Ohanaeze calls for Electoral Reform

IMEOBI the policy making organ of OHANAEZE NDIGBO met in full session in Enugu on Friday 24 July 2009 to review the current state of affairs in Igboland and the Nigerian nation. After detailed and careful deliberation on all reports presented to the meeting, IMEOBI resolved as follows:


Ohanaeze Resolutions on the Affairs of Nigeria & Ndi-Igbo

1. That Ndigbo commend the Federal Government for granting total and unconditional amnesty to militants in the Niger Delta and for the decision to maintain dialogue with Governments and communities in the area until a final and sustainable peace is established. Ohanaeze notes, however, that amnesty does not by itself address any of the embattled issues. The crisis in the Niger Delta started soon after independence. The causes of the dispute were the failure to adhere strictly to the principles of true federalism in the independence Constitution, the rejection of resource control with respect to the mineral wealth of the Niger Delta, and an inequitable system of revenue sharing. These disputed matters still remain unresolved. The different peoples of Nigeria have an equal stake in these questions and an inherent right to sit down together round the conference table to debate and negotiate them. Peace cannot be obtained until the real issues are addressed.

 2. Ndigbo demands an explanation for the fact those three years into life of the present administration, credible arrangements have still not been made to revise the Federal Constitution. Dissatisfaction with prevailing constitutional arrangements is not limited to militants in the Niger Delta. Deep resentment against the present federal system is at the bottom of the frequent ethnic riots in the North, the anger of the Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) in the South West, and the discontent of ethnic militants of the South East zone. These resentments need to be brought out and discussed in the open. Nigerians have the good sense and maturity to negotiate a new federal covenant which will be the fundamental law of our union. Moreover, it is plain for everybody to see that the great economic potential of this vast nation cannot be realized until the federating units are empowered to develop the neglected resources of their different zones. 
3. Ohanaeze calls attention to some provisions of the 1999 Federal Constitution which give the Presidency control over regulatory national institutions such as the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, the Office of the Auditor General of the Federation, the Federal Revenue Mobilization and Allocation Commission, the Electoral Commission, the Due Process Office etc. These provisions contradict the federal principle and create an imperial presidency. They are inconsistent with current democratic practice worldwide and should not appear in our new Constitution. 
4. Ohanaeze calls upon State Governors, federal Legislators, and the zonal Executive Committee of the governing Parties in the South East zone to begin procedures for the actualization of the promise to create a sixth State in the South East. This promise was made by the 2006 Presidential Committee for Constitutional Reform with the aim of reducing zonal inequalities in the allocation of power and resources. The promise should not be allowed to lapse as a result of inactivity and the failure of initiative on our part.

5. Ndigbo demands a crisis approach and a sense of urgency in the implementation of police service reforms. The breakdown of law and order throughout the nation is alarming. Since the beginning of 2009, Igboland has been under siege by gunmen, bank robbers, assassins, million naira extortionists, rioters, and car snatchers. There is a collapse not just of public security but of governance in one of its most fundamental functions. This situation is intolerable. Not only do Nigerians want an immediately visible change in police services, it is now clear those community leaders and local vigilante organizations should take part in the process of policing. 
6. Ohanaeze notes the appointment of D.I.G Onovo as acting Inspector General of Police and looks forward to his being confirmed this time around. Nigerians expect, with the change of baton, that police services will indeed be reformed on the basis of resilient modern institutions, specialist training, operational efficiency, professionalism and integrity. Ethnic considerations and personal loyalty were the major criteria in the past with the consequences we all know. 
7. Ndigbo calls for the full implementation of the excellent recommendations made by the Justice Uwais Committee for electoral reform. The Federal Government should surely understand that electoral fraud in Nigeria does not just raise the issue about the legitimacy of our governments and our democracy. It is also now evident, in view of recent diplomatic events, that if we do not change our electoral system, we run the risk of becoming a pariah nation once more. The legislative steps so far taken to address the electoral issue appear to be mere exercises in deception. Ndigbo demand a time table of reforms before the 2011 national elections. 

8. Ohanaeze re-affirms its position that the 2006 national head count in the South East zone is seriously flawed, unprofessional and unacceptable. Ohanaeze therefore calls on State Governments and communities in the zone to use the opportunity offered by Census Tribunals to question and expose errors in policy guidelines and operational procedures adopted by the National Population Commission. It is time for the dubious tactics which have bedevilled population enumerations in this nation since 1953 to be laid finally to rest. 
Prince (Engr.) Ralph Ndigwe,
JP National Publicity Secretary.
OHANAEZE NDIGBO HEADQUARTERS 7, Park Avenue, Enugu Friday, July 24 2009.