Clause To Allow Any Nigerian Region Break Away Was Roundly Rejected Before Independence – Yakasai

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Northern elder statesman and founding member of the Arewa Consultative Forum, Alhaji Tanko Yakasai, has said that one of the outstanding issues after the Civil War was the need to restructure Nigeria and to review the 1999 constitution.

Yakasai noted that Nigeria must learn its lessons from the needless and destructive civil war by addressing the “mistrust among major sub-regional groups which remain a threat to democratic processes in the country.”

The former Chairman of the defunct Northern Elders’ Councils stated these on Thursday while speaking at “Never Again Conference” on the 51st Anniversary of the end of the 1967-1970 Nigerian Civil War.

Yakasai advised that the government must deliberately put in the “next development plan an integration strategy” to address the divisive and secessionist tendencies in the country.

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He said, “Left to us, we would rather totally forget about our civil war but as human beings it is beyond our ability to forget an event that was a defining moment in our political history. We shall continue to refer to those moments to learn lessons and reassess our current political activities and the question of national unity.

“Recall that during the last constitutional conference before our independence, a motion was tabled for the conference to insert a clause in our constitution for any section of Nigeria to break away from the country. The motion was roundly rejected by the delegates and the indivisibility of the Nigerian nation was enshrined in our constitution.

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“Despite the level of post-civil war progress made, several burning issues remain to haunt our political landscape. These include: one, the continuous call for a review of the 1999 constitution and the need to restructure Nigeria; two; the insecurity in different parts of the country arising from militants’ invasion and terrorist activities.

“Three, the current secessionist movement for the state of Biafra under the umbrella of Indigenous People Of Biafra over 50 years after the Civil War; and the mistrust among major sub-regional groups which remain a threat to democratic processes in the country.”

Yakasai noted that Nigeria must “learn lessons from the Civil War 51 years ago, and address squarely the fractional tendencies in the country today.”

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“Unity, peace, trade, justice, democracy and development must be made to work for Nigeria to keep it one and stronger. We should tackle the issue by deliberately skewing our next development plan to contain integration strategy as one of the major features,” he added.

The Nigerian Civil War, also known as Biafran War, was fought between the government of Nigeria, headed by the then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (retd.), and the secessionist state of Biafra, led by the late Lt. Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu, from July 6, 1967 to January 15, 1970.

Over one million persons reportedly lost their lives, either in battle or due to starvation.