The Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, has called for a renegotiation of Nigeria’s unity. He made the call at the 18th annual lecture of the Catholic Brothers United of St Agnes Catholic Church, in Maryland, Lagos.
While speaking on “Proffering solution to the current economic recession: The religious perspective,” he said the country’s unity was negotiable. He, however, added that although such unity had a cost, separation would carry a heavier cost.
The bishop stressed that in most countries that allowed themselves to disintegrate, they had gone with heavy hemorrhage and abiding wounds and scars, citing India and Pakistan.
He said: “In recent times, a lot has been said about Nigeria’s unity and how a national cohesion is non-negotiable. But such a statement does not seem to make much sense to me. It is begging the question, because in politics, everything is negotiable.
“We must be ready to renegotiate the terms of our unity, to show that indeed we are serious about staying together, not just as a group of captives locked up in a prison, but rather as a nation of diverse people who have freely decided to live together in unity.”
He said those talking about breaking up the country were still to come out with clear and practical logistics to carry out the exercise.
“If we decide that we shall remain together, we should have the courage to do what it takes to build a united country. To do so, we need to build upon the massive resources that God has endowed the country with.
“Children are born not only with a mouth to eat, but also with two hands to work and produce. Above all, they come with brains to think. Therefore, every human being is a subject of productivity. In a well-organised society, human beings, as the greatest resources should be put at the centre of our public affairs,” he said.
The Chairman of the Lagos State branch of the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, Supo Shonibare, who was the special guest of honour, also supported restructuring.
He said: “We have been very clear that we need to restructure the country. All of us should have a mind-set of finding a solution to the system that is not working.
“We should have a unicameral national assembly and different regions. We hope that the people listen so that we could have a change, because anything that is not working needs a solution.”