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Clark to Tinubu: Restructure Nigeria,Implement 2014 National Confab report

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Clark to Tinubu: Restructure Nigeria,Implement 2014 National Confab report

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...urges President to reintegrate Igbo fully,release Nnamdi Kanu immediately

Samuel Adesola, Abuja

Nationalist and Leader of the Ijaw nation, Chief Edwin Clark, on Thursday, asked President Bola Tinubu to urgently implement the report of the 2014 National Conference.

The elder statesman said these in a letter he wrote to the President, which he described as his message to Nigerians having clocked 97 years on May 25.

Clark said that now that the elections are over, Tinubu must immediately restructure Nigeria if the country must remain one as that will also reintegrate the Igbo that have been marginalized in the scheme of things in Nigeria.

Clark in the letter dated 13th June, 2024, and made available to journalists, called on the Igbo of South-East and wherever they are in Nigeria, to stand up and assert their rights legitimately, judiciously and in a democratic way to benefit like any other Nigerian, as it was before the civil war of 1967.

The elder statesman also urged President Tinubu to apply political solution to the immediate release of the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, the same way the Federal Government withdrew the three-count terrorism charge it entered against the detained President of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore, Bello Bodejo.

Clark, who in the letter expressed his heartfelt condolence for the loss of some soldiers in the country, said that the nation’s security is seriously endangered, if our security forces, particularly the Army, are being humiliated and killed by civilians for no just cause, adding that the fight against insecurity would rage on for a long time as suggested by Gen Tukur Buratai, the former Chief of Army Staff and former Nigeria Ambassador to Benin Republic.

Clark’s letter read, “Now that the elections are over, we must face the restructuring of this country. I repeat again, the immediate restructuring of Nigeria must be carried out if this country is to remain one, and I appeal to Mr President to take immediate action to implement the historic 2014 National Conference Report which submitted 600 recommendations to the Presidency on how to restructure Nigeria in every aspect of our lives.

“The Igbos of South-East or wherever they are in Nigeria, must stand up and assert their rights legitimately, judiciously and in a democratic way to benefit like any other Nigerian as it was before the civil war of 1967.

“Since 1975 after the civil war, the country has not been united and it will be unpatriotic and disloyal for one to pretend that all is well in the country. The Nigeria I knew, that I was born in, was sitting on a 3 legged pot. As far back as 1944/45, when I left elementary school, this was what we were taught that Nigeria was made up of three Regions, the Eastern Region, which was dominated by the Igbos, the Northern Region, which was dominated by the Hausa/Fulani and the Western Region, which was dominated by the Yorubas with other minorities like us squeezed within these 3 legged pot, struggling to free ourselves. Hence, the Calabar, Ogoja and Rivers (COR) movement; who wanted their region out of the Eastern Region, The Midwest movement also struggling to break away from the Yorubas of Western Nigeria while the Middle-Belt under the late Joseph Tarkaa was also fighting to free themselves from the Northern Region dominated by the Hausa/Fulani. The capitals of the Region were Enugu, for Eastern Nigeria, Ibadan, for Western Nigeria; and Kaduna, for the Northern Region. Each of the Regions was governed by a Governor, whereas the Centre was governed by a Governor-General; and all the Regions were semi-autonomous and equal in status.

“From a few samples taken by me including the following wicked and inhumane attack by civilians in various parts of the country, gives one the impression that the number of soldiers who died in the civil war in trying to keep the country together between 1967-1970 is less than the ones killed by these civilians and terrorists since the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo. Yet, we remain divided and some Nigeria citizens after the war are being treated as second class citizens because they fought the civil war.

“I am 97 and when I reflect on the Nigeria I knew against the current goings-on, I worry for our young people of today and tomorrow. What hopes do they have in Nigeria’s future and what is their future in today’s Nigeria? I am talking of the 14, 15, 16 and 17 year olds, in the thirty-six (36) states and the Federal Capital Territory.

“Nigeria has been independent for about 64 years now but before then Nigeria became self-governing in 1957. Any child in any of the parts of that pot, when he or she grows to 17, 18, 19 and becomes independent of his parents and is able to reason for himself, has the right to ask whether he is truly part of this country when all that he sees is discrimination, hatred, injustice, unfairness in the offices, in the street, at work places and even in institutions of the government and wonders of the widening gap between the rich and the poor. It is pathetic and unacceptable.

“We can no longer describe Nigeria as a pot anymore because we now have 36 legs and if any part of these 36 legs gets broken, the country won’t be at ease and that’s exactly what we are experiencing today because the five (5) legs belonging to the South-East were fractured after the civil war. The young ones who belong to the disadvantaged legs are fighting and people are pretending not to know why. The other part of this disturbing photograph is the question as to who has the right over Nigeria, who is that child, from what part of Nigeria, who will say, No!, you cannot destroy our country! You can no longer relegate us to the background!

What right does the antagonist have that the protagonist does not have – what right do you have that the man you are accusing of disturbing you does not have. The reality is that the man who wants to destroy and the one who is preventing the destruction have equal rights in our dear native land Nigeria.

LET ME SAY THIS, NO ONE HAS A BETTER RIGHT OVER NIGERIA THAN ANYONE OF US!

The Igbos of the South East deserve to have a sense of belonging in this Country. All that is required is for us to demonstrate reciprocal respect, love and understanding to one another. Let us do what is right, let us accommodate one another, and be fair to one another.

“THE IGBOS SHOULD RISE AND LEGITIMATELY FIGHT FOR THEMSELVES BECAUSE NO OTHER NIGERIAN IS SUPERIOR TO THEM.

“Part of this insecurity situation in the South-East is caused by some of the Igbo leaders themselves; some of whom have accepted the present situation in which they found themselves as second-class citizens in their own country since 1975 after the over throne of Gen Yakubu Gowon and others who accept any positions they occupy as a favour from a fellow Nigerian. What a shame.

“There is another group who are selfish, greedy and who want to be neutral and believe in making money at the expense of their civil right and liberty and they are with any Government in power. Lastly is the group who are the majority; most of whom are righteously fighting for their own rights as Nigerians of equal status despite the Civil war and are ready to face any consequences arising from this marginalization, discrimination and oppression.

In this group are young ones, majority of whom their fathers were not born during the civil war and some of them grew up outside Igbo land; and even though the teaching of history has been abolished for sometime, they learnt a lot from their parents and they have experienced part of it.

“The Igbo social Cultural group, Ohaneze Ndigbo, which is today being manned by one of the most respected Nigerian, Chief Dr Emmanuel Iwuanyawu; who has seen it all; before the civil war, during the civil war and after the civil war and who is very courageous and fearless. He has been making every effort to project the status of the Igbo’s in Nigeria but unfortunately, his success has been limited by disunity of the Igbo leaders and his close relationship with the Governor of Imo State appears not to be helping matters.

“His predecessor in office, our most revered Ambassador, late Amb George Obiozor, a fine, experienced man with impeccable character also did his best but suffered untold humiliation by the so called unknown gunmen who burnt his house and destroyed properties worth Millions of Naira, perhaps because of the same close relationship with the Governor of Imo State.

“Is it not a shame that the Igbo man is humiliated and subjugated in Nigeria by his fellow Nigerian? Yet, some Governors and Ministers from the South-East hail the Federal Government for their personal success.

“Many Igbo leaders and politicians opted to be President of Nigeria in the 2023 Presidential election; instead of collaborating together, they all chickened out, as if they are the minorities of Nigeria.

“The role played by Sen Orji Uzor Kalu, the former Chief Whip of the Senate who threw his weight behind one of the presidential aspirants of APC, Senator Ahmad Lawan and he was ready to sweep the Aso Rock if Senator Lawan was elected President.

“His Excellency Chukwuemeka Ihedioha, former Governor of Imo State; gave the PDP delegates votes, for free, to Sen Aminu Tambuwal, former Governor of Sokoto State, a Presidential aspirant. The votes were then transferred, when he stepped down, to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, another aspirant who eventually became the party’s candidate.

“The unwarranted disunity amongst the Governors of the South-East, to the extent that they could not maintain their security outfit, Ebube Agu, as it is with Amotekun of the South-West, where the Governors are solidly united. I am therefore appealing to all Igbos to put the interest of their Children and children yet unborn first, if they are to enjoy the same privileges bestowed on every citizen of Nigeria.

“Even though, I have made my observation about the action of some of my fellow igbo brothers, I have always had confidence that the Igbo’s fought for a course, during the civil war for a period of three (3) years. After the war, no Igbo person was allowed to have more than 20 pounds, and today, the Igbos are among the wealthiest in the whole of Nigeria. The Igbos are independent, resilient, industrious, determined, mentally and physically alert and courageous Nigerians and are now in a position to fight for their democratic right.

“I am proud and happy to say that the National burial given to our friend, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, indicated that Igbos can come together to fight for their right democratically, even though they were handicapped in the past 25 years of democracy.

“The era of the civil war which I referred to earlier is gone forever. Nigerians should have the spirit of give and take and though tongue and tribe may differ but in brotherhood we stand, no brother should be superior to the other.

At this juncture, it maybe necessary to ask the question, what was the status of the Igbo Leaders between 1951 and 1966 and why are they now the most disadvantaged geopolitical zone in Nigeria after the civil war?

One of the setbacks for the Igbo’s, was the continuous military rule between 1966 and 1999, where all the Military Heads of state came from the North, who had the opportunity to impose their will and desire on other parts of the country. For instance Kano State had 44 local governments and when Jigawa States was created from it, Jigawa State was given 27 local governments while Kano state retained its 44 local Government. The whole of the Eastern Region made up of five (5) States has 95 Local Government, with only 24 Local Government more than Kano and Jigawa States in the North West region, which has seven (7) states and 186 Local Governments.

“The North East has 112 Local Governments, the North Central has 115 Local Governments, the South West has 137 Local Governments and the South-South has 123 Local Governments. Of the six (6) regions, the South-East has become the smallest region and has politically become the minority in Nigeria. You can therefore imagine that when the 36 State Governors are in Abuja for their monthly Federal Allocation, the South-East with the smallest number of local Government also receives the smallest allocation and in fact, the number of Local Governments in the North West is almost double that of the entire South-East region.

“At this juncture, it maybe necessary to mention a few conditions the Igbos of South-East are being subjected to as if they don’t enjoy equal status with the rest of Nigerians; The presence of five states in the south-east is a form of injustice when compared to the six states in other geopolitical zones and seven states in the North-West. The south east zone has been a victim of inequality, resulting in several agitations.

“I have said that Nigeria must be restructured to correct what I described as the imbalances and make every state equal in the country, stressing that, that was why the 2014 National Conference recommended the creation of more states, where the Southeast was given four additional states and three for all other zones except the North-West, which was allotted two because it already has seven states; and if implemented, it would have made the six geopolitical zones of the country to be at par with nine states and it would have provided for each citizen a stable and united Nigeria, where all its citizens have equal right. It was regarded as one of the most important recommendations of the conference because it affected every zone of the federation.

As I said earlier, the Nigeria I knew had four (4) regions. The four (4) regions had equal powers and authority, irrespective of size or population; all reporting to the Federal Government which carried the 4 legs.

“Looking back again at Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, the father of modern politics in Nigeria, who was an Igbo man from Onitsha and leader of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC). He lived in Ikeja, Lagos at a time when Lagos was part of the Western Nigeria. He contested election in the western house of assembly against Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his Action Group (AG) team as leader of the NCNC in 1951 and won comfortably and could have become the first civilian premier of western Nigeria, but due to certain eventualities which I do not want to go into. However, he became leader of the opposition in the western house of assembly and we saw him contributing in the Western House of Assembly during the debate on the change of Olu of Itsekiri to the Olu of Warri title. He then later decided to relocate to the eastern region, his home state, where Prof. Eyo Ita a minority man, who was head of the government in eastern region, was unwholesomely replaced as Head of the East Region. This was a stain in the political career of the great Zik of Africa. However, we have received apology from our Igbo Friends.

“Subsequently, Dr Azikiwe became the President of the Senate of Nigeria and also the Governor General when we obtained independence in 1960. At this juncture, it may also be necessary to mention a few of other Igbo politicians including but not withstanding Dr Nwafor Orizu, who was the President of the Senate, Dr K.O. Mbadiwe, who was central minister of land, survey and natural resources (1954-1955), Chief A.C. Nwapa, minister of commerce, Prof Eni Njoku, central minister of energy and first Nigerian Vice Chancellor University of Lagos in 1962, Raymond Njoku, central minister of transportation, Chief Jaja Wachuku, one of the best foreign ministers of Nigeria who performed excellently well on the independence day of 1st October 1960, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, Minister of Aviation, Mbonu Ojike, who was known as the “boycott king” for his slogan “boycott the boycottable”, Professor Kenneth Dike, Nigeria’s first Vice Chancellor of the University of Ibadan, Dr Aja Nwachukwu, from Okposi in Ebonyi State, who was Minister for Education; while as the Minister for Education, the Federal Government decided to establish what was then known as Inter-Regional Secondary Schools and later called Federal Government Colleges in the old three regions of East, North and West. The schools were sited in Okposi for the East, Sokoto for the North and Warri for the West, over 71 years ago, when my son, the Minister of Works had not been born.

“Therefore, the appointment of one of my beloved sons, Engr Sen David Umahi, a competent Engineer and builder as Minister of Works, cannot be a credit or favour done to the Minister or Igbos by President Tinubu. He should regard his appointment as a merit because he is qualified for it and should therefore not be over excited about his appointment.

“President Buhari did everything to subjugate the Igbos for reason best known to him. Perhaps it maybe necessary to cite some examples; the NNPC board which he constituted when he came into office had 9 members, 1 from south-west, 1 from south-south, no member from the south-east, even though 3 south-east states; Abia, Anambra and Imo are oil producing states; the remaining members including his Chief of State, came from the North, a non oil producing region. However, he later tried to amend it when he appointed Sen Ifeanyi Ararome as chairman of the second board; and he later replaced him with Margery Chuba-Okadigbo before he took office. He (Sen Ifeanyi Ararome) took the matter to court and won but the situation has not changed. Also when President Buhari made an attempt to obtain loans from foreign financial institutions which exceeds 30% of the GDP which was not in the interest of the country; and that the loan of $22.7 billion (USD) of which less than 1% of the amount was to be allocated to the south-east zone while other zones were allocated higher percentage for infrastructural projects is a violation of the constitutional requirement to ensure a balanced economic development of Nigeria in accordance with President Buhari’s Oath of Office. In President Buhari’s 17 man security chiefs, 14 of them came from the North and only 3 from the South excluding the Igbos from the South East.

“Mr President, even in your administration, the discrimination and injustice against the Igbos has not abated. The old Eastern Region and the old Western Region, of which I belonged to, were equal competitors and partners before and during the First and Second Republic but today, you have appointed 10 Yoruba’s as Ministers from the South-West and only five (5) Ministers from the South-East and you even failed to give them the ministerial appointment due to their region that would have made it six (6) Ministers. There is no justification for this grave omission and no effort has been made to correct it.

“The most recent Opportunity the Igbos had to rebuild their broken leg was when their disunity, selfishness and greed made the popular Igbo candidate, Mr Peter Obi of the Labour Party to loose the election because most Igbos refused to unite behind him with their resources before and during the election and voting for him massively in the South-East on the election day was like medicine after death.”

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