Onaiyekan Seeks Negotiation of Nigeria’s Unity
Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Prelate of the Roman Catholic Church and former Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, at the weekend disclosed that while he is not in support of calls for secession by some Nigerians, he believes that the unity of the country can still be negotiated.
Onaiyekan, who predicated his support for dialogue and negotiation on the recent happenings in the country, was of the opinion that those calling for secession are not looking for peaceful solution for the myriad of problems bedeviling the country.
The cleric stated this when he hosted a delegation of Tiv Professionals Group (TPG) in Abuja.
A 14-member delegation of TPG led by its Chairman, Professor Zackharys Gundu, had paid the clergyman a visit to intimate him of the unprovoked killings of their people in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba States by marauding herdsmen.
While reacting to their submission, Onaiyekan, who noted that the country is currently facing a threat of disintegration, urged Nigerians to do everything possible to prevent the worst from happening.
According to him, “I cannot support those calling for war to liberate ourselves. All those calling for secession are not looking for peaceful solution. There must be a way that we can save ourselves from self-destruction.
“When they say the unity of the country cannot be negotiated, I refuse, as you cannot say such a thing. It is negotiable, and we must negotiate. And negotiation simply means give and take. We must agree that the unity of Nigeria is negotiable, and that in fact, right now, Nigeria is up for negotiation.
“That is where different ethnic groups could come in to say, to be part of this project, this is what I want and this is not what I want. But that of course requires whoever is the head of the country to initiate that kind of discussion.
“But even if President Muhammadu Buhari cannot do it, that doesn’t stop this conversation from going on. We don’t have to wait until other ethnic groups gather under one roof, movement like this can still be going on.”
Cardinal Onaiyekan stated that Nigerians need a forum where they can say anything, and where they are not limited to only what is politically correct.
He noted that under normal circumstances, it is the National Assembly that is supposed to do such, “but unfortunately, they have remained silence and have become a rubber stamp to the executive arm of government.”
Earlier, the Chairman of the group, Prof. Gundu, highlighted incidents of unprovoked attacks and killings of innocent citizens in Benue, Nasarawa and Taraba States by alleged Fulani herdsmen with no government interventions.
The group alleged that the reason for the killings of innocent citizens is for the purpose of land grabbing, which it said must stop.
While demanding full compensation for the millions of people who have been displaced from their ancestral lands by the herdsmen, the group said all occupied lands must be vacated and all displaced persons should be returned to their ancestral lands.
Other members of the 14-member delegation of TPG on the courteous visit were Dr. Yakubu Tor-Agbinde, Ade Linus, Dr. Sabastine Agbinda, Prof. Magdalyne Dura, John Shihi, Prof. James Ugo, Dr. Qrisstuberg Amua, Samuel Nyagba, Prof. Cephas Turshima, Prof. Idyorough Fulafia, Prof. Alloy Ihuah, Comodre Christopher Goda (rtd) and Chris Agaba.