-South East governors berated over insecurity
The Civil Liberty Organization (CLO) is one of the most vocal groups involved in the promotion of human rights in Nigeria. The CLO began its activities in 1987 and pride herself as agents of development in any nation. They appear to play important role in social, political and economic development activities. The transformation of any society or system, particularly developing societies like Nigeria depend on the effectiveness and efficiency of this group.
Following the 60th independence anniversary of the country and the wide spread bad mood that continues to pervade the atmosphere on the state affairs of the country, a vibrant activist, Patron and a leading member of Nigerian Civil Liberty Organization here in Enugu, Comrade Kindness Jonah has described the country as a nation that has been on a downward spiral 60 years after her independence.
Speaking to The Choice Flame in an exclusive interview over the state of affairs in the country, Kindness Jonah blamed the foundation of the country as the major problem the country is facing which according to him was structured to favor a particular part of the country at the expense of the others.
Going down memory lane from 1905 to 1914 of the Nation’s protectorate amalgamation and through her eventual independence in 1960, Comrade Kindness Jonah believed that the deceptive intention of the actors in the earlier structuring of the country before independence is what has been haunting us and working against our collective growth as a nation.
He sees this as a perpetual institutionalization of mediocrity that has eaten deep into the fabrics of the nation, cutting across all levels of the country.
He said; “Nigeria was created for the North and was created to be ruled by the North”. Referring to the first coup d’état of 1966, widely, but wrongly adjudged the Igbo coup, he said; “that coup was focused on balancing Nigeria on equity and fairness.”
“The poor structuring of the country has given birth to mediocrity”, he said and according to him, “mediocrity gives birth to mediocrity”.
“Unless there is a vibrant structural balance to go to the epicenter of Nigerian-ness and disorganize every other facet of ethnicism, religion and remove it from the Nigerian constitution and make Nigeria a 100% circular state. Create equal states among regions in Nigeria, devolve power from the center to the states, every state produce and remit a certain percentage to the center while the centre carries three major cardinal institutions, which is; external affairs, finance and the military. Every other thing should go to the state”, Kindness Jonah postulates.
Restructuring and Igbo Presidency: The two contentious political debates
Though unconstitutional, the concept of rotational presidency has been championed by the political actors in the country to foster equity, fairness and peace amongst the regional interests in the country, especially the three major regions of the North, South, East and West.
Former Goodluck Jonathan was vehemently opposed by the North, though arguably the most Nigerian President that could boast of a giant development stride in the region, because the North felt shortchanged with the abrupt end of the Late Umar’u Musa Yar-Adua’s regime.
The region held the argument that the North should be allowed to finish her 8 year tenure following the demise of Yar-Adua, but was interrupted by the eventual confirmation of Jonathan as the substantive President and his contesting of the seat in 2011.
However, the region couldn’t stomach it anymore with the attempt by Jonathan to go for another term in 2015 leading to an almost blinded sentimental political build up against him from the region in collaboration with political bigwigs both in the South and West.
The South East as a region have not tested the seat of the Presidency since democracy was restored in the country in 1999 and the region is of the argument that for fairness and equity as well as in the spirit of One Nigeria, the Igbo nation should be allowed to produce the next President of the country. However, the argument for and against that position has almost dominated the polity and the news even as 2023 next general election is still two years ahead.
For people like Kindness Jonah, the issue of restructuring should rather take the front burner over every other political argument considering the current decay the country has found itself in.
Kindness Jonah further blamed the back and forth argument over restructuring and the undeterred posture of the presidency on the selfish dispositions, as well as supposed religious advantage a certain quarter of the country has over others as enabled by the constitution.
“But for now, those who control things by their selfish and religious inclination benefit from this centralization. Though, Igbos led by Ojukwu stood on Aburi which is restructuring in the sense. Incidentally, Ironsi was killed for the same centralization they have refused to let go now when he first introduced it as a system of governance. We have no other choice now than to save Nigeria, because, currently it is like we are only postponing the evil day. Let Nigeria be really one and not favor one tribe against the other’, he said.
It was John F. Kennedy of America that said; “Those who make peaceful change impossible, make violent change inevitable”. Stating the obvious fact as it relates to Nigeria, the Punch Editorial on 7th October titled; ‘Buhari, heed the warnings of eminent voices on restructuring’ wrote, “With an overwhelming signs that Nigeria is sinking, some hitherto silent Nigerians have added their eminent voices to the clamor for action. With the centrifugal forces threatening its fabric, clerics, politicians, traditional rulers, retired military officers, right advocates and socio-political groups are speaking the truth to power in an unmistakable manner on the need to save the country from itself. It is a timely development. In turn, it might persuade other critical segments of society to take up the gauntlet and speak out too. It is too dangerous to leave the fate of this country hanging in the balance.”
Re-echoing this fact, Comrade Kindness Jonah further expanded the concept of true federalism which could be the threshold on which Nigerian should take up from.
He said; “We are calling for the diffusion of power from the central, diffuse it from the central to the regions. Let the region have over 80% of the power. The center should not be a conglomeration of interests from the region.
“When this happens, you cannot accuse and blame other tribes for your plight and woes, you can now hold your regional leaders responsible. If we don’t restructure, a particular group will be at the center lording it on others and it will only grow resentments and anger. The more we delay restructuring, the more we are postponing the evil days which will certainly come. That thing we are trying to avoid will happen. If we don’t want to go to war and destroy Nigeria, let restructuring happen.
“This will mean creating equal state among the geopolitical zones in the country, allowing each state to determine their style of local government system as it can finance, each state pay to the regions and the center. People can hold their region responsible for their plight and stop over dependency on the central. We are trying to jaw-jaw and not to war-war, but when you refuse to jaw-jaw, we will war-war.
“The inequity is too much in the country. Igbo presidency is a gamble. Even if they give it to an Igbo man, you will swear an oath to protect the constitution of Nigeria and that is where the major issue lies. The constitution of the country is religiously skewed and needs a review.
“There is nothing called Igbo presidency, what an Igbo man wants is a perfect restructured country. If we push them to the wall, they will select their stooge to be the president and at the end nothing will change.”
Insecurity: South East Governors should wake up
Condemning the level of insecurity in the South East and an increasing level of Police harassment in the region, especially on youths, Comrade Kindness who described himself as a believer of rule of Justice urged the Governors of the South East to step up to the responsibility of securing her people. He challenged them to take a cue from unity adopted by the Governors of the South West in setting up Amotekun and take charge of the security of the region.
“Insecurity is an endemic case in the South East, even as a highly policed state, South East Governors should step up and adopt Amotekun style of the west to tackle insecurity in the region. It has come to the point where our Governors stop appearing weak, confront the issue head on and step up fight against insecurity in the region even with the many police checkpoints scattered across the region.
“We need the Yoruba version of Amotekun, even if they can’t sponsor it with their money, they should mobilize our people. Forest guard vehicles gallivanting the streets of Enugu should be channeled back to where it is supposed to work”, he noted.
The activist further called for a law against open grazing and reiterated that Insecurity in the region cannot stop unless someone rises against it.