As The National Confab Kicks Off: What The People Expect
History beckons today
at the National Judicial Institute, Abuja as some 496 delegates converge there for the much-awaited National Conference mooted by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Holding at a time the nation is bedevilled with debilitating socio-economic, ethno-religious and political challenges worsened by the seemingly intractable Boko Haram insurgency that now claims innocent lives on a daily basis, the delegates are expected to proffer solutions that will save Nigeria from the abyss and promote its much-desired unity, peace, progress and development.
Against the backdrop of several unresolved knotty issues and other lessons from past conferences, what do we expect from the delegates this time around?
The Tide Chief Correspondent Calista Ezeaku and photographer Ken Nwi-ueh got some view points.
Mr Onaiwu Emmanuel (oil company). We are recycling the same old politicians. Are they giving us a different thing entirely this time? No. I don’t expect anything different from them apart from their old ways and their old ideas because even from the composition of the delegates, to me, there was an error because the government’s delegates on the list are too much. The percentage is too great. Are they the ones going to represent Nigerians? To me, from the way the government is going about the national conference, I don’t think we are going to get anything different from it.
Those set of people there do not have solutions to Nigeria’s problems because many of them have ruled before. They’ve been in one position or the other. I would have preferred the delegates to be mostly ordinary Nigerians, the traditional class. I know they are represented but their numbers are small. Again, we’ve removed the unity of Nigeria among what should be discussed at the Confab. They should be free to discuss it, whether to remain as a single Nigeria or to go apart.
It does not mean we have to endorse whatever comes out of the conference but our ideas should have been allowed to come out freely. So the conference is just a waste of time, resources and what have you. That is how a lot of Nigerians see it, apart from the political class because it is just an opening for them to make more money. Imagine a past governor going there. What did he do when he was a governor? What is he going there to tell them about his people? He never developed his state, what is he going there to say about his people?
Mr Patrick Owuru ( business man). I will say that the conference seems to be a good idea but the timing seems to be wrong owing to the fact that in less than a year we will be going into elections. So the conference is looking as though it is a ploy to garner support for the present administration, which does not augur well for what the conference is aimed to achieve. The aim of the conference if allowed to go on now will be defeated definitely, because most speakers will be speaking from the political point of view or from the political stand point.
I will urge Nigerians not to expect much from the conference. The outcome of the conference will not yield much since it is not predicated on good premises in the sense that if the conference goes on now and election is just less than a year away, definitely there is no way Nigerians can deliberate and get the unity that the conference is supposed to achieve. We are supposed to put our cards on the table – all the stakeholders, all the tribes, all the sections of the country – we are supposed to talk about the differences we’re having now, which is why people are clamouring for the conference but the timing seems to be wrong.
Another big challenge is the composition of the delegates. The federal government cannot select people for the conference if they want people to present their issues the way they ought to be presented. They should allow the people to participate by selecting who should speak for them. The NBA and other professional associations should have some slots as they do now but in the main composition there should be nationality interest represented. I would have expected that there would have been a mini conference in phases, of different ethnic nationalities from where they will select and articulate what they want to present and probably select those that will go and speak on their behalf. By so doing, we’ll have the generality of interests properly represented in the conference.
So this conference is just one step to the solution of Nigeria’s problems. There might be other confabs in the future. Whatever outcome from this one could help in the composition of future confabs.
Another lacuna is that the conference does not have the backings of the law. So what happens with the outcome of the conference? That’s why I said the timing is wrong. First and foremost, they should have sponsored a bill to allow the conference to hold and whatever decisions reached in the conference should be brought to the National Assembly for ratification and acceptance, then it becomes a genuine document or law of the land. But right now you just go, talk, when you are through what happens next? How do you want to marry whatever you decide with the laws of the land? It’s only the legislators that have such powers. So it becomes another issue. We are trying to solve one issue and probably create nine.
Mr. Legzy Edet ( Businessman). As a Nigerian, I do not expect much from the conference because I see the same faces, the same people, speaking the same way. And you can’t keep doing things the same way and expect a different result. Again, it is always said that majority carries the vote. How are issues concerning the minority groups going to be addressed in view of the composition of the delegates. An issue like resource control, for instance will only likely be talked about by the people from the South South. Are we even ready to speak in one voice? If actually we need those things why should we project the same people we have projected before? They should allow the people to choose who will speak for them. The government compelled us by choosing who goes to speak on our behalf. So I don’t see anything different from what we had before. Some of the people representing us there are people who had the opportunity of changing this region. They had the opportunity, the resources, the power but we didn’t see anything good from them. So, why should we now expect a different thing from them. So the conference is definitely a waste of time and money.
Mr Allwell Ene (Journalist). I think the composition of delegates is not fair enough. I don’t think the diverse ethnic groups we have in the country were represented. Many ethnic groups are crying foul of the representation. How many traditional rulers do we have as delegates. Rivers State does not have a single traditional ruler among its representatives. From the whole of South South, we have only two traditional rulers. And if these people are not there, who will speak the minds of their people? It’s not all about gathering people, chosen by the federal government. The way I see this whole thing, it is a federal government selected delegates national conference not the people’s national conference. If it were the people’s national conference, the delegates would have come from the people.
I am not saying the conference should be an entirely ethnic groups issue, but at least all the ethnic groups should have had at least one delegate each. I know all the delegates belong to different ethnic groups but they did not go there on the auspices of their ethnic groups. They went on behalf of one group or the other not on behalf of the ethnic groups. So who is going to speak on behalf of that ethnic groups. Are they going to be heard? No that is why you see people crying foul everywhere. I hope the federal government listens to them and coopts some other ethnic groups into the confab.
From this conference, I expect a misrepresentation of the views of the people. I see a situation where the views of the Nigerian public will be inadequately represented. Don’t forget, what is bringing national conference is our existence. How do we move forward as a nation? Who are the people to decide that? It is the ethnic groups. The conference definitely will trash certain issues. It’s not that the conference will be a total failure but what I am saying is that the conference will fail to address the opinions of the generality of Nigerians because of the mis-representation. So I will advice the federal government to shift the commencement of the conference by one or two weeks to allow the people to go back and work inwardly and choose their representatives, vis-à-vis the ethnic groups.
Msgr Cyprain Onwuli (Priest). As a Nigerian and as a Catholic Priest, I know that it will not be easy for the individual, to carry the day because the government already knows what they are aiming at and what they want to achieve. But it will be necessary for anyone representing the people to really make known the sufferings of Nigerians from different areas of life. Any one representing Rivers State that goes in there to sleep or is just after money that will be given is a fool. He is not representing the Rivers people. Because if we are truthful to ourselves, two third of owners of Rivers State are living below N100.00 a day. And they are the ones producing billions of naira Nigeria is spending. So if anybody representing Rivers State goes to that conference and does not make it known to the people what we are going, what we are suffering he or she is not for us.
One of the issues I will want the conference to address is the issue of resource control. I know those from other parts of this country will not be ready for resource control, but if they can give t hose who are producing the money they are spending 40% of the money, if they can make sure that 40% of what they are generated be expended for the people of the oil producing areas, let them take the remain 60% to other parts of the country. That will be good. But not to carry everything away and the little they will even bring there, they steal away too, both those on the state level and national level. So they have to spend the money budgeted for this state for the people. They have to empower the people. They have to also give us some positions that should be duly our’s in the federal government because we have many educated people who can occupy such position.
As regards the representation for the conference I think what they should have done was to take note of people from different areas of this state. We have the Ogbas, the Ogonis, the Ikwerre, the Etche and other ethnic groups. They should have taken that into consideration in selecting who represents the state. The major thing really is understanding. If you are selected from an area, before you go, there should be some consultations. You bring some people who will advice you, who will tell you of their problems and then you marry all together. In your presentation, you touch most of those important things and make the nation know what your people are suffering.
For the delegates, I want to advise them to be conscious of the unity of this country as they deliberate. The conference should aim at putting food on the tables of the people. There should be justice and equitable distribution of our resource. Let us co-habit and tolerate one another.
Ike Ekweremadu: How The Mighty Have Fallen
It was a sad day for our nation on March 23, 2023, for those of us at home, those in the diaspora, and particularly those who are residents of the United Kingdom, when former Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and his wife, Beatrice Ekweremadu were both found guilty of organ trafficking under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 of the United Kingdom. How the mighty have fallen was David’s lamentation when he learned of the death of King Saul and his bosom friend Jonathan, in the battle with the Philistines. It was a lamentation for the mighty men who fell on the blade of war; unlike our present quandary, where our heads are bowed with shame because a mighty man, a veteran politician, and a political juggernaut who has occupied the highest legislative chamber of our nation has fallen.Because in spite of all the ills a few Nigerians have been known for across the world, the former Deputy Senate President and his wife have added another ugly layer to our sack of ignobility. We are now a nation of organ traffickers.
It never stops to amaze me how our mighty politicians, in their god-complex, will pontificate to us ordinary Nigerians how to live when actually the reverse should have been the case. These are men and women who travel the world unhindered with their diplomatic passports, and with taxpayers’ money, yet come back with no ideas to improve the plight of the masses on whose account their lifestyle is made possible. Some of them, and, or their wives virtually live in Dubai. Why? Because it is a country where things work; and a place where the ruling class took time to really think outside the box to build an oasis in the heart of the desert.As you can imagine, Ekweremadu and his gang, apart from impoverishing the nation, and cementing our ranking in the global poverty index, they are also the ones that shame us the most. His story was in every major newspaper in the UK yesterday. The headline in the Daily Mail reads, “Wealthy Nigerian senator faces jail for organ harvesting plot: Politician, his wife, and doctor are convicted of trafficking penniless market trader to the UK to provide a kidney for their daughter in a landmark case.”
In the same vein, the headline on the Daily Mirror reads: “Wealthy couple guilty of plotting to bring man to the UK to harvest kidney for daughter.”Similarly, the first and second paragraphs of a news article in the UK Guardian of the verdict read, “A senior Nigerian politician, his wife, and a doctor have been convicted of organ trafficking, in the first verdict of its kind under the Modern Slavery Act. Ike Ekweremadu, 60, a former deputy president of the Nigerian senate, his wife, Beatrice, 56, and Dr. Obinna Obeta, 51, were found guilty of facilitating the travel of a young man to Britain with a view to his exploitation after a six-week trial at the Old Bailey.”The UK Guardian article was careful to mention that the verdict was the first of its kind under the Modern Slavery Act that came into force on October 29, 2015, with the implication the name of our country will now be etched in the history of this Act, and prosecutors will now refer to the former Nigerian Senator and his wife in future cases.
But there is another side to this story, a very dark side that reveals the dastardly mindset of the average Nigerian politician. Even though we already have an idea, a closer look at a few statements from the prosecutor Hugh Davies KC, would be enough to reveal the resident evil in most of our innocent-looking politicians when he told the court that the Ekweremadus and Obeta had treated the man and other potential donors as “disposable assets – spare parts for reward”. He said they entered an “emotionally cold commercial transaction” with the man.
While speaking to the jury, Mr. Davies said the behaviour of Ekweremadu, a successful lawyer and founder of an anti-poverty charity who helped draw up Nigeria’s laws against organ trafficking, showed “entitlement, dishonesty, and hypocrisy.” In the view of the chief crown prosecutor, Joanne Jakymec, it “was a horrific plot to exploit a vulnerable victim by trafficking him to the UK for the purpose of transplanting his kidney.”The convicted defendants showed utter disregard for the victim’s welfare, health and wellbeing, and used their considerable influence to a high degree of control throughout, with the victim having a limited understanding of what was really going on here.” Unfortunately for the veteran politician, this is the United Kingdom, a jurisdiction where he has little or no room for finagling.
Regrettably, as bad as the case may sound, there is even something worse going by 2018 data from the Global Slavery Index (GSI). As a Nigerian, living in Nigeria, I could never have imagined that there are active slave owners and hundreds of thousands of slaves in Nigeria. In fact, in a global ranking of modern day slavery of 167 countries, Nigeria ranked fourth among the top ten countries in the world with the highest number of slaves, with a total of 1, 386, 000 slaves. The other countries are India, China, and North Korea, with 7, 989, 000, 3, 864, 000, and 2, 650, 00 slaves respectively according to GSI.Beyond the GSI data, about 133 million Nigerians are classified as multi-dimensionally poor, and it is obvious that their current estate in life is attributable to the actions of politicians like Ekweremadu who by spending so much time in the corridors of power have perfected every possible avenue to game the system, and by so doing enslaving millions of Nigerians in the process.
These politicians in the top echelon of the political value chain of our country loot our commonwealth, launder it, and boost the economy of other countries. It gives me no joy to write this article because it is a lament; the kind that is only heard in our traditional communities when they say, ‘the Iroko has fallen.’ It is indeed an anti-climax for a man with such a towering political career.In a November 14, 2022 article, titled “Ekweremadu’s Sand Castles,” I tried to make sense of the Senator’s appetite for property acquisition, even when it was evident to all that he was not in the real estate business. The article was written in the wake of the seizure of 40 of his properties by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and also in reference to a 2020 report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, interestingly titled: “Sand Castle Data.” It was revealed that Ekweremadu was connected to eight properties in Dubai, with an estimated total value of $7 million. The report also linked the Senator to two properties in the UK purchased between 2008 and 2011 with an estimated value of £4.2 million.
How do you begin to wrap your mind around the fact that if nothing else changes in the appeal, this giant of a man will be making a British prison cell his home for the foreseeable future? In fact, the ordinariness of so-called mighty men was driven home, when I saw the mug shots of the Senator, his wife, and their accomplice, Dr. Obeta in the UK Guardian. Seeing them without the visage of power, I felt heartbroken and sorry. They looked like the members of an average criminal syndicate.I wish the situation were different for the sake of the name of our country, but unfortunately, they were in contravention of section (2), and sub-section (1) & (4) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 that deals with human trafficking. Sub-section (1)states that: “A person commits an offense if the person arranges or facilitates the travel of another person (“V”) with a view to V being exploited.” While sub-section (4) states that: “A person arranges or facilitates V’s travel with a view to V being exploited only if – (a)the person intends to exploit V (in any part of the world) during or after the travel, or (b) the person knows or ought to know that another person is likely to exploit V (in any part of the world) during or after the travel.”
The Act, in section (3) explains sections (1) & (2), and specifically in section (3) sub-section (4) gives the following explanation regarding the removal of organs, etc., “The person is encouraged, required or expected to do anything—(a)which involves the commission, by him or her or another person, of an offence under section 32 or 33 of the Human Tissue Act 2004 (prohibition of commercial dealings in organs and restrictions on the use of live donors) as it has effect in England and Wales, or (b)which would involve the commission of such an offence, by him or her or another person, if it were done in England and Wales.Having been found guilty, they now await sentencing on 5th May by Mr. Justice Jeremy Johnson; and according to the Act, they are looking at a minimum of ten years in prison. it’s a huge loss but it is also a stark reminder to the heavy and mighty in our society that there is always a day of reckoning either in the here and now, or in the hereafter.
By: Raphael Pepple
Freedom To Move And Settle
Far back as May 1964 there was a security report about some secret plans to use cattle to foster expanded settlements and population figures. It was unfortunate that those involved in putting together that report were not only reprimanded and cautioned, but reposted to other beats. Between that time and 1970, cattle were involved in census controversy, movements of troops and land acquisition. This issue is raised because of a habit of discarding a message because of the status or face of the messenger.
Controversies, shenanigans and attacks following a recent meeting of 17 Southern Governors and the positions they articulated on national issues, clearly portray the old suspicion of some hidden agenda. While Northern Governors, Elders and Youths had been meeting and taking decisions on national issues without much ado, a similar meeting by Southern Governors creates alarm. As to be expected, we can see the old game of creating a division in family meetings for the purpose of forestalling or weakening solidarity.
The integrity of a nation is such that no individual or a group of persons, no matter how highly placed, should do anything to undermine it, without being called to order. The Tide newspaper of Monday, January 21, 2019, carried a headline news, saying: “Obasanjo Slams Buhari Again, Says Another Abacha Era Is Here; INEC Lacks Integrity To Conduct 2019 Polls”. An elder statesman like Obasanjo would surely not speak carelessly without having some background facts.
Similarly, Obasanjo would not have raised a false alarm about Islamisation and Fulanisation without reliable security information. Femi Fani-Kayode was also quoted as alleging that “President Buhari’s Fulani cabal has conquered Nigeria”. He went on to say that “Northerners are heading most of the sensitive positions in the country”. The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Rev. Matthew Kuka, who is neither a politician nor a Southerner, also warned the Federal Government under Buhari against fanning embers of civil war. He said that the federal government was using different methods to achieve the goal of Islamic dominance in Nigeria, a secular state.
The Tide Editorial Comments of Friday, February 8, 2019 titled: “Nigeriens And Kano APC Rally” lamented that “two Nigerien governors were in Kano to rally support for President Buhari’s re-election”. Anyone would wonder if the integrity and sovereignty of the Nigerian nation are not being compromised, following the above observations. Foreigners voting in elections?
More importantly, the strategy of deploying cattle as the instrument of advancing some hidden agenda becomes quite glaring, with the attitude of the federal government towards numerous complaints against herders. From the issue of RUGA settlements, to the strategy of setting up a commission on herders, there are obvious indications of spirited efforts to promote some agenda, pointed out in a 1964 security report, for which some operatives were reprimanded.
In an editorial comment of Wednesday, July 10, 2019, The Tide newspaper wrote: “the Federal Government has no business intervening and lobbying for cattle rearers to spread their tentacles across all cities and communities in the country…” In another editorial comment titled No To Herders’ Commission”, The Tide (Wed; March 17, 2021) wrote “Mr Malami’s proposal for a commission for pastoralism must be rejected and consigned to the refuse heap of unhelpful and injurious initiatives as RUGA and cattle colonies because it is insincere, ill-motivated, wasteful and mere shadow-chasing venture in its intentment”.
Apart from these shenanigans, the Federal Government, under President Buhari, gave a gift of N150 billion to the association of cattle breeders known as Miyetti Allah, as a support for their business. Today, Southern Nigerians are becoming increasingly uncomfortable and also suspicious of the position of the APC-led Federal Government of Nigeria over the attitude towards the cattle issue. The level of destruction done to farm crops and the disruption of farming activities in communities in Southern Nigeria by cattle, are perhaps trivial issues that should not concern the federal government.
Some months ago, women and embittered people of Okutukutu-Epie a Bayelsa community, took their protest to the Government House in Yenagoa over their sad experiences with and threats from herders. Several other communities have pathetic tales of bitterness and woes arising from their encounters with herdsmen in their farmlands.
The question of herders occupying forests in rural communities with several herds of cattle and with no permission to settle in such forests, should be addressed promptly. Many highly-placed Northerners have condemned the decisions of Southern Governors on open grazing which they insist should continue. The issue of right of movement and settlement has been cited as a reason why herders and their cattle should have free access to anywhere, but such logic ignores the condition that right goes with responsibility. Farmers have been terrorised in their farms.
Occupying another person’s farmland and obstructing such person from his means of livelihood amounts to an abuse of right of movement or settlement, especially when such intruder acts with impunity. It is important to alert the Rivers State Government that a vast forest area stretching from ONELGA to Delta and Bayelsa States, is currently being occupied by herdsmen and their cattle. A private investigation revealed that many of the herders are non-Nigerians and, apart from having concealed weapons, they have no intention to move out. Let this hint not end like a 1964 report.
If the Fulani race in diaspora across the West African sub-region must be given a homeland to settle, like the Jews after the World Wars, then let this be an open rather than a clandestine affair. The current situation between Israel and Palestine should serve as a lesson. Sympathy cannot be won by blusters, neither should Southern Nigerians be seen as a conquered people. Southern Governors should see the “hand writing on the wall” now.
By: Bright Amirize
Dr Amirize is a retired lecturer from the Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.
A Very Long Way To Go
Are not Nigerians happy when Nigerians are elected into political offices in other countries of the world? Do we not roll out our drums to celebrate whenever news breaks of Nigerians in foreign land making remarkable achievement in their field of endeavour? From America to the United Kingdom, to Canada, stories abound about how young Nigerians are excelling in various areas, including politics.
In the recent contest for the office of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, a 42-year-old British-Nigerian, Kemi Badenoch, was among the top five contenders from the Conservative Party. Badenoch, the current International Trade Secretary and Minister for Women & Equalities had enjoyed the support of the British and non-British in the country since her foray into politics in 2005. Her race or skin colour has been inconsequential in climbing her political ladder.
In 2020, Charles Onyejiaka made history on the international scene as the first-ever West African to be elected deputy mayor of Franklin Township, Somerset County, New Jersey, United States. The story was the same for Ayo Owodunni, who last year, was elected the first black Councillor in Kitchener, a city in the Canadian province of Ontario. The list is endless. And for attaining political height, Nigerians, both the leaders and the led, usually laud their achievement and eulogise them for making Nigeria proud in foreign lands.
Ironically, the same politicians and citizens that celebrate the political exploits of their tribes’ men, friends, former colleagues and other Nigerians in the diaspora, intimidate fellow Nigerians from outside their states, tribes, religion or political parties and deny them the opportunity of casting their votes for their preferred candidates or realising their political aspirations.
Penultimate Saturday’s Governorship and State Houses of Assembly Election in most states of the country brought the worst out of some politicians in some states. They unleashed terror on innocent people to scare and suppress them. In Lagos State, the Parks Management Committee Chairman, Musiliu Akinsanya, popularly known as MC Oluomo, in a viral video warned Igbos in the state ahead of the governorship election that “If they don’t want to vote for us, it is not a fight. Tell them, mama Chukwudi, if you don’t want to vote for us, sit down at home. Sit down at home.”
Incidentally, instead of taking the necessary action to forestall such a threat from being carried out and cautioning him the Nigerian Police Force described the threat as a joke saying that nobody has the right and audacity to tell Nigerians not to come out and vote and that it would not be allowed. But reports and video clips of what transpired at polling units across the state are there for everyone to read and watch. A popular Nigerian Singer, Waje, was in tears when she was describing her ordeal in a video.
In some other states, people were killed, maimed and assaulted for daring to come out to choose candidates of their choice. The United States Embassy in Nigeria aptly described the violent voter intimidation and suppression that took place during the polls in Lagos, Kano and other states as deeply disturbing, adding that the use of ethnically charged rhetoric before, during, and after the gubernatorial election in Lagos was particularly concerning.
What is the essence of democracy if the citizens are not allowed to perform their civic responsibility? How can the nation move forward if the constitution which gives every Nigerian the right to reside and own property in any part of the country is not respected? It is more painful when respected people in the society defend the indefensible, castigate and spread hate speech about people of other ethnic groups in their states.
Some people leave their states due to the dearth of federal government projects in their states. Not long ago, Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, lambasted the federal government for concentrating all the sea ports in Lagos.
Speaking during the maiden delivery of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) to downstream investor, Stock Gap Terminal by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Bonny, he reportedly asked why the State should undertake the dredging of Bonny channels while the federal government collects all the revenues and levies from marine operators, lamenting that “you (FG) are building a new port in Lagos, but those in Rivers you rendered idle, grounded with no development attention.”
The Olu of Warri, His Majesty, Ogiame Ikenwole, toed the same line with Wike when he led a delegation of members of his kingdom to Abuja for a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari recently. He appealed to the federal government to hasten action on the rehabilitation of Warri and Koko ports in Delta State so as to minimise the incidence of restiveness and rejuvenate economic activities in the area. He decried the deplorable state of the ports which he said had been abandoned by the government, noting that the ports were very good and solid ports left unused.
Similarly, in the twilight of his administration, the former governor of Lagos State, Akinwunmi Ambode , appealed to the Federal Government to ensure that seaports in other parts of the country become functional as a way of decongesting Apapa Ports and by extension, Lagos State. He argued that besides helping the government to save funds spent on managing the traffic and regular repair of roads damaged by articulated vehicles, this will end the gridlock caused by trucks and trailers on the Apapa-Oshodi route.
The point being made is that aside from having the constitutional right to reside, do business and own property in any part of the country, many people are forced to leave their states to Lagos because of the over concentration of economic activities in that part of the country. One need not remind those beating ethnic drums that Lagos being a former capital of Nigeria implies that people from all parts of the country would be found in reasonable numbers in that city.
Some of these people have invested heavily there and contributed immensely through payment of taxes and others to make Lagos what it is today. Some of them have married and given their children and relations in marriage to their Yoruba “brothers and sisters” and all of a sudden, because of some selfish, political reasons, they are declared persona non grata and their property and means of livelihood destroyed daily. Where will such an attitude lead us to, as a nation?
The most worrisome thing is that stories have not been read about the perpetrators of these acts, their sponsors or those dishing out hate speeches and write – ups against the Igbos being apprehended by the police or even invited for questioning. Given, some Yoruba people, including the president-elect, Bola Tinubu, are said to have condemned the ugly development and sued for peace. But how can there be peace when no culprit is punished?
As the US embassy admonished, “We call on Nigerian authorities to hold accountable and bring to justice any individuals found to have ordered or carried out efforts to intimidate voters and suppress voting during the election process.” This should not be restricted to Lagos State alone but all states where similar acts took place.
Many Nigerians believe in the indivisibility of the country. As the saying goes, we are better, stronger as one. But to maintain this strong, united country, every citizen, every tribe or religion must be accorded their rights as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the country (as amended). Every citizen must be protected.
There is no better time than now to consider the agelong call for the practice of true federalism in Nigeria which will bring about rapid development of various zones, both economically, infrastructurally and otherwise, thereby reducing the drifting of many people to other parts of the country in search of means of livelihood. Continuing on the trajectory of envy, hatred and ethnic and religious bigotry will only take the country further away from civilisation.
By: Calista Ezeaku
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