By Adesina Wahab
The rate at which ethnic nationalities in Nigeria are joining the Unrepresented Nations and People’s Organisation, UNPO, is a confirmation that the nation’s federal structure is defective and not working to meet the expectations of the federating units, a foremost journalist cum columnist, Chief Tola Adeniyi, has said.
Adeniyi, who spoke in a chat with our correspondent, also described the move as a revalidation of the rejection of the partitioning of Africa and the forced amalgamation of different peoples and cultures in the country into a sort of weird marriage of inconvenience.
Adeniyi was reacting to the admission of the Prof. Banji Akintoye-led Yoruba World Congress, YWC, and the Ralph Uwazuruike-led Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB as the 45th and 45th members of the UNPO respectively, also considering they are both Nigeria’s ethnics group.
The UNPO is an international membership-based organization established to empower the voices of unrepresented and marginalized peoples worldwide and to protect their fundamental human rights.
It was formed on 11 February 1991 in The Hague, Netherlands. Its members consist of indigenous peoples, minorities, unrecognized peoples or peoples of occupied territories.
Adeniyi, who is also a staunch member of YWC, said people should not exercise needless fear that Nigeria could break up violently, expressing optimism that the country could still return to the practice of true federalism as the case was before the military foisted a unitary system of government on the nation in 1966.
“Belgium pulled out of Netherlands in 1930. Everybody in the Soviet Union went their ways in 1991. All this happened because the peoples realised that they could no longer stay under one umbrella. There is Freedom of Association. Withdrawing from a federation is like withdrawing from a political party.
“Such a situation does not mean people would lose their identities. You can retain yours wherever you are. A Yoruba man in Sokoto can still stay there if he wants or comes back home. We are not seceding from our land. Before Nigeria came into being, the Yoruba people were living on their land. People only want to move out of a marriage contracted without their knowledge, a marriage they were not party to,” he noted.
Asked when it would be possible for the groups to achieve their aims, Adeniyi said it was a matter of time.
“From what we are seeing already, the centre can longer hold. Look at how even Northern States have been repatriating Almajiris from their territories to their home states. It means even those Northern States know their peculiar identities, they know who is from Sokoto or Taraba from who is from Katsina.
“Can we say the current arrangement is beneficial to most federating units, no. One very important point. The so-called Federal Government is piling up debts in an environment where the unitary government at the centre swallows over 70% with nothing to show for it.
“Whereas Yoruba nation or Caliphate nation or Hausa nation will spend a loan they negotiate exclusively for their nations,” he stated.