As some Nigerians and major players in the political sectors intensifies their calls for the restructuring of the country, former Senior Special Assistance to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, Dr Doyin Okupe, on Monday said the unity of Nigeria is negotiable.
He contended that “the unity of Nigeria and restructuring are two different things, but when we say restructuring, people misunderstand it to mean that you want to dismember the country or you want the country to break up. No, that is not the point”.
Speaking in Osogbo, the capital of Osun State, at the sideline of a book launch by a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain in the state, Hon Bamidele Salam, Okupe maintained that “restructuring is another name for the practice or return to Nigeria to true federalism that we did at independence. That’s what we mean by restructuring”.
According to him, “there is no statement like the unity of Nigeria is negotiable or not negotiable. Any unity in the world is by negotiation, even the one between a man and a woman. There is nothing like whether unity is negotiable or unity is not negotiable. It does not exist. It is a mis-normal, as I am like this, I am Doyin Okupe and if something else has to join me, we have to discuss it”.
While reacting to agitations by some people on the need for Nigeria to break up, Okupe stated “I don’t want Nigeria to in any way, state or form to be reduced from what it is but there still has to be justice, there still has to be fairness, there still has to be equity .
He continued, “there are three problems for Nigeria, one, we have a major problem of elitist favour. The elites in Nigeria have failed in all fronts, be it political elites, business moguls, administrators and all people who are privileged to constitute the part and parcel of nation building are classified as elites. The elites in the country have failed and because the elites have failed, there is no unity of purpose, we do not even have a national purpose, national direction”.
“We have a country and there is no argument about that but we have not really become a nation. It is still a question of a Yoruba from South West and a Christian, Abdullah is from Kano a Muslim from the North. We really do not have anything that makes us to come together as a nation and any pretention to that fact, we will be wasting our time”,
“You look at it, we are celebrating 57th anniversary and we are talking about unity of the country after 57 years. So, there is a problem about unity. Let’s go back to restructuring, the issue about restructuring; I have heard so many people talk about it. Some in the North say they are not supporting it, they have a right to say it. It doesn’t even matter if all the 17 states in the North say they are not supporting it, no problem. We in the South West are in accord, complete agreement as we agree that there will be something called restructuring”.
“We have an issue, I agree with the people saying we should settle it constitutionally, but if care is not taken, we would convert the 2019 election to a referendum on restructuring. In 2019, your personality, your party, your programme will not matter; it will be are you for restructuring or are you against. So those of us who are for will vote for governors, House of Assembly, Senators, and House of Reps members who are interested in restructuring. Because we will then know that the National Assembly will be a battleground”, Okupe asserted