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State of Nation: Better to split in peace than through war — Igbo Leaders of Thought

…Says Nigeria sliding into anarchy;

…We’ve been pushed to the wall — Uko
…If we can’t restructure, let’s separate in peace— Afenifere
…Nwabueze, others wrong —ACF

By Clifford Ndujihe & Dirisu Yakubu

SOME Igbo leaders have dissected the state of the country and returned a grim verdict: Nigeria is sliding into anarchy, has become a failed state, and is better the people go their separate ways in peace than in pieces through war.

File: Ndigbo

The leaders spoke on the banner of the Igbo think-tank group, Igbo Leaders of Thought, ILT, led by Professor Ben Nwabueze, SAN.

Notable members of the group include Professor Chiweyite Ejike (deputy chairman), Professor Elochukwu Amucheazi (secretary general), Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko (deputy secretary), Igwe Alfred Achebe, Senator Anyim Ude, Professor Uche Azikiwe, Mrs Maria Okwor, Chief Chukwuemeka Onyesoh, and Obi Thompson, among others.

In a four-paragraph communiqué of the session dated August 16 by Professor Nwabueze, which Vanguard got weekend, the leaders urged the Federal Government to restructure the country urgently to avert disaster.

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The ILT spoke as Evangelist Ugochukwu decried the rape and murder of 67-year old Mrs Pat Ugwu in her farm at Nchatancha Nike, Enugu State, and other killings by criminal herdsmen, adding that Igbo had been pushed to the wall.

However, while Afenifere agreed with the ILT, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, disagreed.

How Nigeria is sliding into anarchy

The ILT communiqué read: ‘’The Igbo Leaders of Thought in a full session in Enugu a couple of days ago, deliberated extensively on the state of affairs in this country. It felt deeply concerned about the slide of the country down the drain into the abyss of anarchy. Nothing seems to be working.

‘’The Igbo Leaders of Thought had drawn attention earlier to the totally unacceptable Ruga settlement scheme, the selective fight against corruption, the daily slaughter of people all over the country, the arrogant and murderous behaviour by herdsmen, the insolent inland waterways scheme, the nepotic lopsided appointments into inner cabinet, and all other sensitive positions, the total neglect and abandonment of the infrastructure, the assault on the judiciary, among others.

“The Igbo Leaders of Thought reiterates that Nigeria has become a failed state. It has failed to discharge the primary responsibility of a state to protect the lives and property of  its citizens and to cater for their welfare.

“The Igbo Leaders of Thought calls for immediate restructuring of the country and calls on the Federal Government to call up the 2014 National Conference report as a guide for such restructuring. As our one time President, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, once warned, it is better we meet and decide to part in peace than to fight and slaughter ourselves.”

We have been pushed to the wall

On his part, Evangelist Ugochukwu-Uko, who spoke as founder of Igbo Youths Movement, IYM; and Secretary General of the Eastern Consultative Assembly, ECA, warned that the country was “inexorably heading towards” the path of “avoidable bloodshed” on account of the activities of some herdsmen, which he said “has got way beyond what is condonable and tolerable.”

His words: ‘”The brazen rape and murder of 67-year-old Mrs Pat Ugwu in her farm at Nchatancha Nike, Enugu State few days ago, is simply put, unpardonable and unacceptable. Traditional rulers, priests and community leaders seem to be preferred targets of choice these expansionist demons of death are schooled by their sponsors and masters to hunt.

“It has finally become clear that these warriors and their protectors are simply implementing a carefully choreographed jihad of intimidation and conquest General Theophilus Danjuma screamed they are being protected by the military and security forces.

“Killing of policemen by soldiers in Taraba confirms soldiers could be compromised. Confessions of arrested culprits that helicopters drop guns and ammunition for them in the forest, simply complete the horror script. We have been under siege for four years now.

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“The hapless communities now have no other choice than to defend themselves or perish. The days of endless endurance and era of trusting the security agencies to protect our people are over. The herdsmen brought war to our land as part of a larger agenda of vanquish and dominate.

“The ferocious incursion into our farmlands and homestead with rape, beheading, amputations and general terror is the age old well known trademark of these expansionist warriors for centuries. Our people are clearly in trouble.

“The obvious inability or deliberate lack of interest or both, by the government of the day, to rein in these vermin has already resulted to lack of trust between our leaders and the masses who are incensed that politicians are not doing enough to protect them, as seen in the Nuremberg, Germany incident.

“No herdsman has been arrested, prosecuted and punished for the orgy of blood-letting they have visited on the land within the past four years.

“Is there a deliberate ploy to weaken our region by cleverly turning the masses upon our political leaders?  Our governors are glibly titled “chief security officers “whilst the entire security apparatchik is consciously placed under the stranglehold and control of a particular region and section of the country.

“The conspiracy theory that a scheme to weaken our region by turning the masses against politicians from our zone by deliberately castrating them through centralising the entire security architecture under northern Muslims, while naming them chief security officers, just to cast them as weaklings and traitors against the interests of their people, is fast gaining ground.”

If we can’t restructure, let’s separate in peace— Afenifere

Commenting on the ILT’s position, the Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, said the Igbo leaders were right, adding that if the country could not be restructured as agreed by most sections of the country, Nigeria should divide in peace.

Said Afenifere National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin: ‘’The Igbo leaders said the right things. We are on a cliff edge and perching dangerously on the edge of the precipice. The signs are all over the place; there is institutional collapse. A journalist travelled to Yugoslavia and wrote a book on the country; before the book could hit the press, Yugoslavia had collapsed. Nigeria is going the way of Yugoslavia.

Most sections of the country have agreed that Nigeria should be restructured. If a section of the country is against restructuring, holding unto power and hindering our progress, we agree with the ILT, let everybody go in peace.”

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Nwabueze, others wrong—ACF

However, the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, faulted calls by an Igbo think-tank for ethnic nationalities to go their separate ways in peace, given the dire security situation in the country.

In an interactive session with Vanguard, Anthony Sani, Secretary-General of ACF, had this to say: “I do not share the views expressed by Nwabueze that ethnic nationalities should go their separate ways due to the insecurity besieging the nation. And there are reasons for my position.

“There are about 371 ethnic nationalities, which constitute the Nigeria project. And I do not see the practicability of going our separate ways into that number of countries. What is more, it is unthinking of anybody to make current insecurity posed by the insurgence, banditry, cattle rustling, armed robbery, clashes between herders and farmers, ritual killings and cultism across the country to redefine national destiny and set our agenda, especially when regard is paid to the fact that this regime inherited many of the challenges and is making spirited effort to overcome them.

“There was a time the challenges almost overwhelmed the nation and made the CIA to predict the fall of Nigeria by 2015. Fortunately, the emergence of this regime did not allow the forecast to find expression.

“Furthermore, most Nigerians believe that certain benefits of one united Nigeria are by far more than the uncertain gains of going our separate ways. This assertion has been informed from the way the Igbo in South-East did not boycott the elections in Anambra State and also the last elections as a whole.

On restructuring

“As to the argument that only restructuring of the country could put an end to the current insecurity, I beg to differ. This is because this country has been restructured several times, be it political, geographic or economic.

“We started with three regions in a confederate arrangement which became four with a weak centre. This was abolished in favour of unitary arrangement with a stronger centre.

“The counter coup of 1966 supplanted the unitary system with a federal system of 12 states where the national government is balanced by appropriate state level power. We now have 36 states as the federating units.”

“The revenue formulae has also been restructured several times in favour of the federating units and oil producing states.

“For the form of government,the nation experimented with parliamentary system, which works in Britain and some other countries, then military dictatorship that has been operated successfully in some other climes and now the presidential system that works successfully in America. What has not been tried is a combination of parliamentary and presidential systems being operated successfully in France.

“The economy has also been restructured several times. For example,we started with state capitalism, where government was the commanding height in the First Republic and moved to mixed economy of the Gowon era and the Structural Adjustment Programme of Babangida regime that was introduced after public debates as to whether to take IMF loan or not.

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“The regime of President Obasanjo made privatisation to be the mantra for expressed purpose of allowing the private sector to drive the economy.

“So, if one looks at all these, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that our challenges have nothing to do with the structure, form of government or model of socio-economic development but in our attitudes and the way we do things.

“But if we must restructure the country,then such far-reaching reforms should be undertaken democratically, since we operate a multi-party democracy, which allows political parties to represent distinct methods of addressing national concerns as reflected in their manifestoe used for for canvassing for electoral mandate needed for implementation.

“Those political parties, which wish to restructure the country to whatever forms should do just that. That is how democracy works”

“Professor Nwabueze knows that order,justice,liberty, common decency,peace and prosperity for all,are never natural order of things but are attained through hard work by not only the leadership but also the led. And given the fact that this regime has been re-elected to consolidate and improve on its performance in first tenure as mark of confidence reposed on it;and given the fact that our democracy allows voters to retain or reject regimes at interval of four years,it stands to reason for one to submit that our multi-party democracy be allowed to work.

“If we consider the fact that this country had never believed defeat of incumbent President was possible until in 2015 when the incumbent President was defeated,and as a result,nobody hears of clamour for single term for president and the governors any more,then one can say our multi-party system has brought about national grandeur, purposeful leadership and the best in everyone and certainly not calls for disintegration.

“More so that the current leadership is very well aware of the truism  that great leaders are defined by great challenges because such leaders pursue causes higher than themselves as worthy impulse. Our challenges are not beyond redemption.”

Vanguard

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