Se­ces­sion fears mount in Nige­ria

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD - TOYE OLORI IN­DE­PEN­DENT FOR­EIGN SER­VICE

LAGOS: A coali­tion of sep­a­ratist Yorubas is ag­i­tat­ing for self-de­ter­mi­na­tion and sovereignty in south­west Nige­ria as se­ces­sion­ist ten­den­cies mount across the coun­try.

The O’odua Na­tion­al­ist Coali­tion, (Onac), which con­sists of 18 eth­nic Yoruba groups, re­cently called for a sov­er­eign nation “in the face of the lin­ger­ing prob­lems and con­flict built around the na­tional ques­tion that has stunted the growth of Nige­ria for over a cen­tury’’.

The coali­tion claimed at its meet­ing in Ibadan that con­flict had re-emerged 50 years af­ter civil war racked Nige­ria. It em­pha­sised the suf­fer­ing of Yoruba people and said that a de­vel­op­ment plan for the south-west that had been forged by for­mer chief Obafemi Awolowo had been dis­torted.

“To­day, we make the his­toric dec­la­ra­tion that Yoruba people are ready for our own Oduduwa Repub­lic,” the coali­tion noted. “We have watched events these past days. It is time for the Yoruba people to be ready to de­fend our home­land from be­ing seized by lo­cal im­pe­rial el­e­ments and their col­lab­o­ra­tors.”

Se­ces­sion­ist ten­den­cies have mounted across Nige­ria re­cently. Youth groups in the north have given mem­bers of the Igbo eth­nic group un­til October to leave the area, while the North­ern Elders Fo­rum has de­manded sovereignty.

Onac claims that Yorubas, as well as Ig­bos, are be­ing pressed to leave the north by se­ces­sion­ists.

In the south-east, the In­dige­nous People of Bi­afra (Ipob) and the Move­ment for the Ac­tu­al­i­sa­tion of the Sov­er­eign State of Bi­afra have been ag­i­tat­ing for se­ces­sion.

Nige­ria has three ma­jor eth­nic groups and more than 300 mi­nor­ity ones. Re­cent agi­ta­tion for self-de­ter­mi­na­tion among these groups has spread fear that the coun­try is head­ing to­wards dis­in­te­gra­tion.

The leader of Ipob, Nnamdi Kanu, was re­cently re­leased from jail af­ter a year. Kanu sub­se­quently or­dered a boy­cott of a gov­er­nor­ship elec­tion in Anam­bra State in the south-east, slated for Novem­ber. His group has also dis­rupted a campaign rally by the in­cum­bent gov­er­nor.

How­ever, the Igbo So­cial Cul­tural group has dis­owned Kanu and the call for se­ces­sion in­stead pro­mot­ing the idea of po­lit­i­cal “re­struc­tur­ing” across Nige­ria.

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