Ekweremadu’s regionalism rhetoric
By Robert Obioha,
Friday May 04, 2012

Senator Ike Ekweremadu is in the news again. This time not for canvassing for legalization of prostitution, an issue he denied outrightly. The Deputy Senate President and Speaker of ECOWAS Parliament, is in the news again for canvassing a return to regionalism, this time, a six-regional structure. In a lecture he delivered at the Osgood Hall Law School, York University in Toronto, Canada, entitled “Nigerian Federalism, a case for review,” the senator from Enugu State foreclosed the door of creation of more states in Nigeria, an issue very dear to his Igbo people of the South-East.

He stridently made case for a Nigeria with federating six regions based on the extant six geo-political zones structure. Good, but first thing first. And that thing is the need for balance before entering into another political marriage.

The South-East cannot enter into Ekweremadu’s new arrangement or what Amanze Obi dubbed “a grand utopia” on five legs while others stand on six and one seven. Ekweremadu cannot feign ignorance of the need for one additional state to the South-East geo-political zone.
He and his Oga, Senate President, Senator David Bonaventure Mark, had times without number assured those clamouring for more states that the present Senate will surely create more states in the country. Their argument then was that if the military can create states, a civilian administration will not shy away from such constitutional responsibility. Many Nigerians including this writer hailed and applauded them for their forthrightness. Why the u-turn now?
Ekweremadu before coming up with his latest u-turn on state creation issue will not claim ignorance that the South-East more than any other geo-political zone in the country is in dire need of additional state.

Has he forgotten that the South-East is the only geo-political zone in the country with only five states? The rest have six states apiece while one zone, the North-West has seven states. How does Ekweremadu explain this lopsidedness in the structure of Nigeria that runs a federal system of government? In case he does not know, giving the South-East five states in a situation others have six and more is a negation of true federalism and equality of the federating units. This inequality has been on before the emergence of the nascent political dispensation in 1999.

Many Igbos including this writer have consistently harped on the need to give the South-East an additional state so that the zone can maintain parity with other geo-political zones. We had based this argument on marginalization of the zone due to the Nigeria-Biafra War. But since there was ‘no victor and no vanquished” in the brotherly war, a war fought to bring back Igbos to Nigeria, how come that the same Igbos are being discriminated against? Why is it that over 40 years after the war, the people of the South-East have been kept out of the commanding heights of Nigerian politics, economy and military? Are Nigerians afraid of an Igbo president?

I want Senator Ike Ekweremadu to see Senator Uche Chukwumerije on what the South-East has lost due to the absence of one state in terms of jobs and revenue allocation and other areas. Loss of state also means loss of council areas and political wards. Since politics is a game of number, where are we with only five states and few local governments and political wards? Emotionally and psychologically we have lost a lot. We have lost pride and prestige that in 36 state-structure of Nigeria only the South-East was given five slots. The Enugu State senator can also consult Joe Igbokwe of ACN to give him certain information I might have missed in this analysis.

Has Ekweremadu asked himself why regionalism was abrogated in Nigeria? At independence in 1960, Nigeria had three regions-North, East and West. A fourth one, Mid-West, was created in 1963 through an Act of parliament. Agreed that the regions fared well politically and economically but one thing led to another and things fell apart. The problem with Nigeria, apart from leadership one Chinua Achebe has espoused, lies with the nation’s faulty foundation. Until that fault is rectified, no system will work in Nigeria.

The entire patch- patch can only endure for a season. The feast of the gathering of tribes as Wole Soyinka portrayed in his commissioned independence play; A Dance of the Forests, will always be marred by unseen evil forces. Ekweremadu’s prognosis will not be an exception.
The argument against the creation of more states by Nigerians outside the South-East that the existing ones are not economically viable is trite and unreasonable. If the 36 states are unviable, is it the additional one to the South-East for a balance that will compound the problem? When has economic viability become a criterion for state creation in the country?

All state creation exercises in Nigeria from Yakubu Gowon to Sani Abacha were political. There was nothing economic in them. Gowon created 12 states in Nigeria in 1967 to weaken Biafra’s resistance. Is Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba listening? I mentioned him here because to him, state creation has become an “emotive issue.” He did not explain what makes it emotive. Is it because the South-East is asking for parity or that the sheer number of 54 requests for new states is emotive. When the powers that be granted Ndoma-Egba and his like their own state request it was not emotive. It has become emotive simply because the Igbos are involved. When will Nigeria stop Igbo-phobia?

I think that Ekweremadu missed the point. His regionalism rhetoric may not be the best option for Nigeria at this point in time no matter how sound his lecture may appear to be. The senator’s position contradicts the interest of those he represents at the senate in case he does not know. He is not the person that is supposed to make such pronouncement even if it is necessary. Nigeria’s problem today is not because there are too many states. Let’s take it as one of those ploys meant to distract from the main issue which is the need to create more states. The current Senate must keep its words. It should not eat it based on equivocations of Ekweremadu et al.

The problem lies in not having purposeful and committed leadership. We parade leaders that are selfish and self-serving. The land is full of leaders that do not have the interest of the masses at heart. Nigeria has leaders that are bereft of community spirit and fellow feelings.

Nigeria has bad people in government hence the monumental corruption being exposed daily in the media. Despite Dr. Enoch Adeboye’s exhortation that “evil men shall never rule us again,” corruption is everywhere and poverty level in increasing every second and criminality is let loose. “Everyman for himself, God for us all” seems to be the maxim. Ekweremadu should say the same thing he said in Canada at the Senate and let us see how other senators would react.

Umeh’s reservations on “Who succeeds Peter Obi?”
The National Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Umeh, after reading my article of April 20, 2011 entitled “Who succeeds Peter Obi?,” drew my attention to some perceived misrepresentations of his person as the National Chairman of APGA. He was particularly irked by the alleged comparison of him and the late APGA leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, and the feigned under-estimation of his role in the emergence of Governor Rochas Okorocha’s candidature and victory in Imo State gubernatorial polls last year.

I wish to assure him and his admirers that the article in question was not set out to disparage or intended to malign his integrity and personality. There was no intention to compare him with Ojukwu in the first place. Neither was his role in Imo polls, last year, downplayed.

If, therefore, there is anyway the article in question tended to diminish the qualities of Umeh or misrepresent him in any guise, whatsoever, such unintended outcome is deeply regretted. This column holds the APGA leader in high esteem.

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