STATE OF NDIGBO IN NIGERIA
Press Briefing by Igbos for a Progressive Nigeria (IPAN) held on February 1, 2021, in Awka.
Igbos for a Progressive Nigeria (IPAN) is a pro-Nigeria group made up of Igbo patriots who are working tirelessly for the progress and unity of Nigeria and the Igbo nation.
We are firm believers in the One Nigeria project.
The group was formed due to the desire to bring Igbos under a united umbrella to demand for good governance in Igbo land, and also serve as a platform to positively engage with people from other regions within Nigeria on important matters that affect the country in general, and Ndigbo in particular.
IPAN is also there to serve as a mouthpiece for the majority of hardworking Igbos across Nigeria who desire peace, economic development and conducive environment to thrive.
This press conference is therefore an avenue for IPAN to discuss and present our position on so many issues that affect the average Igbo man, most of which revolves around governance, politics and peace.
- Governance and Accountability in Igboland:
The South East geopolitical zone, which is home to the vast majority of Igbos, is made up of five states; Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo. Since the return of democracy in 1999, the five South Eastern states have received a cumulative Federal allocation of about N3.46 trillion as at September 2020. The total internally generated revenue for the five states is around N800 billion for the period spanning 1999 and 2019. The Local Government Areas in the zone received the sum of N1.88 trillion in federal allocations from 1999-2017. This is not inclusive of their internally generated revenues.
When these staggering numbers just mentioned are juxtaposed with the current state of development in the South East, it paints a clear picture of serious mismanagement of resources by elected and appointed officials in the region.
Many public infrastructures such as roads, hospitals, schools, etc., are in very deplorable conditions. No state in the South East can boast of a working public water supply scheme, neither is there any state seriously embarking on a social mass housing scheme for the very low-income earners.
Public transportation is nothing to write home about, with no discernable plan by any of our governors to modernize and standardize public transportation in any of the states.
Many of the past and present governors in the South East have only succeeded in impoverishing the states they were elected to develop, with many of them plunging their states into huge indebtedness, with little or nothing to show for the loans collected.
These governors end up taking up other political posts to continue pillaging the resources meant to develop the region. To these people and to many of our elected representatives in the State and National Assemblies, IPAN is saying enough is enough! It won’t be fun as usual! All these cannot continue.
And to the Igbos everywhere, we’re saying that we must look back home for the source of our problems and stop looking for perceived enemies in Lagos, Abuja and Kaduna.
This is the time for us to begin to demand comprehensive accountability from our leaders.
IPAN has now put some mechanisms in place to start holding governors/legislators in the South East (both past and present) accountable.
2) The Place of Igbos in National Politics:
IPAN is also desirous of a national political grid where the Igbo people are fully integrated in. We are working towards an Igbo presidency in the very near future with the support of our brethren from other geopolitical zones.
IPAN believes that it is time for Ndigbo to build bridges of understanding across regional divides.
Already, Igbos can be found in many places across the country, notwithstanding the remoteness, this shows that the vast majority of Ndigbo believe in a united Federal Republic of Nigeria where one can attain the Nigerian dream while mutually coexisting with others in any part of the country.
To this end, IPAN is working assiduously to engender lasting trust between Igbos and other ethnic groups.
Of course, we cannot successfully do that without strongly denouncing and condemning a tiny but vocal minority of our people who are going about sowing seeds of discord and disunity between Igbos and other tribes.
They blame other regions and tribes for the problems we experience in Igbo land notwithstanding the fact that other regions do not manage our revenue for us.
Also, by showing a high level of intolerance and open hostilities towards people of other ethnic nationalities, this tiny minority is endangering the lives and properties of our people residing in different parts of the country.
We call on millions of peace-loving Igbos to join IPAN in forcefully denouncing any Igbo group that seeks to portray us as enemies of a united Nigeria.
We need to work together with other regions to grow together.
And most importantly, any group, either from the South East or other regions that gives quit notices to those not from their tribe to leave their place of residence should be proscribed and those behind the eviction notice prosecuted. The freedom of movement as enshrined in the 1999 constitution as amended should be respected.
IPAN notes the state of insecurity in some parts of the South East arising from frequent communal clashes due to land disputes, kidnappings, as well as clashes between our farmers and herdsmen.
We call on the President and our five governors as well as other political leaders in the zone to tackle headlong the cases of insecurity arising from the aforementioned causes.
Mr. President should as a matter of urgency mandate the relevant agencies to establish grazing reserves where feasible, so that the frequent cases of cattle destroying farmlands of our people and the attendant violence that greets such destruction can be mitigated.
Towards the end of last year, 2020, IPAN met with the South East leadership of Miyetti Allah in Awka, with the hope of working together to find a lasting solution to the problem. From our little interactions with them, we regret to say that the leadership of Miyetti Allah in South East did not show any sign of seriousness in tackling the issues, as all IPAN’s ideas and suggestions on how to go about fighting the perennial problem were met with reluctance from Miyetti Allah. A sign that discouraged IPAN.
Still on security, IPAN condemns without mincing words, the recent establishment of an armed group in the South East. This is the height of recklessness and must not be allowed to fester. Anyone who sets up a ragtag militant group or shows support to such group must be treated as an enemy of the state and must be brought to book by the security agencies, to avoid situations like what transpired in Orlu axis of Imo State last week.
Governors, political and community leaders from the South East must come out forcefully to condemn the illegal security outfit and push for their immediate arrest and prosecution.
Major stakeholders in the zone, including former public office holders, former presidential aspirants/candidates, religious leaders, and others, should stop looking the other way when issues like this arise.
They should use their platforms to condemn what is bad and stop focusing attention on what is happening in Zamfara, Katsina, and Southern Kaduna.
Let us work to ensure peace in our region.
4) Federal Presence in the South East:
IPAN is delighted with the increased level of federal presence in the South East since 2015 when President Muhammadu Buhari came on board.
In particular, we want to appreciate Mr. President for the construction work going on at the very important second Niger bridge and other associated roads and flyovers within that axis, after 40 years of delays and disappointments.
IPAN is also grateful for the ongoing rehabilitation work on Enugu-Onitsha expressway, the Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway, the old Enugu-Awka expressway, Okigwe road, and other roads recently awarded.
We praise the setting up of industrial parks in Aba and Nkwelle Ezunanka by the federal government, the energizing market projects in Ariara market, Aba, and the solar power projects in Alex Ekwueme University in Ebonyi State and Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Anambra State.
The truth is that the people of the South East have never had it this good in terms of federal projects.
However, like the fictional Oliver Twist, we are asking for more. IPAN appeals to the federal government to carry out urgent rehabilitation of bad portions of the Onitsha-Owerri road, completion of Owerri to Elele section of the Owerri-Port Harcourt expressway, as well as the commencement of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri railway, once funding is secured for it.
We also hope that the Ministry of Transportation and the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) will expedite actions to make the Onitsha River Port fully functional by, among other things, carrying out dredging of the river channels, so as to enable big vessels to sail from Onne Port to the Onitsha River Port.
Irrespective of what some noisy few may be saying, the vast majority of Ndigbo are happy with all the projects going on in the zone, and are hopeful of many more to come.
5) Government Social Interventions:
IPAN is delighted with the raft of federal government social interventions aimed at lifting Nigerians out of poverty.
This is the first time a Nigerian government is rolling out social security programmes targeted directly at the most vulnerable individuals and families in the society.
We have the Micro-Lending Investment Program, The N75 billion National Youth Investment Fund, The Survival Fund, N-Power, Conditional Cash Transfer, and many other schemes under the Social Investment Program.
We are however concerned that these programmes may not be reaching their intended targets, especially, in the South East.
IPAN receives messages on a daily basis from concerned and aggrieved Igbo youths, who complain bitterly of being excluded from benefiting from the programs, even when they have met all the stated requirements.
We, therefore, call on the president, to order an immediate investigation into the final destinations of the various government programs meant for the people of South East.
6) Police and Judiciary Reform:
IPAN is a firm proponent of law and order, and the rule of law. We also believe that for this nation to move forward and bring corruption in any form under control, the police and judiciary, which are currently cesspool of corruption, must be reformed.
To this end, we call on the President to further cement his legacy by reforming the Nigerian Police to meet basic international policing standards.
A holistic overhaul is needed urgently to make the Nigerian Police professional in the discharge of their duties of maintaining internal law and order.
We also call on the federal government, the national assembly and the National Judicial Council (NJC) to embark on a systematic cleansing of the judiciary.
IPAN notes with concern the apparent sabotage of the fight against corruption by a large segment of the judiciary, in collaboration with some members of the bar and politically exposed persons under investigation or prosecution.
Judges allow frivolous applications to delay cases and overturn convictions of lower courts based on unnecessary technicalities.
This must stop!
We call on the federal and state governments to show commitment for a comprehensive judicial reform.
IPAN has come to stay as a strong voice for the protection of Igbo interests and as a body that will ensure the entrenchment of transparency in governance in the South East.
Going forward, we will strive to hold our leaders and governments to the highest standard of accountability.
We implore Igbos wherever they find themselves to be law abiding and remain good ambassadors of the Igbo race.
On the other hand, we call on president Muhammadu Buhari to please listen more to the agitations of the people.
If certain states say, for instance, that the Fulani herdsmen are causing problems in their states, the president is expected to give them a listening ear, and mediate as a father and find solutions that will be acceptable by all.
Also, when there are complains that some tribes are not well represented in President Buhari’s administration, we expect the president to give a listening ear and find solutions that will, again, be accepted by all.
All IPAN wants is a peaceful and United Nigeria, where everyone feels they are fairly treated.
We call on all Igbos to join IPAN so that together we will turn a new chapter in our quest to build a modern nation where our people can live happily and prosper.
Long live IPAN!
Long live Ndigbo!
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!