Summit of Igbo Speaking people in Nigeria end at Ekwueme Square in Awka with fresh demand for restructuring of the country as a condition for a better Nigeria that will be beneficial to all.

By Bruno U. Okeke

The Igbo speaking people in Nigeria, on May 23, 2018, at a summit held at the popular Alex Ekwueme Square in  Awka, Anambra state took a united stand and demanded for the  restructuring of the Nigerian federation, as basis for unity. Ndigbo,as they are also called made similar calls  in the past,through their leaders and their socio-political organisation called Ohaneze Ndigbo.

The Igbo position which they called “Ekwueme Square Declaration’’ was read by Professor Chukwuma Charles Soludo,a former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria.Among other demands, the Igbo people demanded for is a new Constitution for the country to spell out relationship among the component units.

The Igbo people , estimated to number over 50 million in population  are easily visible as traders and business men and professionals , earning a living  in many villages, towns and states of Nigeria  as well as around the world. They insist that their demand for a restructured Nigeria is a guarantee for  security of life and property, freedom and liberty, equity, justice and development.

Indeed, Ohanaeze Ndigbo explained that no other ethnic group has a greater stake in the Nigerian project than the Igbo by virtue of tens of millions of them who live and invest everywhere in Nigeria outside Igbo land. The group regrets however that they  are also victims of ethno-religious crisis at every turn.

The preponderance of views among Ndigbo at the moment is that a restructured Nigeria that works for all remains the best option and basis for one Nigeria. It was for that reason that the recently held South East summit on restructuring in Awka, Anambra State was seen as very auspicious. It was a consolidation of Igbo position on the subject.

At the  summit in Awka,Igbo proposition on a number of issues about the Nigerian nation was  adopted after a motion moved by Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (from Abia State) and seconded by Tobi Okechukwu (fromEnugu State) of the House of Representatives, appealing to reason and fundamental fairness of all Nigerians.

Among many others, Ndigbo called for a new structure of Nigeria where  provision would be made for six vice presidents, with each representing a geopolitical zone, and would be assigned an important ministry as part of their portfolio. The belief is that the arrangement will bring about fairness and equity in the country.

The also called for rotation of the office of  President of Nigeria among the six geopolitical zonesand also  canvassed for equal number of states for each of the six geopolitical zones. Recommendation was also made for the allotment of offices and sharing of resources based on equality of geopolitical zones.

Ndigbo also called for the scrapping of the concept of state of origin and replacing same by state of residence.  And that in a case that it cannot be scrapped; any child born in any state in Nigeria shall automatically also have rights of state of origin of the state where he or she was born. Any person that has resided and paid tax in any state in Nigeria for a period of 10years, they said, should also automatically adopt the state as his State of Origin.

The summit also recommended that state government should be saddled with the responsibility of managing the natural resources residual in such states. This, Soludo, noted would mean that such states should pay appropriate taxes to the Federal Government.

To uphold merit, Ndigbo asked that the Federal Character Commission be replaced by Merits and Equal Rights Opportunities Commission, saying this would give every Nigerian the space to attain his or her height.

Other salient recommendations were decentralisation of the Police; that State should be allowed to conduct elections for governorship and State House of Assembly elections, independent candidacy shall be allowed provided the candidate meets a certain minimum criteria as well as that simple majority be scrapped while a candidate must have at least 50perecent of total votes to win election. In this historic and epochal event, Ndi Igbo, with one voice, one mind and without dissent, adopted the presentation.

Speaking further on the Igbo position, the Chairman of the occasion, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu observed that history has been made and that decisions have been taken to shape the future of Igbos and Nigerians at large.The Chairman, Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, in his declaration of total support of Ohaneze  for the summit posited that the aggregation of solutions to all the problems and struggles of NdiIgbo will positively be beneficial to every other ethnic group perceived to have been oppressed and marginalised within the Nigerian polity.

Endorsing the declaration, the Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu called on Ndi Igbo to rise in unity to protect their heritage.Ekweremadu re-assured that he will seek a synergy with his colleagues at the National Assembly to properly articulate the position of Ndi Igbo and all other ethnic nationalities in the country.

Soludo, in wraping up the Igbo position , quoted a popular position by Albert Einstein: “It is a mark of insanity to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result’’.

He noted that the significance of the event is undeniable. “It will continue to resonate in the hearts of every Igbo man and indeed all Nigerians who truly believe that Nigeria needs to be renegotiated’’,he said.

It is worthy to note that Gov. Willie Obiano hosted the summit and was the only South Eastern Governor to grace the summit. He went philosophical in his speech.`Umu nne m, the future summons us to a brighter dawn and we must walk in the shadows of our fathers. Yes, our fathers played a major role in Nigeria’s long road to independence. And today, we have gathered to dream a balanced federation into existence for Nigeria and Nigerians’. The Governor concluded.

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