By Olisa Agbakoba, Sahara Reporters
The Summit was attended by hundreds of human rights and prodemocracy activists from all across Nigerian and representatives of the faith-based organizations. The Summit held at the Ofuobi African Center, Enugu, Southeast Nigeria.
The Summit deliberated on the state of affairs in the Igbo Nation of Nigeria, particularly on the issue of governance and the criminalization of political leadership in the region with the result that good and competent persons could not present themselves for leadership resulting in very poor quality of political representation. The summit also discussed on the state of siege and occupation of the region; political marginalization and exclusion of the people of the region in strategic appointments; the inequities inherent in the imposed constitutional arrangement of the federation which have peculiar effects on eastern Nigeria; unfair exploitation of natural resources in the region;grave crisis of underemployment and unemployment in the region which fuel insecurity and criminality; suppression of alternative and opposing political views and perspectives; and the continued detention and unjust trial of MASSOB activists.
Security and Criminality:
The Summit observed that the spate of massive election rigging, kidnapping and other criminal activities has turned the region into a failed territory where no meaningful economic, political and social activities are taking place. The Summit also observed that this grave insecurity is caused by the criminalization of governance in the Igbo Nation, which results in looting of resources that would have created jobs and hope for the people of the region and the failure of the federal government to establish industries and other strategic institutions that could have created jobs for the youths of the region.
Ala-Igbo has become militarized with a vast deployment of expeditionary and predatory police and army personnel who are from outside the region. For instance, there are 61 Police check-points between Abakaliki in Ebonyi State to Nsukka in Enugu State (a distance about 130km). In comparison, between Obolo-Afor and Lokoja, (a distance of nearly 400 km) no checkpoints exist.
This state of siege is exemplified by the current state of the purported cities in Eastern States(Aba,Enugu,Abakaliki,Onitsha,Owerri,Nnewi,etc) hitherto the fastest growing and thriving industrial cum commercial cities in the African continent now being turned into refuse dumps and ghettos. Businesses that would have provided jobs to engage our youths have been strangulated by incompetent and criminal leadership.
Political Exclusion and Marginalization:
1. The Summit observed that the Igbo Nation is politically and economically marginalized in terms of appointments into strategic positions. It also observed that unlike other regions where person removed from office are replaced by competent persons from the same region, sons and daughters of the Igbo Nation are replaced by persons from other regions. Notable examples include, the cases of INEC, CBN, NAPTIP, NAFDAC, which were hitherto headed by persons from the Igbo Nation and replaced with persons from other regions.
The Summit noted that the discussion about where the President of Nigeria will come from, how he or she will emerge and the controversial issue of zoning are being conducted without taking the interests of the Igbo Nation seriously.
Repression of Alternative Political Voices in Eastern Nigeria:
The Summit observed that there is a deliberate suppression and repression of alternative political voices in the Igbo Nation resulting in the violation of the rights to life, liberty, and dignity which has led to arbitrary arrests, torture, unlawful detentions, unjust trials, disappearances and extra-judicial killings.
Summit noted that because of this repressive environment has made Ala-Igbo a graveyard and our people have lost their republican spirit. The Summit further noted that this state of repression is caused by god-fatherism, destruction of the sacredness of the ballot-boxes and the imposition of leaders on Ala- Igbo by persons outside the region.
Unfair Exploitation of Natural Resources of the Region:
The Summit noted that Ala-Igbo produces natural resources for which it does not receive adequate compensation. This extent of this unfairness is dramatized by the example of Kogi, a state that does not produce oil,but has the Group Managing Director of NNPC and has been approved to host a major refinery of over N450billion ($3bilion) which is more than the combined allocation for the states in the region, while the region was not allocated any refinery.
The solid mineral industry in Ala-Igbo has been destroyed, particularly the coal industry. The destruction of the solid mineral industries results in grievous unemployment, collapse of the infrastructure and the economy.
Inequities in the Constitutional Arrangement of the Federation:
The summit noted that most of the intractable problems in the Igbo Nation have their roots in an inequitable constitutional arrangement that was designed and operated to expropriate their resources, reduced them to a political minority despite being a numeric majority; and made the people of the region slaves in their homeland.
Resolutions and Demands:
After analyzing the state of affairs in eastern Nigeria, the Summit resolves and demands as follows:
• Immediate demilitarization of the region by dismantling all checkpoints and security barricades in the region
• Immediate rescinding of the deployment of soldiers to eastern Nigeria on the spurious mission of fighting kidnapping, instead reorienting policing from expeditionary operations to intelligence-based operations in cooperation with communities should be pursued
• Immediate end to the criminalization of political and traditional leadership in the region, especially ensuring that no 419 or any other person of questionable character would be Governor or legislator for the region
• An end to the spate of election rigging and violence in the region; we will mobilize the people of the region to vote and protect their votes so that only persons who will defend the interests of the region occupy political offices
• Immediate and unconditional release, withdrawal of illegal criminal charges of members of the Movement for Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafran (MASSOB), including Chief Ralph Uwazurike, Uche Okwukwu, and other prisoners of conscience
• That Ala-Igbo should benefit from the exploitation of natural resources in its region. Therefore we demand three (3) refineries should be built in the region and sited in Enugu, Owerri and Calabar
• Immediate initiation of the process to return Nigeria to a federal structure upon which it was founded, including immediate restructuring of the Nigerian federation
• Appointment of credible and competent persons from Ala-Igbo to occupy strategic positions in the federation to give the people of the region justice and fairness
The Summit specifically notes with sadness the statements on ‘zoning’ credited to the governors of the states of south-eastern Nigeria and unanimously rejected the positions put forward by the Governors and state categorically that the views of the Governors were reached without consultation with the people and do not reflect the interests of the Igbo Nation.
The Summit, therefore, resolves that in order to facilitate the realization of these and upgrade political consciousness around all levels of the communities in Eastern Nigeria, it will establish:
(a) A Strategic Committee;
(b) A Contact and Outreach Committee;
(c) A Communication Team.
(d) Political Action Committees
Olisa Agbakoba(SAN) Barr. Benedict Ezeagu
Dr Sam Amadi Dr Uju Agomoh
Prof(Monsignor) Obiora Ike Engr. Alex Ayotalumuo
Dr Chidi Odinkalu Comrade Ibuchukwu Ezike
Barr.Tony Nnadi Comrade Uche Okwukwu
Rev Fr John Odey Prince Longinus Orjiakoh
Prof Ben Obumselu Deacon David Okoro
Comrade Malachy Ugwummadu Prof Christian Anieke
Chief Willy Ezugwu Dr Chidi Macjossy
HRH Eze(Dr)Chike Umesiobi Dr Martins Iwuanyanwu
Comrade Chuks Ehirim Comrade Onyeka Ajumobi
Comrade Emma Onwubiko Comrade Chidi Nwosu
Comrade Emeka Umeagbalasi Comrade Osmond Ugwu
Barr. Nwabueze Okoro Comrade Uzodinma Nwaogbe
Mazi Bismark Orji Mr Chima Ofong
Comrade Oziri Pascal Comrade Chuks Ibegbu
Dr Jerry Chukwuokolo Mazi Chijioke Asogwa
Hon.Celine Ugwu Comrade Okechukwu Orji