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Tribune Online
Igbo presidency and recurring issues of self-determination, restructuring


TO many people in Igbo land, particularly the political elite, the quest and ultimate realisation of a Nigerian president of an Igbo stock in 2023 is tied to the predisposition of the two dominant political parties: the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

To some others, however, the issue, vis-a-vis the necessity of self-determination and restructuring, is like the chicken and tje egg conundrum namely, which comes first. To those in this category, the only way to restructure the country, outside being in power, is to join the self-determination agitators, championed by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) with a view to jerking up the growing revolutionary spirit in the land.

It was in this spirit that the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the umbrella body of Igbo socio-cultural associations, is pursuing both the Igbo presidency and restructuring simultaneously. Speaking at the fifth World Igbo summit, held at Gregory University, Uturu, Abia State, president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nwodo, said the group would soon resume its outreach programme to other ethnic nationalities and zones of the country, with a view to getting support for the next president from the Igbo extraction, as well as restructuring of the country. “Ohanaeze would pursue both restructuring of Nigeria and emergence of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction as both are not mutually exclusive,” Nwodo said.

The summit, which was believed to be apt and timely, had in attendance the who-is-who in Igbo land. Among those present were former Chief of General Staff, Navy Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe (retd); former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and former Senate President, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim; former Ambassador to the United States of America, George Obiozor; former governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife; his Enugu State counterpart and former national chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo.

Others in attendance included a former Minister of Mines and Power and a one-time vice-chancellor of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and the Federal University, Oye Ekiti, Professor Chinedu Nebo and the president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa,

The conference, which was convened by Ambassador Obiozor and Dr Ifedi Okwenna, noted in its communiqué that “For Nigeria’s survival, the country has to chose from three options: to retain the dysfunctional status quo; balkanise the country through a rash of successions or reset or restructure the country to its federal origin.”

The Uturu gathering agreed that the Igbo have cause to lead the campaign for a restructured Nigeria, stressing that the process should start with the restructuring of the social, cultural, political and economic systems of Alaigbo. According to the gathering, “there is need for future Igbo generations to internalise our own narrative of how we got to where we are and where we wish to go, pointing out that, in the history of the Nigerian democracy, the Igbo who are one of the tripod of the country has not produced a president.

“There is the urgent need to resume the outreach programme to other ethnic nationalities and zones of the country, with a view to achieving support for the Nigerian president of Igbo extraction and restructuring of Nigeria.”

The summit resolved that Ndi Igbo should pursue both the restructuring of the country and the emergence of the next president of Igbo extraction, noting that both are not mutually exclusive.

“Other ethnic nationalities and zones should, as a matter of justice, equity and fairness, support the emergence of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023. The leadership of all political parties should, as a matter of justice, equity and fairness, cede the nomination of their presidential candidates to the South-East,” the Igbo leaders added.

The Igbo group also suggested that the president-general of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo should, in consultation with the Ime-Obi, constitute a pan-Igbo organising committee to develop and pursue a sustainable strategic plan of action for the ‘handshake outreach’ across Nigeria.

The communiqué further reads: “The handshake programme should cumulate in a grand finale during which the harmonised positions of the alliance zones would be adopted and publicised as a basis of a joint bill of the people to the National Assembly to pass into law and use as a document for convoking a national conference for restructuring.

“The alliance zones would use the harmonized positions to commence the arduous task of lobbying and working with politicians, political parties, interest groups and other stakeholders to come on board the movement for a restructured Nigeria.

“On its part, Ohaneze Ndigbo will sustain a vigorous publicity, press campaigns, sustained education and mobilisation of the electorate and encourage peaceful mass rallies in support of the restructuring project. In pursuit of these demands and rights, all these resolutions will be done in accordance with the principles of municipal and international laws and best practices.”

Supporting Ohnaneze Ndigbo, the founder of the Igbo Youth Movement (IYM), Elliot Uko, said 2020 “provides a wonderful opportunity for the leadership and political elite in the country to rise up and do the needful: urgently begin the process of reconstructing the polity in order to whittle down excess powers from the centre and devolve same to the federating units via a new people’s constitution.”

According to Uko, “bipartisan, respectable committee of eminent and patriotic leaders should be raised now to begin the process of a holistic restructuring of the polity. We have pretended for too long that the Military Decree 24 of 1999, aka, 1999 Constitution, can sustain, unite and grow Nigeria. The trumpets could sound any day now. Nigeria’s restructuring agenda should be rolled out without further delay as time is clearly running out.”

Mazi Kindness Jonah, the convener of another group, Voice from the East, a body championing the Igbo cause through its convener said the quest for an Igbo presidency in 2023 was synonymous to the clamour for restructuring and self-determination in Igbo land.

According to Jonah, “The purveyors of the idea of Igbo presidency are politicians with vested interest. When we talk of restructuring, we are saying birth Nigeria on a perfect secular state and create states equally in each geo-political zone and then, grant fiscal autonomy to every state. This is synonymous to drastic decentralisation which is the definition of democracy. People averse to this are protagonists of centralisation and continuity to the status-quo which is afore-reason for cessation. Therefore, perfect restructuring, as defined, is the antidote to succession and a relapse of which is spontaneous disintegration.

“As an Igbo informed activist, there should be perfect and necessarily restructuring as an anti-climax to quest for an independent state of Biafra. Igbo presidency in 2023, without perfect restructuring of Nigeria is an amba-dance in a village square, only for euphoria of an entertainment without determinate zest to finding a lasting solution to the endemic Nigerian problem. Igbo presidency is neither here nor there in the scenario of a lasting peace in the country because politicians have vested interest averse to Igboness which can only be solved by clear cut perfect restructuring or disintegration.”

Ogechukwu Ajuzie, a public affairs commentator posited: “There is no doubt that a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction is absolutely desirable and inevitable in the spirit of equity and true federalism. And I know there are some rational beings in other regions that agree and are ready to support us.

“But the major problem remains our attitude. There is something about us and which is this tendency to portray ourselves as being more clever and knowledgeable than others, which make them to be suspicious and uncomfortable with our aspiration for the presidency of the country. In my opinion, for project 2023 to be realisable, we need to be tactful and see how we can work with others, knowing very well that there is no way we can go it alone.”

Be that as it may, to some Igbo hardliners, Nigeria could be described as a distorted entity where reason and equity are thrown to the wind. To them, threats and displays of nuisance value should be some of the tools to employ. They also argued that an Igbo presidency would not materialise unless there is a known threat to the federation that would make every parts shiver with fear and realise that unless power is shifted to Ndigbo, the corporate existence of the country would be threatened.

Findings revealed that it was based many Igbo youths are having faith in the secession bid championed by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), based on the militancy theory. However, Dr Dons Eze said the road to Igbo presidency is far, noting that the much-acclaimed republican nature of an Igbo man is not a stumbling block to the Igbo project. He believes that the Igbo presidency project is a work in progress and it must be worked for in order to be earned.

Igbo presidency and recurring issues of self-determination, restructuring
Tribune Online

source https://tribuneonlineng.com/igbo-presidency-and-recurring-issues-of-self-determination-restructuring/

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