A former Chief of Defence Staff in the second republic, General Ipoola Alani Akinrinade has said that the Igbo people of the Southeastern Nigeria should have been allowed to secede.
Another chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Sunny Onuesoke also added his voice to the clamour by advising the Federal Government on the best way to resolve the Igbos agitation for self realization. Akinrinade said people and ethnic nationalities have rights that must be respected, adding that since the Igbos want to be on their own, they should have been allowed to go.
He, however advised that for there to be avoidable bloodshed, the Federal Government should conduct a referendum among the Igbos both in Nigeria and Diaspora over their demand for self determination, so that some of them are not forced against their wish. Akinrinade also noted that it is now very difficult to keep Nigeria together, stressing that the ideals that people had to keep Nigeria in one piece are all gone. He said even as much as he would like Nigeria to remain as one, he doubts the possibility. According to him, “I have lent my voice to the claim by advising the Federal Government on the best way to resolve the Igbos agitation for self realization.
He argued that it is a fact that the different regions that made up Nigeria were brought together by Lord Lugard during the 1914 amalgamation without taking into consideration their historical and cultural diversification, stressing that the only policy that would have made Nigeria intact and peaceful is when they practice true federalism. General Akinrinade, who is one of the agitators of true Federalism stressed that since Nigerian leaders refused to tow the line of true federalism, the best line of action is that those who want to go their ways like the Igbos should be allowed to go but it should be done through referendum.
“Why must we force ourselves to live together in an entity created by whites? Hausa, Fulanis, Yorubas, Igbos, Nupe and Kanuri among others do not have any genealogical, cultural, language, beliefs, ideological and even looks affiliations. According to him “Good, you allow people to make choices. And you also said it is good to allow people decide their fate. “This present agitation by the Igbos, garbed in the Biafra Movement, in retrospect, wouldn’t we now begin to admit that the fight to keep Nigeria one, based on contemporary realities, is futile, a fool’s errand, that is not worth it? “Those ideals that people had, in keeping the nation one, appear to have been thrown out of the window. “Well, I think as far back as the early 1980s, I’d alluded to the fact that it is still possible to keep a country like Nigeria one.
“I have doubts myself now.
“As far back as 1983 when I went to Ife to deliver a lecture, I suggested that we would do much better with a confederation.
“I believe a confederal system is more manageable.
“But even at that time, people kicked. So, imagine what the response would be now because things have gone from bad to worse.
“Why didn’t we allow the Igbos to go their way?”
Asked if Nigeria should have allowed the Igbos to go their way, he said, “Absolutely yes but honestly, we can have a true federal system after all.”he said