…Says North power-drunk
By Jet Stanley Madu
The man who won freedom for indigenous lawyers, Adedapo Adeniran, has condemned the continued detention of the leader of the Independent People Of Biafra (IPOB) and Director, Radio Biafra, Mr. Nnanna Kalu, whom he said, is fighting for a just cause.
Over time, Adeniran, who also was legal counsel to the Action Group (AG) at the time of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, has been very vocal in calling for Nigeria’s restructuring. Some of his works include Nigeria: The Case For A Peaceful and Friendly Dissolution and The Futility of the Land Use Decree 1978.
In this interview in his Lagos Island home, he spoke on various issues.
What do you make out of the series of calls now for restructuring?
To me, the calls from Wole Soyinka, General Gowon, Atiku and other thoughtful Nigerians to restructure Nigeria is interesting and in order but, belated. Before Soyinka or any of them started calling for restructuring, I had written. But, everybody played the dumb. Not until now when what I foresaw very long ago now stares everyone in the eyeballs. When I first wrote my book on the need to amicably restructure Nigeria, I believe Wole Soyinka was in America. I tried to contact him. And I sent him a copy of the book because I know what he suffered from the power that is, at one time.
But, there was no word from him. Maybe he got it, maybe he did not. It appears Wole Soyinka is now getting the hand of what I wrote in that book as the enemy came knocking. Let me state that tribe, language, habit, culture form the basis for the unity of those agitating for self-governance. Considering the manner the Whiteman lumped two separate and very differing protectorates together, I foresaw that at some points, these agitations would creep in. So, I picked up my pen and canvassed for a peaceful and friendly divorce. But, it was perceived as nonsense or insanity and was ignored.
Do you expect that people will not agitate?
When the wealth of one disadvantaged region sustains the other! For example, decades after a civil war, there has been cry of marginalization from a region but ignored. Again, Babangida took us to the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC). And the whole country is not Islamic. But, if for example, the people who desire autonomy are allowed to go, and the Islamic area wants to join anything they like, they’re qualified to do so. Or the Igbo nation seeks to join the Israeli body, they are free. But, to take a country with multifarious language, multifarious habits, multifarious religion, multifarious culture to IOC is out of the way.
Is the continued detention of Nnamdi Kanu and others justified?
The government of the day need be told that, that young man, Kanu needs his freedom. There is no basis for which government can justify his continued detention because UN charter supports a people to seek self-determination after 100 years in the life of a nation. So, when viewed objectively, Kanu and his allies are championing a worthy cause. And they are fighting for what is appropriate and which they believe in.
So, sending armed soldiers after unarmed and defenseless people who desire to determine their own future is baseless, the killings cruel, and must be investigated. It is on this basis Kanu and his compatriots should be released without further delay and unconditionally
What is more, the Igbo’s cry of marginalization is correct because those who are in power are oppressive to those who are not in power. But, people who go with the power that be, get all the benefits to the neglect of their people and region. Those who do not want to go with the powers that be are the ones marginalized.
You’re also calling for restructuring, what shape do you expect it to take?
Many people have tagged the fusion of the different regions that make up the country falsely known as Nigeria variously. But, the apt description is to say that Nigeria is a marriage of strange bedfellows. This is absolutely correct. And we see it in the fact that the Yoruba man is different from the Igbo man.
The Igbo man is different from the Ijaw man. And these are absolutely and obviously different from the Northern Fulani people. And you see that in totality, everything about the southern people generally –the Igbo, Yoruba, Ijaw and the rest are totally different from the Hausa North.
It is clearly spelt out in the UN (United Nations) Charter that after 100 years of existence of a nation, whichever section or region that wishes to go is free to do so. We have witnessed this happen in many places.
Why has Nigerian leaders pretentiously made it difficult for nations seeking self-rule to separate?
This is what has thrown the country into the chaos it presently is in. If they had heeded my advice in the book I titled: Nigeria: The Case for a Peaceful and Friendly Dissolution, everyone would have known peace. For as long as each government comes and plays blind to agitations for self-determination, the burden of agitations, protests and distractions in governance will never go away. Every region seeking autonomy will be capable to manage its own country because every area is richly blessed with resources to move on.
But the federal government is sitting on all these. There should be a middle ground to set for liberty, people who desire to go. It is obvious that a particular group rooting to go their way are bound by same beliefs, cultural ideals and practices, same habits etc.
If those who wish to go are allowed to go, they will control their God-given resources and effectively harness such for their growth.
I have sounded this repeatedly, that the present size of the country is the root of the large scale corruption. Nigeria is too large for only a handful of corrupt and inept rulers to administer. This explains the unprecedented looting of the common treasury by a few bad heads, one administration after another, year after year. All these are treated in the case for a peaceful and friendly dissolution of Nigeria, first written in 1999 and the 6th edition of 2012.
Why do you think successive administrations and even the present one are scared of restructuring of any guise?
Frankly, they know it is something that would happen and must happen. But, I think they are shying away from it to continue to perpetuate corruption in government and quest for power. A lot of pilfering goes on in government coffers and some people are very comfortable with that and wouldn’t want disintegration.
Secondly, I think power is another factor. The North is power-drunk and wishes to lord over the whole country and those people enjoying power wouldn’t want restructuring in any guise.
As a statesman, can you do a comparative analysis of the present day Fulani herdsmen with the herdsmen of old?
The cattlemen of old were somewhat peaceful with slight stints of aggressiveness. Then, they were unarmed. I used to see Fulani herdsmen rear their cattle from Ilorin, through to Ogbomosho, through to Oyo in those days. I saw then that they moved with sticks. They were quite peaceful. Although, not altogether peaceful because the Fulani were the people who sold the Yorubas to the Portuguese in Oyo. I also remember when a certain police officer, I think by the name, Ogundare, who was coming from somewhere to Oyo, discovered that Fulani herdsmen were fighting with some other people there. He stopped to enquire.
He was killed by the Fulanis. And we heard nothing of it till today. Today, Fulani herdsmen carry sophisticated weapons and do kill anybody who disturbs them in their mission of carrying cattle from the North to the South. They destroy your field, you talk, and they kill you with sophisticated arms. But, can those peasants own such large herds? Who bought and schooled them how to operate those weapons? Surely, they must have people in government as their backbone.
You insist that true restructuring of Nigeria remains the option to ending the myriad of crises militating against good governance. Why do you think so?
Cattle ranching or no ranching, if the agitating units are allowed to go their separate ways and if you have your own state, you can have your cattle ranch there. Government should read my book on a peaceful and friendly way to let every region go its way without ranchor and bloodletting. Government should seek wisdom from that book. The federal government should dialogue with the agitators -the MASSOB, the militants from the South and those in the North. The smaller the country, the less cumbersome, less burdensome, easier and more effective to manage.