By Clifford Ndujihe & Yinka Ajayi
Lagos—Leaders of the South-South and South-East geo-political zones, yesterday, called for restructuring of Nigeria to make all citizens of the country equal partners and partakers.
They said the situation where some people were reduced to second class citizens was not good for harmonious co-existence, unity and development of the country.
The leaders met at the Apapa, Lagos residence of elder statesman and Ijaw National Leader, Chief Edwin Clark.
The South-East team was led by the President General of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo.
Welcoming the leaders at an open session before they went into a close-door strategic meeting, Chief Clark said he was happy with Nwodo’s election as Ohanaeze President General because with him “a Daniel has come to judgment.”
Speaking on the need to restructure Nigeria, Clark said “we are light years away from the kind of country our founding fathers bequeathed to us.”
According to him, at independence in 1960, the Richard’s Constitution spelt out what Nigeria should be – a Federal Republic with three regions – North, East and West as the components.
He said: “Each of the regions is equal and each is allowed to develop at its own pace. Whatever resources you have in your region, you take 50 per cent and the remaining 50 per cent is sent to the centre, which is further shared between the centre and the regions.
That was the country we knew. Today, the reverse is the case. We complain of xenophobia in South Africa, what do we have in Nigeria?”
Chief Clark said “a situation where some groups of Nigerians speak others listen but cannot speak means we don’t have a country.”
He canvassed for an egalitarian society where everyone would be equal because “this country belongs to all of us”, expressing hope that the meeting of the leaders would bear good fruits.
Responding, Chief Nwodo said the South-South were not just brothers but neighbour of the South-East, hence the need for both zones to collaborate and work together.
He said his team came to extend the hand of fellowship to South-South to faction methods that would improve not only the fortunes of the two zones but the entire country.
Specifically, he said the South-East and Ndigbo aspired to have a country where every part of Nigeria would participate and the future generation would have a better country than the present generation.
Talking about the maltreatment of the South-East in term of number of states, poor infrastructure and non-headship of any of the security agencies, Nwodo said he was disturbed by a recent statement attributed to the Emir of Kano that the Igbo were being punished for going to war against Nigeria.
Noting that Igbo youths did not want to be part of Nigeria anymore and that they wanted Biafra Repbulic, he said Igbo elders who saw the civil war did not want the country to be plunged into another war, hence their clamour for urgent solutions.
“We think that the rest of the country should come together and end an impending catastrophe,” he said.
Other leaders drawn from the 11 states of both zones include Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Major. General Nwachukwu (rtd), Alobo Tonye-Douglas, Senator Ewa Henshew, Prof. Chigozie Ogbu, Olorogun Kenneth Gbagi, Chief Guy Ikokwu, Prof. G.G. Darah, Dr. Steve Oru, Chief Albert Horsfall, Mr. Nduka Obaigbena and Uche Okwukwu.