Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
Eminent Igbo Elder Statesmen under the aegis of Igbo Leaders of Thought (ILT) led by renowned Constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze have asked President Muhammadu Buhari to quickly devise strategies that would address immediate causes of the present economic situation in the country and desist from blaming past administrations for driving the nation to recession.
The group expressed dismay over the inability of the present administration to find its feet and address the challenges of governance after over one and half years in office, noting that rather than lead the nation to economic prosperity, the administration had engaged in actions that have led the nation to its worst economic situation ever.
In a four-point communique issued by Prof. Nwabueze after the group’s meeting in Enugu earlier in the week but made available to newsmen yesterday, ILT said the activities of the Niger Delta Avengers who are avenging the injustices perpetrated against their area was a major contributory factor fuelling the recession, insisting that something urgent should be done to address the problem.
“The naira which stood at 50 kobo to $1 in the 1980s and in recent past N179 is now about N500 to $1. A bag of rice which sold recently at N9,000 now sells at N25,000 well beyond the minimum wage of the Nigerian workers. School enrolment has dropped drastically, many industries have closed down, banks have sacked thousands of workers, contractors are not paid and so with public servants in many states. Inflation rate hovers around 20 per cent,” they noted.
While asking the federal government to respect the laws of the land, the group noted that agitation for self-determination is not necessarily an agitation for secession and as such not a crime moreso when it is guaranteed by United Nation and African Charter.
They therefore demanded for the unconditional release of the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, insisting that his continued incarceration was one of the major factors inflaming agitation in the country.
“Political agitations for self-determination are taking place in various parts of the world in Europe, Asia, America e.t.c and the agitators are not massacred with State-owned arms and ammunition but are brought to a round table for dialogue,” they explained, adding that the situation here should not be different as dialogue remained the most appropriate approach to solving the challenges raised by the plethora of agitations.
The meeting drew former governor of old Anambra state, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Senator Anyim Ude, former Secretary General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Nduka Eya, Chief Enechi Onyia, constitutional lawyer, Prof. RACE Achara, Prof. Elochukwu Amucheazi, Prof. Chinweite Ejike, former ESUT Vice Chancellor and Deputy chairman of the South-East Leaders of Thought, Prof. Ike Oluka, Leader of Igbo Women Assembly, Mrs. Marie Okwor and Retired Arch-bishop of Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Maxwell Anikwenwa.
The forum also demanded for the restructuring of the federation. According to them, the current agitations across the country had made the need for restructuring more imperative, adding that with eminent Northern statesmen including Ango Abdulahi, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Adamu Ciroma as well as the leadership of Afenifere, South-south and Middle Belt political leaders throwing their support for restructuring, the momentum cannot be stopped any more.
On the current anti-corruption fight, the Igbo Leaders of Thought said though they were not against the fight, but they were opposed to the manner the fight is being prosecuted, noting that the fight was highly skewed against perceived opponents of the party in government.
“People are arrested and bank accounts frozen without due process. CNN announced that a serving Minister has over $700 million in one account in the United States and the federal government has not tried to probe him. The current Chief of Army Staff is alleged to own business in Dubai and no efforts have been made to ascertain the true source of his wealth.
“There are also observations that the recent purge of over 40 personnel in the army may have been motivated by considerations other than those of the public interest. Is it mere coincidence that they are mainly from south-east and other southern states?,” the communique noted.
Nwabueze had on the day of the meeting raised alarm that the federal government was pursuing an Islamisation agenda for the country, insisting that the current killings of innocent Nigerians across the country by the rampaging herdsmen was part of the plot.
“This is a very crucial meeting for us because we have not met for more than a year. And if you look at our agenda, such critical issues for discussion, issues like islamisation agenda and its impact on the unity of the country. Islamisation agenda is real, it’s not something that somebody has just conjured up, it’s there. And it’s been implemented gradually.
“Look at the security agencies; every aspect of security, you have Islamists in control in its entirety; in charge. They are methodical in the way they are going about its implementation. Look at Fulani herdsmen menace, it is part of it,” he said.