Ohaneze Ndigbo Leader, John Nwodo Spits Fire on Restructuring at Chatham House in London

As call for the 'Restructuring' of Nigeria continues to garner momentum in the polity, the leader of the apex Igbo socio-cultural group has said it remains the only hope for Nigeria.
Leader of the apex Igbo socio-cultural group in Nigeria, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, John Nwodo, has declared that restructuring remains the only hope for Nigeria.
 
According to The Sun, he said those claiming that north would be doomed if the country is restructured are ill-informed. Instead, he said the North, with right agricultural policies, would be the richest part of the country, if Nigeria is eventually restructured.
 
He cited Netherlands, whose entire land area was half of what Niger State, one of the 19 northern states in the country is endowed with.
 
“The example of Netherlands in Agriculture is also relevant here. The Netherlands is the 18th largest economy in the world. It has a land area of about 33.9,000 square kilometres. Niger State, one of Nigeria’s 37 administrative units has about 74,000 square kilometres. Netherlands earns over $100 billion from agricultural exports annually, contributed mainly by vegetables and dairy. Nigeria’s oil revenue has never, in any one year, reached $100 billion.
 
"Northern Nigeria is the most endowed agriculturally in the entire country. Its tomatoes, carrots, cabbages, cucumbers, tubers, grains, livestock and dairy feed the majority of Nigerians in spite of its huge reserve of unexploited export potentials. In a restructured Nigeria, the North, with the right agricultural policies, will be the richest part of Nigeria,” he said.
 
He spoke yesterday at the Chatham House, in London, where he delivered a paper on “Next Generation Nigeria: Accountability and national cohesion,” at an event put together by the Royal Institute of International Affairs.
 
Condemning the designation of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist group by the Federal Government, Nwodo described the Igbo as the most loyal ethnic group in the country, whose commitment to the concept of “one Nigeria,” was unwavering, adding that the Igbo is the single largest ethnic group found in any party of Nigeria other than the indigenous group.
 
“We invest and contribute to the economic and social life of the committees wherever we live. We are proudly Christians, but very accommodating of our brothers of other religious persuasions. We are grossly marginalised and still treated by the federal government as second-class citizens. No Igboman, for instance, heads any security arm of the Nigerian Armed Forces. Our area is the most heavily policed as if there was a deliberate policy to intimidate us and hold us down,” he added.
 
The Ohanaeze leader, who took the audience down memory lane on constitution developments in Nigeria from 1960 to 1998/99, further argued that the constitution presently in operation in the country was never written by the people of Nigeria per se. He said it was imposed on the country and Nigerians by the military clique.
 
“Our present constitution was written at a time of unprecedented increase in national revenue, following the massive discovery of oil in Nigeria and its global reliance as a source of fuel for mechanical machines. It had, as its centre piece, the distribution of national revenue and national offices, using states and local governments as units for division. It constructed a federation in name, but a unitary government in practice, following the pattern enunciated in 1966 from the inception of military administration in Nigeria,” he said.
 
He also came hard on the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for dilly-dallying over the issue of restructuring, which “it willingly promised Nigerians during the electioneering in 2015”, just as he insisted that the continued neglect of the 2014 National Conference report would spell doom for Nigeria.
 
“To achieve a national consensus on this subject requires a national discussion; regrettably, the ruling party, APC, which promised restructuring in its manifesto, after two years and four months in office, is still appointing a committee to define what sort of restructuring it wants for Nigeria. To make matters worse, none of the other political parties have come up with any clear-cut route for achieving a consensus on this matter.
 
“The National Assembly itself is a reflection of the deep ethnic divisions in the country, and the Northern majority conferred on it by the military makes it highly unacceptable to Southern Nigeria. Recent resolutions made by it on devolution of powers have not helped the situation. Happily, the Senate President has promised to revisit the subject matter.
 
“The only hope for change in Nigeria today is the rising call for restructuring pioneered by the Southern leadership forum, supported lately by ex-Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, former President Ibrahim Babangida and leaders of the Middle belt, including Dan Suleiman and Prof. Jerry Gana.
 
“Our expectation is that now that our president is fully recovered and back to work, he should address the situation by constituting a nationwide conversation of all ethnic nationalities to look into the 2014 National Conference report and the trending views on this subject matter so as to come up with a consensus proposal that the national and state assemblies will be persuaded to adopt.To continue to neglect a resolution of this impasse will spell doom for our dear country,” Nwodo, added.
 
The Ohanaeze leader also painted a gloomy picture of the country’s economy and said, “the restructuring of Nigeria into smaller and independent federations and the devolution of powers to these federating units to control exclusively their human capital development, mineral resources, agriculture, and power (albeit with an obligation to contribute to the federal government) is the only way to salvage our fledging economy.
 
“Restructuring will devote attention to the new wealth areas, promote competition and productivity as the new federating units struggle to survive. It will drastically reduce corruption as the large federal parastatals, which gulp government revenue for little or no impact dissolve and give way to small and viable organs in the new federating units.
 
“As I speak today, Nigeria has a grim economic outlook. Nigeria’s external debt has grown from $10.3 billion in 2015 to $15 billion in 2017. Her domestic debt has also grown from N8.8 trillion in 2015, to N14 trillion in 2017. Domestic debt component for the 36 states rose from N1.69 trillion in 2015 to N2.9 trillion in June 2017.”

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