The worsening plight of Ndigbo under the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration on Tuesday night dominated talks between the new President-General of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Nnia Nwodo and Igbo leaders in Lagos.
Nwodo told his audience comprising Igbo intellectuals, bankers and businessmen, that Ndigbo had never had it so bad in recent times.
He expressed shock that President Buhari did not trust Igbo to the extent of appointing any of them to head any of the security agencies or the paramilitary bodies.
The Ohanaeze chief therefore called on Ndigbo to unite so that they can redeem the region from neglect and marginalisation by the federal authorities.
Nwodo stated that Igbo no longer feel that they are part of Nigeria and lamented that the ill-treatment meted on them warranted the ongoing agitations.
The meeting with Igbo leaders held at the Kofo Abayomi, Victoria Island secretariat of Ndigbo Lagos and was attended by renowned ex-bank chief and businessman, Dr. Paschal Dozie, Prof. Pat Utomi, Prof. Anya O. Anya, the Chairman of the United States-based World Igbo Congress (WIC), Dr. Joe Eto, among others.He said: “We don’t feel that we are part of this country. The statement I made earlier was not my thinking alone. Every part of that statement was scrutinized line by line by members of the Ohanaeze executive and we agreed this was the situation before it was issued.
“How can we be comfortable in a country where no Igbo man is heading any of the security services in this country? Not the Nigerian Army, Navy, Air Force, Police, Customs Service (NCS), Immigrations, National Intelligence Agency (NIA), State Security Services (SSS), Federal Road Safety Corps and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC). The impression we have been given is that we are not trusted enough to be put as the head of any security agency.
“Now, if you drive to the South East, we are like a conquered people. In every major town you go into, there is a military checkpoint. They call it Operation Python Dance. If they screen you for arms and ammunition, I will understand that it is national security imperative. But they collect money from you. We are forced to pay. “Between Enugu and Onitsha, there are 17 police checkpoints that I enumerated on one trip. There are police checkpoints, some police and army combined. The commercial vehicle drivers drop the money on the ground.
“They do not care whether the Inspector-General of Police is coming in an on-coming vehicle or that they are being photographed. It does not happen anywhere else in this country. And nobody cares. I said it at the 82 Division and I was arrested. I have said that at every public forum anytime I have the opportunity, I will keep harping on this,” he said.
Nwodo continued: “Now, let me say something about our sons and daughters in the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) and the Movement of r the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) who are being killed every day.
“Who wouldn’t agitate if you were in their shoes? I did so when we went to war in Biafra. The pogrom was a catalyst for war. And no civilisation murders people in a way to solve political problems.
“I fought for Biafra in 1967. I see the same condition that propelled Biafra existing now. I see the children restive and even threatening us their fathers that they cannot subsist under this present political situation. I am their father.
“Their grief is my grief. Their struggle is my struggle. Even though I do not agree that it is necessary to waste Igbo lives now, I believe that Nigeria is going to be restructured in a manner that every part of it can be developed on its own momentum with a reasonable sense of fiscal independence.
“I think that what is being done to these boys has exacerbated them and increased their capacity for violence.
“Boko Haram is a military force. It has conquered some territories, even though some have been recaptured. It has installed local authorities, it has installed traditional authorities, it has planted its flag.
“Nothing could be more treasonable. OPC moves like motorcade in the South West and are saluted by the police.
“The other day, there were demonstrations in Lagos, in Abuja and Ijebu Ode and the police were protecting the demonstrators, but they demonstrated in Aba and they were mowed down and killed. Nobody investigates.
“Between Enugu and Anambra States, there is a river, 20 bodies floated in that river for two months and they were supposed to be MASSOB bodies, nobody cared and investigated it till today.
“In Port Harcourt, Rivers State, the other day, in solidarity with President Donald Trump, they demonstrated and 11 people were killed.
“According to them, the police said one person, I called for an inquiry – find out how many were killed and why they were killed, nobody has listened to me. Do you belong to such a country which is deaf to the sanctity of life?
“Time has come for all of us to join our hands. My cap is on the ground. This journey you have sent me, it is your choice to make if you will leave me to die in the wilderness and the wild animals to feed on my corpse. But if not so, join hands with me to redeem our people,” Nwodo said.