President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo and human rights activist, Femi Falana, have accused the Federal Government of non-commitment to its constitutional obligation to guarantee national integration.
They alleged that rather than integrate, the federal government has encouraged policies that tend to divide the country, the result being that the country had not been as divided as it is today, since the end of the civil war in 1970.
Both men, who spoke yesterday, at the 19th Mike Okonkwo Annual Lecture with theme: ‘Nigeria’s unity: Matters arising,’ held in Lagos, said there is no way Nigeria would be united under a policy that encourages segregation and injustice, as there cannot be unity between the oppressor and the oppressed.
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They said Nigeria would only make progress when every part of the country is guaranteed equal opportunities. They added that what should bother the citizenry more is the need to restructure the country rather than any agitation for 2019 or 2023.
Nwodo, who was chairman of the event noted that the federal government has continued to adopt a soft stance in dealing with the activities of the Fulani cattle herdsmen, while a tougher approach was used on the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
He alleged that the attitude of the Nigerian Police Force in tackling the mayhem unleashed by the herdsmen suggested that they were compromised, and added that, “the duty of the police is to prevent the commission of crime and not to come out after crime had been committed.”
He said Nigeria must resolve the imbalances before the country can achieve lasting unity and peace.
Falana, the guest lecturer, said the federal government has failed to promote national integration through the discriminatory treatment meted out to women, non indigenes and settlers in different parts of the country.
“Section15(3) of the Constitution has imposed a duty on the state to encourage national integration by providing adequate facilities for the citizens and to encourage free mobility of people, goods and services throughout the country; securing of full residence rights for every citizen in all parts of the federation; encouraging inter – marriage among persons from different places of origin, religious, ethnic or linguistics groups and promoting or encouraging the formation of associations that cut across religious, ethnic or linguistics groups or other sectional interests.
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“Notwithstanding that Section 42 of the1999 Constitution and Article 2 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights have prohibited discrimination on the basis of ethnicity or place of origin or birth, the official manipulation of the concept of indigene has led to violent communal clashes among many people in the various parts of the country,” Falana said.
According to him, the crisis in Nigeria is rooted in its faulty foundation. He said Nigeria was not created by the people, but by “Europeans who met at an illegal conference in Berlin.
“At the Berlin conference of November 1884 to February 1885, the various communities in Africa were partitioned among European colonial exploiters. A large area later christened Nigeria was allotted to the British government…The amalgamation was essentially designed to serve the interest of imperialism and not the interest of the Nigerians,” Falana said.