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The Igbo Rebuilt Their Region After War But North Still Has Mud Houses – Atiku |RN

 

atiku-abubakar

Former Vice President, Abubakar Atiku

 

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar says despite fighting a civil war the Igbo have been able to rebuild their region, but that the north still has mud houses.
He spoke on the background of the need for Nigeria to be restructured.
Addressing a coalition of youth groups under the aegis of Play Forum in Abuja, Abubakar said those afraid of restructuring were lazy.
He said every region in the country should be allowed to control its resources.
“Left for me, I will ask every part of this country to take charge of its resources while the federal government should handle defence, foreign affairs and immigration among others in the exclusive list,” he said.
“It should not be complicated to start with all the recurrent items in the constitution. The president can dialogue with the governors or the national assembly for states to take charge of the roads, hospitals, schools and such other items in the concurrent List while the federal government will continue with items on the exclusive list.
“I would not have gone to school if I were born today. My parents were so poor they couldn’t afford to send me to school. I was born during the era education was free, food was free for me, I was sponsored from primary school to the university. There was even a job waiting for me before I graduated. Yet, there was no oil boom then. I am certainly not a product of oil boom Nigeria.
“So, I don’t know what those who are against restructuring are afraid of. Those afraid must be lazy. We fought the civil war with the Igbo. Today, the Igbo have been completely rebuilt, but we still find mud houses in the north. Is it the fault of the easterners that the north is like that?
“I think that what is most important is the devolution of powers and resources with the various governments whether states or regions. How do the people hold those in power accountable for the resources handed over to them?” (The Cable)

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Tinubu Wants Nigeria Repaired Now, Seeks Return To 1963 Constitution |RN

  • Rejects calls for break-up
  • Seeks return to 1963 constitution

By Omoniyi Salaudeen and Onyedika Agbedo

National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Asiwaju Bola Tinubu has aligned himself with those canvassing for urgent repair of the fabric of the nation, saying time was no longer on the side of Nigeria.

Tinubu, however, cautioned those agitating for the break-up of the country to tread softly, noting that taking such step “would make us more vulnerable to outside influences.”

  The former Lagos State governor spoke yesterday as Principal Guest of Honour/Keynote Speaker at the 2017 Annual Dinner of King’s College Old Boys’ Association (KCOBA) at King’s College, Lagos. He was represented by former Lagos State Commissioner for Finance, Wale Edun.

Speaking on the topic, ‘A New Nigeria or a Better One: The Fitting Tools of a Great Repair

’, Tinubu affirmed his belief in Nigeria, noting that it would become a great nation and a leader among other African nations.

He said: “I am a firm believer in Nigeria. I believe this land will become a great nation and a leader among other African nations. We can resolve our dysfunctions in a manner that will make this nation rise as a standard of decency, justice and prosperity for all Nigerians.

So many excellent people have devoted themselves, even given their very lives, to give life to this nation.  I dare not cast aside their hardy and brave work as if it were nothing. Many things we now enjoy and see as good are due to these people. We have benefited from their labour and sacrifice.  Morality and my understanding of our history will not allow me to discard such contributions to our humanity and common welfare.

  “Being more pragmatic, separating the nation into small pieces resolves nothing and creates additional problems. The world marches toward integration. Europe, America, Asia seek a trade and commercial pacts that will make them more integrated markets. Notwithstanding Brexit, the European Union (EU) grows more integrated into the functions of governance by the day. Thus, while nations more powerful and developed than us seek to pool their wealth and might, some of us seek to whittle this nation into smaller pieces.

Such a thing would make us more vulnerable to outside influences.  We would forfeit our rightful place on the world stage and as a leader of this continent.

Moreover, not every split solves a problem. The political mentality, either good or bad, that defined a group before the split will remain after the divide. If one is imbued with factionalism, that perspective will remain even when the immediate problem is surmounted. The division will manifest differently but manifest it will.

A new factional bigotry will arise to replace the old. The cycle of tension and unrest will take its inexorable toll. Just ask the people of South Sudan if their woes ended when they left Sudan.

When your heart is geared toward division, you will see it within a single tribe, even a single family.

  “Thus, I oppose talk of break-up and all other exotic political arrangements tantamount to it. That I am a foe of disunity does not mean I have blinded myself to the truth that our nation is in need of great repair.

We all see the nation for what it is. Some look further to see the nation for what it is not and they rush to condemn it.

I choose to see the nation for what it can be and thus seek to nurture and cultivate it so that this Nigeria may bring forth the fullest blossoming of its riches, resources and ingenuity of its diverse people.

We need a better Nigeria and we must move toward it with speed. Once an ally, time no longer is on our side.”

  Tinubu threw his weight behind calls for true federalism and restructuring of the country, stressing that, “it would be better to restructure things to attain the correct balance between our collective purpose on one hand and our separate grassroots realities on the other.”  He added: “Sadly, the Federal Government is now doing things the states can perform with equal dexterity and which detract the Federal Government from the key missions only it can perform.

This imbalance between the roles of the federal and state governments lies at the root of our difficulties.
To achieve better levels of overall governance, we need to re-balance the duties of the federal and state governments. The legacy of the undemocratic rule has arrogated too much power and resources to the federal at the expense of state governments. The quest to correct the imbalance is the essence of federalism I have advocated for so many years.
Due to our particular political history and its military legacy, the quality of our federalism and the quality of our democracy are intertwined. The more we repair federalism, is the more we improve democracy.
In my mind, federalism denotes a division of labour between the federal and state governments that function to maximise the benefits of governance to the people.

  “True federalism is that brand which provides that the Federal Government should focus on those few but essential things only it can provide such as foreign policy, defence, and national economic policy. Additionally, in those matters where uniform standards and requirements are appropriate, the Federal Government must take the lead.

All other matters should be left to the states. If there is doubt over a particular issue, the presumption should be that the states, not the Federal Government, should take the lead.

He continued: “Constitutionally, we are a federation of 36 states. However, the vestiges of past military rule continue to haunt the democratic road we hew. We function like a unitary state in many ways.
We cannot become a better Nigeria with an undue concentration of power at the federal level.  Many of the 68 items on the Exclusive Federal List should be transferred to the Residual List. This would be in harmony with the 1963 Constitution, again an instance of reaching back to revive something old yet more likely to give us a better Nigeria.
That prior constitution granted vast powers to the regions enabling them to carry out their immense responsibilities as they saw fit.
By virtue of the clear fact that regional governments were closer to the people, they had a better feel for the material and intangible priorities of their populations. We must return to this ideal.
Tinubu, who also touched on many economic issues, urged the Federal Government to initiate sound economic policies that would end over-dependence on oil revenue and foster the development of strategic industries that create jobs as well as spur further economic growth.

  “The Federal Government should institute a policy of tax credits, subsidies and insulate critical sectors from the negative impact of imports.

We need a national infrastructure plan,” he noted.  He stressed that the country must adhere to the values and policies that suggest that tomorrow can be made a better place than today.

“I refuse to believe we have become such an untoward lot that the longer we live together, the more estranged we become.
Just as we have gathered here today, we must gather about the national table to repair our political discourse. In this way, we begin the process leading to policies that bring civic kindness, generosity of spirit, sustainable growth, equality and peace to every Nigerian who seeks these good things. These are the pillars of a better Nigeria. By the grace and mercy of our common Creator, we shall build such pillars so that we and succeeding generations may come to build even greater things upon them,” he said.    (The Sun)

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Ohanaeze, Niger Delta Leaders Back Yoruba’s Demand For Regional Gov’t |RN

Yoruba-Summit-on-restructuring

Cross section of Yoruba leaders at summit supporting restructuring

Olufemi Atoyebi, Ibadan

The umbrella body for the Igbo, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and leaders of the Niger Delta joined leaders of the South-West in Ibadan on Thursday, where they demanded a return to regional government in Nigeria.

The Yoruba Summit, held in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, was convened to deliberate on the position of the Yoruba on restructuring and the future of Nigeria.

The summit was attended by Yoruba leaders, South-West governors, traditional leaders, lawmakers, Yoruba socio-cultural groups, professional bodies, various Yoruba youth groups and leaders of various groups from the South-East and the South-South.

The South-South and South-East leaders and groups, who said they came to offer solidarity to the Yoruba’s position on restructuring, came in large numbers and added colour to the event with their traditional performers.

In the 16-point communiqué, dubbed Ibadan Declaration, which was signed by the summit chairman, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), and the Chairman of the Planning Committee, Dr. Kunle Olajide, and read by National Publicity Secretary of Afenifere, Yinka Odumakin, the Yoruba elders stated that Nigeria must return to proper federation as obtained in the 1960 and 1963 constitutions.

They stressed that this had been the position of the zone since the 1950 Ibadan Conference.

The communiqué read, The “Yoruba are clear that restructuring does not mean different things to different people other than that a multi-ethnic country like Nigeria can only know real peace and development if it is run only along federal lines.

“The greatest imperative of restructuring Nigeria is to move from the money-sharing anti-development economy to productivity, by ensuring that the federating units are free to own and develop their resources while they pay an agreed sum to the federation purse to implement certain services.

“The federating units, whether states, zones or regions must be governed by a written constitution to curb impunity at all levels. Nigeria shall be a federation comprising six regions and a federal capital territory in Abuja.”

The summit proposed that in the new arrangement, the Federal Government could make laws and only have power in relations to items specified on the exclusive list contained in the constitution of the federation.

It added, “Each region shall have its own constitution, containing enumerated exclusive and concurrent lists. Contiguous territory, ethnic nationalities and settlements shall be at liberty, through a plebiscite to elect to be part of a region other than the region which the current system has.

“The power to create state shall be within the exclusive power of the region provided a plebiscite is conducted following the request by the agreed percentage of the ethnic nationality within the state.

“The power to create local government and assign functions to them shall be vested in the state.

“States shall be entitled to manage all resources found within their boundaries and the revenue accrued thereof. The sharing ratio of all revenues shall be 50 per cent to the state, 35 per cent to the regional government and 15 per cent to the federation.”

At the summit, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Enitan Ogunwusi, urged Yoruba elders to be honest and place the future of the youth ahead of every consideration. He said it was the only way to preserve and strengthen the Yoruba race.

The monarch said, “I thank God for this forum; He is God forever. He made the Yoruba people leaders of the human race.

“My appeal is that we should all approach restructuring with honesty. We should separate politics from it because of the future of our youths. Out of 10 people in Nigeria, seven are in the youth brackets. We should be firm in our pursuit and let peace reign in our agitation.

“With peace, we can get what we want. Patience can earn us everything we want. We should place the future of Yoruba youths in front and not selfish interest.”

Yoruba problems are the leaders, says Fayose

But the Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose, at the summit, alleged that Yoruba elders were the problem of the region because they failed in their duty to protect their own people.

He said, “People can only discard my voice but they cannot throw me away. Our forefathers in Yoruba land tried their best but the present Yoruba elders are our problem. This is our fathers’ land and they must defend it.

“We have had great meetings like this that were held in the past and which were attended by Yoruba elders, but after the meetings, the so-called elders would approach the media and said we do not need restructuring. This does not make any sense.

“The war against Yoruba land is from within. We have selfish elders in the land. Through the period when one of our elders ruled Nigeria, he never deemed it fit to honour Chief M. K. O. Abiola, who died fighting the cause of Yoruba people.

“We are fighting for a just cause now but this man will appear on the television and say restructuring is not the way. He put us in the position we are today.”

Fayose said he supported the position of the forum and that there was no alternative to a return to regionalism.

He said, “I align myself with what our elders have said but they must fight without fear if we have to move forward. God will help you. There is no alternative to regionalism.

“You cannot blame the governors who are not here because our present leaders have turned themselves to Lions. When the governors want to talk, they roar at them to keep them quiet.”

In his own contribution, a former Minister of Aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, called on the Yoruba elders to prepare for an agitation for the Oduduwa Republic if the restructuring was not possible.

“If we cannot have regional restructuring, let us prepare ourselves for the Oduduwa Republic. That is the thinking of the majority of our people but as a first step, let us demand to restructure.

“We appeal to the Federal Government, all political leaders and all parties, let us restructure this country and devolve powers to the regions. Give us the power to live our lives.

“Nobody can suppress the Yoruba people, nobody stops us; we are the sons of Oduduwa and we shall go forth.”

But the national coordinator, Oodu Peoples Congress, Gani Adams, noted at the summit that it would be dangerous to call for devolution of powers to the states, arguing that it could lead to the disintegration of the Yoruba states.

Adams said, “To devolve power to the states is dangerous for the Yoruba states. This is because if for example, Lagos has the power to be on its own, after having its own constitution, police and other things, it will one day tell Ogun State that it does not want anything to do with it since it already has what it wants. This can also apply to other states in the region.

“What we want is to go back to regionalism. From the beginning of history, Yoruba has always been a pacesetter. They should not set us backwards.  What we need is restructuring based on the regional line.”

Among the Yoruba socio-cultural groups at the meeting was the Yoruba Liberation Command, which said restructuring was too late to save the nation. According to the group’s spokesperson, George Akinola, the Yoruba have been trampled upon in the Nigeria arrangement.

He believed that it was time to gain independence.

“We are serious about our demands. Every region has its agitation. Nigeria is the impediment to the development of the Oduduwa Republic.

“We had television before France and radio before South Africa. Look at where we are today. Restructuring is what we need and we are talking to our leaders,” he added.

South-East supports Yoruba position –Nwodo

Meanwhile, Nwodo, who led the South-East delegation to the summit, said Nigerians, especially, people in the Southern part, were being ruled by a set of documents they were not a party to.

According to him, it was time for every region to dictate its level of development as it was in the regional system of the past.

The Ohanaeze president-general added, “I am here with a large delegation to emphasise the Ndigbo solidarity with this occasion. What is happening today shows that democracy has begun to grow in Nigeria.

“Is it right to be ruled by a document that you are not a party to? What we are saying today is that the people of Nigeria must have a say in the way they are governed. It is not only the Yoruba that is saying it; we, the Igbo, are saying it loud and clear. Many people have tried to destroy restructuring by saying that it is a ploy by Southern Nigeria to monopolise the God-given mineral resources in the area. Those who are doing this do not love Nigeria.

“The Netherlands is the 18th richest country in the world. Its agricultural export every year comes to $100bn. The Netherlands has 34,000 square kilometres but Niger State in Nigeria has 73,000 kilometres. If Netherlands can export $100bn worth of agricultural produce, Nigeria should be able to do more in million folds.

“In a restructured Nigeria, only those who can till their land and produce food will be rich. All parts of Nigeria are endowed with agricultural resources.

“California is the largest economy in the world, yet, it is only one state in the United States. California has given birth to richest companies in the world whose founders grew from universities in California. If you give the people the power to develop themselves, they will do well.

“Education knows no boundaries, I was taught by Yoruba professors and today, I can mimic the Yoruba intellectual powers.

“I want to tell you that we support your motion for the restructuring of Nigeria.”

Also, the leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, Albert Horsfall, said Nigeria’s structure was lopsided, stating that it gave undue advantage to a set of people to be at the saddle because of questionable population figure that remained unproven.

Horsfall stated, “The whole issue of restructuring depends on the control of what you or your soil produces. We in the South-South have, for several decades, provided the engine room that runs Nigeria but we are still expecting to be given the privilege to run our own affairs. That is the restructuring that we are talking about.

“The rest of us in the south speak with one voice over restructuring. We believe in one Nigeria but every country must do something and contribute something to the nation. We do not want a system called federalism but based on a unitary system of government.

“If you go to the Niger Delta today, despite the fact that we lay the golden egg, our people are still agitating. We are not mad; we are agitating because history repeats itself.

“The issue of restructuring must start with resource control. That is what we believe. We support the Yoruba motion in its entirety. The sage, Chief Awolowo is closely related to politics with my father, who was also a leader of the Action Group. We have an affinity with the Yoruba and that is why we are here to speak in acknowledgement of what the Yoruba people are doing today.”

OPC factions clash at Ibadan summit

Meanwhile, some members, belonging to two factions of the OPC, clashed shortly after the end of the Yoruba Summit on restructuring at the Lekan Salami Stadium, in the Adamasingba area of Ibadan.

Tension began to rise at the venue of the event when a faction of the group alleged that it was not recognised or given an opportunity to contribute to the discussion after one of the factional leaders, Gani Adams, made his contribution.

Although elders present at the venue kept the peace, the animosity grew and degenerated into a fight outside the stadium.

Our correspondent learned that there were casualties on both sides after they opened fire on themselves and used dangerous weapons during the street fight.

It was also learnt that the National Public Relations Officer of the Reformed Oodua group, Adeshina Akinpelu, was critically injured after he was hit in the head with heavy stones.

A call to his mobile was answered by an aide who said he was in a critical condition and receiving treatment at the Police Hospital, inside the Oyo State Police Command Headquarters, Eleyele, Ibadan.

The Police Public Relations Officer of the command, Adekunle Ajisebutu, confirmed the clash to our correspondent

He said, “Two OPC groups clashed and one person was injured. No death was recorded and police have restored normalcy.

“No arrest has been made but we are working hard to arrest those who participated in the clash. The injured person, who was treated at the Police Hospital, has been discharged.”   (Punchng.com)

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Ndigbo: Light Of The Nation, By Clem Aguiyi |The Republican News

 

IGBO-CULTURE-PROTECTION-COMMITTEE-MEETS

Igbo Culture Protection Committee in the UK

 

By Clem Aguiyi

As Nigeria decides on how best to address the Igbo question following the countdown to the quit notice issued to nd’Igbo by the coalition of sixteen Northern youth organizations, I wish to remind Nigeria and those targeting the Igbo that the Igbo fate is in God’s hands. Before the North by their own hands quenches the light and blessings planted in their communities for centuries of years, let me remind them that at the heart of Igbo agitation and aspiration is the quest for a just society where all citizens are treated fairly and as equal citizens.

The Igbo which I am part of are not asking for any special treatment from the rest of Nigeria. It’s the Lord’s doing that we are built strong and resilient to compete fairly and succeed squarely. We are not looking for a nation where we will dominate others by raw power but a nation and system fair enough to allow our blessings and light to shine unto others.

When we speak of restructuring, we are simply demanding for a constitution drafted by the people for the common good of the people. We the Igbo have no problem with Muslims living under the Sharia law, but we must be allowed access to our God given resources so that we will develop at our own pace.

For reasons of the above, I urge Arewa Youths to also embrace the Igbo agitation for fairness and good governance because Nigeria as currently structured is not assuring anyone of a pleasant future. The northern youths should learn to appreciate the brighter side of our mutual co-existence. They must end their tendency of ascribing every statement or action by any Igbo renegade as the voice of the Igbo.

Rather than hate the Igbo, they should be thankful to the Igbo for without the Igbo Nigeria would have been worse. We effectively built the North and most part of Nigeria. If we are forced out of Nigeria as a quick fix to the irritation of our demand for fairness and justice, Nigeria will be worse as the Igbo nation and people will always rise in triumph from ashes to greatness. We have over time demonstrated this, and proven that we are not mere occupiers of space but active nation builders. We have contributed in very positive manner and have made tremendous sacrifice towards achieving a strong, prosperous and united Nigeria.

To further set the record straight and without denying the fact that we are proud merchants, we are of course not just traders as our detractors will often say but people with rich heritage. I will write the lines that follow purposely to inspire the current generation of our people of what it means to be Igbo. Simply put, to be Igbo is to be the light of the nation and light unto nations. It means we are to excel in our pursuits and use our God given blessings to shape the fate of Nigeria and make it a better place. The Igbo nation would have been failing in God’s plan if it has not produced sons and daughters who had developed all spheres of industries in Nigeria. For Nigeria to achieve greatness it should unchain the Igbo and stop placing visible and invisible hurdles for them.

Nigeria would have long achieved its full potential if it had allowed merit and fair competition by ending its conspiracy to chain the Igbo down. Frank Ndili an illustrious Igbo son was Nigeria first professor of Nuclear Physics and Chemistry. Professor Frank Ndili gained a Ph. D in his early ’20s at Cambridge University in Nuclear Physics and Chemistry in the early ’60s. He made a First Class in Physics and Mathematics at the then University College Ibadan in the early ’50s. But did Nigeria exploit this hot brain? No, it didn’t because Nigeria loves to hate the Igbo.

Many Nigerians will be shocked to know that Mrs Margret Ekpo the social activist, mobilizer and pioneering woman politician was born an Igbo lady from Anambra State. She was born Margret Obiasulor Okoroafor but was married to Dr John Ekpo of Ibibio ethnic group in Akwa Ibom State.

Revelations like this are part of the reasons history was yanked off our school curriculum because they don’t want you to know that the Igbo led the way in building and developing Nigeria. But we must not relent. We must teach our children that in spite of the fact that the Igbo came into contact with Western Education 100 years after the Yoruba did, yet the first Black Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan was an Igbo man named Professor Kenneth Onwuka Dike. Dike was also the first Nigerian professor of history.
The first Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos was an Igbo man named Professor Eni Njoku who was also the first Nigerian Professor of Botany. The first Nigerian Professor of Anatomy and Physiology was an Igbo man by name Professor Chike Edozien.
The first Nigerian Professor of Physics was an Igbo man, Professor Okoye who became a Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the USA in 1960. He was followed by the likes of Professor Alexander Anumalu who has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Physics three times for his research in Intermediate Quantum Physics.
First Nigerian Professor of Statistics Professor Adichie whose research on Non-Parametric Statistics led to new areas of statistical research was Igbo. Nigerian first Professor of Medicine – Professor Kodilinye was an Igbo– he was appointed a Professor of Medicine at the University of London in 1952. He later became the Vice Chancellor of the University of Nigeria Nsukka. Again another Igbo man Prof Ntukoju was the first Professor of Astronomy– he was the first African to earn a double PhD in Astronomy and Mathematics.
Again another Igbo man – Professor Okonjo was the first professor in demographic research. It was Okonjo who set up the first Centre for Population Research in Ibadan in the early ’60s. Professor G D Okafor, who became a Professor of Philosophy at the Amherst College USA in 1953 was the first Nigerian Professor in the field of Philosophy. Dr Pius Okigbo who became a visiting scholar and Professor of Economics at the University of London in 1954 was the first Nigerian PhD in Economics.
Professor Njoku, an Igbo became the first Nigerian to earn a PhD in Theology from Queens University Belfast in Ireland. He was appointed a Professor of Theology at the University College Zambia in 1952.
The Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) recorded Imo State as at 2014 as the state with the highest number of professors in Nigeria. The list of Igbo first in Nigeria cannot be exhaustive. Igbo nwere mmadu. We are the chosen people, we are the light of the nation.

I will encourage our leaders and elites to continue to invest heavily in education so as to expand our initiatives in technology, invention and innovations.

If we put behind our constraints and focus on our ability to succeed against all odds we can remain marvellous and magnificent in their eyes. Therefore, we have no reason to be desperate about anything including the desperation in the pursuit of our own independent state of Biafra other than to consolidate our comparative leadership in education, technology, inventions and innovations.

Our ability as a collective to determine to maximize our God given power of knowledge in pursuit of our destiny is what will give us the tools to shape our future—no longer as a defeated and persecuted people of Nigeria, but as a proud people within a magnificent country and distinguish us as a people who always aspire to serve as the light unto nations. This is the realization that makes our foes jittery and the progress and civilization they want to bring to a stop by desperately egging us towards a needless conflict where our land will yet again become a battlefield.

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Nigerians Want Full Restructuring, Opposing It Is Unfair, Southern Monarchs Tell Sultan |RN

sultan-sokoto

                            Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III

OLUFEMI ATOYEBI, FEMI MAKINDE, KAMARUDEEN OGUNDELE, SIMON UTEBOR, ETIM EKPIMAH, PETER DADA, CHIDIEBUBE OKEOMA, and GIBSON ACHONU

First-class traditional rulers across the southern parts of Nigeria have denounced the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar’s stance on restructuring, noting that it is unfair for a monarch of his stature to speak against the wish of the people.

Some of the monarchs told SUNDAY PUNCH that the position of the Sultan was born out of the interests of the North.

Last Monday, Abubakar had called on Nigerians to focus on the devolution of the economy, rather than the restructuring of Nigeria, while speaking at the Niger State Investment Submit in Minna.

“Rather than the clamour for the restructuring of the country, the Federal Government should be called upon to release dams across the country to state governments for massive participation of Nigerians in all-year farming seasons.

“We have the ability and technical knowledge to feed the continent with what we can produce, with the required political commitment, through the provision of modern farming implements for our teeming farmers,” he had said.

Rather than economic restructuring, the Olubadan of Ibadan, Oba Saliu Adetunji, stated that it was mind-boggling that the Sultan was not in tune with the masses.

“If the people of Nigeria want the country to be restructured, as traditional leaders, we are not in a position to oppose it. We are closer to the people, so we must lead by example. It is important to find a way of addressing the yearning of our people.

“Without the people, there cannot be a leader. We can see clearly what is wrong with the present system. The people and all the major political parties are calling for restructuring. We should allow people to develop at their own pace. It is the only way out of a potential crisis. That is how we can address all the agitations across the country. We support the restructuring of the nation,” the monarch, who spoke through his Director, Media and Public Affairs, Adeola Oloko, said.

Another first-class traditional ruler from Eket, Akwa Ibom State, Obong Etim Abia, noted that reforming the country’s economic policies to make it more buoyant was not the focus of the call for restructuring.

“I think the general opinion is that, as Nigerians, we all need to come together, sit down and discuss how we want this country to be governed. This is the only country in the world that people have to go to the centre and share money. Things cannot continue like that — that is why some people insist on resource control.

“To say the country should not be restructured and that we should leave it to what the military decided to make it — with the military all from one side of the country — is unfair and unrealistic. We must agree on resource control in which every state will control its own resources and give a percentage, even if it is 50 per cent, to the centre,” Abia said.

Also weighing in on the matter, the paramount ruler of Aburemi Kingdom, Ogbia, Bayelsa State, King Collins Daniel, told SUNDAY PUNCH that he disagreed with the Sultan, arguing that only restructuring would address the perennial problems of the country.

Daniel, a first-class monarch, said he did not buy into the idea of building dams across the country as the solution to the restructuring Nigerians were calling for.

“The man (Sultan) who is talking about building dams across the nation is talking in respect of the Sahel region. You know this country is divided into different geographical regions. You have the savannah; you have the Sahel, the forest and the swamps. You will find out that most of the Niger Delta states are in the swamps, lowlands; the South-East and the South-West are in the forest region. The Middle Belt is in the savannah and the North-East and the North-West are in the Sahel region. Now the problem of someone that is in the North-East or North-West cannot be the same problem of the people in the swamp region; it cannot be the same with the people in the forest region.

“So, what is the significance of dams? What will dams do? Dams are for those who don’t get enough rains. The northerners don’t have enough water, so they need dams. So, if that is the solution to their problem, that cannot be the solution of Nigeria. There is always a unifying force for people to say, ‘Let there be restructuring.’ People should be able to negotiate on this structure that we have so that a section of the country does not have undue advantage over other sections of the country,” the Ogbia monarch said.

For the Deji of Akure, Oba Aladelusi Aladetoyinbo, a paramount ruler in Ondo State, there are many imbalances in the Nigerian system and only restructuring can correct them. He told our correspondent that no monarch should ignore restructuring demands.

“I must say that we cannot shy away from the restructuring of this country. Remember that we are talking about an equitable society where we will all see ourselves as one and not a lopsided situation as we currently have. We need to restructure the political frame of the country; the fiscal federalism must equally be addressed.

“We must, therefore, look for a way to discuss these challenges and the best way to overcome them is by the restructuring of Nigeria,” the Deji of Akure said.

Similarly, an Ekiti monarch, the Ajero of Ijero, Oba Adebayo Adewole, argued that, contrary to the view of the Sultan, the country would not progress without political restructuring.

Oba Adewole said, “I believe strongly in restructuring. There is no need for a region to be dragging another region behind. Each state should develop at its pace and control its resources.

“This is why the Niger Delta people are agitating; they feel they are the ones generating the wealth of the nation and their region is not developed. If Nigeria is restructured, the economic and security challenges will go away.”

Similarly, a first-class traditional ruler from Imo State, Obi of Ihim, Eze Oliver Ohanwe, noted that the northern monarch’s preference for economic restructuring would not bring about equity, fairness and justice that Nigerians are clamouring for.  He asserted that anything aside full restructuring would continue to undermine the unity of the country.

“I do not agree with the Sultan of Sokoto with his take on restructuring. We need to restructure the country. Agitations for the restructuring of the country did not start today. They started during the amalgamation in 1914 — most Nigerians support restructuring of the country.”

In the same vein, the Okirika-Ama, Umuokirika in Ahiazu Mbaise Local Government Area of the state, Eze Dom Okoro (Eze Okirika I) told SUNDAY PUNCH that he was not surprised that the Sultan did not throw his weight being the restructuring that many Nigerians wanted.

He said, “I say this because they (northerners) are beneficiaries of the current distortions in the country.  By that campaign from the Sultan, they want the existing imbalance and cheating in the country to continue.”

His view was shared by another paramount ruler, Dr Ikechukwu Okoligwe, (Okukoro II) of Awo-Idemili in Orsu Local Government Area, Imo State.

The monarch said, “Many Nigerians are calling for restructuring for us to have equity and fairness in the country. If we fail to do that, we would be deceiving ourselves.”

However, the Oluwo of Iwo, Oba Abdulrasheed Akanbi, told SUNDAY PUNCH that he agreed with the Sultan’s call for economic restructuring.

“I sat with the Sultan and he explained what he meant to me. He explained everything about the devolution of the economy to me and I agreed with him. If restructuring is about breaking up the country, I am against it. But if it is about how to improve the welfare of the people, I will support it,” he stated.

Oba Akanbi added that there should be a clear understanding of the restructuring being called for.

“So many people do not understand what the restructuring is about. Many think it is about the break-up of the country and the people must be educated that the restructuring they are clamouring for is not to break up the country.

“What I would advocate is industrialisation. This government must do everything to ensure that Nigeria is industrialised. The kind of agriculture we are practising in Nigeria is wasting our produce. Farmers lose 75 per cent of their produce after harvest,” he said. (Punchng.com)

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No Restructuring, No 2019 Election -Southern Leaders |The Republican News

SouthernLeaders

Archive photo: Southern Leaders Forum summit 2015

By Chinelo Obogo

Prominent leaders from the Southern part of the country yesterday said without restructuring and devolution of powers, there may be no general election in 2019.

This formed part of the discussion held at a colloquium on restructuring organised by the Island Club, Lagos.

The colloquium titled ‘Restructuring: Challenges, implications and the way forward’, was attended by prominent leaders in the South West, South East, South South and the North.

Niger Delta activist, Annkio Briggs, who was one of the discussants said she had the mandate of the Niger Delta people to speak on their behalf. She said if the country does not restructure, there would not be elections in 2019.

Annkio Briggs said: “The country is like a moving train without brakes and in order not to crash, we need to restructure. All regions must come together and agree on restructuring and everybody must say what restructuring means to them, and we must agree on restructuring before 2019 election. There is so much injustice in the country.

“For instance, there are 419 local governments in the North and 365 local government in the South and the North gets far more resources from the Federal Government than the people producing oil in the country. Niger Delta is producing more and getting less.

We must have a new constitution or we can use the 1963 constitution and work on it. We can have a new constitution that will take care of these injustices like the issue of Fulani herdsmen and religion. If we cannot restructure, we should call the zones together to call for a referendum, so that each zone can determine how they want to live.”

The lead discussant, Prof. Stephen Adebanji Akintoye, said the federal government has become inefficient and corrupt because of oil revenue from the Niger Delta. He said the abandonment of export products that were helping Nigeria has become a problem. 

“Restructuring has become inescapable for Nigerians. The struggle for a rational federal structure has been a major concern since we were young men. Nigeria needs to restructure due to the harsh effect of the federal structure of Nigeria. Youths in South-East, Niger Delta and South-West are telling us that they do not want to be part of Nigeria anymore. It is under this that the cry for restructuring is growing louder.

“Some people are saying restructuring is a confusing idea and I dare say their strategy is clever, but not clever enough. We want a federalism that is widely accepted and the best structure is federalism whereby each zone would be a federating unit and control and develop its own resources for the good of its people. This is the only solution to our nationality problem.The structure we operated in 1963 was very productive because each region had its constitution and controlled its resources,” he said.

Prof. John Ogu, a former Deputy governor of Ebonyi State, who represented the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, John Nwodo, said the marginalisation of the South-East and the unfair treatment meted out to the Igbo from the end of the civil war till date were the factors that aided the rise of separatist groups like the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB).

He said: “What IPOB is doing now is a cry for justice.They are saying the Igbo have been treated very badly and have been marginalised since the civil war ended, and it is only restructuring that can remedy some of those wrongs. It can be done by amending the 1999 Constitution holistically or by creating a new constitution. “Restructuring does not mean the disintegration of the country, but making Nigeria a federation and changing the unitary system of government, that the military handed to us, to a federal system of government to ensure security.”

The former governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, said restructuring is not about the North against the South.

“Restructuring is decentralising power to make a way from distribution and consuming arrangement for every federating units to increase its financial resources for development. The country is on a precipice. No one can predict what will happen on October 1. Any country that cannot boast of security for its citizens and property is not worthy of being called a country. We need to have state and local police to protect the lives of citizens and property. The ruling party has said voters should not vote for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2019 because of restructuring, so we are now watching to see whether the All Progressives Congress (APC) will restructure before 2019.”

A former Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, agreed with the consensus on restructuring. He said: “Nigeria needs restructuring. It offers Africa and Africans a great hope if we can reform the structure and its internal powers. The majority of us believe that restructuring will make Nigeria a great country, and these kinds of debates are needed to ensure that restructuring works.”

Ayo Adebanjo, a chieftain of Afenifere chastised northern leaders who are opposed to restructuring. “The military introduced this constitution which thrives on a unitary system of government, but you cannot run Nigeria on a military system of government because we have so many ethnic groups. We have passed that stage where people will try to make us think that restructuring is new. It is not. We must restructure now or the country may not survive. The North does not want to agree on restructuring because they are beneficiaries of the awkwardness of this 1999 constitution which was thrust on us by the military” he said.

General Alani Akinrinade condemned what he described as the deafening silence from most prominent northern elders over the quit notice given to the Igbo living the north before October 1 by northern youths.

He said: “Besides a few northern elders who criticised the northern youths for the quit notice given to the Igbo, I am sad that most of the elders I expected to have condemned it has maintained a deafening silence.”  (The Sun)

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Nnamdi Kanu Isn’t An Igbo Leader, He Is A Kid, Igbo Are Marginalised, Says Joe Igbokwe

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Joe Igbokwe

Joe Igbokwe, a politician and an Igbo, tells BAYO AKINLOYE about his relationship with the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, and why he is not in support of any movement for an independent state of Biafra

Do you believe that Igbo are being marginalised?

Yes, Igbo have been marginalised in Nigeria since the end of the Civil War in 1970. It is a deliberate, systemic, and strategic marginalisation. We have six zones in Nigeria. In the North-East, there are six states; the North-West has seven states; the North-Central has six states; the South-West has six states; the South-South has six states but the South-East has five states. This imbalance has left Igbo with the least number of states, local government areas, governors, ministers, senators, House of Representatives members, and House of Assembly members. It is the same thing with revenue allocation, both in the state and local governments, and federal appointments, to mention a few.

If you grant one additional state to the South-East today, the region will at once have one more governor, one state capital, more senators and House of Representatives members, more local government councils, one more House of Assembly, a federal university, a polytechnic, one more minister, ambassadors, thousands of jobs and take-off grants. Nigeria must do this now and it is going to change a lot of things, calm nerves and (resolve) agitations. We must do this and the time is now. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s constitutional conference approved one additional state for the South-East in 2006. The region has yet to get it.

Nnamdi Kanu has become a popular figure in the South-East, recognised by prominent personalities. Don’t you think he is the new leader that can truly lead the Igbo?

The late Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu has done his bit, Ralph Nwazurike has done his bit and he is still fighting. Nnamdi Kanu has also joined but his method of agitation is potentially dangerous and frightening. Nnamdi Kanu became popular by abusing other Nigerians – calling Nigeria a zoo and preaching hate and ethnic bigotry. Hate speech can lead to an exchange of hot words, and the next ( the thing that can happen) is war. Once there is a full-scale war, thousands or millions will die. After the loss of the 2015 (presidential) election, which Igbo never thought Jonathan would lose, hell was let loose. The colossal and tragic loss led some Igbo leaders to believe in anybody that will throw as many stones as possible at the All Progressives Congress and President Muhammadu Buhari. I can understand this. They did not play better politics as they put all their eggs in one basket. Kanu became what they needed to fight back.

Now you must hear this: Kanu is not an Igbo leader and can never be one. He is a kid. The Holy Book says: ‘Woe betides a nation whose leader is a child.’ We have competent, trusted and tested leaders in Igbo land. We have millions who do not believe in the so-called Biafra and when the chips are down, you will hear them loud and clear. Leading a sophisticated and hard-working tribe like the Igbo is not an all-comers affair. It is for the serious-minded; the cerebral; the educated; the cultured; and experienced. We have yet to know Nnamdi Kanu’s pedigree, temperament, antecedents, and education. You cannot put a crown on a clown and expect a king. If a blind man leads a blind man, both of them will fall into a pit. Kanu – with all due respect – cannot lead the Igbo. This I know, all things considered. What we need now is a war of sense and not a war of bullets.

But do you support his call for a state of Biafra?

Support for a state of Biafra? No, sir, and I say this with all emphasis in my command and with all the energy at my disposal. I have my reasons. One, South-East is too small for Igbo enterprise. Two, diversity should be a big plus in Nigeria and not a minus. We are better united with justice, equity and fair play. Three, Igbo have invested heavily in the ‘project Nigeria’ so much so that throwing away their monumental investments for the sake of a small Biafra is tantamount to committing political, economic and social suicide. Four, all Nigerians have paid the price of the unity of this country with millions of souls (lost) between 1966 and 1970. Therefore, we must work hard to remain one nation – for one destiny and one God. Five, given the history of Igbo and their republican attitude, I do not think we can manage one another in Biafra. Biafra may turn out to be another South Sudan because of leadership tussle and struggle for power and positions. Six, Biafra is landlocked. Seven, Nigeria provides a big space for Igbo to operate. I can go on and on to give you 10 reasons but time and space will not permit me.

Why do you think prominent national figures like Prof. Ben Nwabueze, Chief Mbazulike Amechi, and Dr Alex Ekwueme from the South-East have publicly associated with Kanu?

I do not think Ekwueme, Amechi, and Prof. Nwabueze are supporting Nnamdi Kanu for Biafra. They are advocates of the restructuring (of the country) who are using Biafra agitation as a tool of blackmail to achieve their desired objectives of getting a restructured Nigeria. Their tactical support is not an endorsement for Biafra. This I know.

So far, it would appear the Indigenous People of Biafra have gone about their agitation without employing violence and the government has been criticised for trampling on IPOB members’ rights, with claims that some of them were killed by security operatives and others left in jail to languish without being tried. Do you think that’s right?

IPOB in deed and in word has not been making their agitation without violence. Have you ever listened to Radio Biafra? They preach hate, violence and war. I saw a video of Nnamdi Kanu in the United States asking Igbo residing there for money to buy arms to fight other Nigerians. I know what they told him. Hate speech leads to war and war leads to deaths and, therefore, IPOB preaches violence. In the South-East, they extort money from traders after intimidating them. They harass citizens and threaten them with violence. They intimidate them to close their shops. I suspect that they bear arms also. They have talents for mischief. This is potentially dangerous. IPOB is exposing Igbo to another war and this is unacceptable.

Don’t you think Odumegwu Ojukwu would have thrown his weight behind Kanu if he were alive today?

I do not think Ojukwu would have supported violence through hate speech and abuse of other Nigerians. Ojukwu would have known that there are millions of Igbo residing and doing their business outside Igbo land. Ojukwu would not have thrown his weight behind anybody that will endanger Igbo lives and property across Nigeria. Now, have you asked yourself why the Arewa youths issued the notice to quit to Igbo residing in the North? They did so because nobody has monopoly of violence or hate speech. They did so because prominent Igbo leaders kept quiet while Nnamdi was preaching hate and is still preaching hate to date. They did so to demonstrate that there can be balance of terror and hate.

If you feel Kanu isn’t fit to be Igbo leader in the mould of Ojukwu, who can?

The President General of Ohanaeze, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, is there. The five (South-East) governors are also there. There are also other prominent leaders in Igbo land. We have never sat down to pick one Igbo leader in Igbo land. Maybe time has come for us to do so because of Nnamdi Kanu’s nuisance value. When elders are not at home, children may wear snakes as necklaces.

Do you think the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra and IPOB deserve the kind of treatment they’ve been getting from the government?

What treatment have they been getting? Please go back to history. No section of this country can be said to be free from this kind of treatment. Do you know what the Yoruba went through or what they suffered between 1993 and 1998? Do you know what the northerners suffered during the Maitasine and Boko Haram crisis? No serious government will sit down and allow a group to become a threat to national unity. An intelligent and well-informed approach is the way to go. Constructive engagement is the way forward. With common sense – even though common sense is not so common – we can get the world to pay attention to us. Violence, hate speech, and ethnic bigotry bring war and people will die.

With the enforcement of the stay-at-home protest by IPOB, do you still deny the fact that Igbo are firmly behind Kanu?

May we never use the sit-at-home protest Igbo do every year on May 30 to remember the fallen heroes to think that it is an endorsement of Biafra. It is not, please. May 30 means so many things to so many Igbo. Yes, we lost the war but we have not forgotten the consequences.

Have you met Kanu before and do you have any relationship with him?

I have not met Nnamdi Kanu before and I have no relationship with him. I offered to have a debate with him, so that the world will know the content of his inner chambers when he said he would defeat seven professors in a debate on Biafra, but he ran away. I wanted to use that debate to bring to the fore his carriage, his thoughts, and inner disposition. He did not accept the challenge. I also made public my story and asked Nnamdi to do the same. He kept quiet. The young man has nothing to offer. Someone said he is an over-bloated (sic) kid with a protozoan intellect.

If you were to meet Kanu face to face, what would you tell him?

I would tell him that the fundamentals have changed for anybody to talk and think about Biafra at this present stage and age. I would tell Nnamdi Kanu that with equity, justice and fair play, a united Nigeria is a better option (than Biafra). We must also work with other Nigerians to get a Nigeria of our dream. Building a nation is not as easy as milking a cow. Difficult situations require difficult solutions. Biafra is not the solution. (Punchng.com)

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