Former President Olusegun Obasanjo Wednesday described calls for the disintegration of Nigeria as unmindful and insensitive to the plight of the minority groups in the country.
This is coming as the Ambassador of Republic of Korea to Nigeria, Mr. Kim Young Chae, has condemned the call by secessionists for the breakup of the country into several parts.
Speaking in Abeokuta, Ogun State capital, when he received the Tiv Professional Group (TPG) from Benue State, who paid him a courtesy visit, Obasanjo recalled a discussion between him and “a military friend.”
According to the former president, his friend had described the major tribes in the country as selfish and not sufficiently caring for the minority groups.
Obasanjo said he aligned with his friend’s opinion and expressed worry over what would become of the minority groups if the major tribes decided to secede and operate as separate countries.
“If the Yoruba can stand as a country; if the Igbos and the Hausa/Fulani can stand as separate countries, where do we want the minority groups to be?
“Now, by virtue of the present situation, they are a little bit protected but if Nigeria breaks up, they will be oppressed and exterminated,” he added.
Obasanjo noted that when he had meetings with a number of socio-cultural organisations in September 2020, nobody at such meetings talked about disintegration or breakup, stressing that “all they clamoured for was a change for good.”
He urged the Nigerian leaders to be mindful of the ethnic diversity of the Nigerian nation, adding that the country would not make any meaningful progress without such consideration.
Obasanjo, who expressed hope that the rough times that Nigeria was going through would not last forever, urged Nigerians to be patient while the country gathered her goodwill and moved in the right direction.
The leader of the group, Prof. Zacharys Gundv, in a paper he presented to Obasanjo, highlighted the challenges of the nation, including insecurity, poverty religious intolerance, kidnappings and banditry, among others.
He explained the Tivs were worried about the skewed narrative of insecurity in Nigeria
In a related development, the Ambassador of Republic of Korea to Nigeria, Mr. Kim Young Chae has condemned the call by secessionists for the breakup of the country into several parts.
The diplomat offered his reservation yesterday at a roundtable discussion with some journalists to mark his 100 days in office as the Korean Ambassador in Nigeria.
Kim described the idea of balkanisation of Nigeria as very dangerous, which could result in bloodshed and displacement of many communities by virtue of conflict that could result from such.
He urged Nigerians to continue to live in harmony, having intermarried and carried out a lot of activities together for over 100 years.
“The call for the breakup of Nigeria is not a good idea. We had the Korean War in 1950 and more than one million people were killed. We also had the Biafran War in Nigeria and more than one million lives were lost. To divide a country means cutting your body. Let us imagine we have a whole body and I want to make my own body into two, then we have to cut some portions. And in the process I have to bleed a lot, not to wonder the pains and loss of blood,” he said.
He cautioned that if Nigeria eventually splits into several parts, the smaller offshoots will become insignificant and irrelevant in the global stage, without any voice of note.
“Nigeria right now is internationally well-acclaimed. The Korean candidate was defeated by a Nigerian candidate, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala for the post of Director-General of World Trade Organisation, which indicates that Nigeria is very strong at the diplomatic level. We also see many accomplished Nigerian nationals, notably Amina Mohammed at the UN and Akinwunmi Adesina at the African Development Bank making their presence felt on the global stage. Why you have so many high-ranking Nigerian policymakers at the global level is because Nigeria is a very relevant nation, otherwise, Okonjo-Iweala would not have been elected. In the event Nigeria is splintered into many countries, those countries won’t be of relevance internationally”.
He also warned of the cost implication of running the offshoot nations, like building new army and institutions like the presidency, new embassies and the civil service.
Kim also bemoaned decrease in bilateral trade volume between Nigeria and Korea.
He said last year trade between both countries was $1.2 billion, which was a sharp decline from the $2.6 billion transactions in 2017.
He attributed the slide to the fall in the global price of oil and gas, noting the fall negatively affected the two nations’ bilateral trade volume.
Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja