Chief Richard Nnadi is a public commentator and industrialist. In this interview with RAPHAEL EDE, he said the marginalization of the Igbos after the war has remained a terrible experience. He believes the ‘No victor no vanquished’ declaration is no reality
Confab and the Ndigbo agenda
I support the convocation of National conference and its timing is apt. This is because it is coming on the occasion of celebration of the Nigeria’s centenary; to mark 100 years of existence of the country. One major thing Ndigbo need is to have at least, an additional state created for the South East. Of the 6 geo-political zones in Nigeria, it is only the South East that has the least; precisely five states while others have between 6 and seven. Giving the high population of Igbos who are scattered all over the world, South East deserves two additional states. But if we are given an additional one to make it six now, it is still okay.
I expect creation of additional state to top the priority of Ndigbo in the national conference. If Ndigbo have an additional state, the issue of inequity and marginalization would have been almost solved, South East would be able to have equal number of law makers to back their demands in the National Assembly. At present, the five South East states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo have a total of 95 local government areas, which is about equivalent of what Kano and Kastina States put together has.
The shortcoming is glaring in the House of Representatives, where there are 360 members elected on the basis of federal constituency comprising of one or more local government areas. In this respect, if there is a bill to be passed into law and it is in the best interest of Ndigbo, any other ethnic group that does not want it or fear Igbo domination will easily mobilize and kill the bill.
On Ohanaeze Ndigbo’s N3.4 trillion reparation for the civil war damage
It is a request in the right direction, the Igbos were truly deprived of their lives, means of livelihood and properties before, during and after the civil war. The Igbos lost their properties in various parts of Nigeria which in some cases were tagged ‘abandoned property’. They lost their lives in various parts of Nigeria. Don’t forget that before the war, the former Eastern Nigeria economy was the fastest growing economy in West Africa, given the infrastructures that were put in place by the then Eastern Regional government. But these things were lost to the war; the Oji River power station was lost to the war; the Niger Steel company, a premier steel company in this part of the world; Niger Gas in Enugu is today a shadow of what it were, and Nigercem at Nkalagu, could not find its feet since after the war; they were all consumed.
Where do we begin from? Our agricultural base including the famed farm settlements that produced the palm plantations, cashew plantations, rubber plantations, banana plantations, and a whole host of others were all consumed by the war. But most disheartening is the obnoxious fiscal policy that economically impoverished and psychologically traumatized Ndigbo in that no matter what amount of money you had in the banks, the Igbo man was left with only twenty pounds.
In the fifties and sixties, Ndigbo were on top of the country’s economy. Don’t forget also that an Igbo man was the first millionaire in West Africa in the person of Sir Louis Philip Odumegwu-Ojukwu who donated his Rolls Royce to chauffer the Queen of England when she visited the country. Sir Louis Odumegwu-Ojukwu was the father of Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu, Ikemba Nnewi, the first graduate produced by the Nigerian army, who led Igbos to fight the Biafran war of 1967 – 70.
So I support the call for the reparation to Ndigbo to sooth them and give them a sense of belonging since the no victor, no vanquished policy of the federal government has turned out to be a mere lip service. After the war, the federal government came up with the 3Rs –Reconciliation, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction. But from indications, these policies were not translated into programmes as marginalization of Ndigbo, under-development policy via neglect of roads into Eastern region to slow down the region’s economy, and denial of citing of infrastructure in Igboland prevailed.
As we all know, there was problem of hostage taking in the Niger Delta and the federal government introduced amnesty programme for the youth in the area by which they were made to receive monthly pay and got entrepreneurial sponsorship in and outside the country to build their capacity. In Igbo land, the young ones that got involved in kidnapping on account of joblessness are yet to be extended the liberal policy of amnesty and rehabilitation.
Staggered elections and our enduring democracy
No. It does not augur well. We will never know how successful we have been operating the democracy if elections are not held one and same day. Efforts should be made to hold elections same day. The advantage is that each state is given equal opportunity and level playing around to contest election. But if election is conducted in one state, the chances of moving voters from other states to come and register in another state is there, but if the elections are held simultaneously, the issue of double registration or voting will not be there. I canvass for conducting of all elections in all the states same day especially for the governorship in which once you are elected as governor of a state; your tenure begins to run from that date of swearing in.
President Jonathan’s ground breaking ceremony of the Second Niger Bridge, Onitsha
It is one of the greatest things that would happen to Nigeria. The Second Niger Bridge is an interface connecting the South-East, South-West and South-South and the Middle Belt. It will enhance economic development significantly through the free movement f goods and services across both ends from Lagos to South east, South-South and Northern Nigeria. It will surely serve the economic needs of Nigerians especially in the area of commerce and industry. We in the South-East are elated that in no distant time the traumatizing experience of commuters, travelers have at the old Onitsha Bridge will come to an end.
The Igbos cannot thank President Goodluck Jonathan enough for living up to his promises. We are aware of the futile efforts of successive administrations to put the Second Niger Bridge in place, but today President Jonathan has shown with the ground breaking ceremony that it is no longer an empty campaign promise. President Jonathan has finally reintegrated the hitherto marginalized Igbos holistically into Nigeria’s developmental mainstream, talk of practical construction of Ziks mausoleum, talk of national burial of Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, talk of Onitsha Cargo Port, talk of Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu, talk of appointment of the Chief of Army Staff, talk of the appointment of the first Igbo Inspector General of Police, and so on.