Secession fears mount in Nigeria
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.