orji uzor kalu
? By Ogbueshi Nnolim
As a Deltan who was brought up in Enugu, schooled in Nsukka, and had business calls in Onitsha and Aba cities, I am proud of my Igbo origin and connection and feel very disturbed when the Igbos flounder. Newspaper reports of the show of shame which like a bad dream began in Imo and has now embroiled the Igbo states of Imo and Abia is frightening and may lead us into a huge joke if not quickly addressed.
This led me into review of previous readings where Chief Orji Uzo Kalu made presentations exposing the relegation of the Igbos in the Nigerian Project. According to him, the North West has seven states while others have six. In terms of local governments, the South East also has the least ? 95. The North West has 186 local government areas, North East 112, North Central 115, South West 138 and South-South 123.
For the federal constituencies, which form the basis for election into the House of Representatives, the South East has 43 while the North West has 92, the North East 48, North Central 49, South West 71 and South-South 55.
For Senatorial Districts, the North West tops with 21, the North Central, North East, South- South and South West all have 18 and the South East with the least, 15.?
The imbalance according to the author permeats every political and economic indices vis-?-vis sharing of resources, low numerical strength in the Federal Executive Council, a yawning gap in the National Assembly et al. This stretches to the civil service, military, other uniformed jobs and the diplomatic missions.
These disparities have been taken further to the ruler-ship of the country. While those from the North Central have ruled for 17 years, 11 months and 20 days as at the time of the address, the North West has occupied the country?s presidency for 13 years, 11 months and 10 days; the South West for 11 years, 10 months and eight days; the North East for five years, three months and 15 days; and the South- South for five years and 23 days.
But for the South East, leading the country has only been for six months and 13 days. ?The structural disparities are constitutionally entrenched (please see the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999), thus their grave implications for Ndigbo are beyond the primary questions of inequity and marginalization.?
?With unequal voice in the Federal Executive Council, in the National Assembly, on the federal judicial benches and a vast array of other fora in which the Igbo find themselves.?
Having read these catalogues of injustice and institutionalized hostility to the Igbo race, why should Ndi Igbo themselves work hard to be their own worst enemies? Is this a jinx? Can?t Ndi Igbo solve their problems without washing their dirty linens in the public? Where are the so-called Igbo Leaders?
Eyewitness accounts have it that the Executive Governor of Imo State Owelle Rochas Okorocha stormed no 5 Wederal Road, Owerri, like a trooper, stopping his convoy with blaring siren and screeching tyres on April 19, 2013, and jumped into the business premises and loading bay of Abia Line Networks.
The Owerri Manager of Abia Line network who was pleasantly surprised at such August visit scampered nervously around to hail and genuflect to the visitor of Imo University, but was rudely shocked by the fire breathing pronouncements that the transport company?s premises has been shut down without good reasons. Oddly enough, Peace Mass Transit and Rivers State transport companies on the sides were left to function.
According to Abia Line officials who complied immediately like good citizens and made haste to relocate to another site at MCC Road, their efforts were frustrated almost after a seeming consummated negotiation was thwarted at the last moment when ink was almost put to paper. As it appears in this circumstance, some questions are pertinent.
The initial reasons flimsy as it were accused Abia Line of environmental neglect in the premises. How was this environmental flagrancy ascertained?
Was this finding on a cleanup day?
Have there been warnings and surcharges, fines and possible arraignments in any environmental court, by Ministry of Environment that reserves the authority to prosecute?
Obviously, there is more to it than meets the eye. Why would it be the governor, busy as it seems that will carry out the eviction of a sister state where direct channels exist at top levels? Strangely this occurred without notice and days of grace allowed by law where necessary?
Mr Ugochukwu Uweke, the General Manager of Abia Line Network in a press conference bemoaned his efforts to resolve this amicably as he wrote and submitted a protest to the office of his Excellency, Owelle Anayor Rochas Okorocha, which his office signed and received on June 26, 2013 and has refused to address. As he claimed, till date no response or the suggested palliative in form of relocation or assignment of a virgin site has been made.
Incongruously enough, theses are sister states. In truth, Abia Line Network grew out of Imo Transport at the creation of Abia in 1991 when movable assets were cordially shared. This was so thorough that the first fleet of Abia Lines came from Imo Transport where they allowed Abia choicier vehicles since they could not partake in the immovable assets and since then, have operated fruitfully, amiably and collaboratively to the extent of mutually loaning out vehicles when the occasion called for it?
As many asked, why the hostility ensconced by Owelle at such a high level that makes the Igbo a more laughing stock? Why would some of our leaders not consider the accompanying hardship and suffering their actions would cause the poor masses before embarking on the untoward? More so, where is the Igbo homogeneity and solidarity? Why do they stand aside and watch as such dare devilry continue? Is this a case of a pharaoh that does not know Joseph?
It is unfortunate that we Deltans, minority as it seems in Delta State are working hard to close the cultural and language gaps and conversely, people who are blessed not to have these destabilizing factors now go to create problems where it doesn?t exist?
While not trying to pass a hasty judgment, it is on record that our Owelle has become too controversial against his creed and revered title of Owelle, which should be a manifestation of peace, fidelity and educable dispositions like late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and the present Owelle of Onitsha are known for. A catalogue of controversies have trailed Okorocha since after inauguration as a governor if these are points to go by. Recall that he enthroned an unconstitutional fourth-tier government. While that was raging, teachers were ordered to wear uniforms like their students as if in the medieval times. Not done with that, the Imo University was hastily moved to Ogboko, Okorochas village with little or no infrastructure on ground. There is a recent court judgment where a revered Eze was spuriously dethroned and now restored.
It is my humble plea that Igbo Leaders should as a matter of strict urgency move to find solutions to the myriads of problems facing Ndigbo as listed above to enable future generations to mutate socially and politically.
The recent news that Peace Mass Transit and Rivers State Transport Companies have been closed has the semblance of a good after thought. It was equally gathered that Imo Transport has been long concessioned to a private operator so what is Owelle fighting for that he should leave important issues of governance to act as a court messenger and bailiff. Could this be a Land grab of a reckless nature or revenge?
Looking at other scales, the land where Abia Line operates is private property, properly negotiated and commissions regularly paid. Is the governor not belittling his office and self esteem in serving a quit notice so flagrantly? Owelle should have channeled his ejection to the lessee and not Abia line the lessor. After all, Abia is on a legitimate business not involved in criminal operations like kidnapping, armed robbery and gun running that may warrant such executive interference. Igbos should think of solutions and stop escalating our problems.