Posted by Chijioke Iremeka | 17 June 2018 | 1,464 times
Pan-Igbo Organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, in agreement with her Yoruba counterpart, Afenifere, yesterday, demanded total restructuring of Nigerian federal system, to allow for equity, justice, growth and development of each region of the federation.
The groups declared with one voice that the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is an imposition on the country by the military, and therefore, seek full constitutional amendment or a new constitution that will reflect the position of different regions in the country.
The President General (PG) of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Nationwide, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, who stated this at the inauguration ceremony of the newly elected executive committee members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos branch, held at the National Theatre, Igaunmu, Lagos, insisted that restructuring will enable Nigerians to agree on how they will live together as one indissoluble country.
According to Nwodo, the reason for restructuring is due to the fact that Ndigbo cannot be drummed into another war as both parties (Biafra and Nigeria) involved in the previous war had regrets over losses and war ruins.
He said: “I fought war on the side of Biafran army and we can’t afford another war. Ndigbo lost 3.5 million people to the war. One million were killed, another one million were starved to death and the remaining 1.5 million people got missing, which nobody could account for.”
Chief Nwodo didn’t stop at rejecting the 1999 constitution and demanding structuring of the country, but he also marshalled out three areas of concern, which must be taken seriously if the unity and peaceful co-existence of Nigeria are not negotiable.
One of the three areas of concern, according to him, is the need for state’s ownership of police to deal with abuse and unwholesome attitude of the federal police, saying that state police will understand matters within its locality and will nip crime in the bud as they know their people and speak on language.
Nwodo, who noted that with state police, the states will not have much business with federal police, except one violates immigration laws or currency laws or commit other serious offences, wants states to own and control their resources as part of the restructuring agenda.
While thanking the newly sworn-in Chairman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos branch, Chief Solomon Ogbonna, Nwodo said, “South East should own the resources found in the region and be used for the development of the region and not another state leaving the host state behind. This is why we are talking about restructuring.
“Again, we don’t want quota system in Nigeria. We don’t need JAMB. The situation whereby some regions will do so well academically but another less competitive will be given more admission slot under the disguise of quota system and education less-privileged region.
“Every state should control the affairs of its schools, conduct exams for the students, give admission and let them compete with others from other states. This is what we call restructuring. If the government does this, then, we have one Nigeria.”
Corroborating him, an elder statesman and former leader of Afenefere, Ayo Adebanjo, who said ‘no restructuring, no Nigeria,’ warned Nigerians against voting any anti-restructuring candidate in the next election, saying that 1999 Constitution of Nigeria was imposed on Nigerians.
Adebanjo, who thanked President Muhammudu Buhari for making June 12 National Democracy Day in honour of late MKO Abiola, a Yuroba extraction, warned the Yorubas not to be confused about making June 12 democracy day, advising electorate to vote each candidate based on his or her antecedents.
“Making June 12 Democracy Day has nothing to do with the re-election of Buhari. He has to be judged by what he has done for Yoruba man in the past four years. I appreciate that gesture but we shouldn’t be confused. Anybody that is against restructuring should not be voted for. No restructuring, no Nigeria,” the elderstatesman insists.
Speaking on the election and inauguration of the new exco, Admiral Ebitu Ukiwe, who was thankful to Nwodo for the conduct of the election, said the election of Lagos Chairman of Ohanaeze has been a problem in the past but this has marked an end to the crises.
Pledging his full backing for the new Exco, he said other issues that might come up will be settled at the time they come up.
He said: “We need to give the new exco maximum support to succeed in their new tasks. The need for unity cannot be overemphasized. There is nothing we can achieve without unity. Again, we need to know that whatever we do anywhere affects the Igbo. Therefore, we are ambassadors of Ndigbo everywhere we are. If you are building in Lagos have your documents and obey the rules. If we do this, there will not be friction anywhere.”
In his acceptance speech, after an oath of office was administered on him by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Chijioke Okoye, the new Chairman, Solomon Ogbonna said his administration will work together with Yoruba Afenifere to ensure that lives and property of Ndigbo in Lagos are safe.
“We will work together to ensure that peace and harmony exist between the Ndigbo and Yoruba. My leadership will bring about unity among Igbo in Lagos. We will also ensure that nobody takes us for granted in Lagos. I’m committed to moving Ohanaeze forward,” he pledged.
However, Chief Edwin Clarke, who was represented by former Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board, Mr. Denzil Kentebe, pledged his support for the group, saying that what affects the South East, affects the South-South in Lagos. (Sunday Telegraph)
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