A group of Igbo organisations in the Diaspora and at home comprising Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), Global Igbo Alliance (GIA), World Igbo Congress (WIC), and Igbo caucus of the Lower Niger Congress (LNC) have called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to organise a referendum for the Igbo people to determine their future in Nigeria.
In a joint statement signed by ADF president, Prof. Uzodinma Nwala; GIA president, Dr. Christian Duru; WIC chairman, Prof. Anthony Ejiofor; and the Secretary-General, LNC, Tony Nnadi and made available to the Daily Sun, the Igbo organisations want their demand of a referendum to be implemented by the end of December this year.
According to the group, a time comes when the people shall arise to take their destiny in their hands, adding that the new age consciousness sweeping across Alaigbo presently is a pointer that Ndigbo have had enough of the despair in Nigeria and may wish to opt out of the union.
“We strongly and unequivocally affirm that Igbo people have a right to self-determination as clearly enshrined in Article 1 (2) of the United Nations Charter (1945), as well as in Article 3, 4 and 5 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (2007). The right to self-determination is also enshrined in article 20 of the African Charter on Human & People’s Rights, which Nigeria ratified and domesticated as a law of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004 (Ratification & Enforcement Act) Cap 9 article 20 (1), which provides that ‘all peoples shall have right to existence. They shall have the unquestionable and inalienable right to self-determination. They shall freely determine their political status and shall pursue their economic and social development according to the policy they have freely chosen.’
“It is the inalienable right of Ndigbo to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development; a position that confirms that the right of the Igbo to self-determination is sacrosanct and cannot be denied or taken away.
“The call for outright independence or restructuring along the line of regional autonomy has been intense in Alaigbo in the last 12 months. With no clear evidence of where the majority stands on the issue, the Global Igbo Alliance (GIA) undertook an online opinion poll to obtain some level of statistical evidence on the subject,” the group said, adding that their latest position was informed by the result of the poll which was organised by an Australia based firm on behalf of GIA, indicated an overwhelming support for outright independence as against restructuring or remaining in one Nigeria. Outright independence had 80.48 percent of the votes; restructuring as modelled along the 1963 constitution had 17.97 percent, while remaining in one united Nigeria had 1.56 percent of the votes. The result shows that outside complete disintegration from Nigeria, regional autonomy is the nearest alternative the Igbo people could consider.
“This brings to attention the memorandum on the future of Alaigbo and the Federal Republic of Nigeria produced by the ADF as contained in its Green Book, where it stated that Ndigbo would accept the status of an autonomous region, and would seek outright independence from Nigeria if regional autonomy is not acceptable to those who think that they hold the reins of power in Nigeria,” the groups said in the statement.
The groups recalled the resolution of the LNC in Port Harcourt on April 27, 2015, which rejected the 1999 constitution and mandated a pursuit of a United Nations-backed self-determination referendum to decide the future of the people of the lower Niger. It also made reference to the document presented by Ohaneze at the Ekwueme Square in Awka on May 21, 2018, which insisted that Ndigbo should not be silenced or hoodwinked on matters affecting their future.
They called on all the leadership in Alaigbo to collaborate with Ndigbo at home and abroad to create a platform to properly ascertain the will and wishes of the Igbo on the critical matter instead of adopting a restructuring plan that is based on amendment of the 1999 constitution, which they described as defective and undemocratic.
The groups warned that the future of Igbo and their children are at stake in Nigeria and called on all men and women vested with the mandate to represent Ndigbo to take care and ensure that the right thing is done for the Igbo nation.
“We maintain that Ndigbo have all it takes to stand on their own as a nation, or as an autonomous region and be able to compete favourably with other countries of the world. We, therefore, submit that a referendum is critical in finally determining the Igbo position in Nigeria, and demand that our call for a referendum be actioned by the end of this year. It is noted that GIA has conducted an opinion poll in this direction; however, a referendum of the Igbo people will conclusively ratify the issue,” the groups stated.