Second Vice President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Barr. Monday Onyekachi Ubani has said that there was nothing wrong with the lingering secession agitation by the Igbo, stating that ‘any person can agitate for certain thing’ if he/she feels maltreated or neglected in ‘a union like Nigeria’.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Greennews Political Ralph at his Ikeja office, the legal practitioner likened the secession agitation to a marriage union where a spouse is free to lament whenever he/she is cheated or not well treated.
According to Ubani, the BIAFRA agitation is valid but the method adopted by aggrieved Igbo which threatens the unity of the country and tends to ‘destroy’ Nigeria’s system of Government must be examined critically.
He said: “Any person can agitate for certain things if you feel you are not well treated either in Marriage or in a Union like Nigeria. If you are saying that you are not well treated and you are pointing out the areas of that maltreatment or ill-treatment and then demanding that it should be redressed, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. Or that you are an equal partner and must not be treated as an inferior partner in a relationship, there is nothing wrong with that.
“Or that you are neglected in terms of infrastructural development either by the Federal or State Government, I mean agitation is everywhere. Nobody has come to a level in life where he feels that he has everything and say that ‘I am contended’.
“But if you now go about agitating in a manner that tends to destroy the entire system or in a manner that you create more enemies for yourself, that cannot be a proper thing.
“The method of people now trying to destroy the system, using hate languages and speeches. No! No matter the level of disagreement, I have never seen any war that ended at the war front. I have seen many wars that end at round table of discussion.
“There is no country that goes through the process of war and come out with smiling faces. Life lost, infrastructure destroyed, basic development retarded. You cannot afford to do that twice because we have done it before and we know the consequences. There is nothing wrong in agitation but the approach adopted”.
Ubani frowned at Leader of the Indigenous People of BIAFRA (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu’s call for Amambra governorship election boycott which is slated for November, 2017. He said Kanu had no right to make such pronouncement.
“Nnamdi is not Government. He doesn’t have that right to make that kind of pronouncement. The political leaders in Government have not spoken that there won’t be any election.
“There are Governors, Senators and members of the Federal House of Representatives. If they are there, an individual who is not a Government official cannot say that there won’t be any election in the region. He is not a spokesperson for the Government to say there won’t be any election. We can’t have two sovereign States”, Ubani said.
The former President of NBA, Ikeja Lagos chapter further explained the process of getting a referendum in determining another sovereign State.
“Referendum has to be a constitutional issue; we need to have it inserted into the law. There is no provision now for a referendum to determine another sovereign State; it is not there in the constitution unless it is organized outside the constitution. And it must be organized under the law.
“It can only be organized outside the constitution when there is a State of emergency that will warrant it being done outside the law. I also think that if there is going to be a referendum, we have representatives in the House. They should facilitate the insertion into the constitution. I think if majority are in favour of a referendum to determine whether any tribe will opt out of the system, it should now be allowed to be included.
“So, if it is included in the constitution, it becomes something that is constitutional. Then people can now invoke it. Just like people have invoke the issue of recall of Senator Dino Melaye.
“If we must have referendum for determining another sovereign State, then it has to be a constitutional issue. For now, it is not there in the constitution, I don’t know how it can be determined between now and the time Kanu is giving”, Ubani said.
When Political Ralph sought Ubani’s position on speculations that the Igbo were being marginalized by President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration, the legal practitioner attested that ‘there were some areas not regarded as part of the system’ in the initial appointments made by the President.
“I am saying this without any fear. You know my role in this Government? I played a very big role. Over there is a personal letter written to me and signed by President Muhammadu Buhari. I have spoken to the President twice on the telephone.
“When the President made the appointment he made, I felt the appointment was a bit one-sided. I said it and I posted it and criticized it. I would have loved him to make his Gov’t more inclusive because of the sensitive nature of Nigeria. We are not yet a united country.
“There are measures you put in place to make everyone feel they are part of the system. When I was campaigning for Buhari, I wanted a Father figure that will take the Hausa, Yorubas, minorities, and Igbo as one.
“When I am in Nigeria, I don’t want to think about being an Igbo or Yoruba person. That can only come when you have a leader that gravitate everyone towards Nationalism. When you see a policy of government geared towards making everyone feel at home, then everyone will think NIGERIA. But the moment everyone still believe that his/her own area is superior and should be taken care of in Government, it will create some level of division.
“In the initial appointment that the President made there were some areas not regarded as part of the system.
“The Igbos is the major ethnic group in Nigeria. You have the Hausa Fulani as the head (Buhari), deputy (Osinbajo) from southwest; you have the secretary of Government from the North, Speaker (Dogara) from the North, Senate President (Saraki) from the North. If I was the President, I would have given the Igbo Secretary to the Government.
“All those arrangement are not supposed to be something normal in a normal country. Nigeria is not a normal country. We are not yet united. So what you will do is make everybody feel part and parcel.
“The Government of Buhari was government of necessity. We needed him at the point that he came in, in order to really sort out things. Things were getting worse and there is no way we would have continued with the old order. So, he came in as a Father figure to stabilize and unite everyone”.
Asked if he complained about the alleged marginalization in the President’s appointments during his telephone conversations with Buhari, Barrister Ubani said: “No. I wanted to see him one on one. It is not a matter over phone. I wanted to come and speak with him directly as a Father. And he had given instruction for me to see him. But nature always aborted it. The first time he spoke to me was after the presentation of the 2015 Budget. That Budget turns out to be very controversial because of the padding. So the man (Buhari) was battling to overcome it and all other things that wanted to reduce his integrity and the reputation of the Government.
“It will be very unwise for me to be insisting on seeing him. Last December that he spoke to me, he instructed his media adviser, Femi Adesina (Buhari’s spokesman) to ensure that Mr Kyari (Buhari’s Chief of Staff) arrange my coming. Femi spoke with Kyari and he said that he has to find a stable time to put me before February. And the President became sick in January and travelled. It will be very unwise to insist on seeing him when he came back.
“If I had seen him, these are issues I would have raised with him. We need a leader that will become a Father figure and pull everyone together”.