The dust raided by the recent ultimatum by a coalition of Arewa youths is swirling as groups of the nation’s elite, comprising intellectuals, the political class, traditional rulers and other leaders criss cross the country, making consultations on ways to douse the tension in the polity. A cross section of Igbo have spoken out and reiterated that the restructuring of the nation is the only way out.
In this regard, no one in the southeast is talking about war and the people are even surprised that the mission of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) is being misinterpreted.
A number of Igbo elite who spoke with Sunday Sun said emphatically that no right-thinking person after seeing what has become of Syria and South Sudan would advocate for war. Rather the best way to go is for Nigeria to be restructured in a way that would enthrone equity, justice, fairness and fiscal federalism as the best way to strengthen the unity of the country.
The immediate past head of the Department of Mass Communication, Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam, Anambra State, Dr. Chinenye Nwabueze said Nigeria should not give room for separation as her diversity was the reason for her greatness.
He said: “It is unfortunate that you are asking somebody who does not believe in separation but diversity. I believe that the beauty of this nation is in her diversity and other nations that are great have elements of diversity in them. If we go our separate ways as some groups are asking, we might end up worse than South Sudan.
“When it has to do with war, people think that only those who witness the first war will be against it, that is not true, but those who did not witness it but are in tune with history will kick against it because we have seen countries that fought war and after several years they came to a round-table only to discover that they fought for nothing, lost lives and property for nothing, that they could have as well have progressed without the war.
“Irrespective of the investments Igbo have across the country, I will never support any other war because it will be equal to 10 steps backwards to take one step forward, only to think after several years to take another 10 steps back.
“So what I support actually is restructuring because that is what will provide a pseudo palliative that can douse the immediate tension. Otherwise, what the country actually needs now is not restructuring per say but for people to respect the Constitution and recognize the powers of the various tiers of government and allow development to flow. Lack of development brought about by failure to respect the Constitution, breeds frustration which in turn breeds hate speeches that fuel tension.”
Also commenting on the issue, a journalist with one of the national dailies, Mr. Tony Okafor said, “In the first place, it is like most Nigerians don’t know the mission of IPOB and MASSOB. Their mission is not for another war. I am not holding forth for them, because I am not their member. But they have made it clear that their mission is for self self-determination.
“In self determination, as stated in the African Charter and International Law Conventions, two things are involved. One, people control the economic activities in their area. Two, they can look for sovereignty or country. In the case of the Biafra agitators, what they want or what they are looking for is to have a country of their own as an indigenous people under a referendum conducted by the parent country, Nigeria.
“So people should not see Biafra anytime it is mentioned as war, the war has been fought and lost; this time they are using a different approach to achieve the same demand, and they have said that it is non-violent. So why are people associating Biafra with war?
“The issue of endorsing any war does not arise because the mission of IPOB and MASSOB is obvious and had been made clear to everybody. People should not nurse such ugly motive and intention at all, unless some people have a mindset of fighting the people they presume as Biafra.
“I will endorse restructuring of the country. Restructuring to me does not mean division or separation or secession. What it means is just allowing geopolitical zones or areas to harness what they have comparative advantage of.
“For instance, it is obvious that the northern part of Nigeria has comparative advantage in agriculture over other people in the country. They should harness and benefit from it without any encumbrance. So those who have cooperative advantage in petroleum should also be allowed to harness it without any hindrance. That is restructuring, people should not be running from here to Abuja every time for money, that will even reduce the headache of the president. Because other things that hold us together like police, navy, army and foreign affairs will be financed by taxes paid by these regions to the Federal Government. That is why they should revisit the resolutions of 2014 National Conference organised by the Goodluck Jonathan administration.”
It is noteworthy that the Senate has called on the presidency to send the confab report to the National Assembly as an Executive Bill. Similarly, prominent politicians like former vice-president Atiku Abubakar and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu have endorsed restructuring.
The Pan-Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, led by Dr Nnia Nwodo, through previous communiqués has consistently endorsed and advocated for restructuring of the country.
In the opinions of some other Igbo elite, who also spoke with Sunday Sun the time is just right. Below are their views…
Dr Uwaoma Uche, a Mass Communication expert
I am opposed to armed conflict because we had civil war in the past and lost most of our able bodied men. Everybody is clamouring for restructuring now. What has caused this agitation is the bad treatment meted out to the people of South-east. If the issues are discussed and people are allowed their rights as true citizens of this country, nobody would advocate conflict because at the end of the day, it will not favour anybody.
If you look at the regions out there, since after the civil war, there have been some northerners, who have married Igbo and they are living happily and some Igbo who have married Yoruba people and vice versa.
Who would want to kill his son or daughter of his brother or sister or his own relation even if he is not a member of his region? If you have a sister that has given birth for a Hausa man, will you kill him because he is not Igbo or Hausa or Yoruba? So we as a nation have come a long way and should not embark on destroying each other. Restructuring or referendum should be the best option for us as a nation. All Igbo are not bad, all northerners are not bad and all Yorubas are not bad, there are still good people among us all.
Armed conflict should not be the best option for Ndigbo at this moment. They should go for restructuring. The Igbo have investments all over the country, they cannot afford to go to war now, not even in the future because they will lose from any angle you view the situation.
But if they support restructuring, it will favour them and make them to still have what belongs to them. Besides, no generation sees war twice and people in this generation that saw the last civil war are still alive and they know what they suffered and will not want a repeat of it.
Miss Ijeoma Nwachukwu
My father told me stories of the war, how they suffered and lived without food for many days, and lost many people, who would have helped to move the society forward today because of war. I do not want a repeat of such a thing in our time. Nigeria should embrace restructuring because it will bring peace to our nation.
Elder Ihejirika Ogbonna, who fought at Oron and Uyo at 58 Brigade under one Colonel Oleh said that armed conflict is not the solution to the nations problem.
War is an ill wind that blows nobody any good, it destroys the lives of innocent people. Those who support war are ignorant of its outcome.
War is not the solution to Nigeria’s problem, but dialogue, which is the reason we should embark on restructuring so that people can still be alive to enjoy this country. If we embark on dialogue, things will be harmonized and no region will feel cheated. If we have equal shares within the regions, a situation where people are not marginalized, there will peace.
Miss Amarachi Israel
War is not the way out of this situation but restructuring. Situation of war cannot favour any group or individual. War kills and when the first civil war was fought, we were told about some of our uncles, who would have been prominent today, but they were cut down by the war.
Many families lost their breadwinners and it is still affecting them till today. War is not good at all; dialogue is the way forward.