Perhaps, excepting the imprints of the unruly events that started happening and later snowballed into the Nigerian Civil War in the late 1960s, the portraiture of Nigeria today as a drifting democracy in black Africa has not been more appropriate and worrisome.
Though the times and details of the conflicts might vary, the similarities in the settings derive from the common wanton destruction of lives and property by felons who first appear faceless but whose identification soon exposes the troubling ineptitude of the nation’s authorities to either apprehend them or stem the raging tides of waste of lives, property and values which the culprits willfully unleash on their hapless victims. The situation in review encourages and sustains the wide speculations of complacency or even connivance by the powers that be with these nation’s harbingers of doom. An indictment on state authorities, therefore!
Over time, some persons and groups, driven by genuine concern for a sustainable Nigeria, have spoken out loudly on the need for reappraisal of the tenets of Nigeria’s quaky avowals of democracy and nationhood. Today, more than ever in the history of Nigeria, voices of resent and dissent are emerging and resonating across the expansive geopolitical space of the country. Severally and jointly, these voices demand a new conversation on project-Nigeria. From the Yoruba in the South West to the Ijaw, the Urhobo, the Ibibio and other ethnic nationalities of the South South; from the Tiv, the Idoma, the Igala, the Igede, the Berom and other ethnic nationalities of the Middle Belt, to the Igbo in the South East, and in other places, arise voices expressive of simmering grudges that had endured over time: clear voices that can no longer be banished to perpetual hibernation in limbo. These unite in condemnation of brazen entrenchment of ethnic sentiments in wielding national political influences and powers; they speak against gross perpetration of injustice by a section of the country to other sections of the federating units.
The LCM of the conversations is a rejuvenated demand for a discussion among the peoples of Nigeria on the tenets of the country’s unification. However, of note is that while at different times and fora the leaderships of majority of the federating ethnic nationalities have lent strong support to the country’s restructuring, the Northern leadership has maintained a code of silence that appears conspiratorial. This might just be the singular reason the country still suffers the pains of the moment. Observing this sustained absence of a notable voice from the core North supportive of restructuring, Senator Abraham Adesanya, in his April, 2003 ‘Foreword’ to Chief Bisi Akande’s invaluable compilation, Restructuring, Nigeria’s Approach to True Federalism, noted that, ‘At the root of the refusal to allow a restructured Nigeria is the desire of a section of the country to continue to exploit the resources of other sections without compunction, or how do we explain the fact that the North, which supported the principle of derivation in 1954, now refuses to accept the same principle? Did the same North not support confederation arrangement in 1951? Could it be because petroleum has taken the place of groundnuts and leather?’
The effects of boldly or slyly refusing to sincerely address such posers as the respected Senator’s have continually exposed the hypocrisy amongst our national leaders in professing ‘One Indivisible Nigeria’.
On Monday, the May 21, 2018, at Alex Ekwueme Square, Awka, the utmost socio-cultural and non partisan authority on Igbo cause, the Ohanaze Ndigbo Worldwide, convoked a Summit wherein Ndigbo, in unmistakable terms, declared strong preferences for the restructuring of the Nigerian Federation as the only panacea to the stuttering and indulgent attempts or pretences that the country has made owards nationhood over the years.
Ohaneze presented proposals on how such restructuring could be attained. Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State again blazed the trail in providing committed leadership to Ndigbo at a critical moment in their history by not only willingly hosting the very crucial Ndigbo Summit but heightening the tone of the conversation in his very inspiring welcome address. Positing that ‘Every nation on earth is a work in progress’ the Governor maintained that, ‘Citizens of both advanced and developing countries continue to ask their countries hard questions that will lead them to a better federation, a better nation and a better society. And Nigeria cannot be an exception.’
The historic event availed Ndigbo a moment of solemn reminiscence and rumination over their trodden paths. It impelled them to endorse profound projections and suggestions on how to effect equitable participation among the ethnic nationalities in a progressive Nigeria. The ‘Ekwueme Square Declaration,’ a well articulated document which the Summit endorsed, expresses the position of Ndigbo in Nigeria’s renewed quest for sustainable nationhood. It, therefore, became Igbo’s adopted document on a Nigeria nation that compulsorily needs restructuring.
Qualifying the premium essence of the Summit and its apposite timing are the high profile attendance and enthusiastic participation spread across the five major Igbo speaking states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo; and the two contiguous states of Delta and Rivers, a good percentage of whose populations speak Igbo. Participating also were other ethnic nationalities in Nigeria who warmly share the Igbo cause for a sustainable Nigeria nation; these, through their impressive representations at the Summit, made far-reaching remarks and submissions in defence of restructuring as the singular way out of Nigeria’s long rigmarole in the woods of political indiscretion. All freely spoke in one voice against the sustained lopsidedness in the application of state powers in favour of ethnic dominance of a particular group or groups to the detriment of a greater majority of other Nigerians.
In observance of the primacy of God in the realization of a sustainable nation, the tone of discourse in the Summit was set by the clergy who after chastising Ndigbo for their preponderant and often reckless clamour for material acquisitions, exhorted them to sincerely seek the face of God for solutions to Nigeria’s multiple problems.
Anarado writes from Adazi-Nnukwu, Anambra State.