South-East leaders seek national conference, Igbo president

MORE major ethnic nationalities at home and abroad are raising the pitch in the call for a national conference, the latest being the umbrella organisation of Igbo groups in the Diaspora, Igbo World Assembly (IWA), which described the talks as essential to the need to restructure Nigeria for true federalism.
At its 7th convention in Enugu Wednesday, with the theme, “Repositioning of Igbo Existence in the Corporate Nigeria,” IWA stressed the entrenchment of equity and fairness in the affairs of the country, insisting that one way of doing this is through credible census and creation of another state within the South-East geo-political zone.
It also said the presidential ambition of the South-East should not be confused with the personal interest of some individuals. In fact, the IWA Chairman, Dr. Nwachukwu Anakwenze, declared in his address: “We should not wait beyond 2015 and 2019 to actualise that ambition, Ndigbo must be ready to win the presidency in 2015/2019, depending on President Goodluck Jonathan’s interest.”
Meanwhile, participants at a workshop for civil society organisations on the review of the 1999 Constitution in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State, have raised fears that the political class might have hijacked the review process, stating that the outcome may not reflect the wishes of the Nigerian masses.
Participants at the workshop, organised by HEDA Resource Centre in conjunction with Democratic Governance for Development Project (DGDP), urged people to take ownership of the review process for it to be worth the efforts.
The issues the gathering wanted included in the ongoing review exercise are fiscal federalism, autonomy for local councils, reduction of cost of governance, and reworking of the presidential system of government being run by the country, among others.
In a paper presented by Dr. Adebukola Adebayo entitled, “Quality of Public Consultation in the 1999 Constitutional Review Process,” the political scientist said a situation whereby the nation’s constitution is reviewed often indicates the poor quality of work always done on the document.
President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Gari Igariwey, called on Ndigbo to invest in the region to improve the zone’s economic status. Also, National Chairman of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, warned the zone not to wait further to join the presidential race.
According to Anakwenze, it is only through a national conference that the Igbo can find true status in the country. Stressing that, “the Igbo are the largest ethnic group in Africa and that credible census is needed for fairness and equity for all Nigerians,” he wondered why someone is afraid of having a reliable census.
Nevertheless, he commended President Jonathan for upgrading the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, but urged him to also upgrade the Sam Mbakwe Airport in Owerri to a full international cargo airport, urgently build the second Niger Bridge, dredge the River Niger and build a port at Onitsha, while also intervening in the 2,000 active erosion sites in Igboland.