- by E. Nriezedi
- 9:00 PM December 02, 2021
Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma last week called for the establishment of a special fund by the Federal Government to compensate the people of the South-East over the huge devastations they suffered from the 30-month civil war.
The special fund, according to the governor, would provide succour to those who lost their family members and property during the war. Uzodinma, who spoke at the zonal interaction session with members of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, RAMFAC, said that the debacles of the civil war led the South-East into deep poverty as lives and property were lost, hence the need for them to be compensated. The 30- month civil war, he said, left the South-East in penury. However, the governor’s suggestion has attracted divergent reactions from Igbo leaders.
Igbo elite body, Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, said that much as it agreed that Igbo lost a lot during the war which also severely hampered Igbo development, it does not believe in the type of palliatives sought by Governor Hope Uzodinma. ADF described such measure as “fake and lacking in depth,” insisting that such palliative cannot solve the problems of Nigeria nor improve the Igbo condition in Nigeria today.
In the opinion of ADF, the best thing for the Igbo nation now is to adopt a system based on regional autonomy and fiscal federalism.
“The Imo State Governor does not believe in the Igbo self-determination struggle. Rather, he works hard to undermine the struggle and to castigate genuine Igbo elements involved in the agitation. The palliative of a Special Fund to provide succour to victims of the civil war is fake and lacking in depth. It cannot solve the problems of Nigeria nor improve the Igbo condition in Nigeria today.
“ADF believes that the best approach now is to adopt a new people’s constitution based on regional autonomy and fiscal federalism. Such concrete steps are better for the restoration of Igbo renewal instead of mere palliatives in a crisis-ridden and chaotic federation such as the present slave situation we find ourselves in,” Abia Onyike, ADF’s spokesman said.
A Senior Advocate of Nigeria and notable Igbo leader, Chief Mike Ahamba, in his opinion, said what was very important to the South-East zone is the security of lives and property of the residents in the region to enable them freely pursue their legitimate businesses.
Ahamba said the special fund request may be a personal request from the governor but may not be the demand of the people of the zone, saying however, that he was not opposed to the request for special fund, but noted that it was the governor’s opinion.
He expressed doubt how the governor’s suggestion would be achieved, insisting that the safety of the Igbo people is so important to them at this point in time.
“I don’t know how it can be done. He just has to say something. He is entitled to ask for that. I doubt if that will be listened to.
“In his opinion, it is the best thing to do but in the minds of the people, it might not be. What is more important is the security of lives and property of the citizenry. I did not say that the special fund is not the best, I said he is entitled to ask for it,” the legal luminary said.
In his contribution, prominent Abia monarch, Eze Philip Ajomiwe dismissed Uzodinma’s suggestion as a misplacement of priority.
Eze Ajomiwe, the traditional ruler of Oriendu autonomous community, Umuahia North Council and former Chairman of Umuahia North Council of Traditional Rulers, urged the governor to first devote efforts towards stopping the senseless killings in his state and other parts of the zone.
According to the monarch, there are many other critical issues weighing down on the South -East zone which should bother the governor more than rehabilitation funds, saying that Governor Uzodinma even lacks the moral powers to make such request when the blood of Igbo youths is still flowing in his state.
“Who is Hope Uzodinma to call for the establishment of funds to rebuild South-East? Is he working with his fellow Igbo governors? He should first unite with his fellow Igbo governors and start cooperating with them.
“Did he support the ban on open grazing? What did he do to stop the massacre at Izombe? He should stop the killings first before we can listen to him. Bandits are being released but freedom seekers are languishing in detention yet Uzodinma is taking of rehabilitation.
“There are more critical issues to Ndigbo now than the fund he is talking of; what has he done to secure the release of Nnamdi Kanu, Sunday Ighoho and other agitators of self-determination languishing in security cells?
Reasoning in a similar way, the Abia State Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Apostle Emmanuel Agomuo, said there are more pressing needs for the South-East than the demand presented by Governor Uzodinma.
According to the CAN chairman, although the idea is not bad, but he noted that the consent of other governors in the zone is necessary for such a thing to happen.
He challenged Uzodinma to carry along his fellow governors in the zone in pushing such agenda, insisting that the idea is still a private opinion of the governor.
“It is one thing at a time. They are talking of restructuring, has it been done? They are talking of Nigeria President of Southern zone, has it been actualised?”
In his contribution, the traditional ruler of Obimo Community in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, Igwe Spencer Ugwuoke, chided the governor over his call, saying that Uzodinma made the suggestion to deceive the people of the South-East into believing that he is fighting for Igbo cause.
The monarch added that he should not think that the people have forgotten how he arm-twisted the people to become the governor of Imo State.
According to the monarch, the quest for Igbo Presidency should supersede the call for compensation, wondering why Uzodimma, who has been at the corridors of power over the years, waited till now to fight for Igbo cause.
“Why did he wait till now to make such call? He has been at the Senate but he never moved any motion to sponsor any bill for special fund to compensate the Igbo who lost their lives and property during the Nigerian civil war.
“He is just saying that for personal aggrandizement and to score some cheap political points. He should not forget that those he is selling that idea to know how he managed to become the governor of Imo State. He arm-twisted the people. Even if such compensation should come, it shouldn’t be through him.
”He is saying this to win the second tenure as the governor of Imo State and it is not going to be possible with this new electronic voting,” the royal father said.
Igbos no doubt need compensation for losses arising from Nigeria Biafra war.
In the opinion of the Methodist Archbishop of Okigwe Diocese, Most Rev. Biereonwu Livinus Onuagha, there is no doubt that the Nigerian Biafra civil war led the South-East into deep poverty, he said that it was aggravated by the destructive activities of the killer herdsmen ravaging Igbo land with government watching as if it is helpless to take action.
According to Archbishop Onuagha, the sufferings of Ndigbo in Nigeria even years after the civil war, have not abated as there is still injustice, lopsided appointments, lopsided fight against corruption, and nepotism visibly seen in the present administration in Nigeria.
“In 1970, we were told it was a no victor no vanquished situation. We put down our arms and left the trenches. With mixed feelings of excitement, nervousness and fear, we headed to the houses we built, we were told they were abandoned property and had been shared as spoils of war.
“With disappointment in our hearts, we headed to the banks, to withdraw our money and savings to salvage our lives; and we were handed only 20 pounds. It did not matter if you had millions or billions in your account.
“With deep sense of despair, being homeless and cashless, we went straight to reclaim our jobs and positions in government, we were turned back, as they have been filled up with little or no skilled personnel.
“We were made homeless, cashless and jobless as we were greeted with ‘indigenization policy’ where government companies and assets were sold to themselves, because we could not afford to compete financially due to the ‘give-them-only-20 pounds’ policy.
“As we were still trying to figure out what was going on, they came up with ‘quota system policy’, Exclusive Economic Lists, Federal Character Policy, Educationally Less Developed States, etc. Indeed, we were cornered from every angle.
“However, like a seed, perhaps, they did not know the danger of burying us. We germinated and today, we have grown stronger, bigger and better because we are Ndigbo. We are children of the sun; we have risen again. Yes, we are Igbo!
“Anything done by the Federal Government to assuage the sufferings of Ndigbo will be acceptable to the people, this is one suggestion that should not be ignored by the Federal Government and Igbo politicians should work towards the actualisation of the suggestion to compensate Igbo”, Archbishop Onuagha said.
However, to make the dream come true, Archbishop Onuagha said that present government must be fair to all sections of the country and avoid any kind of nepotism as it is being clearly witnessed in the present government.
He attributed the escalating wave of agitations and insecurity in Nigeria, particularly in the South-East, to years of ill-treatment meted on Igbo, which he said sadly continues even on a higher scale.
Onuagha described Nigeria as an abundantly rich and blessed country, regretting that due to poor leadership, agitations, banditry, terrorist activities, kidnapping and hostage-taking, have become profitable and turning Nigeria into an object of caricature in the comity of nations.
For the Majority Leader of the Abia State House of Assembly, Chief Solomon Akpulonu, Igbo do not need compensation for the civil war, but want to be treated with equity, justice and fairness in Nigeria.
Akpulonu insisted that reparation is not the solution to the problems of the Igbo as no amount of compensation would make them happy if there is no justice and fairness in the manner the Federal Government treats the Igbo nation.
According to him, with justice and fairness, the Igbo man can achieve his dreams in a united Nigeria.
In his words: “The civil war has gone and with little time, the Igbo resurrected from the destruction of the war to the shock of her enemies. The Igbo would have gone farther but for the conspiracies against them from some sections of the country.
“I want to differ with those who are calling for reparation because it will never solve the problem. If the Federal Government likes, let them pay N10 trillion compensation, the problems will still be there. Reparation is not the problem of the Igbo people.
“Creating a special fund and compensating people who lost their relatives and property is not the solution to the problem of the Igbo in Nigeria. What the Igbo want is simple; justice and fairness and treating every section of the country equally.
“You can only make the Igbo happy when you stop marginalizing them and treat them fairly as you do the North. People may have forgotten that some Igbo officers, who fought on the Biafran side during the civil war, have been receiving pension from the Federal Government. And others are still being profiled and receiving payment. But the problems are still there.
“Igbo is a hardworking race; no Igbo man wants the Federal Government to build a house for him and President Buhari knows this. What the Igbo man needs is justice, to be treated fairly by giving him his due share of the national cake. Stop nepotism and balance projects and political appointments among the sections of Nigeria. Improve infrastructure in Igbo land.
“With the right conducive environment, Igbo man can cater and develop himself and family. Igbo don’t need much from the government. The Igbo can compete well in any conducive environment.”
Akpulonu lamented that in today’s Nigeria, the Igbo have been reduced to second class citizens in a country where they are one of the major stakeholders, stressing that there must be greater accommodation for the Igbo for the country to witness genuine unity and development.
“The Igbo believe in merit, there are barriers and conspiracies against the Igbo in Nigeria. The Igbo have been reduced to second class citizens in their own country. No amount of reparation will make the Igbo forget the injustice and marginalisation they have been subjected to.
“For instance, the Igbo man can’t rise above a certain rank in the Army, Police and other Federal Government ministries and agencies. An Igbo child needs to score above 200 before getting admission into the unity college while his counterpart from Zamfara or Yobe needs to score 2.
“This is why the country is still not developing the way it ought to because merit is sacrificed on the altar of the quota system. There are too many barriers against the Igbo. This is why these agitations for secession and restructuring are increasing daily. You don’t beat a child and expect him not to cry. It cannot happen,” the lawmaker said.