A former Chief of Defence Staff, Lt.-Gen. Alani Akinrinade (retd.), has said the unity of Nigeria is negotiable and must be negotiated.
Others who shared his view included an Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Opadokun and Bini ethnic nationality leader, Chief Solomon Edebiri.
They spoke at the celebration of Ijaw Day (International) held at the Gloryland Cultural Centre, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State, on Sunday.
Present on the occasion were a former Governor of Rivers State, Chief Diete Spiff; Acting President, Ijaw National Congress, Charles Ambaiowei and various ethnic nationalities, such as Afenifere and Ohanaeze Ndigbo, among others.
However, it appeared there was a frosty relationship between the INC and the Bayelsa State Government, as Governor Seriake Dickson as well as his cabinet members were absent at the event.
Specifically, Akinrinade said, “Mr. President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, the unity of Nigeria is negotiable and must be negotiated. The reason we are going to the conference is because Nigeria is having some issues. So, we are not going there with the mind that it cannot be negotiated.
“If I do not like the place, I can walk out. So, why should you insist we have to be together? We shouldn’t but if you can work out something, then we all stay together and we will all be very happy. But not that nonsense that we cannot negotiate the unity of Nigeria.”
The former minister of transport also said the national dialogue represented a historic opportunity to correct the mistake of 1914.
He said, “We must all plan to take advantage of the national conference, as limited in scope and representation as it might be, to make the case for fiscal and political autonomy for the states, including Ijaw states.
Opadokun, a leader of the National Democratic Coalition, agreed with Akinrinade, in an interview on the sidelines of the conference, that the unity of Nigeria was negotiable.
He said people, who were saying that the unity of Nigeria was not negotiable, were only being hypocritical.
Opadokun said, “Nigeria’s project from day one came about through negotiation. Political leaders went to London conferences – all those conferences were negotiations. There are sufficient bases for questioning a number of negative things about our coexistence. So let us not be hypocritical to say that something is not negotiable.”
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