The apex Igbo organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, yesterday, warned that the nation is tottering on thebrink with the refusal of successive governments to restructure the country.
President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, in a keynote address at the 90th birthday of Chief Mbazulike Amechi, one of the icons of pre and post-independence Nigerian leadership, heaped the blame on the military for imposing a unitary constitution on the country that should operate a federal structure.
Chief Nwodo said contemporary Nigeria was no longer the same country Chief Amechi and his colleagues bequeathed when they left governance 53 years ago.
“I have argued elsewhere that our present constitution is an imposition by a group of military officers without any democratic credentials or mandate. It was not subjected to a plebiscite or referendum.
Nigeria’s legal basis is untenable. If we continue like this, this nation is tottering on the brink. We need a national conference. We cannot exist by force.
“Speaking for Ndigbo, our patience is running out We cannot continue to belong to a country whose constitution is imposed on us without any move to allow freedom of discussion, agreement or disagreement.
The circumstances that led to the Nigerian civil war are once more being allowed to fester.
“Every Nigerian patriot must speak up and help to seek a peaceful solution. So long as foreigners are daily entering our country to swell the numbers of a particular ethnic group, so long as the leaderships of the vital armed services are in the exclusive control of one section of the country, so long will a threat be posed to the peace of our country,” he said.
Chief Nwodo lamented the marginalisation of the Igbo in infrastructural development, administrative units and budgetary allocations by the Federal Government.
“We no longer feel Nigerian. So soon after the Nigerian civil war? This is sad. We are continuously reminded that there was a victor and a vanquished. By implication, we are reminded of Biafra. So long as Nigeria marginalises the Igbo, so long will Biafra remain in the consciousness of Ndigbo.
Biafra is an unforgettable experience. Biafra is a virtual state easily recalled when Nigeria visits us with the pangs of hatred, despise and marginalisation.”
Nwodo said restructuring remained the only peaceful and reasonable way to go.
“No Federal Republic in the world runs a unitary government. Ours cannot be an exception. The only way we can let our past leaders rest peacefully is by returning to the agreements they entered into in Lancaster House and all other constitutional conferences they held. It worked well for the First Republic. There is no reason why it cannot work now.
If each region takes care of its own area, controlling their God-given resources and donating agreed powers and obligations to a loose federal government that runs external relations, defense, Customs and other common functions, Nigeria will be more peaceful and prosperous. This will be a sure way to ensure the labours of our heroes past shall not be in vain,” Nwodo said.
Former Minister of Aviation, Chief Osita Chidoka also warned that any attempt to shut-out the South East in the 2023 political calculation would be ill-conceived.
Chidoka said the country cannot make progress with its current composition.
Chidoka while reviewing the book, “A Political History of Modern Nigeria: Words and Thoughts of Mbazulike Amechi,” said alienating the South East from the 2023 presidential contest will “open old wounds.”
He said the South East had remained committed to the unity, harmonious co-existence, mutual understanding, economic development, social and political wellbeing of Nigeria.
He, therefore, called on the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) to respect the principle of zoning and cede their presidential tickets to the South East.
“I crave your indulgence to use the words of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) in an advertorial where they warned President Jonathan not to contest the 2011 election, to sound a note of warning: “If the country’s two major political parties do not continue in the tradition of the agreed rotation, they will undermine the peace and tranquility of Nigeria.”
Chidoka said using the perceived strength of the other geo-political zones or ethnic groups to alienate the Igbos in 2023 “would open old wounds of primitive politics where ethnic, sectional, religious and other primordial, undesirable sentiments will assume center-stage with attendant unpleasant consequences.”
He said electoral results showed that the South East is ethnically blind when it comes to voting and that it was a proof of the cosmopolitan ethos of Ndigbo.
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