The Secretary General of the Yoruba Council of Elders, Dr. Kunle Olajide, has declared that the North is a big problem and a great obstacle to the development of Nigeria.
Olajide said this in reaction to the statement credited to the Chairman of the Arewa Consultative Forum and a former Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Ibrahim Coomassie, who said that Nigeria could not survive without the North.
Olajide spoke in Osogbo on Thursday, at the first memorial lecture of Nathaniel Abimbola organised by the Osun State Council of the Nigeria Union of Journalists.
Abimbola, who was a reporter with the Osun State Broadcasting Corporation, died last year in an accident along the Ife-Ibadan Expressway.
Olajide, who was the chairman on the occasion, said the North is home to the Boko Haram which is costing the Nigerian government billions of naira, religious crisis, killer herdsmen as well as numerous negative indices of quality of life.
He said: “The newspapers reported the Arewa Consultative Forum as saying that Nigeria cannot survive without the North. Whatever was meant by that statement credited to the ACF chairman remains to be understood.
“However, I congratulate him for accepting that the North as it is today represents all that is wrong with Nigeria. The North-east is ravaged by insurgency costing the country billions of dollars annually. The North-west is home to religious crisis, the North-central is ravaged by herdsmen of northern extraction. Collectively, the North is home to all negative indices of the quality of life. Infant mortality rate is highest in the North.
“Illiteracy rate is highest in the North and the number of out-of-school children is highest in the North. The poverty index in the North is high while the twin evil bedeviling the North is feudalism and religious fatalism. It will not be out of place to say the North has in fact been dragging Nigeria down since independence. All sorts of mischievous phrases were coined by the very tiny political / military elite of the North to give undue advantage to the North.”
The YCE scribe said the North staged-managed the military coup which removed President Shehu Shagari from power on December 31, 1983. He said the northern oligarch feared that there could be revolution in the country and they allegedly planned the coup with the military in order to ensure that power remained in the North.
Olajide said the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo spent greater part of his political career and his resources struggling to liberate the talakawas of the North from their elite but feudalism and religious fatalism frustrated his efforts.
He said that Yoruba people are not only insisting on the restructuring of the political architecture in the country, they were also insisting on the wholesale reform of this elite-centered system of government.
The Yoruba elder said the unfair wages and remuneration of the political leadership in the executive and the legislature must be reviewed downwards. Likewise, he said the outrageous pension benefits and severance allowances of political office holders must be scrapped and the entire political system must not be made financially lucrative to ward off political contractors and charlatans.
He said if these were done, only the service-minded people would begin to show interest to take over the political leadership of the country.
“Let me assure Alhaji Coomassie that much as we want a fair and egalitarian Nigerian society, it is not at all costs. The rest of Nigeria will survive, flourish and join the league of first world countries within two decades if the North exits. If it desires to leave Nigeria, join me in saying goodbye to the exiting North; I wish them a safe journey into the desert,” he added.
A member of the House of Representatives from Osun State, Prof. Mojeed Alabi, who delivered the lecture, said corruption was not the main problem of Nigeria but the constitution which he said was faulty.
The lawmaker said corruption was just a manifestation of the fundamentally faulty constitution which had raised regional suspicion.
Alabi added that Nigeria needed to convoke a Sovereign National Conference to determine its existence and how to go about it.
He explained that the word sovereign would not stop the executive, the legislature and judiciary from carrying out their functions.
Alabi said, “In essence, my colleagues in government have nothing to fear by the convocation of a Sovereign National Conference. That is the way to go if Nigeria must be returned to the path of sanity and greatness in our march to political stability, social harmony and economic prosperity.”