The Igbo are tired of being used as “Nigeria’s scapegoats and canon fodder” and should be accorded equal treatment with other ethnic groups in the country, a group of professionals has said in a letter to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
The Igbo Intelligentsia Forum (IIF), a worldwide forum of Igbo professionals, in a statement signed by Joseph Chukwuma Ikunna, its national coordinator, among other officials, said one of the reasons fuelling the discontent of some Igbo youth is “the routine killing of the Igbo, even for things they have absolutely no connection with”.
IIF was reacting to a call by a coalition of northern youth groups to allow the Igbo actualise their dream of a sovereign state of Biafra.
It condemned the recent quit notice issued to the Igbo in the region as well as various hate speeches and calls for Nigeria’s disintegration.
“It is inconceivable that any group of people will be happy that the only solution to conflict resolution is the killing of their people. The action of the routine killing of our people is against equity and natural justice,” the statement read.
“The region is suffering severe infrastructure deficit and the absence of significant federal presence. For example, the only federal government commercial venture in the south-east is the moribund Nigerian Coal Corporation, while other regions have petro-chemical, steel, aluminium, defence, fertilizer, iron ore, liquefied natural gas, power plant ventures etc.
“The initial national gas pipeline network was designed to bye-pass the south-east under the pretext that the demand for gas in the region is low. Out of over 140 non-ministerial agencies, which excludes educational, health and research institutions, only two have headquarters sited in the south-east, namely the War Museum in Umuahia and Anambra/Imo River Basin Development Authority in Owerri.
“The issue with the location of headquarters of major agencies of government is that the capital and recurrent expenditures of such agencies have significant multiplier effect on the local economy. Something the south-east is not benefiting from.”
It however extended a hand of “brotherhood and fellowship to all northerners who believe in equity, justice and fair play”, adding that it believes in Nigeria’s unity just as “vast majority” of the Igbo do.
“The vast majority of Ndigbo have not confirmed their intention to secede, neither do we believe they will, as they are a major stakeholder group in project Nigeria and have continuously shown it through our investment and migration to and in all parts of the nation,” the statement further read.
“It will therefore be counter-productive to opt out of a country we have contributed tremendously in building, and showcasing on the world stage.
“This vast majority of Ndigbo look forward to a restructured Nigeria that will grant greater autonomy to the federating units in conducting their affairs. This vast majority are open and willing to cooperate and collaborate with all groups who are interested in a restructured Nigeria.”
It commended the recent peace talks instituted by the acting president but called on the government to “reconsider its position on restructuring of Nigeria to grant greater autonomy to the federating units.”
“We believe that this singular action will douse tensions in the country and usher a new era of peace and prosperity for the entire country,” it added.
Other signatories are Katch Onunuju (national publicity secretary), Clement Aguiyi (coordinator, northern zone), Sympathy Chiboko Nwosu (coordinator, UK), Obiora Onyilofor, E O Eke, Chibuzo Oguoma and Ikechukwu Ikeji (all trustees).