigeria is a nation-state comprising many ethnicities. Everybody knows their group, they know their culture. So, it is not possible to bring American democracy here. We need zoning. It should be zoned among the six geopolitical zones.
“If you do that, then there will be no tension. But if you say Igbos cannot come together, the repercussions will be on the people of Nigeria because you cannot force people. A leader must be fair and just to everybody so that the younger people can know that they can participate.”