If it takes the visionless drivers to crash the vehicle, it indubitably takes men with vision to navigate today’s Nigerian unstable and rough socio-political terrain. The vision is personified in men and women who crafted the recent road map for the ultimate survival of the Igbo in today’s Nigeria. The vision inherent in the “The Ohanaeze Road Map” articulated by the Ohanaeze Transition and Caretaker Committee on April 29, 2006 could not be overemphasized. The excerpts:
Once again the nation faces a difficult moment of transition in its political development. The Federal Constitution is under revision in the National Assembly. In the wake deep differences of opinion and conflicts of personal ambition have broken out between members of the National Executive Council, between the different peoples and geo-political zones of the nation, between the different political parties and between different caucuses within a party. Battle lines are being drawn openly and in some States, there have been public confrontations and breakdown of law and order. Old friendships and the known political landscape of the last seven years are giving way to opportunistic formations. The way forward is far from clear. It is the prayer of Ohanaeze Ndigbo that the Federal Republic will come out of these difficulties in peace and unity and with the reassertion of modern democratic values.
For the avoidance of doubt, Ohanaeze Ndigbo issues the following road map for the guidance of our leaders and the general public. Nigerian Unity: Ohanaeze reaffirms the commitment of Ndigbo to a strong, vibrant and united Nigerian nation built upon the principles of true federalism which recognizes the identities and aspirations of the different peoples of Nigeria.
The Nigerian Constitution: The founding fathers of the nation based the Constitution of the Federal Republic on their belief in the political and cultural diversity of our different peoples. This idea was the corner stone on which the covenant of unity and brotherhood in the nation was secured. Although years of military rule and state creation have eroded the idea, the spirit of zonal identity is still alive in every region. This is the meaning of Sharia politics in the North, the resource control agitation in the Niger Delta and the OPC movement in the South West. Much of the turbulence of the last 45 years have been caused by the attempt to set aside the presiding idea on which the Republic was founded.
Ohanaeze, therefore calls upon all State Governors, legislators and politicians of South Eastern origin to use their influence to re-structure the Federal Republic of Nigeria along six zonal lines with the appropriate devolution of powers and resources. The Presidency: Ohanaeze Ndigbo recognizes the enormous power of the Nigerian Presidency with its right to make federal appointments, award petroleum and defense contracts, disburse or withhold federal allocations, and determine economic policies. It is for this reason that at this phase in our development no zone should be excluded from the privilege of holding this exalted office. To promote national integration and all round empowerment, strict rotation must apply not only to the office of the president but to governorships and similar executive offices. Ohanaeze Ndigbo, therefore, demands that the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2007 must come from the South East/South South. Ohanaeze calls upon all political parties to ensure in the spirit of equity and fair-play, they give the presidency to the two zones which have not held the office previously.
The Third Term Debate: Ndigbo are opposed to the extension of the tenure of executive office holders beyond the time allowed in the 1999 Federal Constitution. In a recent debate in the British House of Lords, several speakers pointed out that the extension could be the beginning of a life presidency. Eight years are enough for a visionary leader to make his contributions to the nation. The history of nation is a relay race in which every one runs the agreed course and hands the baton over to his next man. There is no end, no completion to be achieved. Ultimately, the institutions matter far more than any individual and all round capacity building is the main source of strength.
Electoral Reform: Conducting free and fair election is one of the most difficult problems of Nigerian politics. Yet until elections are free and fair, governments cannot be answerable to the people. The Independent National Electoral Commission is part of the Independent Institutions that should be funded separately. To give these institutions and in particular, the electoral commission true independence, their appointments, funding and supervision must be freed from the presidential control or that of any political party in power. Ohanaeze therefore calls upon all law makers to provide for machinery that allows for accomplishment of these objectives. In addition, the method of casting votes, whether voting is electronic or otherwise, must be capable of verification.
Creating a New State in the South East: The important principle in this matter is the agreement that the South East should achieve parity with other geo-political zones in the Federal Republic. Ohanaeze believes that it does not matter greatly where the new state is located provided the choice of the location of the state is based on an expert technical report.
Igbo Unity: Ohanaeze calls upon Ndigbo wherever they may be in the Federal Republic of Nigeria to come together for self-help and mutual support through their town unions, churches, professional bodies, traders’ associations and cultural organizations. Ohanaeze is the federation throughout the nation of all these groups. It is not an alternative government or a political party. Its objectives are supportive of the aims of government and it is not hostile to national integration. Ohanaeze is simply Igbo people doing what they have always done for their own welfare, organizing themselves to help the needy, mobilizing to make sure that what needs to be done in the community gets done. The western world is only beginning now to realize that a mobilized civil society is fundamental to good governance, that governments become lazy and dictatorial if the people do not keep steady watch. Gradually in the last few years, it has been recognized that community self-help and a steady pressure on the machinery of government help to keep the democratic spirit alive. In Igbo communities, however, this understanding is traditional. Every town development union, every traders’ association, every club, and every church is a part of Ohanaeze. Through these societies, every Igbo man or woman is a member of Ohanaeze. The churches town development officials, traditional rulers, and the leaders of different associations and churches have work to do to ensure that this all-embracing conception of Igbo unity is realized in practice.
Ohanaeze Leadership: The Ohanaeze Constitution does not give the leadership of Ndigbo to one person. Articles 6 and 10 (v) provide for collegiate leadership in which all members of Ime-Obi which includes present and past governors, legislators, ministers, traditional rulers, industrialists, judges, bishops, business men and professionals, share the leadership. The idea is to create a typical Igbo democracy in which there is discussion and consensus on all important matters. Ohanaeze invites all designated members of Ime-Obi and the entire Igbo elite to wake up.