“Restructuring may no longer save Nigeria, referendum is the solution”- Annkio Briggs

Ms Briggs, who is the founder and executive director of non-governmental organization Agape Birthrights, as spokesperson of the Ijaw Republican Assembly, IRA, the United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy,  UNDEDSS, and a member of the 2014 National Conference.

In a no-holds-barred interview, the English-born Nigerian activist spoke among others on the flickering flames of insecurity, the menace of armed herdsmen and worsening threat to national unity, the suspended Ruga settlement for herdsmen, rising poverty in the country and how to save Nigeria.

How do you see the state of the nation?

I, as a person, and a voice of many groups across the Niger Delta, and interacting with many groups in the Middle Belt, Yoruba land and Igboland, I am not surprised at where we are as a nation today.

I don’t think that anybody who has been involved in the struggle for equity and justice in this country will be surprised at where we are as a country today. What is surprising is the failure of the different ethnic nationalities, the traditional rulers, the political leadership, and the electorate to come to terms with the fact that we cannot continue with this self-deceit that there will come a time when the Federal Government headed by President Muhammadu Buhari with the Miyetti Allah having a say in the policy of the government will bring change.

The Miyetti Allah is supposed to be a business organization of cattle rearers but it has become very clear to a lot of people that it is part of a sinister plan by the Cabal. Some of them have transformed to herdsmen, Boko Haram, bandits and militias.

What is shocking is that we don’t seem to have a plan. In the 2014 National Conference, I understood the plight of the Middle Belt people and how they have endured what some of us thought were historical facts on account of the influence of Othman Dan Fodio in Northern Nigeria, sacking of Hausa kingdoms, how Nigeria was amalgamated and the role played by the then government.

It is now very clear that a deal was cut between the then colonial government and the Fulani ethnic nationality across Africa. The Fulani of Nigeria is nomadic pastoral people, who move from place to place. They have been able to move from one country to the other bearing in mind where they originated from.

They don’t care that there are laws and boundaries across African nations. I don’t believe that they have passports, you can’t identify the Nigerian Fulani today.

The Fulani, under the guise of nomadic cattle rearing, have been establishing Ruga or Fulani colonies across countries in Africa.

Recently, the Federal Government attempted to blatantly and brazenly support the idea and plan to forcefully go against the rule of law and Constitution of Nigeria and take land across Nigeria for Ruga for Fulani herdsmen. These are people that have 80 per cent of Nigeria’s landmass.

This is not enough for them, they want to add the remaining 20 per cent that the Yoruba, Igbo and Niger Delta ethnic nationalities share.

If an advocate of civil rights takes a position it is not the same as a politician taking a moral position that is justifiable.

Why Osinbajo should resign:

Under Osinbajo, in a government he serves as vice president, there is no rule of law. He should resign for the mere fact that he is a Christian.

He should resign if not for any other thing to be seen to have dissociated himself from the negative attitude towards southerners and Christians.

For me, looking at Nigeria today, Nigeria has deteriorated to the extent that even restructuring, which some of us believe will play a major role in keeping Nigeria together, will not be done under this government.

I don’t think Nigeria will be restructured. Time for referendum Nigeria has gone so far down the path of disintegration that we really need to be looking towards a referendum of the ethnic nationalities across Nigeria.

The question for the Yoruba, Igbo, Middle-Belt, ethnic nationalities of the Niger Delta and even the Fulani themselves, etc is simple: Do you want to continue to stay in this country called Nigeria? The answer is yes or no.

If the answer is yes, then what are the plans? The people should be able to come up with their plans under which they wish to stay in Nigeria or exit Nigeria. We just cannot go on like this.

I don’t believe we can go to December 2019 as if everything is all right in Nigeria. Look at what happened in Abuja, last week with the Shiites protests at the National Assembly.

All they are asking is for a court order to be obeyed. They are not asking that their leader, Sheik Ibrahim El-zakzaky, should be released unconditionally. The Shiite is just one Islamic group.

I don’t think its issue in multiple religious countries should occupy the time of the president of Nigeria. In my opinion, Nigeria is going down the path where quite honestly, we are in a speed train that has no break and at some point, it will crash.

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