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A testimony to Igbo marginalisation

Tajudeen Lawal

As a non-indigene who has lived in the East for a long time, I can make an assesment of the disenchantment that pervades the thinking of most Igbo. To say that there is very low federal prescence in the South-East will be an understatement. There is no Federal Government presence in the East, as far as I am concerned. Anyone who wants to prove me wrong can simply travel down and see things for him or herself.

Whereas most roads in other geopolitical zones are awarded to reputable and competent construction companies like Julius Berger, those in the East are awarded to less competent construction companies. And even at that, the roads are never completed, but the contract money is always paid to them in full. Simply put, the roads in the East are death-traps. The second Niger Bridge, which the President had promised the people during his electioneering, has remained just a campaign slogan. Mind you, this is the only structure that links the East to the rest of the country, except, of course, you want to go through Benue State. The bridge right now is under serious pressure and experts say there is a need to relieve it of the excess pressure.

The fact that the Nigerian civil war ended 35 years ago is like a fairy tale to most Easterners. The policemen and soldiers still act as if they are an occupying force in an enemy territory, subjecting the people to their whims and caprices. Policemen here do not collect N20 at checkpoints, but demand thousands of naira especially during festive periods when many of the people will be coming back home.

While Arewa youths in the North, opc in the West, and Niger Delta Force in the South-South are allowed to run amok, causing terror, fear, and death, massob members who are not violent are usually hunted, killed or imprisoned without an option of bail. 54 footballers, spectators and match officials participating in the Uwazurike Cup tournament, were arrested and detained by the police last year. No one, not even journalists, ngos or rights activists ever fought for their fundamental human rights. Yet, Asari Dokubo was given a presidential welcome in Abuja with a N300 million “gift’’ to stop his chaos in the creeks of the Niger Delta.

It is only the Senate presidency, which was zoned to the Igbo, that has been targeted for ridicle with the potent weapon of bribery and corruption, as if it is only the Senate that is corrupt. Yet, little or nothing is done about the corrupt practices of our past and present rulers.

While economic policies are directed towards stemming the importation of goods, which is usually dominated by the Igbo, nothing is done about trade in foreign currencies in most major towns and cities in the country. This is a business run by our Northern brothers. But the truth is that this trade has continued to damage the preference for our local currency, the naira, and increase the demand for the dollar, pound and other foreign currencies.

The Igbo must go back to God in prayers. He will surely restore them to their glorious days.

•Lawal wrote from 33, Mbonu Street, Onitsha, Anambra State.

The Punch, Friday June 10, 2005
Copyright 2005 Punch (Nigeria) Limited. All Rights Reserved
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