*Say no future elections in eastern region without restructuring
*Give Oct. 1 deadline for commencement of process
By Emeka Mamah, Vincent Ujumadu, Levinus Nwabughiogu
Enugu — 10 pro-Biafra groups, including the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, yesterday lambasted the National Assembly, NASS, for rejecting the restructuring of the country, saying that there would be no future elections in the old Eastern Region if genuine efforts were not made to start the process before October 1, this year.
MASSOB, in a statement by its leader, Comrade Uchenna Madu said that it was not surprised that the National Assembly rejected the call for the restructuring of Nigeria, as the outcome was evidence that the country’s leaders were not prepared for equity and justice in the country.
The other nine pro-Biafra groups which met in Enugu argued that the 1999 Constitution which was handed over to Nigerians by the General Abdusalami Abubakar’s military administration was more of a decree and hence unworkable as a constitution.
The groups included the Eastern Consultative Assembly, ECA, South- East Elders Union, SEEU, the South East Christian Network, Igbo Women Assembly, Igbo Traders Association, South East/South Youth Assembly, Ofuobi Cultural Association, Igbo Students Union and Igbo Youth Movement, IYM.
In their communique entitled, “Enugu Declaration,” the groups lamented that “the General Abubakar Decree 24 popularly known as the 1999 Constitution and its militarily imposed unitary structure simply makes it impossible for the hapless electorate to choose their own leaders.,” warning that Nigeria must be restructured now or count the easterners out of future elections in the country.
The communique was signed by the Founder of IYM, Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu- Uko, Publicity Secretary of ECA, Rev Fr John Odeh, as well as Dr Alfred Udokwu for South East Elders Union; Bishop Mike Ibenene for South East Christian Network,; Chief (Mrs) Maria Okwor for Igbo Women Assembly; Chief Chris Obikwelu for Igbo Traders Association; Mazi Chimezie Ubani for Igbo Students Union; Comrade Akpan Effiong for South East/South South Youth Assembly and Elder Richard Okonkwo for Ofuobi Cultural Association.
According to the communique; “the Eastern Consultative Assembly, in conjunction with eight other groups held an emergency meeting today (yesterday) in Enugu and declare as follows:
“Due to the desperate attempts by enemies of equity and justice to sustain by all means this evil unitary structure that has visited untold hardship, misery and disequilibrium on our land, we are now left with no other choice than to embark on civil disobedience and passive resistance, accordingly, our people will no longer participate in their unitary Nigeria events henceforth.
“Having consulted widely among our people, in order to build lasting and binding consensus, before taking final decision, and since the shocking attempts by those who are fiercely opposed to returning Nigeria back to regional arrangement through a peaceful restructuring process decided to insult the entire country by embarking on childish distraction of quit notices and divide and rule tactics, and unhelpful constitutional amendments, all geared towards sustaining the current unitary structure imposed on Nigeria on May 26th 1967, it has become necessary to make public our findings and decision.
“The struggle by a tiny clique to sustain by all means, the status quo, imposed on Nigeria by unelected soldiers, by issuing threats of war in the false hope that the 196 million Nigerians held down in unacceptable squalor, fear, helplessness and arrested development will be cowed by this threats of military action and therefore back down from the noble struggle to save Nigeria, through a peaceful restructuring is provocative and offensive.
“Their arrogance, and ruthlessness has no place in the 21st century. It can only lead to the death of Nigeria.
“Nigeria must be restructured, if Nigeria is to survive. Egalitarianism, equity and merit-based system must be enthroned. And fiscal federalism and regional autonomy established through a new people’s constitution, affirmed at a referendum. This is the irreducible minimum. Those struggling to resist this desirable change that will save Nigeria, and grant every zone a sense of belonging, are hereby declared enemies of the people.
“Accordingly, we the oppressed masses of Eastern Nigeria, conscious of the fate of our children, reject in totality, the quite offensive arrogance of those opposed to restructuring, and hereby declare that we will not participate further in any elections whatsoever until Nigeria is restructured to true fiscal federalism anchored on regional autonomy.
“We restate that if genuine processes towards restructuring Nigeria is not embarked upon by the Federal Government on or before the 1st of October 2017, our people will find it extremely difficult to continue to participate in the Nigerian project.
“The division in the land, the hate in the system and the apprehension in the air, all, confirm the urgency for a re-engineering and reconstruction of the nation, we aver that those who disagree, are not only enemies of the country, but also agents of destabilization.
“We affirm, with every sense of responsibility, that continuing to vote in elections in this dysfunctional land will be deepening the hole the country has fallen into. Moreover, we do not wish to enslave our children to a life of second class status. We will no longer vote in any elections whatsoever, until Nigeria is restructured. Period. This is the demand, desire and decision of the masses of Eastern Nigeria.
“We therefore conclude, that apart from the political class and their political structure oti mpku (foot soldiers) and the elite club who live in comfort zones, 99 percent of our people do not see any benefits of electing leaders the structure makes impossible to hold accountable, leaders who remain insensitive to the needs of the masses. Restructure now, or count us out of your elections.”
MASSOB leader, in his own statement said the organisation was, indeed, celebrating the rejection of restructuring by the National Assembly as it would enhance its struggle for the actualization of Biafra.
According to him, the latest position of the Nigerian Senate on devolution of powers, restructuring and other national interests for national equity and justice was wholesome evidence that Nigeria was handed over to Hausa Fulani by the British colonial masters.
He said: “In fact, we had said it uncountable times that no meaningful process to restructure Nigeria will ever work because it will affect the fraudulent foundation of the system that birthed Nigeria by the British.
“This Arewa opposition to the national equity and justice will continue to revive the over- charged Biafra consciousness and tension in Nigeria. MASSOB hails the northern dominated Nigerian Senate for opposing all the efforts for national equity and justice that was expected to affect the regional interest of Arewa people. We know that Britain would have been disappointed in the religious leaders of Arewa people if Nigeria is restructured for national equity and justice.
“MASSOB and other pro Biafra groups are being justified in their non violence activities for Biafra actualization and restoration. With this development, what will Igbo political, religious and traditional leaders do now for their ever loved Nigeria? Even the North central, the so called Middle Belt senators cowardly bowed to the pressure of the core northern leaders.”
MASSOB added that it was also not moved by the review or removal of the quit notice order given to the people of Biafra by a coalition of Arewa Youths, advising that whatever was the original reason behind the first step of the quit notice order should be carried out, “unless they have suddenly become cowards in their own land”
Madu said further: “MASSOB charges the coalition of the Arewa Youths not to back out from their threat against Ndigbo living in Arewa land. Millions of Igbo Biafrans are residents in all the urban and rural towns of Arewa land waiting for the destruction of their lives and property by Arewa Youths coalition led by their arrowhead, Yerima Shettima.
“MASSOB advises Yerima Shettima and his fellow Arewa Youths not to change their minds on October 1st. The world is waiting to see the latest political drama that will erupt in Africa. The threat can never stop MASSOB and other groups on Biafra self determination struggle for actualization and restoration.
“The journey for the freedom of Biafra has reached the point of no return and we can never relent as we shall continue to maintain our non violence principle.”
Meanwhile, a former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. Ogbonna Nwuke has lashed out at the federal lawmakers for opposing restructuring saying they made a huge mistake.
Reacting to the development in Abuja, Hon. Nwuke who was a member of the immediate past 7th Assembly where he represented Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency of Rivers State said that the lawmakers had failed to make history.
He said that the exercise was one timely opportunity the National Assembly needed to start the much yearned restructuring of Nigeria to give States more power.
“It is strange, very strange that members of the 8th Legislature apparently do not appear to appreciate the enormity of the growing frustration among Nigerians who very much want to renegotiate what they see as the unfavourable relationships that have more or less hampered the march to nationhood.
“As leaders, we have been inundated by calls for the restructuring of the country. Here we were with a unique opportunity to prove to doubting Thomases who do believe in the Nigerian project that we could truly as a nation commence the process with a carefully crafted move designed to make the devolution of power part of the amendments.
“Many Nigerians agree that shedding the weight of an overbearing Federal Government is necessary, at least to put development in the States and possibly the local government on the fast track. There is no doubt that in restructuring the responsibility of the states for instance, the spate of agitation across the country would have been slowed down.
“For reasons that are best known to lawmakers, they shut down a little window that could have given renewed vigour to those who pray daily for stimulating changes which would move the nation forward.
“For the National Assembly, a vote in favour of the devolution of powers could have shown clearly that the legislative institution has the capability to deal gradually with issues that Nigerians want their leaders to address, some of which may not be sustainable at this time.
“I think the vote against the devolution of power was a huge mistake, an exhibition of some narrow parochial calculation that can only create more problems.
“As a country we failed to make history but I think that the National Assembly lost the chance to be part of that history”, he said.
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