I read with distraught and disbelief, the half-hearted measure called “Igbo Position on Restructuring the Nigerian Federation” spewed out by members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo at the end of their summit held at Awka in Anambra state. In the said document tagged “The Ekwueme Square Declaration 2018,” Ohanaeze made reference to two outstanding declarations namely; (i) Ibadan Declaration of September 7, 2017 and (ii) Uturu Communique of World Igbo Summit of October 30th, 2016. But what Ohanaeze hid from the public was the common threads that ran through these two declarations and they are;
(1) outright rejection of the fraudulent 1999 Caliphate-imposed Constitution of Nigeria,
(2) the demand for self-determination as a fundamental part of any new constitutional reconfiguration, and
(3) agreement (via internal referendum) among the citizens of each federating components to continue with the British-imposed union before embarking on the constitutional reconfiguration.
Before deconstructing the Ekwueme Square Declaration, it is important to re-emphasize the status of Ohanaeze to anyone reading this rejoinder. Ohanaeze Ndigbo does not speak for the Igbos and was never empowered or authourized to do so by either the generality of the Igbos or any of the various Igbo-centric organizations. The world must know that Ohanaeze Ndigbo by its charter, organizational structure, and raison d’être, is a voluntary Igbo-centric socio-cultural organization which was registered by the Corporate Affairs Commission of Nigeria in 1976 and its membership is optional for any Igbo-speaking person. Ohanaeze is a voluntary organization that does not have the mandate of the Igbos to speak on their behalf and there is nowhere in any Laws of Nigeria, Federal and State, where Ohanaeze is mandated to be the mouthpiece of the Igbos.
On the so-called Ekwueme Square Declaration, Ohanaeze Ndigbo got it wrong on the following points;
1) Igbos do not want a transformed Nigeria. What the Igbos want is a dismembered Nigeria which will work for all the currently entrapped nations of Arewa, Oduduwa, Middle Belt, and Biafra. It is only a dismembered Nigeria that will unleash the potentials and ingenuity of the citizens of the constituent nations and engender the much-needed human and capital development. No matter the colouration given to the British-created criminality and contraption called Nigeria, it will always stultify growth, development, equality, freedom, justice, and religious tolerance.
2) Igbos do not want a Constitutional Conference but outright exit from Nigeria. The first order of business in any socio-political discourse pertaining to Nigeria is the rejection and repudiation of the fraudulent and now-disputed 1999 Constitution. It is laughable and confusing as well that Ohanaeze is calling for a new Constitution on the one hand but on the other hand, it is subjecting the new Constitution to ratification by a National Assembly. The question is: How will this National Assembly come into place to ratify the new Constitution? Or is it the National Assembly that will be there courtesy of the current fraudulent 1999 Constitution? A Constitution is made by the people and ratified by the people and not ratified by a National Assembly put in place by a disputed and rejected Constitution.
3) Igbos want a referendum to be conducted to determine if they are still interested in continuing with the British-created criminality and contraption called Nigeria. Recall that when the amalgamation proclamation was made on January 1, 1914, the Igbos were not consulted. Therefore, it is right that after 104 years, it is very crucial to go back to the Igbos to gauge their interests in the Nigerian union. Ohanaeze cannot unilaterally assume that Igbos are still interested in continuing with “One Nigeria.”
4) Any Constitutional reconfiguration of Nigeria without including the option for self-determination is “dead on arrival.” Even in the developed countries, there are exit clauses or recourse to self-determination via referendum for Indigenous People or any state in that country. For Ohanaeze to write all their epistles on Igbo position without including the option for self-determination, it is self-defeating and against the yearnings of every Igbo person. Ohanaeze needs to be reminded that even one of the Laws of Nigeria (Section-20 of CAP A-9 L.F.N. 2004) has an option for self-determination, although the authours of the fraudulent 1999 Constitution ensured that this Section-20 of that Law never made it into the fraudulent 1999 Constitution thereby making it impossible to enforce because of its conflict with Section-2(1) of the Constitution.
5) Igbos are not interested in the suggestions to a new Nigerian Constitution made by Ohanaeze in their Ekwueme Square Declaration. Ohanaeze should save their efforts for the time when we need a Biafran Constitution. There are several documents they can tap into in generating a Biafran Constitution and these include The Biafran Charter, Ahiara Declaration, Ogoni Bill of Rights, Kiama Declaration, etc. etc.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo’s summit and the document generated therefrom fell short of the expectations of the Igbos. I strongly recommend that Ohanaeze should look for the communique of the 2016 World Igbo Summit at Uturu and the recent communique from the 4th Anniversary of Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF). If Ohanaeze Ndigbo does not retrace its steps from the “pro-One-Nigeria” direction, it will soon go into irrelevance because the majority of Igbos are currently tilting towards ADF and other pro-self-determination organizations such as the Lower Nigeria Congress (LNC). In the coming months, Ohanaeze will have to shape up or ship out and its place will be firmly and permanently taken over by the aforementioned organizations.
Dr. Clifford Chukwuemeka Iroanya
May 22, 2018