By Chinonso Alozie, Owerri
A message from Igboland has been sent to President Muhammadu Buhari, to avoid making regrettable mistakes in dealing with the Biafra struggle in the Southeast zone.
Southeast Voice in Owerri, gathered the message came from a former governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim.
He said what many described as a message of warning to the country’s authority at the 2019 public service lecture and awards series ceremony of the University of Ibadan Alumni Association, held in Owerri capital of Imo State.
Stakeholders said Ohakim’s message should not be ignored, adding that it has to do with history of countries that have similar situations like Nigeria.
In Ohakim’s message to Buhari, he said that Buhari should not make the same mistake of the Britain when they were dealing with Northern Ireland.
The message summarized that Nigeria in learning from the Britain as it regards Biafra, should understand the benefit of peace.
He recalled that despite being a super power, Britain did not solve the challenges facing them with Northern Ireland, until they went into peace and negotiation.
It was at this point that Ohakim captured it for President Muhammadu Buhari and reminded him how late President Umaru Musa Yardua solved the Niger Delta issue. He said: “Because of its security implications, all I would like to say here is to advice our present political leadership to avoid the mistake the British made in Northern Ireland.
“In Northern Ireland, British made an avoidable mistake. They fell into the trap of believing that because they had power, weapons, soldiers and experience that dwarfed those of the insurgents, it did not matter what the people thought of them.
“History tells us that Britain couldn’t defeat Northern Ireland insurgents for more than twenty years. Peace negotiation did the magic. For example, President Yar’ Adua heeded this advice and succeeded with the Niger Delta militants and amnesty programme.”
It was Ohakim’s advice to the leadership of the country that “leadership is essentially, a selfless and more often than not, a thankless enterprise with a price to pay. Oftentimes, the price is heavy as in the case of Mandela”.
Also, Ohakim was worried about the challenges facing Nigeria saying: “Ordinarily, it should be taken that with the abundance of human resources at the disposal of the country, Nigeria, should be able to record quantum leap in development.
“Imagine the number of great brains and human capital across the globe who are Nigerians, yet back home, the fate of the country is determined and defined by individuals that are obvious square pegs in round holes.
“The motion without movement, harvest of failures, inertia and rudderlessness that hallmark the development streak of his country may forever be the cross we must carry.”
According to Ohakim,vital statistics showed that the country has “40 million unemployed youths, 30 percent increase in divorce rate. Nigeria has the largest extreme poverty population in the world at the moment with 87 million living in extreme poverty.
“Nigeria shockingly has a murder rate of 9.85 percent. In the area of environment, the annual rate of deforestation in Nigeria today is approximately 4 percent which about 400,000 to 450,000 hectares per year.
“Nigeria therefore has the highest rate of deforestation in the world. Again, we are now faced with rapid desert encroachment affecting fifteen states in Nigeria. For example out of 909,890 km2 of our country’s land area, about 600,000 km2 or 65.94 percent of our total land area is today completely lost to desert encroachment. Over 100 million people or 50 percent of our citizens are directly or indirectly being threatened by desertification ,deforestation and gully erosion.”
He continued: “Unknown to many, we have only a decade before we tip over to disaster. Mr. President must decide now that climate change is a crisis worthy of marshalling a plan level response to mobilize the people, mobilize finance and technology on a scale never seen before.
“We must plant a minimum of five billion trees in Nigeria in the next three years. We must all get our hands dirty on the ground in every community and plant trees. This is a matter of collective survival.”