Raymond Ozoji, Awka
As Ndigbo embark on the search for true federalism in Nigerian following the adoption of what they called the Eķwueme Declaration at the recent Igbo summit organised by Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide held at the Ekwueme square Awka, the ethnic group from all indications seems resolute in the pursuit of its agenda as well as its decision not to play second fiddle in a country where people of Igbo extraction have toiled to place Nigeria on the world map. Ndigbo at the southeast zonal summit where the Ekwueme Declaration was born, held that the amalgamation of 1914, the political independence of 1960 as well as the 1999 constitution which conferred a federation on Nigeria have all outlived their essence and existence judging from the present status quo in the country.
The declaration which was the sum total of the position of Igbo-speaking states in the Nigerian nation portrayed the fact that Ndigbo were being treated as second class citizens in Nigeria as evident in federal appointments, resource allocation, to mention a few. Hence the quest for a true federalism which guarantees independence of regional and state governments to control natural resources in their respective domain as well as the enthronement of a rotational presidency among the six geo-political zones of the country.
The search for a true and viable federalism by Ndigbo led to the unveiling of the demands of the Igbo nation as presented by the chairman of the organising committee of the southeast zonal summit tagged “Restructuring of the Nigerian Federation”, Prof. Chukwuma Charles Soludo, who reeled out what Ndigbo desire in pursuit of true federalism, regionalism and rotational presidency in Nigeria. He said that the country had remained unsustainable since the foisting of the 1999 constitution on the Nigerian nation pointing out that restructuring was the most viable option if the country would practise true federalism.
The former Central Bank Governor noted that Ndigbo seek a transformed Nigeria that works for all sections of the country; that they earnestly demand a new federal constitution for a new Nigeria and approved by referendum while the national assembly should as a matter of urgent public importance repeal the 1999 constitution. The demand charter by Ndigbo further requested that Ndigbo want a presidential system of government where component states have autonomy over resource control and a host of others. They made case for a single tenure of six years rotational presidency among the six geo-political zones of the federation alongside six vice presidents, one from each geo-political zone as well as the dire need to give every zone voice and inclusion in the scheme of events while governors and their deputies should also have one single tenure of six years. Ndigbo at the summit, advocated for the adoption of the recommendations of the 2014 national conference where they demanded equal states in all the geo-political zones of the country and that local governments should be transferred from the control of the federal to state governments.
The Igbo nation also demanded that revenue-sharing should be done in accordance with the geo-political zones. Soludo added that Ndigbo demanded the creation of one additional state for the southeast geo-political zone and state police while requesting also that the federal character commission should be replaced with equity commission.
Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, in his remarks, said the Igbo agenda should not be Utopian neither should it be a stillborn dream but urged the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide to convince all those yet to support restructuring of the country to back the idea. Ekweremadu assured Ndigbo at the southeast zonal summit that he would table any bill on the restructuring of the country whenever the Ohanaeze presents it at the National Assembly.
Chairman of the summit Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu made a clarion call on Ndigbo to exhibit traits of honesty and sincerity in dealing with one another to help realise Igbo agenda in Nigeria. He said it was time Ndigbo re-examined its presence in the Nigerian federation judging from the way the country was being structured stressing that the country required restructuring due to agitations and civil unrest prevalent in the country. He therefore posited that a restructured Nigeria would be very strong, united, peaceful and very prosperous.
The Governor of Anambra state Chief Willie Obiano who reiterated the indispensability of restructuring the country at the summit, said Ndigbo paid the price for Nigeria’s greatness. He said Nigerians must demand an equitable federation; that the structure of the country presently does not reflect true federalism which according to him guarantees equal opportunities for all the regions and sections of the country.
Chief John Nnia Nwodo, President-General Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, said Ndigbo were in search of a Nigeria governed by the principles and doctrines of true federalism devoid of political machinations and marginalisation of some sections of the country. Nwodo noted that the position of the Igbo people in Nigeria were contained in the resolution reached at the summit held in Awka where Ndigbo unanimously accepted and adopted the Ekwueme Declaration which called for the immediate restructuring of Nigeria to entrench and enthrone a true federal state which provides equal and equitable rotation of political powers among the six geo-political zones of the country devoid of sectionalism.