Southern Senators to Agitators: Secession Not an Option – THISDAY Newspapers
Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti
The 51 Senators from Southern Nigeria, under the umbrella body of Southern Senators Forum, yesterday insisted that a united and indivisible Nigeria remained the best option that would profit all Nigerians regardless of ethnicity, religious and political inclinations.
The Senators warned against divisive actions “being demonstrated by some political and apolitical actors in the build up to the 2023 presidential poll,” saying making uncouth and incendiary comments at this pulsating period would further widen the gulf and threaten the country’s survival as a nation.
These were contained in the senators’ congratulatory message to Nigerians to mark Nigeria’s 61st anniversary of Independence. It was signed by the Forum’s Chairman, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele and Secretary General, Senator Chukwuka Utazi,
Rather than uniting and making headways in view of the enormous human and materials resources that abound in Nigeria, the Forum, lamented that the country had faltered in so many ways, thereby creating colossal economic and political burdens that are bringing the nation down.
The Senators exuded optimism that Nigeria “still holds a bright future, if the ruling elite can share the same dream and shun proclivities for unwarranted cleavages in the polity,” reiterating that “this is the most propitious time to embrace unity of purpose.”
The political leaders applauded the country’s founding fathers like Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Sir Ahmadu Bello, for jettisoning ethnic and religious cards and putting the country above such narrow sentiments, culminating in Nigeria’s Independence on October 1, 1960.
“Our sincere appreciation goes to these founding fathers for rising above pedestrianism and pettiness and giving us a nation called Nigeria. Whether we like it or not, Nigeria is phenomenal in so many ways, being the largest and most populous country in Africa, and also occupying a strategic position in the world economy, diplomacy and politics.
“We have made a lot of mistakes in our national life regarding the levity with which we handled and treated our democracy at inception, thereby giving unfettered latitude for military to make incursion, seize power and destroy every stride our founding fathers had made before the coming of the holocausts.
“As fallible as our founding fathers were, they led us with finesse, patriotism, commitment and ultimately with the fear of God. Material acquisition, ethnicity and political affiliations were not the prime target, but national interest and lives of the commoners.
“Disturbingly, the reverse is the trend today. The country is now being ripped off by ethnic, political and religious cards being used by ruling elite to create a wedge that is affecting us adversely.
“Time has come for all of us to work harder, close ranks and mend all fences for us to be able to convert our huge human and material capital to economic gains to benefit our teeming populace.
“Looking at the trajectory of our economy and politics, they are turning so derisive at every dispensation that passes. We are retrogressing rather than progressing each day to the extent that one could conclude that our economic problems have defied every solution and theory. Now, we must rethink, for we have the options to either survive or sink deeply.
“As incurable optimists, we hold that unflagging view that Nigeria can still be great again. We are making some giant strides that if well complemented, would yield results that can lift us up, but this may be a mirage as long as the menace of insecurity and economic challenges abound and expand in leaps and bounds,” the forum warned.