General Secretary of Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) in Swaziland, southern Africa, Kenneth Onyekachi Ihemekwele, says Nigeria has fallen from grace, and that there seems no remedy for it to regain its past glory.
Ihemekwele who is also the Founding Partner of Imo State Indigenes Association, and Executive Secretary of Association of the Nigerian Community, said IPOB had earlier called for the restructuring of the country, harping on the need for Abuja to agree to wholesome restructuring without reservation or grant a referendum for the people in Eastern Nigeria to strive for self-determination.
According to the IPOB scribe, the devastation and underdeveloped Eastern Nigeria is the result of negligence from the Federal Government following the end of the Nigerian Civil War in 1970. ‘’The military regimes introduced series of decrees that ushered in policies that did not accommodate the development and political interests of the Igbo people.’’
Continuing, he said Nigeria is divided roughly in half between Christians, whose majority lives in the southern part of the country, and Muslims, who live mostly in the north. Nigeria has respectively, the fifth-largest Muslim population in the world and the sixth-largest Christian population in the world, with the constitution ensuring freedom of religion.
‘’A minority of the population practise religions indigenous to Nigeria, such as those native to the Igbo and Yoruba ethnicities. Currently, Islam has spread to the Christian dominated Eastern and Southern regions of Nigeria.
‘’Right after the Nigeria-Biafra civil war and until now, the Fulani people have dominated the military and politics in Nigeria. All is done for and by the Fulani for Fulani ethnic group, according to The North/South divide continues and is marked by the serious disparity in economic development and access to basic social services.
‘’Competition for control of state institutions, abetted by corruption, and conflict over the spoils of Nigeria’s natural resources, especially oil, have further contributed to these sources of instability. In pursuit of broad-based political participation, peace and integration, the current constitution should be reviewed properly.
‘’The constitution was drafted without due consultations with the broad majority of the people of Nigeria. It is a one-sided constitution for the selfishness of a certain group of people, who call themselves the ruling class, or better still, the northern politicians. We are free people and have rights to shape our destiny.”
Under the current circumstances, an inclusive economic and political system is the only solution. The contemporary public discourse is focused on political restructuring along regional lines.
This, calls for a political arrangement where major ethnic groups will have control over their geographic areas as well as resources therein might help. The danger is rather than uniting Nigeria it would further divide the country along distinctive ethnic and religious lines.
‘’What Nigerians need, and are clamouring for, is a country that will accommodate ethnic diversity, a unified country regardless of ethnic or religious creed, but at present, cannot be because Islam defines politics. Nigeria needs political, religious and ethnic tolerance. The constitution has to guarantee public safety in every facet of life, and the need for legitimate, effective political and administrative institutions.
‘’It appears the authorities have a negative attitude to public opinions on ending violence and armed attacks, especially on the inhabitants of the East. Despite consistent calls for the constitutional dialogue that will ultimately provide a basis for peace and integration, promote internal sustainable development nationwide and boost a positive image on international arena have, thus far, remains an unchangeable political dream.’’
Before the eruption of the EndSARS protest, it seems a new dawn for adherence to the ideals of political pluralism eluded millions of broad-minded Nigerians.