Catholic cleric and the Emeritus Archbishop of Abuja Archdiocese, John Cardinal Onayekan, has come under fire for saying Nigeria may breakup before the 2023 general election.
Elder stateman, Tanko Yakasai, condemned the statement by Onayekan who was reported by the PUNCH, to have said last Saturday, that he is not certain the 2023 elections will hold in Nigeria as a united entity following the various challenges bedeviling the country.
He was quoted as saying- “There is no reason why the spate of insecurity should continue like this till 2023. There is no reason why we should not be able to finally settle this problem before the year 2022 is over.
“If it is not over, it means we have failed as a nation and the question will no longer be whether we can have election or not, but whether it makes sense even having an election because we don’t have a country; the matter is serious.
“As for the election, we are not even sure whether Nigeria will be one country or whether we would have an independent country. So, those are issues we must face now, ” Onaiyekan was quoted to have said.
But in a reaction, Yakasai, who was a Special Adviser to former President Shehu Shagari on National Assembly Matters in the Second Republic, said Onaiyekan must have spoken out of anger, adding that any Nigerian who is thinking of the break up of the country is only day dreaming.
His words: “I know John Cardinal Onaiyekan only by reputation. I have never seen or met him in person. I am appalled by the statement credited to him reported by a journalist I know called Francis Edwin. The reported statement of Cardinal Onaiyekan advocating the break up of Nigeria is a statement made out of anger not out of the reflection of the true resolve of the people of Nigeria.
“A man in his stature ought not to be making a statement that will turn out not to be the reality of a situation like what is happening in the present day Nigeria. Nigeria is a conversion of many interests that cannot be easily ignored by the many interest groups that made up the country.
“This type of statement will undermine the credibility Cardinal Onaiyekan acquired for many years. I am a Nigerian politician who spent well above seventy years working hard together with many like minds to bring this country to what it is today. I am very senior to Cardinal Onaiyekan not in the church but in life and I have a great vision for Nigeria. I happened to know many promising nations which failed to realise their full potential but failed to do so as a result of leaders like the Cardinal who cannot persevere long enough to bring the good potentials of their nation into fruition.
“Any Nigerian who is thinking of the break up of the country is only day dreaming. The composition of Nigeria is such which everyone is inter dependent on another. Even the Ibos who have been thinking of leaving Nigeria have no understanding of how many of their own scattered all over the country.
“They do not understand the political economy of Nigeria which is a market of over 200 million people and the Ibos benefi the most in this big market. In the event of the unlikely break up of the country where else can they have another market like that in the whole of Africa? Any talk of break up of Nigeria is a mere day dreaming.
“At 96 it will make little difference to me whether Nigeria remain as one or not. I am committed to the unity of Nigeria from the day I joined partisan politics in 1951. 1 went to prison in 1953 on my opposition to making Nigeria a confederation. I will remain an ardent supporter of a united Nigeria to the end of my life.”