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Igbo & Leadership Question: The Achebe Example —By Ikedi Ohakim

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And above all, unitary government, as being practiced in Nigeria today, no longer works for anybody. The evidence is that virtually everything federal has failed or collapsed. Some less informed people still hold the notion that Nigeria is nonnegotiable. The truth is that everything is negotiable and nothing is impossible.

ii. From the scriptures, it is obvious that nothing is impossible. Even Adam and Eve, were they not evicted from the Garden of Eden? Even President Obama in his farewell address at the UN General Assembly on 20th September, 2016 hammered on this fact. He said and I quote: “Democracy must be driven by citizen engagement. No political power can force any group to remain united in perpetuity.” Israel, for example must realize that it cannot occupy Palestine land forever.

I would like to advise our present political leaders to avoid the mistake the British made in Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland, the British made an avoidable mistake. They fell into the trap of believing that because they had weapons, soldiers and experience that dwarfed those of the insurgents, it did not matter what the people thought of them. History tells us that Britain couldn’t defeat the Northern Ireland insurgents for more than twenty years. Peaceful negotiation did the magic.

I call on our leaders to listen to Malcom Little otherwise called Malcom X, the ‘X’ being a symbol for his lost African name, stolen from his ancestors by the slave masters. In April 1964 at the Methodist Church Synod in Ohio, USA, he said and I quote, “if we don’t do something real soon, I think you will have to agree that we’re going to be forced either to use the ballot or the bullet. It’s one or the other. It isn’t that time is running out; Time has run out.”

Our National Imbalance

Ndigbo are the worst hit by the parlous state of the Nigerian economy, mostly because it has the highest number of unemployed young men and women. Apart from that, Igbo land produces the highest number of graduates of tertiary institutions, yet the Igbo states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo have the lowest capacity to absorb these teeming young men and women. The reason is because the Igbo states are economically disadvantaged and I give below a few instances.

(a) Igbo states do not get as much (development) funding as other sections of the country. Let’s take the following illustration: Whereas the North-west geo-political zone, for example, has seven (7) states with 183 local government areas, the South-east has five (5) state with 95 local government areas. This means that the North-west rakes in revenue allocations from the federation account that is more than twice what accrues to the South-east. This is as a result of the deliberate policy of allowing more local government areas to exist in some parts of the country to the disadvantage of others, notable the Igbo area, a matter which successive federal administrations have failed to address. The resultant effect is that such areas like the North-west are in custody of development funds: hence, the ever flooding of Igbo youths in search of opportunities which are either non-existent or denied them. Apart from this glaring fiscal inequality, there are little or no job-creating federal government projects in the Igbo states.

(b) Whereas the North-west (again as an example) has 93 members of the House of Representatives, the South-east has 42. Again, whereas the North-west, due to its seven (7) states structure has seven (7) ministerial slots, the South-east has only five (5) because of her inferior number of states in the federation. The huge differences result in a big resource gap which further complicates the economic problems in the Igbo states, especially given their incredible statistics on (educated) youth unemployment. This inequality is a major set-back for the people of the South-east in their quest to develop their area with what they potentially have but which is being currently denied them chiefly because of the lopsidedness in the number of states and L.Gs in the country.

Take the disparity of LGAs for example. With its 183 LGAs as seen above, the North-west at an average of N100 million or US$0.07 million per month per LGA for example, would have netted in 20 years a total of US$742 trillion; while the south-east with its 95 LGAs at the same rate and period will post a total of US$383 billion. This gives a development revenue differential of US$359 billion. This difference can be invested to develop the entire axis of Osemoto, Oguta, Ohaji/Egbema, Ogbaru, Ihiala, Onitsha economy and indeed leverage the entire zone to an unimaginable level.

iv. Because South East Is Landlocked

Please let it be known from today that South -east is not landlocked. It is only our economy that is locked. One quick way of unlocking the economy of South-east is through marine business. Contrary to the impression that the South-east is landlocked, the truth is that it has one of the potentially deepest seaports in the country at Osemoto/Oseokwa in Imo and Anambra States. A seaport was designated there in 1959 but the project was abandoned and the admiralty member erased for obvious political reasons. African Development Bank (ADB) feasibility report on this is unambiguous.

Oseokwa (Ihiala LGA, Anambra State) and Osemoto (Oguta LGA, Imo State) are the deepest natural harbor in the country (over 20m deep) and offer real naval and marine transportation platforms if developed. Besides, it lies only 18 nautical miles to the Atlantic Ocean and a strategic hub for the oil industry and inland dry-docks to promote trade. This potential seaport has the capacity of handling over 35 per cent of marine business in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, it was the attraction to these potentials that made my administration in Imo state to site the Oguta Wonder Lake and Resort Centre in the area to encourage the federal government and foreign investors. If Ndigbo pursue and complete the seaport, it will also open up over 3,000 square kilometers of the most fertile agricultural land that has one of the highest alluvial deposits which has been in existence for well over a million years.

My pursuit of this revolutionary project attracted both national and international panic and may have cost me second tenor as governor (see “Demoracy By Military Tank” by Ethelbert Okere) This deep seaport will create over two million jobs, directly and indirectly, in marine business, oil and gas, power, education, housing, agro-food industry, entertainment, tourism, etc. With that type of setting, Igbo youths will have no need to crisscross the country in search of jobs and in the process endangering their young lives.

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