By Uduma KALU
Marginalisation against the Igbo by Nigerians has cost the ethnic group Nigeriaâ€™s presidency. But the spreading feeling of marginalisation by the people can lead to the break up of the country.
This distrust of Igbo denied Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeriaâ€™s foremost independence crusader, the executive presidency in 1979 and 1983, neither was Dr. Alex Ekwueme, an ex vice- president, deemed fit to occupy the exalted position. Indeed, the 1983 coup was planned to stop Ekwueme from becoming president, Uwechue said, quoting then Transport minister, Umaru Dikko and other northern oligarchies.
This coup, he went on,Â stopped the Igbo, Nigeriaâ€™s largest ethnic group, their â€˜federal characterâ€™ chance of producing an executive president . This is in contrast to the Igbo support for the fieldingÂ of two Yoruba, Olusegun Obasanjo and Olu Falae for the presidential tickets of their political partiesÂ in 1999.
The above is the view of the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Amb Raph Uwechue in a paper he delivered at the Igbo Day celebration in Owerri, Imo State.
Uwechue said what was done for the Yoruba in 1999 should also be done for the Igbo, who have rule Nigeria, through late General Aguiyi Ironsiâ€™s only six- month tenure, the president general warned.
He decried the humiliating dropping of Commodore Ebitu Ukaiwe, then second in command to General Ibrahim Babangida, while Igbo technocrats are given random appointments because of their demonstrable competence to tackle difficult national tasks.
â€œWhat has been critically absent for decades, and still missing today, is fair and effective Igbo participation in the national decision making,â€ he went on.
However, the unity of Nigeria rests on how it guarantees the rights of the ethnic units and their fair share of the countryâ€™s national cake.Â Inequity can disrupt that unity. Countries such as Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia that broke up did so along ethnic lines, showing the original building block is supreme. This is an example for Africans to learn for the unity of the continent.
TheÂ ethnic unit is thereforeÂ the basic structure whose solidity determines the eventual unity of the other two political arrangementsâ€“country and continent. It is also the basis for ensuring good citizenship imbued with the norms of society.
Uwechue in a seven-page paper ,Â told the nation that although it is difficult task to build a nation, it is achievable and worthwhile as a fusion of the successful elements, envisioned by Nigeriaâ€™s founding fathers, is bound to bring forth a unique socio- economic product that could astound the world.
The countryâ€™s founding fathers, at independence,Â recognised the importance of ethnicity, he said, and that the larger ethnic units of Hausa/Fulani-Igbo-Yoruba formed the basis of the three Regions, as well as the current six geo-political zones which has new three zones to accommodate the smaller units.
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