Afenifere chieftain and one of the key proponent of the Sovereign National Conference (SNC) , Chief Ayo Adebanjo has said that those who have consistently demanded the convocation of the SNC are the ones who are really desirous of keeping Nigeria one and those who are opposed to it are the enemies of the nation.
Adebanjo who spoke at the presentation of the book, ‘Post Independence Political Evolution of Western Nigeria (The Obafemi Awolowo Factor), written by Pa Adio ‘Mosanya, at the Lagos Airport Hotel, Ikeja, argued that unless Nigerians are given a free hand to discuss what the future of the country will be, the consequence may be disastrous.
“What are they talking about, I heard one man saying if we go there Nigeria will disintegrate, but that is why we want to sit together. Since 1914 that we were brought together by the colonialist have we been stable, it is just a question of let us talk, one turbulence here, another turbulence there, but we have lived together so much that no sane Nigeria will say let Nigeria disintegrate, but no sane Nigeria will say Nigeria should continue the way it is.
“It is how we can live together peaceably that we say let us come and talk about, because we don’t want to disintegrate, that is why there is the call for national conference. How do we want to live together peaceably among ourselves, what is the modus operandi and people begin to misinterpret, saying don’t go there, that there is certain no go areas.
He noted that unless the people are allowed to talk under a peaceful and harmonious atmosphere, the outcome of silence may be too great for the nation to handle, “If you don’t allow peaceful change you will make violent change inevitable, those who are calling for Sovereign National Conference are the ones who want peaceful change in Nigeria, this is an awkward federation, everything we are doing is anti-federation and we say we can’t continue like this, revenue allocation palaver, creation of state palaver, creation of local government palaver, there must be a means by which we can live together and we were living together in the First Republic.”
“Many people forgot that the constitution that the colonials left for us is federal, but it was the military that restructured Nigeria in 1966 when the army came, and that is the trouble we are having now.
Speaking on the position of the Senate President David Mark on the national conference, Adebanjo said, “I don’t want to criticise the president of the Senate now, the fact that he has even accepted national conference we take what he has given us, we shall continue to educate him on the no go areas.”
“How can you say we can’t talk of sovereignty, who gave you the sovereignty that you are talking about, if the stakeholders come together, the owners of the property come together to say this is how we want to live together and you say nobody must discuss it, how can you say that, they are the owners of the country.
“When you talk of stakeholders you talk of all the ethnic nationalities, who will work on this together when they meet at the conference, whatever they agree upon we say nobody must change it, because it is the sovereignty of the people and you are saying no they must not mention sovereignty, I believe it is a lack of understanding, but we are not going to use that to separate us, we will continue to educate ourselves.
“Let us sit down and talk, because if we don’t sit down and talk, Nigeria will disintegrate, we will disintegrate by default, with the way we are going now, the Niger Delta people will never give up. Look at the North saying they want the power back, and Abdulahi said we want it back and want to keep it forever, is that the way for unity, you want to keep it forever, because you are entitled to it?” He asked.