By Emeka Mamah
ENUGU—Igbo youths have said that the unitary structure of Nigeria, has thrown up “a predatory political class who live like movie stars, and rob the country dry, while the masses watch helplessly,” adding that restructuring the country along regions as agreed by the founding fathers was the only genuine solution to the current political malaise in the country.
Founder of Igbo Youth Movement, IYM, and Secretary, Eastern Consultative Assembly, ECA, Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu- Uko made this known in a statement entitled, “Ticking time bomb and the nauseating impudence of a most arrogant tribe,” in Enugu, weekend.
Ugochukwu- Uko further said that the political class had “split themselves into convenient cabals, who contest fraudulent elections and emerge as imposed leaders,” wondering why “very ordinarily knowledgeable citizens continue to pretend that they do not know” about the lopsided structure of the country.
He then, blamed the situation on the former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon’s administration, which abrogated General Aguiyi Ironsi’s Unification Decree 34 of 1966
“Whereas, Gen. Ironsi’s unification decree 34 of May 1966 changed the nomenclature of regions to groups of provinces, Gen. Gowon after abrogating Ironsi’s decree 34 in August, 1966, went on to proscribe the regions and promulgate the petroleum decree that took all the mineral resources away from the states and vested everything in the central government in 1967.
“Nigeria was at war and everyone agreed and applauded Gen. Gowon. He was praised for seizing all the resources of the regions and states and concentrating everything in his hands at the centre. After all he did not borrow to prosecute the war, therefore, nobody complained about the centre seizing everything…
“Every government since then has conveniently continued to run Nigeria with the central government as Father Christmas and the states like school children, queue up for monthly handouts (allocations).
“No nation on earth is run under such queer format and no nation can survive, let alone grow under such a strange unitary structure.
The revenue sharing formula of the 1960 independence constitution and the 1963 republican constitution was not altered by Ironsi, but by General Gowon.
“Very ordinarily knowledgeable citizens continue to pretend that they do not know that this unitary structure resultantly threw up a predatory political class who live like movie stars, rob the country dry and split themselves into convenient cabals, who contest fraudulent elections and emerge as imposed leaders while the masses watch helplessly.
“The brigandage only got worse with time. Today 75 percent of the 36 states can’t pay their workers. All, but one state is indebted heavily to both local and foreign creditors. About 40 million people are unemployed, but in their struggle to hold on to power, the political class divided the much abused, helpless citizens along ethnic, regional and religious divides. It’s truly high noon.
As the clouds form, the vultures gather and the acrid odour of mayhem looms in the air, it becomes necessary to remind us all of the need to dissect truth from fiction.
Situation today: “Oppressors, who do not want to see equity enthroned in the land through a restructuring of the polity back to the regions, holler and accuse their long oppressed victims of being terrorists, prevaricate daily by creating all sorts of distraction, like quit notices and shouting WAR!, WAR!! as response to every genuine demand for justice and equity. Their bag of tricks, though greatly depleted, is yet to be completely exhausted. Therefore, they are busy engaging in all sorts of distractions and tactics to ensure Nigeria is not restructured and equity enthroned. To them, the status quo greatly enables them, to hold on to power and dominate the polity forever.
“The oppressed, on the other hand, having had it up to their neck, have sworn to change their “lower caste” status by any means necessary, (at least their younger generation). They have pleaded for justice and equity, but were bluntly told that one of them will never lead Nigeria, ever. They pleaded for return to the regions and true federalism and were told “Over our dead body, would we allow restructuring”. Out of frustration the younger generation smartly reasoned, “if we don’t do something to be free from this oppressive structure our children will inherit the lower caste status.
“And so they want out, through a peaceful referendum and banded themselves (Millions of them) in to a critical mass under a charismatic and trusted leader.
“It is idiotic to believe that attempting to isolate them by prodding and hiring Niger Delta leaders to denounce them, would end the agitations. Only an early return to true federalism will end the agitations now.
Suddenly, the die is cast.
“Quite predictably, the oppressor resorts only to threats of war as an intimidating solution. The oppressed determined more than ever to call their bluff, remain resolute that secession remains their only escape from misery, sorrow and subhuman treatment in a country their fathers laboured to build.
“So many questions, few answered. Why is a large bulk of the elite silent, as the unpredictable climax builds up? What is the real position of our colonial master on going back to the regional structure which clearly remains the way out now? What would be the cost of military action against the agitators for secession? What do the international community think (especially the World Powers) about restructuring and those opposing restructuring? What will those vehemently opposed to restructuring lose that propels them to prefer uncontrolled mayhem, to a peaceful restructuring that would give every zone a sense of belonging. Will the West African sub region survive a cataclysm in Nigeria?
“Would the continued threats of war, together with a blunt refusal to restructuring Nigeria, truly end the agitation?
How did we get here: “A combination of a false sense of victory in 1970 anchored on humiliating conditions, a miscalculation by refusing to acknowledge that justice and equity are a necessary ingredient for peace and stability and the misconception that as long as the conquered Easterners willingly swallowed the new Nigeria we created, their children too will have no choice than to lie down for us, while we ride on their backs forever. Well: big mistake.
“The children of the defeated Biafrans are clearly not willing to accept the position of the lower caste in perpetuity. They have said NO in no uncertain terms and loudly too.
“The attempt to build the largest black nation on earth on falsehood, prejudice, impunity, nepotism, ethnic and religious bigotry, divide and rule, superior tribe mentality, born to rule mentality, mediocrity, sectional domination and disdain for egalitarianism and a merit-based system are some of the mistakes of post war Nigeria that brought us to where we are today.
“But most damaging of all is the prevailing culture of prevarication that has succeeded in covering the truth for so long.
“The Unitary structure created by General Gowon in May, 1966, promoted by General Mohamed in Feb. 1976, copied by IBB in Sept. 1987, and August 1991 and Abacha in 1996 of unilaterally creating states through military fiat, alongside the feeding bottle culture of monthly free money called federal allocations, laid the foundation for sleaze, impunity, looting of state resources, indolence, do or die politics, fierce struggle for central power along ethnic, regional and even religious lines and unprecedented and unimaginable corruption, kind of corruption words are not able to fully describe.
“The refusal of sections of our elite to realize that the faulty structure and foundation of Nigeria since 1967, is largely responsible for all our woes, is the bane of Nigeria as a country
In the beginning
“In the beginning, Nigeria’s political leaders, realizing our differences, insisted on a regional arrangement, built on fiscal federalism.
“Tiv riots in the North and political crises in the West, led to a badly planned coup d’état in January, 1966 that rocked the foundations of the young country. Decree 34 of May, 1966 among other issues, led to a counter coup in July, 1966.
“The needless horrendous pogrom damaged the unity of Nigeria till date. (Some people erroneously assume the pain of the pogrom have been forgotten, how wrong they are).
Whereas, Gen. Ironsi’s unification decree 34 of May 1966 changed the nomenclature of regions to groups of provinces, Gen. Gowon after abrogating Ironsi’s decree 34 in August, 1966, thereby returning Nigeria back to the regions, went ahead in May, 1967 to repeal and proscribe the regions and announced the creation of twelve states. Gen. Gowon went ahead to promulgate the petroleum decree that took all the mineral resources away from the states and vested all in the central government.
“Gowon also, set up and adopted the report of the Chief Dina committee that recommended a central purse for Nigeria, controlled and disbursed by the centre. Nigeria was at war and everyone agreed and applauded Gen. Gowon. He was praised for seizing all the resources of the regions and states and concentrating all in his hands at the centre. After all he did not borrow to prosecute the war, therefore, nobody complained about the centre seizing everything.
“The revenue sharing formula of the 1960 independence constitution and the 1963 republican constitution was not altered by Ironsi, but by General Gowon
“General Gowon centralized the revenues in the late 60’s through the petroleum decree and the G. Dina panel. Same General Gowon keeps mute as unknowing Nigerians erroneously blame Ironsi for altering the revenue formula. Nigerians do not even know that the country ran the 1963 constitution revenue formula even under Gowon before he unilaterally centralized the revenue formula…
“The military inspired 1979 and 1999 constitutions gave some false sense of legitimacy to a revenue sharing format that truly should be an aberration, rather than the law.
“Since then neither Nigeria as a country nor her citizens have known peace, let alone experience meaningful growth…
“While economists insist Nigeria must restructure in order to survive, the political reasons to restructure are even more glaring. Therefore, it beats rational reasoning while some people would still oppose restructuring. While glibly listing out the fall outs from the unitary structure i.e. corruption and lack of patriotism as the problems of Nigeria. They deliberately do this in order to deceive the naïve and the gullible. They know that the massive corruption ravaging Nigeria today is only one of by-products of his evil unitary structure foisted on Nigeria by General Gowon.
“Along the line, the political class developed a culture of monetized elections that makes it imperative for public officers to steal and steal, so they could stock up a big war chest to fight future elections. Development eluded us for decades, infrastructure decayed, education, health care etc all suffered, while the political class bought properties all over the world. Ethnic politics (our turn to rule) replaced politics of ideas and real development.
“Today the genie is out of the bottle, the tiny but very powerful cabal who are the sole beneficiaries of this unworkable unitary structure are battling to retain it, they tell us that the by-product of this unitary structure i.e. corruption is our only problem.
“They claim that the current structure created by unelected soldiers was made in heaven, Iron cast and therefore permanent. They boast and threaten of war, any time the oppressed masses complain. They say we are all stuck, that they will never agree to restructure Nigeria and enthrone equity. They claim they shot down previous attempts to save Nigeria and locked up all previous national conference reports. They say they are the untouchable, all powerful being. They threaten War! War!, when the oppressed masses cry for reprieve.
The truth: “But in all these, the truth lies somewhere between the intimidating threats of war by the oppressor, the disturbing silence and complicity of the international community and the resolve and determination of the long suffering and oppressed hopeless masses to bring about change. Change of any kind.
“The truth is the long oppressed masses of Eastern Nigeria where I hail from want out of Nigeria. They believe everything is skewed against them. Every day they wake up and remember that they are still in Nigeria, the get angry, they believe Nigeria hates them and they hate Nigeria back with equal intensity.
“They want out like yesterday. They are completely tired of the fake census figures, disparity in admission scores both at the pre secondary (unity schools) and the UTME university admission scores, they are tired of being slaughtered by herdsmen who never get prosecuted, they are tired of being told at every turn, that, they are the problem of Nigeria.
“They reason: If we are the problem of Nigeria, then kindly let us go. They have banded themselves under the leadership of Nnamdi Kanu, they want to go out completely, they don’t have faith in the political class, whom they believe are only out for their own pockets and they don’t believe they will ever get justice in Nigeria.
“In their millions they are like soldier ants with well-organized branches in 87 countries. They have decided to take their destiny into their hands. They do not trust their elders either. They say they have been abused, betrayed and ignored for too long. They want a life of dignity for themselves and their children. Most importantly they do not want to transfer a life of second class status to their progeny. They are committed to regain their dignity through any means necessary.
“As the conundrum boils on, the army of quislings, informants, political hustlers, pseudo leaders and traditional “Nigeria Politicians”, who dominate the political landscape, remain only interested in what they will profit from the bedlam. They meet, plot, and conspire on only how they will use this confusion to garner accommodation within the system, like appointments, jobs or other consideration. The division between the Eastern Youths and their political class continues to widen with threats of election boycotts.
“While the political class of the east pretends they are in control, which is clearly not true, the carpet baggers from the north insist Nigeria will only be restructured over their dead bodies and the imposed leaders without followers, who are merely agents of the oppressor, are about to be humiliated, big time.
It becomes absolutely necessary to leave, just for the records, the truth in the public domain, lest traders in falsehood have the day, and historians ask, nobody told us the truth. Here is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
The undiluted truth: “Aso Villa will need to kill between 8-9 million Biafran agitators and push their corpses into the Atlantic Ocean or return Nigeria to six regions in order to douse the agitation. There is no other way out.
“Threat of war or open declaration of war on the agitators cannot end the agitation, it will only lead to the total destruction of the very fragile economy of the West Africa sub region, destruction of lives and infrastructure that will not only take decades to rebuild, but will only ensure that Nigeria as presently known today ceases to exist.
“The oppressor in his blind hubris cannot see that the configuration of 1967 does not exist today.
The middle belters, themselves victims of relentless herdsmen massacres and political humiliation, will not join anybody to launch war against Easterners, ditto for the West, whose bravest war time heroes have consistently announced to all, that they regret fighting against Biafra 50 years ago. The Niger Delta, clearly the greatest victim of the oppressor’s ruthless exploitation will never join sides with any group who is committed to sustaining the oppressive and exploitative status quo. The international community will want to know why some people prefer war to retaining the status quo as opposed to a peaceful restructuring that would avert bloodshed.
“Finally, all the oppressed minorities of this very unwieldy Unitary Nigeria will want to know why they will be forced to fight a war to retain the unworkable status quo when reports of several National Conferences are deliberately locked up in lockers in preference for war in a sick economy where millions of citizens are starving.
“Truth remains that arrogant opposers to restructuring, should kindly climb down from their high horses and meet fellow compatriots at a round table to peacefully restructure Nigeria along the lines of regional autonomy anchored on fiscal federalism.
“Those shouting WAR! WAR!, in order to scare angry and oppressed citizens, would be shocked when they realize that the long suffering masses, who are ready for a showdown, are also ready for any eventuality. The impudence of this arrogant cabal opposing restructuring has become quite nauseating and they should be told so in plain language.
“These tribes of stubborn, arrogant and impudent tribe of exploiters simply cannot go on holding everybody down. Enough is enough.”