Nigeria is experiencing myriad of challenges, ranging from farmers/herders conflicts, corruption, unemployment, failed electoral and judicial system, and a very bad image before the international community.
But, a group, the Indigenous Equity Foundation (IEF), recently unveiled its “mass alliance for inclusive Nigeria,” at a stakeholders parley in Abuja, where they laid bare some of challenges facing the country; particularly those it said are original citizens who “face mortal dangers of losing their ancestral homelands to alien marauders.»
The IEF explained that “Autochthonous People in Nigeria” are the original tribes and ethnic nationalities, who inhabit vari- ous parts of the country and have rights and privileges due them as “original and indigenous peoples of their territories and abode.”
IEF Convener and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Dr Jacob Abdullahi, said another cause for worry, which was the basis for the conference, was “the growing menace of rampaging Fulani herdsmen. Their stock-in trade is to maim, kill and destroy. They show no mercy for either infant or nursing mothers.”
Present at the parley the Ama- yanabo of Twon-Brass, King Alfred Spiff-Diete, who was also a military governor in the old Riv- ers State, Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, represented by his Chief of Staff, Terwase Orbunde, former Federal Minister of Information, Chief Edwin Clark, a representative of the Yoruba community, president of the Middle Belt Forum, represented by Dr Emmanuel Onucheyo as well as representatives of Afenifere and Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo.
King Spiff-Diete noted that the fracas were needless because Nigerians came from one root, which dates back to the 1930’s and appealed that people’s ancestral land should not be trifled with.
He warned that those ethic groups who use the influence of their friends in power to commit havoc should be wary of their behaviour and utterances, in order not to plunge the country into unwanted chaos and insisted that they should not take the silence of others to foreshadow weakness.
“If we get into our roots, you will be surprised that we are re- ally one. So when this group came up with this, I embraced it with two hands. We should learn and understand each other and to speak out when we have to speak, and make it clear that we are nobody’s fool.”
Clark represented by his aide, Mac Emakpore, said he would stoutly back anybody who speaks for the peace and unity of Nigeria. He reiterated his position on the restructuring of Nigeria regardless of the nomenclature given, and stressed that Nigeria cannot continue the way it is:
“Anybody or group who speaks on how Nigeria can be great has his backing. Constitutionally, legally in which this country can be restructured regardless of the name, needs to be restructured. Because the country cannot con- tinue the way it is.”
Ortom waxed biblical when he reminded the stakeholders of the biblical injunction, which en- courages everyone to live in har- mony with their friends.
Former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr Obadiah Mailafia, took his audience through an historical journey and assured them they are true citizens of Nigeria. He, however, wondered why a region, which does not have the natural resources that feeds the nation, tends to control the economic, political space and impoverish other regions:
“We are the glue that holds this country together. Let nobody deceive you. Without the Autochthonous people, Nigeria will not survive. Most of the natural resources enjoyed in this country come from our lands; most of the oil that has sustained our economy for the last 40 years or 60 years now. Most of the oil is in the South South, most of the agricultural activities are in the Middle Belt.
“I humbly submit that we are the true Nigerians. Thousands of years ago, everybody came from somewhere. But, for the Middle Belt and South South, we have always been here. A lot of people at the boundaries came from somewhere, and migrated. Some came yesterday and today, they are lording it over us; we have become their slaves, which is not a natural condition for existence.”
The former presidential candidate of the African Action Con- gress (ACC) said real citizens have the vested interest for the development of the country because of the originality of their citizenship. He raised the alarm that most people were actually playing with fire with regards to their malfeasance and utterances laced with the killings, kidnappings and banditry.
Thereafter, stakeholders resolved, in a communiqué signed by Abdullahi, that “the British crown, now represented by Queen Elizabeth II, which signed treaties with the various self-governing ethnic nationalities should now return all lands so ceded in the treaties to the various nationalities since they have lapsed.
“A new national Constitution should be negotiated and written, as may be agreed by all Nigerians, at a roundtable, and that Abuja metro implementation of fiscal federalism for Nigeria, as a sine qua non, which would ensure equity, transparency and accountability, as well as promote the fight against corruption.”