At Dora Akunyili Women Development Centre, Awka, Anambra State
An Address Presented by Dr. Nwachukwu Anakwenze, IWA Chairman.
Igbo World Assembly (IWA) welcomes the various Nigerian/Igbo leaders present today – stakeholders and leaders of various ethnic groups – Afenifere, Yoruba Elders Council, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Association of South East and Igbo Town Unions, Pan Niger Delta Forum(PANDEF), Arewa Group and Middle Belt Forum groups and the organizers. Igbo World Assembly extends enthusiastic support to our brethren, worldwide.
Igbo World Assembly (IWA) is working together toward improving the lives of our people through collaborative efforts with all stakeholder groups.IWA wants true democracy and freedom for fellow Nigerians and Africa, as a whole. Our history in Nigeria clearly shows that Ndigbo has always stood for democracy and fair play for all. We do not believe or promote religious-based politics and/or ideology. We want a Nigeria where the majority’s right is balanced with the minority’s right.We want a Nigeria where the various ethnic groups feel that they have a stake in the future of the country. We envision a Nigeria where leadership is based on the ability to work hard, where fairness reigns with a sense of direction and ac-accountability to various groups and for the common good of the country.We envision a Nigeria where people can vote and be voted for regardless of their ethnic groups. No Nigerian ethnic group owns any other ethnic groups or groups.
Ndigbo with the Presidential power will be more willing than others to share power and positions with the various ethnic nationalities of Nigeria in a fair and equitable manner. We only want to get what is our fair share and nothing else.Ndigbo are builders and not breakers. We will provide leadership with strategic vision that will take Nigeria to great heights and not one that is visionless. We do not take peoples’ land by force. If we obtain land, it is based on legal and legitimate purchases with the consent of the local owners. We do not rape women or kidnap people or kill innocent people in any area of Nigeria or anywhere. We respect the local leaders/authorities and we pay taxes as required in any area by the local powers that be.This belief system is deeply rooted in meritocracy; a system that gives opportunities and advantages to people on the basis of their ability and not on the basis of their wealth or seniority. This belief system, my friends, is the basis for our refusal to accept mediocrity. Mediocrity has no place in any progressive democracy.We believe in competition and excellence. Let’s make our children superstars through competitions and excellence with the rest of the world. Our children are equal to the task of making Nigeria great. Nigerian children in America rank between 1%-5% in academics or job performances. Let us raise stars not Agboros or Almajiris or Itibolibo. Ndigbo are egalitarian by nature. We believe that all people are, in principle, equal and should enjoy equal social, political, and economic rights and opportunities. We do not believe in murdering or attacking others, visitors, guests, or strangers in our midst.
Ndigbo are among the most welcoming, friendly, hospitable and tolerant and freedom loving people on earth. Our renowned hospitality, friendship and welcoming nature are highlighted on our use of “Kola nut” to symbolize our warmness, friendship, and universal brotherhood to all.This attribute is epitomized in common Igbo aphorism that states, “Nwanne di na mba” meaning that a stranger from a foreign land also suffices as a brother or a sister. This Igbo mantra of “Nwanne di na mba” enables us as Ndi Igbo to establish anywhere in the world as our home and enables us to welcome anybody in our midst. This attitude of Ndi Igbo is so ingrained in us that it could be misconstrued as an anomaly or illness by others.
A FUTURE NIGERIA NEEDSthe following done very quickly or it will be too late for all:
1. Respect for our Constitution and Rule of law
2. Respect for Human Right and Civil Rights
3. Respect for the Federal Character Commission Rules in the 1979 constitution
4. Implementation of Restructuring, Regionalization and Devolution of Powers expressed in a new Nigerian constitution.
5. Merit Based Appointment to Government Positions. We condemn the current nepotistic practice of appointing people from the leaders’ village or geographic area to all the strategic positions e.g., Military, Police, Custom and Judiciary). With recent appointments, it was evident that the current leadership felt that no Igbo are qualified enough to become the Inspector General of Police or lead any division in the armed forces. We need detribalized appointments and leadership in all sectors of the government. Recently, Buhari appointed 47 people to man the critical roles in his government and no one from the Southeast was given a spot. This is not how you treat a fellow Nigerian brother or sister.
6. Firm Knowledge and Competent Management of Nigeria’s Economy. Many foreign companies are moving their investments to Ghana, Kenya, South Africa and Rwanda due to massive corruption, incompetence and nepotism in our government. No foreign businesses or countries want to deal with Nigeria or be with us due to our corrupt ways.
7. We need equitable infrastructure development throughout Nigeria. Why are we building a railway road for Niger Republic when several Nigerian states don’t have railways?Nigeria has six regions and one was missing in a national railway plan while nobody cares. Incidentally, Igbos who resides in the east is the most itinerant in the country and would benefit most from a national transport plan. President Buhari changed the plan to include his village but a major zone of the country was not included. It was only the South East that was conspicuously missing in the new railway plan of the Federal Government.
8. We need equal and equitable treatment of all Nigerian regardless of tribes of origins or religion. We must acknowledge our Nigeria is a creation of Britain not God, for their own economic exploitation and not for the benefit of the indigenous people, it can only endure in the long term under mutually beneficial terms. A proverb says that, if you are holding someone on the ground, you are also holding yourself on the ground. No one progresses.
9. We demand an elimination of ethnic cleansing or genocide in the Nigerian political space. There is a big need to provide good security in Nigeria.
10. We demand free and fair electoral process and not on rigging elections. We want the best person chosen by the people to win. This will be tested in the coming Anambra election in November 6 2021. Anambra people will not tolerate any attempt by anybody to impose a leader on us. Anambra is not for sale to the highest bidder and we intend our right to vote and be voted for.We need to implement the items enumerated above because we are at the eleventh hour and it is almost too late for a united Nigeria. Time is not on our side for a united Nigeria. If we cannot accomplish these quickly, a referendum might be needed so that all the major Nigerian groups can go their separate ways through self-determination. We need a peaceful resolution of these urgent requests and not another civil war.We do not want to repeat the 1914 amalgamation mistake again. If we don’t want to accommodate each other’s need as ethnic groups, we must first declare our intent to support.
NIGERIAN PROBLEMS NOW:
The move to a unitary government and the imposition of the illegitimate 1999 Constitution has led to a minority group seizing power over the majority.
- 1. Nigeria is number three on the Global Terrorist Index. Christians and non Muslim indigenes are facing an existential threat with genocide and ethnic cleansing being carried out by Fulani Herdsmen (land grabbing) and their terrorist partners, ISIS, BOKO HARAM, etc. (Jihadist/Resource Grab)
- 2. Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world with over 40% (> 82 million) of the citizens living under abject poverty.
- 3. Lack of and poor infrastructure including electricity, roads, healthcare, and other basic human needs.
- 4. Injustice with Police and the Nigerian Security Forces utilizing brutality as a way of operation.
- 5. Gross unemployment especially of the young people.6. Large scale corruption and lack of accountability.7. The 1999 constitution of the Fourth Republic (was unfairly forced on Nigerians without the participation of the people) by the military restored democratic rule to Nigeria, and remains in force today. It favoured one side of the country. The Current 1999 Federal Constitution is invalid and lacks legitimacy from a Federating Units referendum. It is claimed that the current Federal Constitution was made by Nigerians and accepted by them, this is a lie, the constitution was crafted by a few people and no referendum conducted to affirm its contents by the various Nigerian people, it does not aggregate the interests of most Nigerians and within it there are many contradictions on the claims of federal practices, which many nationalities will never have acceded to if their inputs were sought. Most stakeholders, including federal authorities at the inception of the current civilian rule were unable to obtain a copy of the constitution until the Obasanjo Government was sworn-in in 1999.*2023 ELECTIONS: SOUTH EAST PRESIDENCY*Igbo people had contributed greatly to the development of Nigeria in terms of infrastructure, intellect and business.It was time to give Igbo people the chance to build Nigeria to the standard God want. God created Nigeria to develop into a major power among nations and raise respect and dignity for all blacks on earth. One of the ways to achieve the feats the nation wanted is to carry everybody along without discrimination.Nigeria is huge enough for everybody, Nigeria has the capacity to hold everybody, Nigeria has the intellectuals, Nigeria has all it takes to lift the county, all we are asking for is to give the southeast also a chance to lead and rise Nigeria, Africa up in the world standing.All the regions of Nigeria have produced Presidents and it is now the turn of the SE region to provide good leadership for the good of all Nigerians so as to move Nigeria in a positive direction. We should be our brother’s keeper. For the good of Nigeria, we believe our geopolitical interest should extend to ethnic regions in Nigeria that aspires to its mission of uniting all Nigeria of like minds, through the concept of “standing together for the betterment of the entire Nigeria.The zone of South-East that has not tasted the Presidency should move to the front of the line for their opportunity to participate in the leadership process. The rising attacks on security agencies are outsiders and not Ndigbo. (Unknown Gun Man (UGM) in the South-East is very dangerous and not good. The UGM are not Igbos but their activities might be linked with the clamour of the zone to produce the next Nigerian President come 2023.It is the turn of the South-East to produce the next Nigerian President and we are warning that nobody should hide under insecurity to deny the SE zone of what rightfully belongs to it. We are of the firm belief that the main justification for rotation/zoning of Presidential Power is borne out of the skewed nature of the Nigerian fraudulent 1999 constitution of the Nigerian federation, where one side of the country, through the unjust manner States and Local Government creations have been created is now positioned to produce the nation’s President in perpetuity.Only rotation/zoning of Presidential Power can rebalance the country before the next general election so that universal adult suffrage can make sense. IWA insists that it would be unjustifiable and insensitive for the North to retain power in 2023 and urged all patriots and men and women of goodwill in all parts of country to ensure that rotation/zoning of Presidential Power in 2023 by electing a President from the Southern part of Nigeria.The basis of any viable democracy, especially in a diverse and complex country such as Nigeria, rests in fair and even sharing of power. IWA’s position is that since the Northern part of the Country would have fully enjoyed the Office of the President for the full statutory period of 8 years by 2023, presidential power ought to be yielded to the South and SE in particular in the spirit of unity and equity.IWA is aware of the surreptitious moves to lure Southern political leaders to accept their Parties’ positions of National Chairman and Vice President, especially in the main political parties.Those contemplating on accepting such Greek gifts need to be reminded that such move would foreclose the chances of the Southeast in producing Nigeria’s president in 2023. It is therefore is an act of betrayal that will undermine the collective quest for a Southeast President. We urge all political parties to zone its presidential candidates to the south and south east in particular.During the anti-Abacha struggle for Nigeria’s return to civil rule in the nineties, prominent Igbos were among the key drivers of NADECO and other related civil movements. Igbos got themselves deeply involved, even to the extent of risking self-exile or jail terms and many of them were indeed victimized.After a vigorous struggle, democracy was eventually restored in 1999. As a way of compensation for their past and present losses, the 2023 presidential ticket should be unconditionally zoned to Igbos and the southeast region.The political understanding to compensate the South West region of the country, following the annulment of the 1993 presidential elections won by late Bashorun M K O Abiola and his subsequent death in detention while insisting on actualizing his mandate gave birth to the idea of rotational presidency between the north and the south of the country.General Olusegun Obasanjo, a beneficiary of that understanding completed his two terms in 2007 and handed over to a northerner, Alhaji Umoru Yar’Adua who died in office while his Vice from the south, Dr Goodluck Jonathan did a term but failed a re-election and paved the way for a northern president, General Muhammadu Buhari who will finish his second term in 2023. Buhari is the President today because of that rotational arrangement. So, Obasanjo of the west was compensated, North was also compensated.In regard to the president’s competence and integrity. IWA still believes that we can mix merit and zoning side by side. So, zoning in principle is a good thing in our polity and IWA recommends same for the Presidency.Indeed, the ideal scenario is to look at integrity and vision of the aspirant. But pragmatism is usually the enemy of principle and as such that idealistic scenario cannot work in practical terms in Nigeria with over 250 ethnic groups living in mutual suspicion since 1960.So, because of the peculiar nature of Nigeria and her assorted ethnic groups, rotation and/or zoning is the only way to go for Presidency especially to guarantee minorities the right to aspire and participate in government and governance.Ideally, merit should be the determining factor, but this is a federation that is lopsided, where 88 items are put in exclusive list, a federation that has almost become a centralized nation.So, for that reason, there had to be guarantees that would ensure fairness, equality, equity and justice and that is why the concept of zoning and rotation comes at this level and to ignore those two criteria, is to be inviting crisis and I don’t think Nigeria needs it.For now until we reach that level of development, where the religion and ethnic base of the president won’t matter as he would be expected to do justice to all, rotation and zoning would have to be allowed. Or until we have a truly federal constitution, where the federal government would have only about 12 items on its function, it won’t matter who is the president.*OUR POLITCAL QUAGMIRE AND PLANS FOR THE FUTURE*Most Southerners, Middle Belterners and most Nigerians want a restructured Nigeria with a new constitution that reflects the will of the people. This was our goal and is still our goal for a sustainable future Nigerian nation that will last the test of time. We need a Nigeria where every component part is allowed a measure of autonomy and self-determination. IWA maintains that the predominant aspiration in Nigeria is restructuring of the country with a new constitution and this should be the minimum that Ndigbo should demand, so that every component part of this country can substantially harness its resources and develop at its own pace. We want to make Nigeria one of the greatest countries on earth. God have blessed us with everything you can imagine (great intelligent youths, land, agriculture, mineral resources (Zinc, Mica, Tin, Copper, Gold and Oil except for good leaders. It is time to correct this because we should be one of the top ten countries on earth. We are now at the bottom and the last in every category worldwide due to very corrupt inept leadership that is blinded by nepotism.Nigeria is endowed with some of the world’s biggest oil reserves, plenty of arable land and a young, tech-savvy population of 206 million that sets Africa’s music, Nollywood films and fashion trends. Nigeria had the potential to break onto the global stage. Policy missteps, entrenched corruption and an overreliance on crude oil mean that Nigeria which makes up a quarter of the Africa’s continent’s economy risks becoming its biggest problem. A dangerous cauldron of ethnic tension, youth discontent and criminality threaten to spread more poverty and violence to a region quickly falling behind the rest of the world.Oil has dictated the boom-and-bust cycles of Nigerian economy, with the commodity now accounting for 90% of exports and half of government revenue. Over 90 million people live in severe poverty, more than India, which has a population seven times greater.Personal incomes are set to fall to their lowest in four decades, pushing an additional 11 million people into poverty by 2022, according to the World Bank. One in three Nigerians in the workforce are unemployed which is among the world’s highest jobless rates, fanning social discontent and insecurity.Buhari came to power in 2015 pledging to create 12 million jobs in his first four-year term but halfway through his second term, unemployment has more than quadrupled.The government policies have curbed foreign investment, pushed food inflation to 15-year highs and scaring off companies such as South Africa’s supermarket chain Shoprite Holdings Ltd. The World Bank said in a report, that price increases are pushing seven million people into poverty and encouraging criminality. Countries like Malaysia and Indonesia, which were as poor as Nigeria in the 1960s, have surpassed it in per-capita income after diversifying.A surge in corruption also wrested away resources needed for infrastructure and a reliable power supply — both of which are lacking. An associate fellow at Chatham House in London said in a lot of countries, people are used to officials skimming something off the top, but ultimately delivering something. In Nigeria, everything is skimmed off the top and nothing is delivered. The security situation is getting worse. The government has completely failed to provide even basic security. The security situation is a huge impediment for growth, costing the economy $10.3 billion in 2020 which is more than the federal government’s total revenue that same year according to official estimates. The government is living on borrowed money, with the costs of debt services gulping over 80% of its revenue.Nigerian diversity is a blessing if properly handled. The failure to reach Nigerian potential is caused mostly by the internal contradictions and the inability to build a fair country that can bring the best out of her component regions.There is a need to restructure Nigeria with a new constitution to ensure true federalism as it was in the 1963 constitution based on regions or zones. We need a Nigerian political structure that is based on equity, fair play, balance and equal access to political power for the good of all Nigerians. IWA believes that what Nigeria needs on the long run is true Fiscal federalism in a new constitution which is a system of government based upon democratic rules and institutions in which the power to govern is shared between National and Regional/State Governments. The individual federating units need to have more control over their own affairs.The regional government should control their resources and pay a percentage royalty tax to the federal government. The federal government should control issues in the single exclusive list such as military or foreign policy.People are calling for restructuring to whittle down the power at the Centre and give more powers to the states because they do more work.Restructuring includes security. If the federal security apparatus cannot cope with the security challenges and you should allow states to have their own police outfits, up to community policing. This is also restructuring.Restructuring includes good allocation formula from the federation account so that there will be equity. In a federation, the federating states should have an entitlement. You are producing oil; oil royalty should go to states as much as it is going to the centre; that is what the people are talking about.We should return to agricultural businesses such as was practiced in the sixties by our former leaders.For example:–Hides and skin in Nigeria for leather and ground nut in Northern Nigeria.–Cocoa for chocolate candy and drink and rubber product In Western Nigeria.–Palm oil, palm kennel, cocoa, coconut, cashew and rubber in Eastern Nigeria.IWA reiterated its position about Presidency of Nigeria of SE extraction. We ask that all political parties should zone Nigerian presidency to SE/Nigeria zone in 2023 and all efforts should be geared to achieving that goal. IWA states categorically, that only through restructuring can prevent Nigeria from disintegration.*NIGERIAN GOVERNMENT VS IPOB PROBLEMS:*IWA condemns the stands of Buhari’s government in labelling IPOB “a terrorist organization” while leaving the evil herdsmen who are the real killers, murderers, kidnappers and rapists, alone with the dubious labels they deserve and earned from their actions. These Fulani herdsmen terrorists who are the real terrorist are treated with kid’s gloves by Buhari’s government while turning around to hound IPOB members who, as far as we are concerned, are not terrorists, but are freedom fighters agitating for a better deal for their people through nonviolent means.We condemn Buhari government position of shooting South East (SE) youths on site because it is an act of ethnic cleaning and commitment of genocide. Restructuring of Nigeria should be a means of tackling the worsening security situation and the agitation for secession.*HERDSMEN VS FARMERS PROBLEMS*IWA has urged all indigenous Nigerians from North, South, East, and West to face the reality, to rise up and defend themselves. We are dealing with state sponsored terrorism against all the all-indigenous Nigerians.It is important to underscore that President Buhari’s primary objective to use Nigerian Armed forces, Boko haram and Herdsmen to fight jihad and massacre the indigenous people, mostly Christian people and take over their lands and give to Fulani’s have started. This is a war against 206 million Nigerians indigenous people declared by 4 million Fulani’s headed by some today’s prominent leaders.In the past, we had peace and tranquillity in Nigeria, but things have fallen apart with stories of Fulani herdsmen invading our villages, killing people, kidnapping people, destroying crops and raping our women and this is something we cannot tolerate. We are very concerned about that because the well-being of our people is involved. We will no longer accept this condition and we are now in serious conversations with our people on what to do about defending themselves.The Nigerian communities need to prepare to defend themselves and their families against the menacing herdsmen because we are not prepared to cede an inch of Igbo land to anybody because our landmass is very small. Our people must always protect their crops. If any animal comes to eat the crops, it means hunger will be in the land because that how an average family generates the money after harvesting and sales to train their children school or pay for hospital bills.These animals must be killed if they invade the farms and destroy the crops. If the cows come and eat our food, we will eat the cows. If the herders kill our people and destroy our things, we have the right to reciprocate. We want peace for us and for everybody but if somebody comes to fight us on our land, we will fight back.IWA commends Southern Nigeria Governors on their decision to ban open grazing in the Southern region. Southern Governors made us proud. We also salute some middle belt governors particularly the governor of Benue state, Governor Samuel Ortom, for fighting to protect his people and their land from being stolen from them. We also commend the regional security groups such as Amotekun and the Eastern Security Network (ESN), (Ebubeagu not yet operational) for fighting to protect their people and land from being stolen by terrorist invaders. We commend and salute their courage. This is the first step on the road to freedom, equity and justice.Open grazing is no longer feasible in the country due to development and population growth. Nigeria is a great country with great potentials and should, ordinarily, have no business with poverty, if there is guaranteed security for lives and property and if the people are allowed to remain stable in their localities, to explore opportunities in farming and other ventures.*NIGERIAN YOUTHS*With respect to our youths, one of the major determinants of good governance and sustainable development is the extent to which the government is able to create an enabling environment for its human capital development. The reality about Nigeria is that, in spite of the cost of formal education and its attendant difficulties, the prospect of employment is less promising. Overall, there is an obvious mismatch between the university graduate turnout rate and the graduate employment rate in Nigeria thus reinforcing that sense of hopelessness amongst the youth and increase in criminal activities. This is why youth development is a priority for us. It has been our vision to continue to stress the need for youth development in the areas of character education, building and remoulding of the future workforce.In conclusion, the salient points discussed in this paper are the positions IWA holds very firmly and we strongly urge any well-meaning Nigerians to implement them as quickly as possible in order to save our beloved country from the enemies of progress and all the evil forces currently interfering with our unity and peaceful co-existence.IWA is the Umbrella Organization that represents the Apex National Igbo Organizations (outside Nigeria) in more than thirty-five countries in the various parts of the world such as USA, UK, France, Spain, Finland, Netherland, Ireland, India, Ghana, Mali, Dubai, Pakistan, Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, Russia, Australia, Denmark, Japan, China, Turkey, Italy, Russia, Ukraine, Sweden and Canada.Long live IWA! Igbo Kwenu! Long live Nigeria! Dr. Nwachukwu Anakwenze, MD, MPH, MBAIWA Chairman CISA Chairman Board of Presidents/RepresentativesASA Worldwide ChairmanOnowu Abagana of Abagana Royal CouncilOmeligbo na AguleriIfe Ndigbo na Nri KingdomIke Ndigbo na Iduu Eri KingdomOkala madu na okala muo Contact Nwachukwu Anakwenze MD, MPH, MBA Cell Phone 310-993-8053Email: firstname.lastname@example.org