By Clifford Ndujihe
LAGOS—AT a time some leaders of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the South-East are mobilising support for President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election to pave the way for Igbo presidency in 2023, some Igbo leaders have said that the Igbo are not interested in the presidency without restructuring of the country.
This was the view of some Igbo leaders, who met with the Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe-led Ohanaeze committee on collation of Igbo views on restructuring on Sunday night in Lagos.
Vanguard gathered that Igbo leaders at the meeting held in Ikoyi included Deputy President General of Ohanaeze, Dr Sylvan Ebigwei; Dr Kalu Idika Kalu; Chief Guy Ikokwu; Agunze Chibeze Ikokwu; Professor Uzodinma Nwala; Chief Charles Odinukwe; representatives of South-East governors; and members of Igbo Think-Tank group, Aka-Ikenga among others.
Raised with the intention of ensuring that the Igbo present a common view on restructuring, the Senator Abaribe committee had its first meeting in Abuja. The Lagos gathering is the second in the series. There will be another meeting in Enugu on March 4 to be followed by the Ime-Obi (inner caucus meeting) of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, which will lead to an enlarged Igbo summit.
Asked the views of Igbo leaders at the meeting, Chief Guy Ikokwu told Vanguard: ‘’We debated Igbo position on geo-political restructuring. Igbo insist on restructuring of the polity immediately. We are not interested in Igbo presidency now without restructuring. We are calling on the presidency and the National Assembly to proceed with restructuring immediately.
‘’The Federal Government or the centre should have less power than it has now. It should devolve power to the federating units. We agree with the South-West and the Middle Belt that the federating units should be the zones with the states under them. Each zone should have its constitution. There should be fiscal federalism and resource control.
‘’We are looking at six zones, three in the South and three in the North. The majority of Ndigbo believe, like the South-West, that the federating units should be the zones. With true restructuring, equality of zones, fiscal federalism and resources control, there will be no need for an additional state in the South-East. Each zone will be free to create as many states at it deems fit without recourse to the centre.’’
On the herdsmen crisis, he said the leaders want South-East governors to ‘’see livestock, breeding of animals or ranching as an economic activity, as our forefathers did in the old Eastern region. Chief Michael Okpara established ranches across the Eastern region and we had the Obudu Cattle Ranch. Apart from meat, we produced dairy products. Livestock is not only cattle. It includes pigs, goats, rabbits, sheep, etc. Today, we don’t have Igbo livestock any longer. We expect our governors to have something to show in this regard in 24 months.’’