Magnus Eze, Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri, Jude Chinedu, Enugu
The Centre for Igbo Political Renaissance and Advancement (CIPRA) has said it plans to convene an all inclusive political summit to discuss whether the region would remain in Nigeria by 2023 or breakaway.
A statement by the group’s Executive Director, Chief Greg Obioha, in Owerri, explained that the summit had become imperative following the marginalisation and inhuman treatments Igbo had been subjected to despite contributing much to the development and unity of the country.
Obioha claimed that the constant clamour for secession by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign States of Biafra (MASSOB) was as a result of the illtreatment of Igbo, which he said had given birth to other pressure groups.
“We challenge and call on Ohaneze Ndigbo to step up immediate action by constituting an all inclusive committee that will draw membership from across board, in a bid to convoke the first Igbo/South East political summit soonest. The stake of South East must be defined in Nigeria and that should be the only basis to remain in the Nigerian federation.
“Our progenitors and founding fathers laid a solid and formidable foundation for the greatness and development of Nigeria and even paid the supreme price for the unity of Nigeria. However, those sacrifices have yielded little or nothing for us in Nigeria. Despite those persecutions and unfair treatment, we still believe in Nigeria and always strive to sustain and strengthen its unity and continuity. There is no gainsaying that no ethnic nationality has sacrificed or contributed more than Ndigbo to the survival of this great nation. Those constructive and creative inputs so far made by generations of Igbo patriots who believe in Nigeria have not been adequately recognised or rewarded and the sad story continues.
“The ill feelings and grudges emanating from those inimical posturing against Ndigbo by other groups in Nigeria had caused the seeming sense of separatism and secession that beclouds or agitates the minds of greater majority of our people, especially the youths and artisans.
“This segment of the Igbo population is the most hit and vulnerable under the unfriendly socioeconomic climate that is imposed on the people of southeast through deliberate segregations and anti Igbo policies.
“The idea of remaining in Nigeria outweighs pulling out, but the only panacea to breaking up is to allow Ndigbo produce the next president of Nigeria as well as restructuring the lopsided federation that is unjustly skewed in favour of the north and totally at the detriment of the South East region.
“It is basically on this premise that we call for a joint and all inclusive South East Political Summit to discuss our stake in the Nigerian federation, to remain or exit.”
Meanwhile, the Association of South East Town Unions (ASETU), after a two-day emergency security retreat in Enugu at the weekend lamented that armed herdsmen were still wreaking havoc in parts of Igboland.
The group identified the continued marginalisation of Ndigbo and desecration of Igboland by killer herdsmen as major factors threatening the corporate existence of the country.
Participants at the retreat drawn from 95 local government areas of the region raised the concern about the security of lives and property of Igbo in Nigeria owing to emerging negative profiling of some Igbo youths as violent masterminds of the arson, destruction and carnage that trailed recent EndSARS protests.
In a communique after the meeting by its National President, Chief Emeka Diwe, ASETU urged governors of the region to fast tract the law on open grazing to end the attacks by armed herdsmen
“The killing of our people, rape of our women and destruction of our farmlands by armed Fulani herdsmen have further created food insecurity in Igboland. Our rural and defenceless farmers have no illusions that their lives are no longer safe while working on their farmlands, and even their crops are overrun on a daily basis and destroyed by the herdsmen.
Continuing, ASETU said the over-concentration of power at the centre had not helped the development, peace and security of the country. It called for urgent devolution of power in such a manner as to engender involvement, participation and progress.
“The exclusion of the Igbo from the security leadership of Nigeria cannot be rationalised on any grounds. It is a threat to national unity for Nigeria to continue to have preponderance and dominance of one ethnic group in all security agencies in the country. This defeats the notion of federalism, and we completely reject it.”
“Much that we advocate equity in the rotation of the presidency of Nigeria and acknowledge the right of the Igbo to produce the next president of Nigeria, we, however, wish to state that integrity, competence and credibility must take preeminence in the choice of whom Ndigbo will put forward for the position.”