“The fight to keep Nigeria united was not worth it.” — General Akinrinade

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[Interview]–Lt. General Ipoola Alani Akinrinade, a former Chief of Defence Staff has lamented that the fight to keep Nigeria united was not worth it.

He made this submission in an interview with Vanguard.

While expressing his belief on the possibility of keeping Nigeria one, he is still of the opinion that Igbo should have been allowed to secede.

“Good, you allow people to make choices. And you also said it is good to allow people decide their fate. This present agitation by the Igbos, garbed in the Biafra movement, in retrospect, wouldn’t we now begin to admit that the fight to keep Nigeria one, based on contemporary realities, was futile, a fool’s errand, that was not worth it? Those ideals that people had, in keeping the nation one, appear to have been thrown out of the window.

“Well, I think as far back as the early 1980s, I’d alluded to the fact that it is still possible to keep a country like Nigeria one. I still have that belief.

“Okay, whether it is a belief that is actionable and realistic, I have doubts myself now.

“Maybe because some of us have served everywhere and we have friends everywhere and we talk and discuss and share views. As far back as 1983 when I went to Ife to deliver a lecture, I suggested that we would do much better with a confederation,” he added.

He further revealed, “I believe a confederal system is more manageable. But even at that time, people kicked. So, imagine what the response would be now because things have gone from bad to worse.
“Why didn’t we allow the Igbos to go their way? Don’t you think we should have allowed them? Absolutely. But, honestly, we can have a true federal system after all.

“Even Switzerland, as small as it is, still has its federal system intact. I think it is a black thing. We blacks have this problem about managing ourselves,” he lamented.

The former military officer also spoke on education and the fact that free education with all the present circumstances is not sustainable.

“I made it clear that the way free education was being continued, it was not going to survive or give quality education, that it needed remodelling. Those who had made good and were expected to pay back to society were still hinging their hopes on free education. That was not fair.
“When you have benefitted and can afford to offer at least 20 scholarships, you still want to keep your wealth made through free education and you want your children to also participate? On top of that, you add bursary. Are you going to give bursary to children of people in my social category? It would be unfair on the farmers and those in dire need of the bursary.

“So, because my father married five women, I should now marry six because I appear to be a bit more comfortable? The society will not grow like that. Somebody has to apply the brakes and fine tune things,” he submitted.

Recall that Akinrinade was one of the Nigerians who fled the country at the height of the struggle to reclaim the June 12, 1993 presidential mandate of MKO Abiola, to form what became known as the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO.

He became the Chief of Army Staff, at age 41 in 1981 and has recently launched his book,”My Dialogue With Nigeria”, which was compiled by Soji Akinrinade, while the introduction to the book was written by Dr. Cornelius Adebayo, a former governor of old Kwara State.




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