By Gabriel Chy Alonta
Actualisation of the sovereign state of Biafra is not the ultimate solution to the socio-economic and political challenges plaguing the people of South Eastern Nigeria, according to the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Barr. John Nnia Nwodo.
The leader of the apex Igbo socio-political organization who dropped the bombshell during the 9th convocation lecture of the Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University, Igbariam, Anambra State on Thursday, also argued that restructuring of the Nigerian federation as it were in 1963, would pave the way for a fair, united and prosperous country.
Speaking on the theme: “The Igbos in the building of the Nigerian nation: The unrealised dream”, Nwodo faulted the Igbo youths currently campaigning for secession of the south east region from Nigeria, stressing that war would not solve the Igbo problems. He urged Igbo leaders and people to rather focus their attention on fighting for restructuring.
According to him, “a restructured Nigeria will give Ndigbo own domestic security and control of our resources. The tales of marginalisation will be over. Our contributions to national wealth will earn us our due respect. Our children will work proudly as inheritors of a noble heritage of hard work, resourcefulness and resilience”.
He maintained that restructuring would be achieved through, “legislative independence to the federating units; sovereignty of mineral and oil resources to the federating units; a radical revision of curriculum from primary to university education to help us integrate into new world order in human capital development.
The Ohanaeze boss, however expressed worry that herdsmen, dressed in army uniforms were always ready to unleash terror on innocent protesters, remarking that Ohanaeze would not support or allow Igbo people to troop the streets. He listed loss of lives, destruction of several infrastructure and manufacturing facilities, rise in crime, collapse of industry, among others as negative results of civil war, stressing that similar circumstances should be eschewed.
According to Nwodo, the inventions of Igbo during the civil war such as building bombs, rockets, design and building own delivery system, building of armoured tanks and cars, among others, were part of unrealised dreams of the Igbos in becoming the most technologically advanced people on earth.
He regretted that Nigeria’s external public debt had risen from $10.6billion in 2015 to $22.1billion in July, 2018, calling for a paradigm shift from oil to development of technology.
He stated that the Igbo, have painstakingly resolved to support all electoral processes and candidates that bring about this change; a sustained campaign through workshops, conference and classroom discussions that will democratise this knowledge and sustain the feeling of a National Emergency to bring about the needed change; among others.
Nwodo also drew the attention of the Federal Government to the possible recess in oil business globally, remarking that Nigeria should borrow a leaf from China and United States of America that have set the pace, saying that Nigerians will be broke in next ten years if they don’t cue in.
He called for review of curriculum of universities to give priority to new skills that have uplifted certain sections of the global economy, stressing that “our home grown manufacturing of spare parts, shoes, tools and the growth of modern tailoring industry could sustain a new trade way for Igbo made products globally”.
Tracing the betrayal of Igbo nationalist, Nnamdi Azikiwe as the birth of tribalism in Nigerian politics, the guest lecturer argued that without such development, Nigeria’s politics would have been less ethnic, nepotic and based on efficiency. He enjoined students not to be intimidated or disillusioned when they are betrayed, telling them to tow in the line of great Zik, and that students should learn all they can.
Also speaking, the governor of Anambra State and Visitor to the institution, Chief Willie Obiano, represented by the Commissioner for Tertiary and Science Education, Prof. Theresa Nkechi Obiekezie, said that the state is mindful of the need for technological advancement, calling on the Igbo to think home and develop technology in their regions
The governor also called for the recognition and celebration of science students, who have distinguished themselves.
In his remark, the chairman of the occasion, HRM Igwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, described the theme of the convocation lecture as apt and timely, expressing optimism that the exposure to the subject would help the Igbo better educated and Nigerians in general. Achebe, who is also the chairman of council of traditional rulers, Anambra state, commended the University for Choice of the theme.
In an address, the Acting Vice Chancellor, Prof. Greg Nwakoby, said the theme was thought provoking, saying that no other theme could be more expository in the present dispensation. Nwakoby, who said that convocation lectures opened the event of convocation, adding it would help to x-ray the efforts and challenges of Ndigbo, disclosing that over 4000 graduating students would be conferred various degrees.