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Way out of Igbo marginalisation

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MARGINALISATION of the people of Igbo extraction of Nigeria is as old as the country itself. It is no longer news that Igbos had been relegated to the background over the years and that various groups in the zone had at different times cried out for federal government ‘s intervention. It is clearly visible when one takes a tour of the South-East zone.

Recently, a veteran Journalist, Dele Atimbu took a campaign tour of the zone .While addressing his colleagues in the zone, he mentioned the dilapidated state of the South-East zone. He said the roads from Imo State to Abia, Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi states were very bad. Dele, not knowing the roads he mentioned are federal roads, blamed South -East governors for negligence. In defense of the governors, the south east zonal secretary of the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Ken Oforma, told Atumbi that the roads are federal roads. He made it known to Atumbi that Anambra and Enugu States Governments rehabilitated some federal roads and had not been re-imbursed.

One could say it was a good observation from a Yoruba man, Dele Atumbi .This is one of it. From all angles of governance, Ndi Igbo are marginalised.

Recently, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, in a public presentation book , “The Audacity of Power and the Nigeria Project: Exclusion of the South East in Nigeria’s Power Politics and the Spectre of Biafra” held in Abuja, described the Igbo marginalisation within the Nigerian federation as a reality that could only be effectively addressed through restructuring, to enthrone true federalism.

He said that Igbo people in the Nigerian state carry a heavy cross; Igbo marginalisation is real; and bothers on deliberate exclusion. Igbos suffer structural imbalances, which include fewer number of states and local governments, lesser revenue accruals, lesser political representation, lesser federal employments and political appointments, arising from the imbalances and willful injustice.

The deputy senate president pointed out that “The greatest marginalisation and disadvantage suffered by Ndigbo is the willful dissembling and discarding of true federalism, which the founding fathers of Nigeria adopted, in order to live together as one nation in which no one is oppressed and every component part is able to thrive.

He noted that, “This awkward form of federalism has boxed Ndigbo to a tight corner and caged their potentials and ingenuity. In a normal federal arrangement, the hue and cry over marginalisation by Ndigbo and other parts of Nigeria would not have arisen.’
Ekweremadu recalled that in the first republic, the defunct Eastern region was rated the fastest growing economy in Africa. At that time, oil had not started flowing in commercial quantity in the region. Nevertheless, the Eastern Region, as well as the other regions recorded unprecedented and yet to be unequaled development.

He maintained that, in a true federal state, Ndigbo would have been the most unlikely people to cry about marginalization because they have what it takes to compete with the developed economies. Sadly, in the context of Nigeria’s federalism, Ndigbo are like a shackled lion”, he said.

A public affairs analystist , Echezona Okeke, on his part, observed that in the first republic, the economy of the south-east zone boomed. He however, lamented that Igbo people have abundant mineral resources, but cannot exploit them because minerals are vested in the hands of the federal government . They cannot independently secure their territories to make them safer for citizens and more attractive to investors because policing was centralised since 1966.

According to him, whereas Igbo people build schools, roads, hospitals, and other socio-economic infrastructure, they cannot build certain infrastructure because only the federal government has the constitutional powers to build them.
Chijoike Ekwegh, Southeast Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party( PDP), on his part, said that Igbo people had been relegated in terms of development under the present administration. He added that the south east zone was neglected in the appointments made so far by Buhari, since inception.

According to him, “For the past three years of APC’s unceremonious rule, the region has not felt any federal government presence or impact, be it infrastructure, employment, security and otherwise. We cannot forget in a hurry the lopsided appointments made by this government, of which the South East remains the most shortchanged.

Ekwegh recalled the intimidation of business men and women from the zone, which he said , was an attempt by the federal government to cripple the economy of the region. “Sadly enough, the only times the South-East experienced federal government’s presence in the current dispensation were during the military invasion of the region in the guise of Operations Crocodile Smile and Python Dance which led to harassment and killing of innocent citizens .” the said.

Well, there is a way out of the discriminatory treatment meted on the people of the South east zone.
President-General, Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, (Worldwide), Chief John Nnia Nwodo, in his maiden address after his inauguration in 2016 as the leader of the Igbo nation, frowned at the way Igbo people are marginalized. He was quick to advise that Igbo people should stop complaining of being marginalized, rather, they should try and build factories in the east to grow the economy of t the zone.

He said that the time for lamentation was over. “Our continued cry of marginalization has become stale as no one is listening to us anymore. I am aware that the average Igbo people are bold strands of ingenuity, resourcefulness, intelligence and the ability to survive and thrive in the face of odds and challenges. We should pursue the development of our economy and betterment of posterity, ” he said.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said the way out of Igbo marginalisation was restructuring. According to him, restructuring is not an emotional issue, but a political imperative for Nigeria to make the desired progress.

He was of the view that inclusion, justice, liberty, and allowing every component state considerable autonomy to utilise its resources and potentials to develop at its own pace will promote unity, as well as speedy and competitive development and will end marginalisation of any group in the country.

Ekweremadu warned that until Nigeria gets a president “who sees every part of the country as his or her constituency, and is committed to reuniting a highly polarised nation and reawakening the giant in all parts thereof; and so long as people are mistreated on grounds of their electoral choices or where they come from, the quest for president of the various ethnic extractions will end marginalization and promote unity in the country.

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