July 5, 2017

Restructuring: What Ndigbo want – Ohanaeze, Ezeife

Restructuring:  What Ndigbo want – Ohanaeze, Ezeife

A cross section of Igbo leaders at the meeting with some youths in Kaduna, yesterday. Photo: Olu Ajayi

…One Nigeria unattainable without restructuring

…We need to allow states develop at their pace — Udeogaranya

…You’re on your own,BIM blasts S/East govs, leaders

By Chioma Gabriel, Editor Special Features  & Chinedu Adonu

FOLLOWING persistent ethnic agitations across the country, the Igbo apex organisation, Ohanaeze  Ndigbo,  has reiterated its position for the  restructuring of Nigeria to benefit every tribe and geo-political zone.

This is even as former Anambra State Governor, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, asserted that one indivisible Nigeria is unattainable without restructuring.

Speaking through its Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Chukwudi Ibegbu, Ohanaeze said a situation where other geo-political zones have six states while South East has only five and  95 local government areas is not palatable.

Igbo religious and politicians

“A  state like Kano alone has 44 local governments while the entire South-East has 95 despite the huge population of Ndigbo in Nigeria,” he said.

Ohanaeze lamented that there has not been credible census in Nigeria since the  1963 headcount.

His words: “Igbo are the second in population in Nigeria. Igbo are everywhere. Nigeria needs a credible census that will factor in religion and ethnicity for proper and equitable distribution of resources. There has not been any credible census in Nigeria. The South-East has only five states and many have said that is equivalent to its population but we know that is not true.

“We want fiscal and structural restructuring. We want implementation of the 2014 confab reports and more states and more local government areas in the South-East. We want equity, justice and fair-play. We want issues that lead to agitation to be addressed. We want the killing of our people in the North to be stopped.”

One Nigeria  unattainable without restructuring —Ezeife

Speaking from Abuja, yesterday, Dr Ezeife said: “We must go back to the ‘agreed Nigeria,’ that is, the structure of Nigeria, as agreed by the  founding fathers— our heroes past. That ‘agreed Nigeria’ was a federal structure, with regions as federating units.

“Initially, there were three regions: Eastern, Western and Northern. Midwestern region was created later, making four regions: three in the South, one in the North. Each region had its own constitution and operated fairly autonomously. The Federal Government handled issues universally agreed to be federal responsibilities, issues like external relations, currency, weights and measures, etc.

“There was fiscal federalism as the resources for running the Federal Government came, basically, from the federating units. Each region controlled its resources and grew at its own pace.

“The people owned their regions in the sense that people in the regions were, particularly, concerned about how their regions were run. That was mainly because the money spent in the regions was basically internally generated—contributed by the people of the regions, through taxation, other payments, etc.

” The main problem is that as the country is currently structured and run, the country is growing backwards, indeed, taking giant steps backward.”

We need to  allow states develop at their pace — Udeogaranya

For Udoka Udeogaranya, who is aspiring for the presidency in 2019 on the banner of the APC, “At the inception of this administration that was beleaguered with economic challenge arising from the crash of crude oil prices at the international market, clamour for the devaluation of Naira began to rise and then now, the clamour for the restructuring of Nigeria.

“I warned the agitators that direct devaluation of our currency will not yield any solution but compound  it the more. Today, our government is doing everything within its powers, including plunging our critically needed funds into forex market, all in an effort to reverse their mistake of direct fixation and devaluation of our currency.

“Now,  almost everyone is shouting restructuring and when you ask why, the answer usually falls within the ambit of a constitutional amendment.

“Let me state unequivocally before it is too late that  Nigeria does not need anything else but these three: constitution amendment, good leadership with a human face, enthronement of meritocracy and reorientation of our citizenry. I am particularly against big governments and the idea of states/local councils being funded from the centre.

“A  constitution amendment that will allow states to fend for themselves, develop at their own pace or be proscribed is the solution.”

You’re on your own, BIM blasts S/East govs, leaders

Meantime, National Director of Information, Biafra Independence  Movement, BIM,  Sunday Okereafor, has declared that South-East governors, National Assembly members, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and other leaders that met in Enugu on Sunday to declare their support for restructuring are on their own.

Okereafor disclosed this in an interview with newsmen, saying the decision to back restructuring by top politicians from the zone was not in the interest of Ndigbo, that have for long been clamouring for Biafra.

According to him, “the problem of the zone is mainly insensitivity on the part of political leaders who take decisions without feeling the pulse of the larger populace.”

Okereafor then attacked the leaders on why the people were not properly consulted before declaring their support for restructuring.

He said: “What are you restructuring in a country that is almost turning to shreds? Why will you impose your decision without consultation, which is against the desire of the majority?

“BIM is saying that restructuring is not in the interest of Igbo nation. All we are saying is that the Federal Government should give room for the conduct of a referendum, then we will know if our political leaders were right in their support for restructuring or the people’s demand for Biafra is more popular.”

“I can bet you that over 95% of Igbos want Biafra, our political leaders are only desperate and selfish as some of them have turned to political contractors just to feel their personal pockets at the expense of Ndigbo who Nigerian successive governments have continued to be treated as second class citizens”, he said.

According to him, “Ndigbo have been frustrated into thinking that we are no longer wanted in this entity called Nigeria:    When a couple grew tired of marriage, there is room for divorce. No one should hold us against our wishes. Anything other than Biafra is not accepted to MASSOB-BIM”, he added.