An Islamic cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi, has described those agitating for Biafra and Oduduwa republics as miscreants akin to the Boko Haram sect terrorising the country.
There have been calls for secession in the various parts of the country over allegations of marginalisation.
But speaking in an interview with BBC Pidgin on Saturday, the cleric described such people as miscreants who should not be taken seriously.
Gumi claimed that Nigerians are committed to having a united country, noting that the opinions of a few people championing the division of the country should not be taken seriously.
He said: “I usually give an example of General Murtala Muhammed, the former head of state from Kano, that was assassinated by the Buka Suka Dimka-led group. He had a Yoruba wife. So, where do you want his children to go if the nation is divided? Are they going to be with the Yorubas or Hausas in the North?
“Look, let’s forget these useless youths. They’re no more different from these herdsmen. These people agitating for Oduduwa, Bifafra or Arewa are all the same group of people with Boko Haram.
“The majority of Nigerians want to stay with Nigeria. And if they are in doubt, let’s have a referendum. Look at elections, for instance, millions of votes from all the states, whether from the All Progressives Congress or the Peoples Democratic Party. This means that Nigerians are ready to stay with a united Nigeria. That is an indirect referendum which shows that the people are ready.
“So, all these youths that are making noise, whether Abubakar Shekau of Boko Haram, Nnamdi Kanu of the Indigenous People of Biafra and their Oduduwa counterpart, they are just a tiny minority of Nigerians using ethnic, archaic and retrogressive sentiments to destabilise the nation.
“But l can vouch that Nigerians really want to stay together in peace, but in peace and equity. Not with any segment of Nigeria being cheated.”
Gumi said the fact that Southern leaders are quiet over such calls showed that only those pursuing personal interests were advocating division of the country in the region.
He added: “I’m in Sokoto now, there are still many Igbo traders here who don’t want to go back home, so why do you tell me they want Biafra? Biafra is a nuisance just like Boko Haram. You think every northerner is a Boko Haram? Most Nigerians don’t want these ethnic or religious groups. They simply want peace and to live together as nation. If truly the Yorubas are agigating for Oduduwa, why are their leaders not talking about it? Why are Igbo leaders also not talking about Biafra?”
On the way forward, Gumi called on Yoruba and Igbo leaders to dialogue with those fuelling tension in their regions, adding that similar efforts are already ongoing in the North.
“What we expect is for Yoruba leaders and Igbo leaders to take care of their miscreants as we are handling herdsmen and Boko Haram which are miscreants in the North. Every leader should take the words to their people. Only the miscreants are fuelling this,” he added.
Gumi also canvassed for an amnesty programme for bandits in the country, stating that such would make them stop their attacks on Nigerians.