Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State
By Vincent Obia
Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State has called on the people of his Igbo South-east to unite and speak with one voice on national issues, saying that is the only way they can remain relevant and fulfil their expectations in Nigeria.
Obi said this Saturday in Orlando, Florida, at the 18th Annual Convention of Igbos in the United States organised by the World Igbo Congress.
The governor’s comments came amid the clamour by the people of the South-east for someone from the zone to be Nigeria’s next president after President Goodluck Jonathan to assuage a growing feeling of deprivation among the people. The zone, which currently has the least number of states among the six geopolitical zones of the country, has also been demanding the creation of additional states for them in the ongoing constitution amendment process, to ensure geopolitical equity.
But Obi frowned on the internal fragmentations in the South-east and said for there to be any meaningful development in the zone, the people must unite as a group.
They must also avoid pulling down one another in the pursuit of selfish interests, he said.
Obi challenged the Igbo in the U.S. to emulate the Indians in the Diaspora, whose contributions to the development of their home country through foreign material and intellectual investments are legendary.
“I am here today, some people will come to me to tell me the prospect of buying beautiful houses in Orlando rather than tell me the ideas they have on how Igbo land would develop for the good of our people,” he said.
Obi identified misplacement of values as the bane of Igbo progress and called for a return to the core values of the Igbo society. He said recognition and celebration of excellence and honesty were key aspects of the Igbo culture, which encouraged the pursuit of excellence and achievement. The governor regretted that nowadays, rather than recognise excellence and integrity, many among the Igbo look up to swindlers and persons who seek wealth and power at any cost, as role models.
The governor, however, expressed happiness that after many years of disunity, the World Igbo Congress had reunited. He urged Igbos in other parts of the world to embrace unity and forge a common front for the development of their native land.
Many Igbos feel rather left out in contemporary Nigerian politics and point to the presidency and inequality of states as some of the major signs of the perceived deprivation.
In a recent interview with THISDAY, the Obi of Onitsha and chairman of Anambra State Creation Committee, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, faulted what he called a sectional perception of leadership in the country.
But he said due to the country’s pseudo-federal system and its attendant geopolitical inequalities, the South-east deserved to produce the next president and to have additional states.
“Igbos feel they must have a turn because they feel totally disenfranchised in the political leadership and governance of the country since independence. Therefore, for equity and sense of belonging, Igbos deserve to produce the next president after Jonathan,” Achebe said.
He added, “The reason we are asking for more states in the east is because of the system of revenue allocation, federal appointments, and siting of federal institutions.
“Everything has been done on a state basis. We have five states in the South-east, whilst other geopolitical zones have six states each and the North-west has seven.
“We feel disenfranchised because we have fewer states.”
Obi told the Igbo convention that the political wishes of the South-east would remain a pipe dream if they fail to unite.
The convention was attended by the chairman of Ohaneze, Ambassador Ralph Uwechue, National Chairman of All Nigeria Peoples Party, Dr. Ogbonaya Onu, Professor Pat Utomi, among other dignitaries.