THIS UNION: Is it working; will it ever work?

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CHIEF MBAZULIKE AMECHI

— asks elder statesman and surviving member of ZIKIST Movement, CHIEF MBAZULIKE AMECHI

With the ship of state dangerously drifting and national cohesion ebbing with each detonation of our current national disgrace called Boko Haram, CHUKS COLLINS in Awka, went to chat with Chief Mbazulike Amechi, the only surviving member of the defunct popular Zikist Movement; a 1950s political movement for the struggle for independence.


It was Amechi who was fatally stabbed when he put his body to take the assassin’s long dagger aimed at Nnamdi Azikiwe at the gate of the State House, Marina during a meeting with the colonial masters with the early nationalists. The attack was never investigated by the then British colonial government. The attacker was equally later found out to be a top secret service officer.

Excerpts:

Sir, as someone who was there in the beginning, how did we get here?

In 1914, two distinct geographical areas, ruled by imperial Great Britain as Northern and Southern Protectorates were forcibly brought together and administered and ruled as one Country. This was done for administrative convenience of the British officials delegated to rule the territories under the headship of one Fredrick Lugard (who later became Lord Lugard at home). He gave the newly created “country” the name NIGERIA. The two joined territories or “protectorates” had absolutely nothing in common in language, culture, educational development and religion. Inter-territorial trade or other communication was almost nil.

The North was predominantly Muslim while the South was at first dominated by African Traditional Religion but gradually growing in Christianity with the establishment of Mission Schools and Churches. While British officials ruled Southern Nigeria directly, in the North they adopted the policy of Indirect Rule whereby they operated through the Emirs. The Emirs were not enthusiastic about education and it soothed the imperial powers that the people should remain uneducated, lest they would soon know their rights. With the growth and spread of education in the South, the people started feeling the pinch of foreign domination and exploitation and seeds of political consciousness started germinating here and there. After the Amalgamation of the North and South into one country, the Capital was moved from Lokoja to Lagos.

In the early 1940s political parties started sprouting in Lagos. These were the Nigerian Youth Movement and the Nigerian National Democratic Party whose activities were confined to Lagos. With the return of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe from America and his establishment of a chain of newspapers, coupled with the demobilization and return of Nigerian soldiers who fought on the British side in the Second World War, political consciousness took a leap in Nigeria and nationalists started thinking of self-government. It was desirable that a truly national political party should be formed and in 1944 the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon, NCNC was formed under the leadership of the doyen of Nigerian politics known as Herbert Macaulay. In 1947 this new party, the NCNC, undertook a nation-wide tour of the country to collect the mandate of the people of Nigeria to demand the abrogation of a Constitution which the then British Governor, Arthur Richards, sought to impose on the country and which the nationalists described as obnoxious. Nationalists who took part in this tour of the country included Herbert Macaulay, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Mrs. Funmilayo Ransom-Kuti, Ibiyinka Olorunimbe, M.A.O. Imoudu and others. Herbert Macaulay, then in his 80s died mid-way into the nation wide tour and after his funeral, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was elected National President and leader of the party, NCNC. After collecting the mandate of the people nation wide North and South, the NCNC delegation went to London to demand from the Colonial Office, abrogation of the Richard’s Constitution and a definite time-table for self-government and total independence. The British government did not accede to the request or demands of the nationalists but the message had been effectively delivered that a new political consciousness had started growing in the country.

In 1946, a radical youth organization, known as the Zikist Movement, was formed under the leadership of M.C.K Ajuluchukwu and Kola Balogun. Other youths who took part in founding the Zikist Movement included Mokwugwo Okoye, Abiodun Aloba, Nduka Eze, Harry Nwana, Oged Macaulay, and Raji Abdallah. The Movement drew up a programme for positive action and following a lecture delivered at Tom Jones Hall Lagos in October 1949 by Osita Agwuna, under the Chairmanship of Tony Enahoro, leaders of the movement were rounded up and sentenced to various terms of imprisonment. The movement itself was banned by the imperial government in 1950. The British government at home now knew that a serious situation was developing in Nigeria and quickly withdrew Governor Richards and sent down in his place, John McPherson who quickly called a Conference of politicians, chiefs and other leaders to consider his own draft Constitution in replacement of the rejected obnoxious Richards Constitution. His Constitution proposed a Federation of three Regions, namely Northern, Eastern and Western Regions.

At this stage, two other political parties emerged to join the NCNC. They are the Northern Peoples Congress, NPC under the leadership of Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto and the Action Group, AG under the leadership of Obafemi Awolowo. The NPC had the policy and slogan “One North”. They said they were not interested in the South and refused to change their name to Nigerian Peoples Congress or canvass for membership in the South. The AG had the policy and the slogan of “West for Westerners, East for Easterners, North for Northerners, Nigeria for All”. The NCNC under the leadership of Azikiwe has its policy and the slogan of “One Nigeria”. To the North, the merger of the Northern and Southern territories was an unwilling marriage and their leaders expressed so in many words.

Foundation for all today’s crises

In 1952, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the Deputy to Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, who later became Prime Minister of Nigeria, had addressed the Northern House of Assembly in these words; “…the Southern people who are swamping into this region daily in such large numbers are really intruders. We don’t want them and they are not welcome here in the North. Since 1914 the British Government has been trying to make Nigeria into one Country. But the people are different in every way, including religion, custom, language and aspirations. We in the North take it that Nigerian unity is only a British intention for the country they created. It is not for us”. In that same year, during one of the series of conferences to fashion out a new Constitution, Ahmadu Bello approached the Colonial Secretary and told him blandly, “if you want us, the North to be part of this Nigeria you have in mind, then we want at least 50% of the membership of the National assembly”. This was accepted by the Colonial Secretary and given effect in the gerrymander which British officials weaved into the delimitation of Constituencies for the House of Representatives the North tried to force a negative decision or postponement of the debate, the AG and NCNC members of the House should walk out. The House took a short break and when it resumed an NPC member suddenly moved “that the House do now adjourn”. In parliamentary parlance this means the motion should be “killed” since debate on it could not be resumed the next day, being a private Member’s Motion. Angered by this abuse of parliamentary process, Awolowo who was himself a member of the House, spoke very bitterly in condemnation of British imperialism and the “feudal North”. NCNC spokesman also condemned British imperialism and the “stooges from the North”. After these speeches NCNC and AG members of the House staged a dramatic walk-out. They were loudly cheered by thousands of Nigerians who had gathered outside the House of Representatives to know the fate of the historic motion. Northern members of the House were loudly booed and jeered at, called names and almost mobbed. Ahmadu Bello surrounded by press boys, in an audibly soliloquy said……”what kind of trouble have we let ourselves in by associating with these Southern people”. Three days after these incidents in Lagos, Southerners in Kano had this to say “Nigeria is only a geographical expression to which life was given by the diabolical amalgamation of 1914; that amalgamation will ever remain the most painful injury a British Government inflicted on Southern Nigeria”.

In spite of the shaky nature of the Nigerian Federation, the nation attained independence on October 1, 1960. But not quite two weeks into independence, listen to what Ahmadu Bello, the leader of the NPC, and the Premier of the Northern Region said, as quoted by the PARROT Magazine of October 12, 1960, “…The new nation called Nigeria should be an estate from our great grand-father, Othman Dan Fodio. We must ruthlessly prevent a change of power. We must use the minorities of the North as willing tools and the South as conquered territories and never allow them to have control of their future. Our great grand father conquered up to Ilorin but we have now accomplished the task which he did not complete. I will dip the Quran at the sea”. And so it was that Alhaji Musa Yar’adua was appointed Minister of Lagos Affairs, (Lagos was then the Federal Capital), he promptly changed the name of the road which leads from Cowry street to the sea at Victoria Island to AHMADU BELLO WAY in fulfillment of the dipping the Quran in the sea. It was not a smooth sail as the nationalist who formed the first post independence government had their dream of a big nation upon which other countries of Africa look for leadership. In spite of the wobbly nature of the Union, compromises and concessions were made here and there and the Federal Republic of Nigeria offered support, encouragement and protection to nationalists of East, Central and South Africa who were struggling for the liberation of their countries. Many of these young nationalists were trained at NCNC Political School at Yaba; many of their children were offered scholarship by the NCNC Government of the Eastern Region and put in such schools as Queens College, Enugu; Government College, Umuahia; Abbot College, Ihiala and Zixton Grammar School, Ozubulu. Nelson Mandela was being hotly chased by the intelligence organization of Britain and the Apartheid government of South Africa; he ran to Nigeria and the NCNC requested me to give him refuge, he stayed with me as my guest for some six months before going back to South Africa where he was promptly arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The vision of founding fathers Vs the Military in Nigerian Politics and Government

In spite of ideological differences, in spite of artificial imbalance created by Britain, in spite of cultural and religious differences, in spite of deep distrust among politicians and ethnic components of the Federation, the union managed to hold together until January 1966. Only six years into independence, an unpatriotic military struck and treasonably took over the government of the young nation and in the process wickedly killed the Prime Minister, the Federal Minister of Finance, the Premiers of the Northern Region and Western Region, the coup makers also criminally killed some of their brother soldiers including Brig Mai Malari from the North and Col Arthur Unegbe from Anambra state of the Eastern Region. President Nnamdi Azikiwe was out of the country on medical treatment and the President of the Senate, Nwafor Orizu who was Acting President, was obliged to hand over the government of the federation to Gen Aguiyi Ironsi who was then the General Officer commanding the Nigerian Army and who was evidently not part of the coup. Barely six months into office as military head of State, Northern Officers and men of the Army carried out a second coup, killing Ironsi and his host, Col Adekunle Fajuyi (then Military Governor of the Western Region) and installed Col Yakubu Gowon as the new Head of State. In his initial broadcast to the nation Gowon said …”suffice it to say that putting all considerations to test, political, economic, as well as social, the basis for unity is no longer there. It has been so badly shaken not once but several times”. Northerners in Southern Nigeria had been alerted to start going back home. Several planes had been detained at the Ikeja Airport to ferry Northerners home. They tried to use the trains of the Nigerian Railway but they ran into difficulty of not having a single Northerner as locomotive Driver as all train drivers were from the East and the West. Having heard Gowon’s broadcast and being alarmed by the preparations to move the Northerners, and possibly put an end to the Nigerian Federation, the British High Commissioner rushed to Gowon and admonished him thus: “what are you doing going up North; you now have power in your hands and the backing of the military;, go ahead and rule the country”. And so Gowon made the second broadcast where he said that “God has in His mercy returned power to the hands of a Northerner”.

What followed thereafter was the carefully planned killing of all Igbo Officers and men in the army and the genocidal killing of Ndigbo, men, women and children in the north. In 1967, the Military Governor of Eastern Region declared the Region a sovereign country of Biafra. Gowon’s immediate answer was to split the Eastern Region into three states with the Igbo section being called East Central State and the non-Igbo areas Cross River and Rivers states, respectively. He also released Awolowo from prison where the Balewa Government had sent him before the coup and appointed him the Minister of Finance and the Deputy Chairman of the Federal Executive Council. A civil war ensued between the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the newly declared Republic of Biafra. The Nigerian side fought the war with the most indecent and indescribable brutality, defying all norms and conventions of warfare. Britain, America, the then Soviet Union and all Arab countries gave Nigeria full diplomatic and logistic support. Only four African countries and Haiti recognized Biafra but they had little or no logistic support to offer. President Francoise Duvalier the then President of Haiti, (fondly called Papa Doc by his people), announcing the recognition of Biafra on March 22, 1969, had this to say; “…Federal Nigerian has never, since her independence, shown the distinctive mark of a united nation. It has been impossible for her to silence tribal rivalries, to achieve that mixture of ethnic/cultural blend required to forge National Unity”. The civil war ended in 1970 and as the territory and people of Biafra returned in defeat to Nigeria, Gowon received them with a declared policy of “No Victor, No Vanquished”. But as the years rolled by, it became clear that the declaration, “No Victor, No Vanquished” was an empty illusion, never intended to be implemented. Immediately the war ended every adult in Biafra who had money in the bank or cash had all money declared “invalid” and would only be given twenty Nigerian Pounds, the equivalent of forty Naira. All Igbo properties in the non-Igbo areas of the Eastern Region, mainly Rivers State, were seized without compensation as “Abandoned Properties”. The Federal Military Government declared that there should be no Power Station in Igbo land, and while the big Oji River Power Station was shut down, Afam Power station in Aba Division had its location merged with Rivers state. It was total marginalization of Igbo in the areas of public appointments to certain key or sensitive positions, in the areas of the economy, siting of industries or government institutions, infrastructure, politics, etc. For instance it is only the South-East, (Ndigbo East) that has five states and 15 Senators while the rest of the geo-political zones of the country have of six states and more. While the five States of the South-East have a total of 94 Local Governments councils, two states in the North-West zone(Kano 44, Katsina 34) have a total of 78 Local Government councils. All these are criteria for sharing of Federal Revenue and number of Seats in the House of Representatives. Ndigbo have been crying and begging for the construction of a bridge across River Niger at Onitsha to give relief to the aging Onitsha/Asaba Bridge which was built in 1965 and opened by Prime Minister, Balewa, on January 4, 1966. That was his last public function before he was killed by the military on January 15, 1966.

Years after the end of the civil war Gowon refused to return the government to civilian democratic rule and while he was away to Uganda for an international conference, another Northern Officer called Murtala Mohammed organized another coup and took over the government. He just held the power for barely 200 days when a heavily drunken Army officer from the same North killed him in an attempt to stage a fourth coup. This brought Olusegun Obasanjo from the Western Region, who was Chief of Staff at the Murtala Mohammed’s Supreme Military Headquarters to the saddle as a reluctant new Head of State. Not feeling safe and comfortable as Head of State in a country dominated by the Northern officers and men, backed by a heavy support of Northern politicians and elite and patronized by Britain, he quickly commenced the process to draw up a new Constitution to return the government to civilian democracy. This was actualized in an end of year election that produced a northern president for the country, Shehu Shagari. He defeated towering politicians like Nnamdi Azikiwe and Obafemi Awolowo. He had as his running mate and Vice President, Alex Ekwueme, a fresh politician from Igbo land. Shagari’s winning party was National Party of Nigeria, NPN with the slogan and policy of “One Nigeria” and made public its policy and internal agreement that at the end of the second term of the incumbent, the next Presidency should rotate to the much neglected and marginalized Igbo region. Shagari completed his first 4 year term and won again in 1983 to complete his second term. He was sworn in for the second term on October 1, 1983. But apprehensive of Igbo Presidency in 1987, in accordance with the declared policy of the NPN, Northern officers in the army organized another coup, led by Muhammadu Buhari, to terminate the Shagari government on December 30, 1983. At this time Nigeria had burst into oil wealth and for once the citizens were prosperous and happy.

Another coup was staged which brought Ibrahim Babangida to power as Head of State. The prosperity and smile of Nigerians were short-lived as Babangida succumbed to the pressure of Western pseudo economists from the International Monetary Fund, IMF to impose on the country what he called Structural Adjustment Programme, SAP, which callously sapped the earning power of the people and rendered the Naira a worthless piece of paper. During the period of Shagari Presidency, the Dollar exchanged for 68 kobo and through the era of Buhari, the exchange rate was One Naira to One Dollar. After Babangida’s SAP the Dollar exchanged for some N60 (sixty Naira) and the Naira consistently depreciated that One dollar is now N160. Gowon before he was overthrown had boasted publicly that “Nigeria’s problem was no longer money, but what to do with money”. By this time and at this stage, military men, as Governors of the states and Commanders of different levels of the Forces, were no longer content with minor pilfering and inflation of contracts and payments for “contracts” that were not executed; they had gone into massive looting of the treasury in emulation of their superiors at the centre.

Military governments at this time were becoming unpopular and rejected world wide and Babangida organized an election for the return to democracy. A Yoruba nationalist and politician M.K.O. Abiola cleanly and clearly won the Presidential election but Babangida would not stand a Southerner ruling the country and therefore nullified the election. This action provoked national and international outrage which forced Babangida to “step aside” and install a Yoruba company Excecutive, Ernest Shonekan, as head of interim Government. Shonekan was barely months in office when another military officer from the North, called Abacha, quickly elbowed him out and declared himself Head of State. From point of morality and amazing courage in looting, he was what his predecessors were. But he went a step further by planning to illegally convert himself to an “elected civilian President”, when he formed five political parties and got all of them to nominate him as sole Presidential Candidate. Meanwhile nationalists, freedom fighters and human rights activists were strong and vociferous in their demand that Abiola’s mandate be restored to him. The military had locked him up in detention. While Abacha was preparing to assume office as “elected President”, no doubt for life, the Almighty Creator of the Earth, the universe, things and places known and unknown, the omnipotent and omniscient God, declared that enough was enough, that it was time to save Nigeria and her suffering helpless citizens; and quietly sent Abacha away from Nigeria and this planet., when this happened, another Northern Army Officer, Abdusalam Abubakar took over as Head of State. The demand for the restoration of Abiola’s mandate assumed a new crescendo and suddenly Abiola was pronounced dead in detention. Abubakar quickly organized a conference for a fresh Constitution, conducted an election which brought a democratic government back in 1999.

Progressive and unabated structural/administrative imbalances

In the 51 years of Nigeria’s independence, the North had ruled for 38 years with the military governments of Gowon, Mohammed, Buhari, Babangida, Abacha and Abubakar and the civilian governments of Shagari and Yar’adua; the West has ruled for twelve years in the governments of Obasanjo (as soldier), Shonekan and Obasanjo (as civilian); the East has ruled for two years between Ironsi and Jonathan. The mandate of the incumbent president, Jonathan, is clean, clear and universal; yet there are people who would no accept the idea that a President should emerge from a region or zone other than the North. There is a group of extremely conservative elites in the North who believe, like Ahmadu Bello earlier, that Nigeria can only continue as one country if the North rules for ever and must have 50% of every benefit with no regard for equity and balance. When Jonathan in September 2010 declared his intention to seek mandate for his party, PDP, to contest the Presidential election, a group that called itself Northern Elders Forum took full page advertorials in some national newspapers and warned him that his contesting (and winning) would “undermine the peace and tranquility of Nigeria”. They described his intention to contest the election as “ill conceived, ill-advised, and definitely divisive”. They warned that his candidature and possible election “would open old wounds of primitive politics where ethnic, sectional, religious and other primordial undesirable sentiments will assume centre stage with attendant unpleasant consequences”. Are we honestly sincerely sure that what is happening now has no link or origin or connection with the ominous threats of the Elders Forum? Now that Jonathan had won and has been in office for one year, if the bombings and killings going on now are linked to the threats of the ultra conservative hawks of the North, then they should be made to know that they are really the threat to “peace and tranquility” in Nigeria. Does anybody need to be told that if anything happens to Jonathan while in office as President of Nigeria, the inferno that will follow will defy all description and this wobbly union will become a matter of history?

When Nigeria gained independence and sovereignty in 1960, it was made up of three Regions mutually agreed upon in series of conferences in Nigeria and London. There was provision in the 1963 Constitution on how a new Region (or State) would be created. In the whole history of evolution of Nigeria, vis-à-vis states (or Regions), only the then Mid-West Region was created in accordance with the Constitution. The rest of the States of Nigeria, from 7 to 19 to 21, 27 and 36, were created by military fiats under Northern military Heads of States. And so the imbalance of the 19 states and Abuja to the North and 17 states for the whole South was imposed on the people. This goes even beyond the 50% which Ahmadu Bello requested from the British. Even in spite of this, there are so many imbalances, inequities and injustice in the present Constitution. How can one explain that Kano State alone has 44 Local Governments councils, Katsina State 34 Local Governments councils and Lagos State with the highest population in Nigeria sentenced to 20 Local Governments councils? Or how can one justify why the North-West geo-political zone is made up of seven states, the other geo-political zones six States each while only the South-East (Igbo) zone crucified to five States?

Can you then say that we are poor students of history as a nation?

To begin with, most universities in the country either by design or coincidence have abolished Departments of History among their courses of study. So to that extent the nation is hostile to the study and learning from our past experiences and records. It’s clearly evident from the lowest to the highest rung of the national ladder and governance and in the way we do virtually every thing as a nation. We don’t even take the words of advice of our elders, let alone our historical past.

What then do you advise as the way out of the seeming quagmire?

A national conference! A conference where all parts of the country would converge to decide, determine and agree on way forward or otherwise, for the union called Nigeria.

But bearing in mind the Sir Ahmadu Bello’s wise counsel and declaration which appear to be the driving zeal for the North till date, do you think they would heed any call for such conference?

Of course the North will oppose it. After all, Sir Ahmadu and Balewa opposed the union from day one.

Alright what other peaceful options would you advise with which to address these clear inequities?

Well it’s if the South will accept the inequity for ever, because that’s what the North wants. The leaders of the North had requested for a 50% of everything the nation has. Current statistics show they have even got more than that already; or else check the composition of the National Assembly, ministerial positions, 19 states/Abuja against South’s 17; number of Local Government councils, etc. We started with One Region in the North and two in the South, the whole scenario has changed drastically today. It shows perhaps that it’s the Southerners who have very poor sense of history and we are all paying dearly for that.

Boko Haram menace, seeming ethnic cleansing, the mounting insecurity and Government’s flat-footedness

Right now, we are faced with a criminal terrorist menace called Boko Haram. They kill, bomb, shoot and stab people, institutions, markets and churches. The government has been unable or unwilling to identify and arrest the powers behind this organization. Who does not know that it is not these little boys who carry bombs and guns or who carry out the suicide missions that really make up Boko Haram. There are big people who finance them and highly qualified scientists and technicians who make the bombs and other explosives. Why have the barons and sponsors not been identified and apprehended or have the Security Organs of the government been so heavily penetrated and compromised that the government can no longer act? So far the two or three low level operatives of the gang arrested were said to have escaped! Yet down there at Onitsha, unarmed MASSOB youths who were holding a social meeting or rehearsal for the funeral of Ojukwu were rounded up by soldiers who were said to have killed four of them and took other 40 or so away. Yet we are all said to belong to one country where all are supposed to be equal before the law.

National Assembly and the national question

Most of the present political leaders, public office holders and active politicians at the national and State levels are men and women who were either too young or not yet born at the time of the struggle for independence and even the first Republic. The treasonable military interference in the governance of Nigeria and political development process and nationalists and therefore they were denied the tutelage and proper knowledge of motive of predecessors. Many of them therefore merely see public offices from the perspective of the unpatriotic and rotten military of the era, which was to loot end enrich themselves and their friends and collaborators. But this has to be corrected otherwise the country will be pushed in to a precipice.

Subsidy, Refineries and the masses

I had earlier during a meeting I had with the President in April 2010 counselled that he should leave the subsidy until all refineries were made actively functional. This is the only crude-producing nation in the world that imports petroleum products because some cabal have been feeding fat from it. It’s unfortunate they now seem above taming. Licenses for refining of petroleum products should be liberalized to force the pump price of products down.

Mounting unemployment and youth restiveness

We have become a highly consuming nation that imports virtually anything and everything including tooth-pick and drinking-water. As a result the few existing industries are fast closing down daily. Those who attempted to continue were driven to the edge by the high cost of diesel and stiff competition from imported cheap quality variants of their products. So how can any sensible investor come to face unfriendly economic policies, high insecurity, rampant kidnap/abductions, killings, no water, no light, no road, multiple and often dubious taxation, bombings and Boko Haram, etc. On employment generation, how many people can the government employ? After all, today what governments do is to create enabling environment for the private sector to thrive. It’s the private sector that employs the largest number of labour.

I happen to be of the very few remaining nationalists who fought for the independence of the country and one who was part of the democratic government that was established at independence. Whether there is anybody who cares to listen or not, I feel I have and unshakable obligation to warn of the grave danger into which the country is now been pushed. It is true that at the formation of the Federation there were reluctant partners but the reality is that in spite of their objections and reservations, a Federal Nigeria was formed and gained sovereignty in 1960. I happen to have belonged to a political party, the NCNC that believed sincerely and seriously in one united Nigeria. We have envisaged a Nigeria of equal opportunities and equity and fairness. But what is happening now and some utterances of some leaders cast my mind to the era and events of 1964 which formed the then President Nnamdi Azikiwe to tell the politicians, “if you have decided to break up the Federation, call a Conference and peacefully share the assets and liabilities”. As a surviving apostle of Nnamdi Azikiwe, my advice to the leaders and politicians is to immediately arrange a national Conference that will be truly representative of every arm of the society, the tribes, the regions, labour, women, youths, religious organization, business, the media, traditional rulers, elders, etc to sit frankness and mutual respect and fashion out a fair and balanced basis for UNION or decide to part ways in peace if they think that the basis for staying together is no longer there. A deeply fundamental conference like this should not be left for the National Assembly for they will be tempted to approach the issue from a subjective angle and they are not truly representatives of all interests.

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