By Victor Oriola, Patrick Okohue & Emma-Enyinnaya Appolos:
* Balarabe Musa, Adebanjo, Sagay, others: He’s talking nonsense
He said the division of the country “into two nations of Muslims and Christians” remained the only way to avoid further bloodshed often triggered by ethno-religious crisis.
But, he was countered immediately by former old Kaduna State Governor, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, constitutional lawyer, Prof. Itse Sagay and a leading light of the pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo.
Gaddafi’s recommendation came in the wake of the latest ethno-religious cleansing of more than 500 residents of three villages in Jos South council area of Plateau State by some unknown herdsmen.
In a speech to students, the Libyan leader, who seized power from King Idris on September 1, 1969, hailed the example of India and Pakistan, where he said partition saved many lives.
“Splitting Nigeria would stop the bloodshed and burning of places of worship,” Gaddafi was quoted as saying in the state news agency, Jana.
He classified the Jos violence as a “deep conflict of religious nature” caused by the federal state, “which was made and imposed by the British in spite of the people’s resistance to it”.
He described the partition of India as a “historic, radical solution” which saved the lives of “millions of Hindus and Muslims.”
Sagay, who described Gaddafi’s suggestion as “a very rash advice,” said: “It is true that we are slightly different in terms of religion and culture. But if we live our lives according to our religion and culture unmolested, there won’t be any problem at all. We have been together for 100 years; let us not give up now.”
Said Adebanjo: “ The whole North is not the Hausa/Fulani or Moslem. It is a mixture of Moslems and Christians. So, how are you going to divide them? Nigeria is multi ethnic, multi cultural and you cannot compare the Indian, Bangladesh and Pakistani example with the Nigerian situation. So, that advice is not okay.”
To Balarabe Musa, Gaddafi’s advice was “a mistaken understanding of the problem in Nigeria.”
“What is happening is quite unfortunate but it doesn’t call for that. The level of economic integration has gone that far. What we have in Nigeria would happen anywhere you have bad governance. The problem in Nigeria is that government at all levels has become irresponsible.
“When I was a governor in Kaduna, there was nothing like this and if it wanted to occur, we would always nip it in the bud. The crisis in Jos is unfortunate but the agents of the state and federal government cannot say they were not aware of it to nip it before it escalated.
“The problem is basically economic, it is not religious or political, the Berom ethnic group that is causing this crisis is not more than 200,000 or thereabout. I was in Jos in 1956, so I know what I am talking about. We should not call for separation at this time; our case is not peculiar to India, Bangladesh and Pakistan that Col Muammar Gaddafi cited.”
Senator Odion Ugbesia said the Libyan strongman “should mind his own business because what is happening in Nigeria is an internal issue and he does not have the right to speak on such a sensitive issue about Nigeria.”
Former Chief of General Staff, Commondore Ebitu Ukiwe, said: “That is his opinion; he is entitled to his opinion. Nigerians will decide what they want at the right time. It is not to be dictated from outside. It is left for Nigerians to decide what they want and how they want it. Nobody from outside can choose for them.”
Alhaji Yerima Shettima said: “Such a comment is not in the best interest of Nigeria. I don’t think it has gotten to that. I believe there is still hope in Nigeria. I believe Nigeria will get better and have the peace and unity that is required.”
Chief Adeniyi Akintola described Gaddafi as “an erratic,unstable and unreliable person that cannot be taken with all seriousness.”
“Which North or South is he talking about? Is it the North that is predominantly dominated by the South? The man should be ignored completely. Is he not the same Gaddafi that has nursed an ambition to rule the whole of Africa?
But, Alhaji Muhajid Dokubo-Asari, supported Gaddafi.
“This is the best thing a foreign leader has said to the Nigerian problem. I congratulate Muammar Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi for the courage to speak out and not behaving like hypocrites who are only interested in the oil in the Niger Delta.
“I have always said it that Nigeria only exists in the minds and imaginations of that cabal in Abuja, stealing from the people. There is no unity whatsoever, and there can’t be unity in the fraudulent entity called Nigeria. Look at how they are killing innocent people they brought together against the wishes of the people?
“From Odi to Gbaramatu to Jos, it has been killing galore and the evil people who grab power fraudulently are happy about that.”
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