Following President Muhammadu Buhari’s comment that Nigeria’s unity is not negotiable, Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, has lambasted him over the statement.
Adebanjo said that Buhari, who is 78-years-old, ought to have known that Nigeria’s Independence and terms of unity were negotiated in the 1950s, but the President was a “small boy at the time, hence his ignorance.”
The 93-year-old Afenifere leader said this during a live chat with The PUNCH on Friday monitored by IGBERE TV while responding to the President’s Independence Day speech.
Buhari had said that the unity of Nigeria remains non-negotiable. However, Adebanjo said that in 1953 when the North opposed the call for Independence and rather advocated ‘Araba’ (secession), Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe convinced the northern leadership headed by Ahmadu Bello, to negotiate the terms of their unity and ultimately their independence from British rule.
“He (Buhari) is talking nonsense. These are the kinds of things that cause trouble.
“How can the President of a multinational, multilingual and multi-ethnic society say the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable? We negotiated the unity of Nigeria in 1954 before independence.
“The 1960 Constitution was a product of negotiation that arose from the London constitutional conference.
“Of course, I can’t blame him (Buhari). He was still in primary school at that time, so, he couldn’t understand. He should go back to the records.
“Before the constitutional conference, the country was being run as a unitary government and that was what caused the crisis.
“When we got to that conference, Chief Awolowo re-educated them that you cannot run the country as a unitary system. It was at that conference that Nnamdi Azikiwe was converted to federalism and when he returned from that conference, Azikiwe, at the airport, declared that federalism was imperative. It was in the Daily Times of 1954.”