The apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has berated the South-East governors for coming to the national conference without a definite Igbo position.
The Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and delegate to the national conference, Dr Joe Nworgu who criticized the governors before journalists in Enugu at the weekend lamented that the governors did not set a common position for the South-East.
“One would have challenged the governors to tell us what their position on these issues is. Delegates appointed by governors came here with different portfolio stance. Ebonyi State government has always maintained that states should be the federating units and it is not just for this conference; they had the same view in the 2005 conference; they have not changed; so we all know the position of Ebonyi.
“What is surprising to everybody is the stand of Enugu because Enugu has never said they are against zoning and most of the meetings we held, top Enugu people, former Senate President, Ken Nnamani; former governor, Okwy Nwodo; Prof Ochioha and many other people had taken part in the formulation of Ohanaeze position and this Ohanaeze position is not just the Igbo position.
“After the Ohanaeze position under the auspices of His Excellency, Dr Alex Ekwueme, Igbo organisations met in Awka to streamline all their positions, the South East Peoples Assembly (SEPA), South East Peoples Development Assembly (SEPDA), Aka-Ikenga, Izu-Umunna, Igbo Delegate Assembly (IDA), this Igbo Delegate Assembly links all Igbo associations in Northern Nigeria plus Ohanaeze as the apex Igbo organisation.
“All of us met and streamlined our position as Ndigbo. It is this position that we streamlined in Awka that we took to Asaba for discussion with South-West and South-South. It was a two-day meeting at which committees were formed and discussion held therefrom, we arrived at the synthesis and a sync of what is a Southern position. It is that Southern position that each group was asked to defend and bring to the conference. That is the position Ohanaeze is carrying,” Nworgu said.
He, therefore, reasoned that for some of the states in the region to come to the conference with different agenda showed that “there is a crack in the South East Governors Forum.” The South East Governors Forum headed by Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State has always maintained after its meetings in Enugu that the governors of the region were satisfied with the performance of the delegates from the zone, pledging to continue to support them.
According to the Ohanaeze scribe, when they arrived in Abuja, the South East governors had put them together under Gen. Ike Nwachukwu (rtd) as South East delegate group.
“Ohanaeze co-operated under his leadership. We met and we have a South East peoples’ position which is not at variance with the Ohanaeze position of six zone structure.
“That was what Ike Nwachukwu and Igariwey (Gary) and those Igbo who were in that committee came to their committees with. But at the committee levels it’s not only the Igbo who were there, other interest groups were also there. So, if the overwhelming majority at that level goes against the Igbo position you will not blame the Igbo people who were in that committee. However, the committee report will be presented at the plenary,” he said.
He, however, said that despite the different positions of Ebonyi and Enugu, there was still hope at the plenary level where the final decision would be taken.
“So, it is not concluded that we’ve lost out. I want all Igbo, the South-West and the South-South to try to convince their colleagues from other areas on the necessity of the zonal structure for the development of Nigeria.
“It is only the zones that are large enough to receive devolved functions from the Federal level. The states are too small; in fact, most of the states are not viable. So, the Federal level cannot devolve very many things to state level; it is only the zonal structure that can absorb things we want to take away from the over centralised activities of the Federal Government that seems to still be a military government because it is too unitary and power is too concentrated at the centre that we want these powers to be dispersed,” he explained.
But Nworgu insisted that “the South East governors don’t have a joint agenda, they did not give us an Igbo agenda.”
He said that Ohanaeze did not know the agenda the governors were pursuing; saying that “it would have been good if the governors have met and said that this is what we want you people to do; it has not been done until now; I have not seen what puts the South-East governors together as regards Igbo core interest like the zonal structure issue.”