Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to address the agitation for restructuring to avoid another looming civil war in the country.
Mr Obasanjo stated this on Saturday at the first memorial lecture organised in honour of the founder of the Oodua People’s Congress, Dr Fredrick Fasehun.
Those calling for restructuring of the country are of the opinion that the current state of the nation is partially beneficial to a section of the country. A similar move by former president, Goodluck Jonathan, to draft a new constitution for the country failed to see the light of the day when he lost his re-election bid.
Obasanjo in advising the president said the country may not survive another civil war with the present state of division in the country. The former president who played a vital role during the first civil war said it took five times more than the federal military government estimated before the war ended.
“President Goodluck Jonathan’s effort of a National Conference did not even get to the National Assembly. Today, the agitation has moved up to restructuring. Thanks to Buhari’s administration and its impunity and all. With the fractional political division, poor management of the economy, the non-protecting security and the politics of uncertainty in the land, we should not allow restructuring agitation to degenerate to self-determination,” the former president said.
“There is still a window of opportunity for us to nip in the bud a possible and indeed likely agitation for self determination that will be violent, destructive and all-empowering. We have descended to lack of civility bordering on uncivilisation, indignity, mutual disrespect and crudity in the language of our debate, dialogue, discourse, address, comments and remarks across tribe, section, religion, region, ethnicity and community.
“If not halted, it will degenerate and poison the atmosphere to the tipping point or point of no return.
“And before we descend any further, let me warn, from experience, those who are beating the drums of war and domination from all quarters. I joined late Bisalla, under General Hassan Katsina, to write the appreciation and the operational instruction for the (Nigerian) Civil War.
“We estimated that Federal Government would suppress the Biafran rebellion within three months. To make allowances for the unforeseen, we allowed six months. But it took us 30 months, five times what we allowed for, and what is more, we nearly lost the war. And as a field commander at the end of the war, I can attest that we fought with all Nigerian tribes, including Igbos against Biafra.
“And if after over 10 years of fighting Boko Haram, the terrorist group is still waxing strong, let nobody out of self-delusion think that a war of self-determination by one or more geopolitical zones of Nigeria with the present disenchantment would be easily suppressed by the rest of what may remain of the country.
“Some will fight to the last drop of the blood of their group rather than suffer the indignity of slavery, oppression, domination and atrocious injustice in the land of their birth and the only one that they can call their country.
“If Boko Haram can get an outside support, any geo-political zone opting for self-determination may equally get an external support. War may not necessarily go as planned, estimated and predicted.
“Everything must, therefore, be put in place to avoid a war, the end of which no one can precisely predict.
“There is no assurance that Nigeria can survive a second civil war. But rather, we should seek political solution and avoid a destructive civil war.
“This is the situation today. Let us put our experiences to work and fashion out a political order and arrangement that will strengthen our togetherness while making room for healthy and useful competition within the one entity, Nigeria.
“We need not go the way of Yugoslavia or Sudan and certainly not the way of Rwanda and Somalia. But none of these countries knew the avoidable and divisive end from the beginning. Let us learn from the experience of others and of our founding fathers who resolved their political differences through dialogue and debate without resorting to violence and separation but accommodation, telling themselves hard truth, tolerance and give-and-take spirit. That was the foundation of Nigeria at independence and let it continue to be.
“If all we are interested in is power and not holding the country together harmoniously and wholesomely, we may hold the mirage of power and lose the nation or the country bequeathed to us by our founding fathers.
“Today, we can still collectively debate, dialogue and lead our country to where, by consensus, we will want it to be as a united, strong, harmonious, dynamic, fast developing, productive, fast growing and progressing nation with sufficient leeway for autonomous development and management by component units on the basis of healthy competition, mutual respect, caring and sharing for one another, within one nation and one destiny, with shared values, common goals and venerated diversity.
“There are still people of goodwill who can speak up and speak out and take effective and positive actions individually and collectively that will corporately save the country from rudderlessness and disintegration. We must allow a stitch in time to save nine, so that we are not pushed to the realm of the unknown and which may be for all of us, undesirable,” he added.