…Says Nigeria not with one destiny, will never be
…Claims Urhobo prefer associating with the North
By Ishola Balogun
Chief Mumakai-Unagha is the Secretary Forum of Urhobo Leaders Of Thought. He is a Warri- based Legal Practitioner. In this interview with Saturday Vanguard, he spoke on restructuring and the quit notice by the Coalition of Arewa Youths, to the Igbo.
What is your take on issue of restructuring and the quit notice handed down to the Igbo by the Coalition of Arewa Youths and its consequence?
Well, quite frankly, the quit notice is in order and I don’t see anything wrong in it. Indeed, I don’t see any reason it should generate so much noise. For me, it is meant to facilitate and fast-track the self determination demand by the people of the South East.
To illustrate a better scenario, a tenant rented your house and he said he wants to leave, you cant force him to stay. Self determination means, I’m self sufficient to rule myself, so you cant force such a person against his or her wishes. Both the Arewa youth and Igbo are right in their positions.
The Igbo agitation was based on issue of marginalisation, do you agree and how could this be solved to ensure peace and order?
You cannot tie some people’s destiny down in the name of One Nigeria. The Igbo have been complaining of marginalization, and other parts of Nigeria have equally been complaining of marginalization. So let them go where they will not be sidelined. If you take a look on the social media, they are awash with all kinds of insults, heaped on our President and the North, mind you, I am not a Northerner, but sometimes I am constrained to react.
What Arewa youths did was to draw the attention of the Igbo and the need for them to be granted autonomy, which we have not opposed to. I will rather commend them rather than blame them. I don’t see who is marginalizing who. Is it the North that is marginalizing the East, West, and South or vice versa ? we have three Forms of marginalization, political marginalization, intellectual and commerce.
The west is intellectually marginalizing the rest part of the country while the East is holding other part of Nigeria to ransom on commerce. The North with their population takes control of Nigeria’s political settings. In all these marginalization, the South-south region which lays the golden eggs suffers. Worst, the situation is so bad that the south-south geopolitical zone has nobody to run to.
We the Urhobo prefer dealing with the North because they are more liberal with deep understanding and open minds.
In spite of this, IPOB does not seem to have the full support of all Igbo. Do you agree with the activities of Nnamdi KANU Led IPOB?
Why I disagree with IPOB is the violence nature they are gong about their struggle. Ordinarily, people are free to seek self determination provided they meet the United National requirement of population which I think the Igbo have satisfied. It is my belief that, someone, somewhere wants to hold or determine the destiny of others which should not be. The amalgamation of both the Northern and Southern protectorates was not intended to be permanent rather it was temporary, meant to be experimented.
Sometime in 2000, you presented Urhobo Bill of Rights to the Government and people of Nigeria, what was it about?
Yes, in 2000, we declared a dispute with the Federal Government through a bill over what I call, the wrong of relegation deprivation etc. committed by the Government of Nigeria against the Urhobo Nation. These wrongs are continually on the rise from day to day, thereby resulting in the gradual but steady erosion and corrosion of the people’s psyche.
The saying that Nigeria is one nation with one destiny is a wrong perception. Nigeria is not with one destiny and will never be. The question I ask, how does Nigeria become one nation, I stand to be convinced.
From history, the coming together of the various nations with different historical and religious beliefs was not intended to be permanent. The Colonial masters came, conquered us, and forced us to be one Nigeria. Then came independence agitation leading to bloodshed of Southerners in the North in 1954. Let me take you back to memory lane. Nigeria’s amalgamation was a fraud on the people of the Niger-Delta by the British.
The British after amalgamation dismantled the ancient sovereign Kingdoms without recourse to people’s belief. The self government of the people including their traditional institutions and heritage became warped came under siege. The people’s cultural values, ways of life and psyche, were not remedied even by the independence of 1960, thereby conflicts of self determination arose.
Yes, the Igbo are right in the agitation and the Arewa Youths are also right in facilitating the realization of the self determination agitation, except if the Igbo are telling other Nigerians that they are doing business with their demand.
What would you say of the 2014 National conference, are you of the view that it should be implemented?
I opposed that conference from the very beginning. if you may recall, when the conference was to commence, I suggested to the then President that there should be no go area. I also said, for us to get it right, we must get to the fundamental problems right, the roots of Nigeria, the bases upon which the country came together, which the former President dismissed because of his political ambition. He never knew that it would back fire. I am sure that today, he must be regretting his mistakes, if not in the open, in his bedroom.
So, would you support restructuring of the polity?
I don’t think any person or group of persons is afraid of restructuring the country. Those resisting restructuring are the worst enemies of Nigeria. Let’s get it right with a genuine round table talk not the Kangaroo meeting styled as National conference, and let us disabuse our minds from war. No section or sections should hold the country to ransom. I must be frank with you, the role always played by the South-west on issues of restructuring this country is not satisfactorily.