By Emeka Mamah
ENUGU — The recognition of the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, as the “Great Liberator,” of Igbo by the Igbo Youth Movement, IYM, during the 17th Annual General Convention of the umbrella association of all Igbo youth socio-political unions has continued to elicit hope in the youths that their dream of their new nation would be realised someday.
The award from the IYM was jointly received on behalf of Kanu by Emma Powerful of IPOB and Uchenna Madu of MASSOB amidst thunderous ovation.
The convention was attended by the former Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, a Yoruba leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, former Minister of Information, Professor Jerry Gana (both of who received the Great National Icon awards in recognition of their consistent contribution to national growth), former Governors of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife and Peter Obi (Okwute Ndigbo), the leader of Igbo Women’s Assembly, IWA, Chief(Mrs) Marie Okwo as well as and the National Leader of the Niger Delta Self- Determination Movement, NDSDM, Mrs Annkio Briggs among other notable Nigerians who had asked President Muhammadu Buhari to implement the 2014 National Conference report to ensure fiscal federalism in the country.
Wild jubilationin the hall
Ayo Adebanjo, Jerry Gana, Ezeife and Mrs Briggs among others had received various awards but none elicited more wild scenes of jubilation in the hall than Nnamdi Kanu’s. The Founder of IYM, Evangelist Elliot Uko, who summarised the reactions of earlier speakers on the occasion expressed optimism that the Federal Government would listen to the voice of Nigerians by restructuring Nigeria which he said was practicing a “unitary” system of government against the wishes of the generality of the people.
Uko said, “I am pleasantly surprised that speaker after speaker, spoke the truth for all to hear, that is; that Nigeria should urgently restructure along the lines of true fiscal federalism. The delay in implementing the 2014 confab resolutions is dangerous. The centrifugal forces pulling on all sides, clearly indicates that Nigeria might burst at the seams.
“The truth about our dear Country is that some people have a post 1970 mind-set. They want to take back Nigeria to the heady days in the early 1970’s, when their word was law; when everybody trembled at their presence; when they shared our patrimony according to their whims, while the whole country worshiped them as the victorious army of conquest.
“They find it hard to see, that the unitary structure they instituted cannot carry us through. They refuse to accept the fact that the present 36 state structure is unsustainable. As their old and archaic thoughts about Nigeria, clashes with the reality on ground, they erroneously resort to brutal suppression of the truth, in the false hope that the people would be cowed into submission.
“The result is endless massacre of compatriots in cold blood, like we saw in a school compound in Aba, Abia State on February 9, 2016 and in a church at Nkpor, Anambra State, on the night of May 29 and early morning of May 30, 2016. “They still believe that this genocidal killing will help them hold down Nigeria by force and sustain this unworkable unitary structure.
The truth is that this unitary structure is unworkable and Nigeria will never know peace, unless we restructure Nigeria along the lines of true federalism. “Killing young people in cold blood, just because they say they are tired of the iniquities of oppression and litany of injustices that abound in Nigeria is despotic, to say the least. Scottish nationalists went out of UK, marched in the streets with their Scottish flags; nobody killed them in cold blood.
“In Canada, Spain and elsewhere self-determination movements demand their separate states; nobody orders their killing in cold blood. If a section of Ghana or South Africa were to root for self-determination, we know that John Mahama or Jacob Zuma will not order their cold blooded killings.
“Killing those young men in cold blood has suddenly earned them so much sympathy and popularity that they are seen as heroes down here. About 99 percent of Aba people; old eastern region are angry and very bitter about the Nkpor massacre of May 30.
“This government has slowly alienated itself from the people. Refusal to restructure Nigeria now, simply means that the future is very bleak.” Other speakers including Ekwueme, Adebanjo and Gana had insisted that there was need for fiscal federalism in the country adding that different regions should be allowed to operate their own different constitutions which should however, be annexed to the Nigerian constitution as was the case in the First Republic.
Speaking on the theme of the convention, “Still in Search of True Federalism,” Ekwueme relived his incarceration by Buhari as a military Head of State, shortly after the overthrow of Shehu Shagari’s civilian administration, pointing out that “every disappointment was a blessing,” as the detention in 1984 at Kirikiri prisons by the military afforded him the opportunity to reflect deeply on the country’s problems.
According to Ekwueme. he came out of detention with the idea of six geo-political zonal structures, which he pushed for in a national conference much later and it became a convention, as it had taken care of minorities in both the south and the north.
Ekwueme stated that what Nigeria negotiated for and agreed with the colonial masters before independence was a regional government where each had a constitution, which was annexed to the Republican constitution of 1963, adding that the said Republican Constitution then provided for 50 per cent revenue sharing formula for the regions, 30 per cent to a distributable pool, and 20 per cent to the centre. “There is need for us to return to the basics from what we inherited from our founding fathers,” he added.
Also speaking, Chief Adebanjo, had gone down memory lane to trace the origin of federalism in Nigeria to various pre-and post-colonial constitutional conferences, insisting that Nigeria must be restructured to correct the immense damage done to the nation’s constitution by the military and to put a stop to the various acts of uprising in the country today, including those of Niger Delta Avengers, NDA, Movement for Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, and IPOB.
On his own, Prof Gana stated that the nation’s founding fathers were right by agreeing to a federal structure, which he described as the best structure to guarantee peace, equity and justice. Annkio Briggs, who received the award of “Amazon of Truth” by IYM, also stated that true and fiscal federalism must be truthful and justifiable, adding that she believes in resource control and that as much as she doesn’t believe that Nigeria must break, she believed that if the nation continued on the current path, then disintegration would be inevitable.
The various speakers insisted that restructuring the country would go a long way in addressing the myriads of problems confronting the country, adding that the current protests and demands for separation by various groups in the country, as well as other socio-economic crises would reduce by half if the national conference report was considered and implemented.
Former governor Obi stressed that he supported the restructuring of the country on the basis of fiscal federalism, but stressed that while that was being addressed, there was a need to urgently address the high cost of governance in the country. Obi said that any governor who said he could not pay salary should give way to other persons with better ideas.
Ezeife, who also received the “Igbo Peoples General award” stated that the 2014 national conference report recommended an additional 18 states to bring into being a 48 state-structure in order to address some inequalities created by the military. In his view, all the six proposed zones would have the same number of states to ensure that none was cheated.
Briggs said that the country was so-lopsidedly run that the Federal Government which should depend on taxes from the regions was now giving the crumbs from the very regions which fed it fat.
She also lampooned the Federal Government for threatening to destroy the Gbaramatu Community in the Niger Delta Region if the people of the area failed to produce General Tompolo over alleged civil offence having to do with contractual agreements while turning a blind eye to those who beheaded an Igbo woman in Kano for alleged blasphemy.
According to her, the Federal Government should ask both the Governor and Emir of Kano to produce the killers of the Igbo woman in their domain instead of purportedly arresting suspects for the heinous offence.
“A governor blasphemed Jesus Christ in the north but he is still serving in that office today. Blasphemy is not part of our national law. How can the ruling government say that it will work for 95 percent of Nigerians who voted for it with the resources from the five percent that did not vote for it? We are asking for resource control.
“Why should somebody who has never drank the polluted water in the Niger Delta ask us to account for 13 percent derivation when he cannot account for the 87 percent allocations that he takes?” she said adding that any change mantra that was not based on truth was deceptive.