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Ebonyi State and Tower of babel: Open letter to Governor Martin Elechi

Ebonyi State and Tower of babel: Open letter to Governor Martin Elechi

 [ Masterweb Reports ] – South eastern states of Nigeria are people of very high pedigree, they are Igbo people.  They are well known for their doggedness in the face of excruciating and inconvenience situation. This was brought to fore during and after Biafra war. Most ammunitions and warfare used to persecute the war against Nigeria and their foreign allies were built and manufactured in Biafra land. Economic strangulation and blockage of Biafra republic masterminded by Nigeria did not deter Igbo people from fighting against injustice and oppression meted against her by their Hausa neighbors. After the war, Nigeria state policies were skewed against Igbos. Powerful state machinery was deplored to pauperize and make Igbos to remain in perpetual state of poverty. There was a state policy that every Igbo person should be given 20 pounds irrespective of how much he/she had in the account; this was Chief Awolowo brain child. Again Awolowo initiated and implemented indigenization program which placed all state owned properties in the hands of his Yoruba people. It did not end there, as they tend to create perpetual enmity between Igbos and their brothers in Rivers state by promulgating abandoned property law which empowers the state to confiscate Igbo properties left behind before the war. In my panoramic observation of current political happenings in Nigeria, I cannot help but say that Gowon should be enjoying his one Nigeria. Nigeria has initiated, devised and deplored all the instrumentality of manipulation at her disposal to suppress Igbos and change their destiny but force but chemistry Le Chatelier's principle states that when there is an external constraint on a system, a behavioral shift in the system occurs so as to annul the effect of that change. Nigeria state is like bull in the China shop in search of effective and more potent policy to apply against Igbos.
Ebonyi State is a mainland Igbo state, its capital is Abakaliki. The governor is Chief Martin Elechi and he was elected since 2007. This state is unfortunately under the control of Hausa- Fulani oligarchy. They use Ebonyi state as their launching pad to infiltrate into Igbo heartland in continuation of their Islamic expansionism. There is a free education in Ebonyi state with a condition that you must be converted to Islamic belief system before you will become a beneficially. An Islamic Institution known as Jama-al-Nazral school located in Ntezi village in outskirts of Afikpo is playing a major role in Islamic expansionism in Igbo land. As of date, thousands of Igbo kids had become a beneficial of this Islamic benevolent gesture in exchange of their religious faith. In support and in connivance with Jama-al-Nazral school, Governor Elechi has pledged to assist in building Almajiri School in Ebonyi state. If I may ask Elechi, what benefit will building Almajiri school brings to Ebonyi State? Owing to your political status in your state, I guess that you are not politically naïve and intellectual blind to protect the interest of your people. Why is free education in Igbo land of Ebonyi state so important to the Northerners than in Hausa land of Zamfara state?  Is Igbo state so educational disadvantage than Sokoto state that it has attracted the concern of Islamic North for educational intervention? Chief Elechi, being the chief executive of the Ebonyi state where Islamic institution has taken its stronghold in Igbo land will be in a proper position to answer these questions. Governor, Sir, How could you imagine that Northerners are concerned about organismic, structural and functional educational development in any part of Igbo land? A subtle glance at the recently released cut off mark of unity school in Nigeria has revealed that Northern Islamic educational adventure in Ebonyi state is nothing but a Greek gift. The list shows that Anambra state was allocated a scandalous cut off mark of 139 while their Northern Sokoto counterpart was merely given 9 cut off, Ebonyi State was allocated an outrageous 112 cut off while their counterpart in Yobe state was allocated a meagre 2 cut off mark, Imo State was allocated an alarming 138 cut off mark while their Northern counterpart in Taraba State was given only 3 cut off. Governor, have you forgotten that Ebonyi State is one of the most educational disadvantaged state in the federation and this alone placed it in a vantage position to attract the low cut-off similar to Yobe State, if federal character consideration was the parameter for the allotment of the cut-off. Governors, Sir, are you not aware that 70% of street hawkers in the Eastern Streets are Igbo kids from Ebonyi state?  In my solitary state of quietude, I have pondered aloud but unable to excogitate why my able Governor of Ebonyi State have failed to decipher the intention of enemies who mean more harm than good, whose intention was to reshape the destinies of our children and the ones yet unborn. My Governor, having pledged to institute Almajiri School in Ebonyi State shows that you are very far away from the political reality on the ground. Who do you intend to build the school for?  Was it for young Igbo kids from Ebonyi State who roam around the streets, whose futures have been placed at the bleak of failure? Or are you providing fertile ground for breed of the like of Imam Abubakar Shekau of Boko haram? My able Governor, please think clearly to be able to read the hand writing on the wall, this is not time for appeasement or political maneuvering in the name of anything goes in Nigeria politics while endangering the future of our children. You will be called upon to answer for you political deeds in the office in due time, this is time to take corrections and make amend.

Another interesting scenario that captures my attention was the ongoing constitutional amendment. The amendment was structured in a way that all the six federating zone in the country will have an input and uniform submission before the amendment will sail through the final stage in the National Assembly. At the south east public hearing for constitutional amendment which took place in Enugu, the Ebonyi State delegates led by deputy Governor of the State, Dave Umahi viciously and vehemently opposed the inclusion of the six zones as federating unit in the constitution. He went farther to say that his State will not support the autonomy of local government councils. This submission was in sharp contrast of overall uniform submission of the other south east states. In my own personal observation, I can say that Ebonyi State political leaders are myopic, narrow-minded and selfish. They care little about the general well-being of larger Igbo nation. What does Igbos want in the constitutional amendment? Igbos simply wants equity, justice and fair-play. They want a situation where every citizen of Nigeria can be able to live peacefully and can compete favorably on equal ground without state initiated hindrances. These underscore the reasons why they want the six federating zones to be recognized by constitution. Igbos wants a society where infrastructural development will be germinating from the grass root hence their quest for local government autonomy. It is very unfortunate that Governor Elechi of Ebonyi State is playing the cards and dancing to the tune of his Northern slave masters. As at today, south east has five states with 95 local governments while North West alone has seven states with 186 local governments. Out of the entire six zones in the country south east receives least allocation from federal government with Ebonyi State receiving the lease of among the entire 36 thirty six States. My able Governor Elechi, I will challenge you to ask the northerners the reason why they are always on the way and constitute an obstacle against south east realizing the sixth states. If their love for you is very sincere and from bosom of their heart, you can convince them to support an addition of one more state in the south east and help shore up the number of local government in Ebonyi State the same way you aligned with them to killed the inclusion of six federating units in the constitution. We are watching with interest to see what your unholy alliance with North will have on over all welfare of the entire Igbo race.

Before Nigeria/Biafra war, Igbos has big businessmen and businesses that have tentacles spread across Africa and in the rest of the world. During the time under review, economy of Nigeria was in full grip of Igbos. Sir Louis Odumegwu-Ojukwu was known for his unique business acumen, he was the richest black man in Africa. He was the first president of Nigeria stock exchange; he carved a niche for himself by investing in real estate when many Nigerians did not reckon with real estate. He was either chairman or director in the following companies: Guinness, John Holt, Nigercem etc. Immediately after the war, state machinery was deplored and placed against Igbos which helps to incapacitate them to go beyond small and middle class traders. Nigeria state provided a structure that created Billionaires dollar businessmen in the person of Otedeola, Adenuga, Dantata, Dangote, etc. None of all these men are of Igbo stock; they have dominated oil and gas business, telecommunication, real estate, Cement, flour, salt and sugar businesses. Dangote has been rated the richest man in black Africa in 2013 with net worth of about $16.1 billion by Forbes magazine. The main area of his business interest is cement; he has cement plant in Obajana kogi State, another in Ibese Ogun state and BCC cement Gboko in Benue state which he acquired from the Government. He is obsessed into cement investment that he can resort to sheer blackmail when his cement interest is being threatened. This was glaringly displayed in the cement glut saga which we all found to be farce and merely fabrication of facts. There is one Nigerian, an Igbo stock who has interest in cement; he is Cletus Ibeto, he invested in Nigercerm Nkalagu in Ebonyi State and work was in progress to revamp once moribund and comatose company and make it globally competitive in the act of cement production. Governor Elechi, in full surprise of every body, woke up one morning and announced the invalidation of certificate of occupancy of Ibeto Group. Every concerned Nigerian was confused on the rationale behind this diabolic action. Nigercem, when resuscitated will boost economy, add to the revenue of the state and of course create job opportunities for the good people of Ebonyi State. My able Governor what then is your reason for this nefarious action against your brother, Ibeto?  I hope you are not aligning with your Northern allies to sandwich the cement interest of your brother? If that is the case, I will like you to retrace your steps and make amend. I am calling upon you to emulate your brother Governors from other south east States and follow their footsteps. You can as well seek for their advice in a delicate policy formulation and implementation. Nigercem is one of our collective regional assess, it must be protected by all means. If Dangote means well for Igbos, he can tell you one Industry he has cited in the south east, as far as I know, south east is the only region without Dangote presence. As I have told you earlier, we are in era of hyper politics and whoever that misunderstood it must enroll in refresher course in leadership to equip him of emerging trend of political economy in Nigeria.

Finally, it was widely reported that Ebonyi state will mark the centenary cerebration with the building of a 60-meter tower with a beaming clock. The tower will be the tallest in the whole of the south east as being reported. It is a thing of joy and it is a welcome development to even erect a world biggest elephant that will stand conspicuously in the heart of Abakiliki to mark the centenary cerebration. But my able, Governor, I want to bring to your awareness of economic theory of scale of preference, it is a basic economic concept. The meaning is that, there is a list of wants that everyone has they want to satisfy. This list is then placed in order from most pressing need to least important in terms of needing satisfaction. As far as economic theory of scale of preference is concern, erecting the tallest tower was the least of Ebonyi state problems. My list of needs of Ebonyi state people in the scale of preference range from, 1) High level of unemployment 2) extremely poverty, 3) infant mortality 5) lack of portable water 6) Bad road network 7) very low literacy level 8) poor health facilities 9) Antiquated style of farming and 10) lack of security of lives and properties. Nowhere in the scale of preference does erection of tower reflect. Why does erection of tallest tower to mark centenary cerebration become very important to Elechi than to eradicate extreme poverty in Ebonyi state which is paramount in the needs of Ebonyi people? I cannot conjure the positive impact the erection of the tower will have on the people of Ebonyi State than provision of portable water. Elechi should have earmarked unemployment for reduction as a center point of her centenary cerebration had he genuinely acting on the interest of Ebonyi people. Erection of tallest tower to mark centenary cerebration is reminiscence of biblical tower of babel which will not add value to the life of people of modern time.

Akusoba Christophcer Chigozie ( ) writes from Sweden.

*Photo Caption -  Governor Martin Elechi