Former minority leader of the Nigerian Senate, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe has said that only a revolution or total overhaul of the country can save Nigeria from collapse.
Abaribe who was a guest lecturer at the second Archbishop Maxwell Anikwenwa annual public lecture in Paul University, Awka, Anambra State, spoke on the theme: Nigeria at crossroads – which way forward.
The senator who quoted late Musician, Sunny Okosun’s song – which way Nigeria, said “This was 38years ago, who knows what he would have said about Nigeria today? All the ills he sang about have deepened and Nigeria has become an “open sore of a country” apologies to Wole Soyinka.”
Abaribe who spoke further said: “The way Nigeria is at the moment, unless there is a revolution or a total overhaul of every aspect of the system, not even Angels descending from heaven can salvage the situation. We are tethering on the brink of total collapse.
“I shall not dwell too much on history as there exists at the moment, too many sensitivities and proclivities that one must take into consideration in approaching this topic. Opinions and allegiances have become so convoluted that there is hardly a central table on which to place this discourse for all South Easterners, not to talk of all Nigerians to participate freely in it.
“Very few parts of the story of our country are agreed upon by the different ethnic groups as to the role of their forebears. Of course the aversion to history by our government led to stopping the teaching of history in our schools. It is now being restored by some state governments.”
He stated that the level of ethnic sentiments and tribalism in the country was frightening, and that the suspicion among ethnic groups may come way back from the post independence days.
He also decried the level of injustice meted out to Igbo people of the South East, but urged them to remain forthright and fight for themselves as they have no other country but Nigeria.
“Just like an obstinate but ill-suited couple struggling to cohabit, the country has waddled on through parliamentary system of government, to the present presidential system.
“We have moved from 12 states immediately after the war to 19, then 26, 30 and now 36 plus FCT. We still have not found peace. The South East Zone is unfairly made up of only five states. It has not helped Nigeria.
“Despite the efforts of both military and civilian leaders we seem to have moved headlong into a ditch principally because of the contradictions we have been unable to resolve.
“Today, everything seems to have come to a head and the temptation is to write off Nigeria as a failed state. Agitations have followed agitations in Nigeria, from every corner. Nigerians are still stuck in this contraption which appears to constrict our organs steadily to the point, where like George Floyd, we are no longer able to breathe.
“It used to be fashionable to ascribe agitations to the South East and Ndigbo. However, on August 15, 2022 Prof. Banji Akintoye renowned historian and leader of the Yoruba self determination group “Ilana Omo Odua” in an open letter to President Buhari said to him, “Let my people go”!
“Instructively, they are also the same grouse of Niger Delta militants, IPOB and other sundry militant groups spread across Nigeria.
“Having seen various shortcomings despite our collective efforts to evolve a Nigerian nation that works for everyone, many Nigerians thought that the coming of the APC government in 2015 will usher in a new vista for Nigeria.
“In interrogating how we got to this present sorry pass, let me use the template of the present APC government that they used to come into office in 2015.
“At that time they promised to restore Nigeria on three main planks – Corruption, Security, and Economy.
“Being with you today in Paul University an academic environment, I believe that you assess or grade a student on his performance. Therefore, we cannot use any other measure to certifying that a student has done well to be adjudged qualified in “character and learning”!”
Abaribe used recent headlines of national dailies on insecurity, sleaze, failing economy and other oddities to buttress his point that Nigeria was gradually collapsing.
Proffering solutions to the problem of the country, Abaribe urged Ndigbo to start with dealing with the elephant in the room before thinking of the wider country.
“In discussing the way forward for Nigeria, we first must deal with the big elephant in the room about Ndigbo and Nigeria.
“That the present Nigerian government has made weaponization of nepotism its by-word and foresworn justice and equity for Ndigbo and others in Nigeria is not enough for us to reject Nigeria. By the fact that Ndigbo are the 2nd largest group after the indigenous population in all parts of Nigeria indicates that we have invested and continue to invest in Nigeria.
“What Ndigbo want in Nigeria is a nation that works for all where everyone is treated equally. We must note that the resurgence of Biafra movements and neo- Biafran sentiments in Igboland is the consequence of exclusion from the centre of Ndigbo by the present government of Nigeria
“We need to turn Ala Igbo into the productive engine of Nigeria with our God given talents and make the Southeast the Catalonia and Bavaria of Nigeria. This oasis of production will now be the driver of economic development of Nigeria since we have what is better than oil, our human resources.”
The colourful event was attended by several dignitaries, including the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Mr Peter Obi, who was represented by the former PDP governorship candidate, Mr Val Ozigbo.