• .Says, Buhari may be the last President of Nigeria, unless…’
  • .’No running away from restructuring’
  • .‘Agitations, feeling of injustices symptoms of a dysfunctional country
  • . ‘I do not know in which part of Nigeria there is no agitation’

Elder statesman and former Chief of Defence Staff, General Alani Akinrinade, took a critical view of political development in the country and concluded that unless urgent action is taken by the government, the threat of imminent disintegration of the country is real.

In an exclusive interview with the Daily Times at his farm in Yakoyo, Osun State at the weekend, Akinrinade, also a former Chief of Army Staff and Minister of Agriculture, warned that the brink of disintegration is real while President Muhammadu Buhari stood the risk of being the last President of Nigeria.

According to him, there were lots of agitations and flashpoints across the land fuelled by feelings of injustices, warning that unless the proper things are done, it would be impossible for the country to make progress.

His words: “If you look at the whole spectrum of the boundaries of our country, there are too many wars going on. You talked about Boko Haram; it is still an ongoing problem, indeed massive problem; the Avengers, IPOB, then another one wants Biafra at all costs; Apart from Avengers, there is Reformed Avengers, MEND is also talking on the sides, you also have quite a number of groups, all claiming to be fighting for the Niger Delta.

“I think the two major flashpoints are the Niger Delta and Boko Haram; the third is even more amorphous because there are no boundaries – the herdsmen who are killing people; it has abated a little now because of the rainy season; but who knows when the dry season comes and the grass start disappearing again, the problem may resurface and the kind of solution that the minister of agriculture is proposing, in effect is good but at the same time, they are also talking of grazing reserves that they want to rehabilitate. Nobody has been told where they are in which part of the country. That also has the potential for a big conflagration, another major problem

“Now the proposals for the Avengers. There is a lot of talk now about another kind of Amnesty, about negotiations with government; meanwhile another arm of government is talking of being ready with enough force. All these are symptoms of a dysfunctional country; what we are treating is the symptom and not the disease. Yoruba will say – o fi ete le, o npa lapalapa. Meaning you left leprosy and treating ringworm. Ringworm can’t kill, leprosy will.

“If you really put the total sum of all these together- efforts, money, emotion, destruction of lives, destruction of properties that are going on, on a daily basis, certainly, the General has a good right to fear that this country is standing on some form of brink of disintegration. I do not know in which part of the country there is no agitation. Even in the West here, if you go through the social media, if you have a glimpse into the many groups that are coalescing, on one subject: they want autonomy for themselves. Even on welfare, they may not be fighting like Boko Haram but this is burning in this place and it is burning for many years. So, what has stopped us from looking at the real reasons why these things are happening?

“We are not the first to have oil, many countries have oil, a lot of them on land. America, Venezuela have. A lot of them that have offshore like we do, North sea oil, Angola; so why is it difficult for us to see clearly, plainly and transparently, how they relate to those resources; why must we allow them to raise their voices not to talk about carrying guns, to solve the problem which other people have solved. It’s not Rocket Science, we don’t need someone to tell us what the Americans, and Venezuelans do with their oil. For us, in the third world, it’s making us poorer but for the first world, its making them very rich and nobody is quarrelling over it. So, these are part of the issues we should look at.

“Why are the Avengers there, why is the Boko Haram there, why are the herdsmen running around the whole place? All of them have routes, and it is those routes that we must realistically confront. For Niger Delta, if you read them very well, simply, they want their property back from the rest of us. I feel very embarrassed and ashamed when they say their oppressors are from the north and the west. I feel really uncomfortable for the west had never felt being big part of the whole country. We have always stood by ourselves. Everything you see in the west was always developed by the west, mainly by the west, from Awolowo’s time even till now. So, oil wealth is a worst curse for the Yoruba than anybody else except the Niger Delta people who live in the area with polluted water, pungent air, everything affected physically, but for us, emotionally and in production. It has also affected us because we have learnt a lot of bad habits. Who wants to spend hours and years now tending to cocoa and other cash crops; that is why for a long time, we have neglected it. You want to revive it, you have to make very mighty efforts to do so.

“The way we have to approach the problems; if people are talking of restructuring the country; virtually every part of these areas are talking about it, whether the Avengers, the Biafra agitators asking for independence and within Yorubaland. I’m even particularly delighted that after a lot of hue and cry, the west, not necessarily the government, some governors were there at a recent event and declared that they now have to fight for true federalism. That’s the biggest news I’ve heard for a very long time because I’ve became suspicious that all the people that we elected on the basis of causing a restructuring of the country so that people can feel easy, they feel part of this country, we thought we had lost that.

“It was very distressing when an under 23 young man, a Nigerian who ought to play for us in Rio declared that he would never represent Nigeria again. If this under 23 boy made that declaration, I think it is important for us to sit down and really take this matter very seriously. I know it is serious in the east, it is serious in the South south, it’s serious in the west, also somewhat in the middle belt, but I’m not sure it is articulate. But in the north, the air of superiority, intransigence, if we don’t agree to it, it’s not going to be done; I think that is what is really reeking a lot of people on the matter. In fact, it’s like pouring petrol on a burning house, that’s what it’s been doing. It won’t last for very long because Buhari has been there for one and half years. I hope by our own mistakes of omission and commission, he won’t be the last President of a country called Nigeria”, he warned.

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