News, Society

Charles Ahize Cries Out

Leader of Obigbo, (an Igbo socio-political/cultural group), Chief Charles Ahize has cried out about the marginalization of Igbo people in Nigeria.

“The Nigerian state has treated and continues to treat the Igbo unfairly. The South-east governors met recently and lamented what they called the government’s poor, inequitable, sentimental and sectional implementation of capital projects in the 2017 Appropriation Act.”

“The government’s response was to publish what it called a list of 69 on-going projects in the region. Unfortunately, when you look at the list, you will see projects like the ‘Rehabilitation of Umuahia-Bende-Ohafia Road’ which was awarded in 2005. It means 13 years after the contract was awarded, it is still an ongoing project. That is a stretch of road that can be rehabilitated in one year.”

“The government also published as an ongoing project the Umana-Akwa Road Rehabilitation project awarded in 2006, imagine that the Igbo should be happy about that? A look at that list published by the federal government shows that since this government came to power it has awarded road construction/rehabilitation contracts of less than N70bn in the entire South-East.”

“The Delta/Anambra Second Niger Bridge project was awarded by another regime at a total cost of N214billion with the federal government providing just N70billion counterpart funding. The bridge would be tolled unlike other much more expensive projects across the length and breadth of Nigeria yet there is little or no work going on there.”

“I feel ashamed for some of our brothers who because of selfish interest drive the narrative that this government is investing heavily in infrastructure in the South-east when the Mambila Power Project is a N1.79trillion Project and the Bonny-Boddo Road is N120billion project. I don’t even want to talk about the rail projects.”

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“To upgrade the Enugu airport to a truly international airport would cost about N32bn but this government allocated a mere N2billion to the project in the 2018 budget meaning that it may take 16 years to achieve that. The government has borrowed nearly N13 trillion, including overdraft from CBN, in the last three years but cannot find money to fund its N70bn share of the Second Niger Bridge.”

“To travel from Aba to Port Harcourt, a journey of less than 20 minutes now takes more than five hours if it rains. Since 1999, Julius Berger has only worked on one project in South- East, a section of the Onitsha–Owerri road awarded by the President Olusegun Obasanjo administration.”

“Apart from the Onitsha-Owerri road, the Okigwe-Afikpo road and the Enugu-Abakaliki road, no other major road project has been completed by the federal government in the South-east since 1999. The Owerri airport has more traffic than all the eight international airports located in the north, yet the federal government finds it difficult to upgrade it to a full-fledged international cargo airport.”

“The inland port in Onitsha has been abandoned. The Oguta lake dredging project is dead. No one is talking about any inland port in the South-east, yet we are a people who invest heavily in commerce. The fate of the average trader in Aba is that he imports goods from Asia and travels 600 kilometres to Lagos to clear it when the goods can easily be sent to Onitsha. At the end of the day the entire nation suffers.”

“In the political space, the Igbo has not fared any better. Under Obasanjo, the Igbo occupied the position of the Senate President for eight years. The Yar’Adua/Jonathan government appointed the first Igbo Inspector General of Police and Chief of Army Staff for the very first time since the civil war. Presently, there is no one from the South-east in the National Security Council. These are deliberate policies to frustrate the Igbo but the strongest weapon we have is the faith of the majority of our people in the Nigerian project.”

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“The Igbo has not fared well in Nigeria not just in the last 19 years of democracy but since the end of the civil war, as our people have been relegated to the background in recruitments in the civil service, public sector and security agencies. The Federal Character Commission doesn’t seem to have the South-east in its schedule.”

“There are six geo-political zones in Nigeria. Ordinarily, there should be zonal equality but that is not the case. Since the 1966 coup, there have been deliberate and consistent efforts to box the Igbo to a corner. Records from the British Museum and Oxford University library show clearly that by 1921 the Igbo was the largest ethnic group in Nigeria with a total population of 3, 927,000, the Yoruba was 2, 113,000 and the Hausa/Fulani was 2,000,000.”

“These are facts which stand to be contradicted by anyone. There is therefore no mathematical formula to justify the allocation of numbers called census in Nigeria. The Igbo may have smaller land space but Russia is 17m sq km in size but has a population of only 144 million. Canada has a land area of 9.9m sq km but has a population of 36 million whereas China is 9.596sq km but has a population of 1.4 billion people.”

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“This shows that land area does not approximate to population. Our neighbour Niger Republic with a land area of 1, 267,000sq km which is far bigger than Nigeria’s 941,000 sq km has a population of just 22 million people. In the North-east you have Chad with a land area of 1,284,000sq km and a population of 15 million but you have Kano which shares the same topography, climate, flora, fauna, culture and religion, but has a population alleged to be over 16m people in a 20,000sq km land area.”

“The truth is that the Igbo remain the biggest black ethnic nation in the world. The tragedy here is that allocations of resources are measured both by the false population figures the country is parading and by land mass. Resources are for people not for bare land. The smaller number of states to the Igbo means smaller allocation of resources. The National Assembly should revisit the issue of an additional state for the South-east zone so that it will be on an equal footing with the other zones.”

“However, the Igbo is not fundamentally worried by the number of states we have, we only want a truly federal structure that provides the enabling environment that guarantees reward for hard work.”

– Culled from The Sun