Stop marginalisation of South East, Ohanaeze Ndigbo urges Tinubu


…says Clark authorised to speak for Southern leaders

By Tom Okpe

President General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo worldwide, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu has said marginalisation of the South East in Nigeria is real, calling on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to end it now, as a true democrat.

He also expressed thanks on behalf of Ndigbo to Chief Edwin Clark, whom he described as a great leader, for rising at all times in fighting injustice, wherever he perceived it.

Iwuanyanwu in a press statement on Thursday stated that for the avoidance of doubt, South-south, South-west and South-east have formed alliances.

He said: “We have formed a union of Southern Nigeria and the Leaders therein are as follows, Chief E.K Clark and Emmanuel Essien, South-south, Pa Ayo Adebanjo of Afenifere, South-west, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Ohanaeze, South-East.

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“We have unanimously accepted the leadership of the two oldest leaders of the group, Chief E.K Clark and Pa Ayo Adebanjo.

“We later formed a union of Southern and Middle belt leaders’ forum. The leader of the Middle Belt is Dr Pogu Bitrus. By this Union, Chief Edwin Clark is authorised to speak on any part of Southern and Middle belt of Nigeria.”

He noted that sometimes in 2023, he reported the high level of marginalisation of igbos to this forum of Southern and Middle Belt Leaders, saying marginalisation is clear from the following points: “South-East is the only Geo-political zone in Nigeria that has got only Five States, whereas other zones have between six and seven.

“Forty-Eight Ministers were appointed by Mr President, by law of Federal Character, Southeast should have eight Federal Ministers, but have only five Ministers while some other zones have up to ten.

“All efforts to develop railway infrastructure in Nigeria, nothing was done in the South-East, in spite of the fact that our people are traders who travel a lot.

“Nnamdi Kanu has been incarcerated for many years and every effort to plead for his release met with failure, while many other Nigerians arrested and accused of similar offences have all been released.

“According to the Federal Character Commission, the presidency is zoned to rotate North and South instead of rotating through six geo-political zones. This has made it impossible for Southeast to produce a President when two large zones come together to deny Southeast the opportunity.

“The Presidency was zoned to the South. The Southern and Middle-Belt met, deliberated and resolved to zone it to the southeast in their own opinion, justice demanded that it should be zoned to the southeast; they therefore zoned it to the southeast.

“Later on, a southwest candidate emerged in the All Progressives Congress, APC, being the political party in power,” he said.

The Ohanaeze chief further noted that the Southern and Middle-Belt leaders’ forum resolved to support an Igbo candidate and this was how the support for Peter Obi came up.

“From the result of the 2023 general election, Peter Obi won clearly in Lagos, Delta, Abuja and many other places including the Middle-Belt. I must confess that the Southern and Middle-Belt leaders’ forum has nothing against Mr President, Tinubu.

“They were convinced in all honesty, that it was the turn of the Southeast to produce the President.

“It might interest anyone who cares to know that we have manifested this in practical terms. When many parts of Nigeria were going on demonstration, Southeast was approached to join but as a leader of southeast, I made a proclamation telling my people not to join and they harkened to my voice and never joined the protest.

“We in the Southeast have made substantial investments in many parts of the country and it is in our interest to assist Mr President, to succeed.

“Any failure by Mr President would be a calamity to Igbos, who have made huge investments in many places in the country.

“We sincerely expect the Government to reciprocate this gesture by attending to some of our problems.

“I had at one of our meetings of Southern and Middle-Belt leaders’ forum, brought up the problems of obvious marginalization of my people by the Federal Government and the forum expressed their sympathy to the Igbos.

“I remember vividly, a communique was issued at one of these meetings, calling for the release of Kanu, whose continued detention is causing problems in the Southeast.

“After the 2023 general election, we experienced the worst situation which after Obi won in Lagos, Abuja and some other States a group of people held a meeting and boasted that they will cripple Igbos and make sure they don’t succeed in business and politics in the country.

“Some markets in Lagos State, dominated by Igbos were either closed down or demolished. I held a meeting with the leadership of Lagos State, I am happy, the matter slowed down.

“We also woke up one morning in Abuja, to hear that a spiraling estate owned by an Igbo man, Nicholas Ukachukwu, was demolished. This matter was reported to me.

“I requested relevant information regarding the demolition. From my findings due process of law was not taken before this demolition. We also appeal to Mr. President to investigate this case of demolition of Ukachukwu’s estate in Abuja.”

Iwuanyanwu, however, commended President Tinubu, for appointing one of South East very intelligent and reliable sons, Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla, as Chief of Naval Staff, Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“We are convinced that by the grace of God, he will do well. The reports I have received so far, from the public shows, he is doing well.”

He also, commended Minister of Works, Engr. Dave Umahi whom he said, “from all indications is doing very well, I congratulate him,” he added.

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