…New constitution, additional state, rotational presidency, others form Igbo interests
…MASSOB insists on Biafra
…IPOB thanks supporters who defied security to ‘disrupt summit’
By Vincent Ujumadu & Chimaobi Nwaiwu
AWKA—NATIONAL conversation, a new constitution, convocation of a constituent assembly, six-year tenure for the president and vice president, with the VPs holding key ministries, rotation of the presidency among the geopolitical zones, scrapping of local governments, creation of additional state for the South-East before considering creation of more states in other parts of the country, are top of demands listed by the South-East apex socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, at its well publicised summit on restructuring held in Awka, Anambra State, yesterday.
This was as threats and plans by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, to scuttle the summit turned out to be an anti climax, as the pro-Biafra group was overwhelmed by the large number of fierce-looking security personnel in the Anambra State capital.
Heavy presence of the police was noticed on Sunday night around the Alex Ekwueme Square, venue of the summit, while bomb detonation experts lined up several kilometres around the area.
Many people who tried to enter the venue were thoroughly screened and those who could not identify themselves were turned back. Many of them later staged a peaceful protest outside the venue.
Those who managed to enter the massive arena however betrayed their bias to the summit when they started shouting down the former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Professor Chukwuma Soludo as he presented the position of Ndigbo on restructuring.
Soludo had listed national conversation, new constitution, convocation of a constituent assembly, six-year tenure for the president and vice presidents, with the VPs holding key ministries, rotation of the president among the geopolitical zones, scrapping of local government system, creation of additional state for the South East before considering creation of more states in the country, among other demands as the position of the Igbo.
With shouts of no, many youths and women trouped out of the arena, with some of them shouting that they did not want restructuring, but Biafra Republic. Their departure, however, did not stop the summit from continuing and ending successfully.
President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo said all the arms of Ohanaeze accepted the recommendations by the various committees that drafted the stand of Ndigbo on the restructuring, adding that Nigeria needed a constitution because “the present constitution was dead.”
Chairman of the occasion, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, in his speech, observed that in the life of any nation, there should be a time to pause and reflect into the past, reflect on the present and peep into the future, adding that though Igbo had a great past and great people that championed Nigeria’s independence, they have not had a fair deal in Nigeria.
He said: “Today, things are no longer the way we want them. In as much as I believe that the future of the Igbo is great, there are some concerns. In 1966, Igbo didn’t know about the coup, but they were slaughtered in the civil war that lasted 30 months.
“Killings are taking place in Benue State and it may be others in future. People talk about Fulani herdsmen, but we have Fulani people in government, as senators, as ministers and traditional rulers, yet the killings have continued.
“The Federal Government should be grateful to Ohanaeze Ndigbo for coming up with the programme for the restructuring of the country for the benefit of all. When Abuja was being created, we were told that there would be no issue of indigeneship. Now, it is rearing up its head and nobody is doing anything about it.”
In a sermon during the interdenominational service that preceded the summit, Professor Ben Osisioma, an Anglican preacher said: “The Igbo man needs God and some people are arguing that perhaps the church had failed in directing the people. The Igbo man is resourceful, intelligent and hardworking but all that appear to be in the past. Before the civil war, Igbo controlled most of the sectors of the economy. During the war, Igbo people were ingenuous and dared the armies of Britain, Russia and Nigeria. We refined oil during the war time and today, Nigeria cannot refine oil at peace time.
“There is one problem Igbo have and that is when people want to sabotage Igbo, they use Igbo people to do it. Whether we are restructuring or not, Igbo people must close ranks and work together.”
The governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, in his welcome address, observed that in the past 58 years, Ndigbo had worked tirelessly with fellow Nigerians to lay the foundations for a better federation and a more perfect union.
He said: “We have made the most sacrifices and more often than not, we have also paid the supreme price for the unity of this country. But we have made these sacrifices in the belief that in the contemporary history of mankind, the road to nationhood is often paved with the blood of patriots. Indeed, Ndigbo have paid the price for Nigeria’s greatness. We paid in blood. We paid in full!
“We must ask for a just, fair and equitable federation where every citizen is guaranteed the freedom to be the best he can be and to aspire to the highest position in the land regardless of his tribe, culture or religion. This is what Nigeria in its present structure has not given to us!”
After the presentation, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, who is the chairman of South East caucus in the senate moved a motion for the adoption of the recommendations and was carried by voice vote by the speaker of the Anambra State House of Assembly, Mrs. Rita Maduagwu.
Roll call:Chief Nnia Nwodo, Senator Ike Nwachukwu, Professor Pat Utomi, Chief Olu Falae, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Air Commodore Dan Suleiman, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, Chief Edwin Clarke, Professor Jerry Gana, Dr. Ihechukwu Madubuike, Senator Victor Umeh, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Dr. Joe Nwogu, Ambassador Bianca Ojukwu, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkaga, Professor Banji Akintoye, Chief Victor Akerele, Chief Yinka Odumakin, Senator Femi Okoroumu and Dr. Segun Mimiko.
There were also representatives from the Niger Delta, Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum and Igbo in Diaspora.
MASSOB insists on Biafra
But in reaction to the summit yesterday, the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, said that its position on the actualization of Biafra had not changed.
MASSOB leader, Comrade Uchenna Madu, who attended the Igbo summit said that MASSOB and the coalition of pro Biafra groups were not against the summit to discuss the fate of Ndigbo in Nigeria, but they still insisted on Biafra.
He said: “ Though the presentation of Ohanaeze Ndigbo as the position of Ndigbo towards the much publicized restructuring of Nigeria may sound good and acceptable, we as the representatives of the people of Biafra, insist on Biafra actualization and restoration.
“Our people are earnestly in desire of Biafra and complete separation from Nigeria domination.”
IPOB thanks supporters who defied security to disrupt summit
The Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, yesterday praised its members and and supporters who defied the Police and army in their attempt to disrupt the Ohanaeze Ndigbo summit in Awka, Anambra State capital.
IPOB in a statement by its Media and Publicity Secretary, Comrade Emma Powerful, also thanked Igbo governors, senators, reps and clergymen who shunned the summit.
According to IPOB, “We, IPOB family members wish to use this opportunity to commend our hardcore family members from across Biafraland that defied the full military siege at Ekwueme Square to disrupt the Ohanaeze summit.”