The Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, says it does not believe in secession and disintegration of Nigeria but demands true federalism to address the country’s challenges.
“We are not anarchists; we are not secessionists. We recognise that there is a democratically-elected government,” acting leader of the group, Ayo Adebanjo, told journalists in Lagos.
“However, it is the considered position of Afenifere that the president urgently constitutes a Government of National Unity solely to undertake the restructuring of Nigeria, in consultation with the Nigerian peoples.
“The issue of restructuring is about our freedom. We are democrats. I don’t want violence. I don’t want the country to break,’’ the 93-year-old Yoruba leader said.
Mr Adebanjo, who noted that most states of the federation were unviable entities, decried the level of insecurity across the country, which he said a restructured Nigeria would resolve.
The Yoruba leader also called for a sovereign national conference on restructuring and said that the country must be returned to the 1960 Independence Constitution before the 2023 general elections.
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“The Nigeria that was agreed is one that was deliberately federal in structure. The Nigeria that was agreed was by design, based on a parliamentary system of government.
“The Nigeria that was agreed was one that recognised the rights of the federating regions to nationhood within the ambit of the federation that was birthed.
“It was the position of Afenifere and the National Democratic Coalition that there existed an urgent need for a sovereign national conference of ethnic nationalities that have become known as Nigerians.
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“We remain convinced that the need for a sovereign national conference is imperative. The basis of the Nigerian state must be clearly negotiated,’’ he stressed.
Mr Adebanjo said that there could not be peace in the absence of equality, justice and truth guaranteed by substantial restructuring and true federalism.
He added that he had spent more than 70 years of his life to relentlessly struggle for a united, civilised and prosperous Nigeria.
According to him, “the Afenifere will support any person who has a clear cut understanding of a restructured Nigeria and sincerely committed to true federalism”.
He said that Afenifere will be leading the Yoruba nation to demand substantial restructuring before any election could be held in 2023.
On the on-going National Assembly’s Constitutional amendment, Mr Adebanjo said that he did not believe in any amendments to the 1999 Constitution because Nigerians were not part of its drafting.