Igbo Summit: Deputy Senate President, Ekweremadu backs restructuring
DEPUTY Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu has again thrown his weight behind the clamour for restructuring of the country, saying it will enable every component part of the federation harness its resources and develop at its own speed.
Ekweremadu who spoke at the opening of the World Igbo Congress (WIC) held in Enugu on Saturday, said restructuring evokes direction and synergy, stressing that the Republican nature of Ndigbo, notwithstanding, had been exaggerated.
Senator Ekweremadu said, “If the dominant views in the public domain are anything to go by, then undoubtedly, the minimum Ndigbo demand of a Nigeria is a restructure of the federation.”
“Instructively, the ill-fated Aburi Accord was about restructuring, even if it is not exactly as we want it today”
“But it was breached and discarded, plunging the nation into an avoidable war. Yet, fifty years after, the need and call for restructuring and return to true federal state have only persisted. Although the call initially fell on deaf ears, it is heart-warming that the right quarters are beginning to listen and the call is gathering traction daily, even from hitter-to improbable quarters.”
According to him, “The rights of the Ndigbo to peaceful demonstration must be peaceful and democratic engagements must be respected. Those who try to muffle and subdue democratic engagements by citizens are only playing into the hands of anarchists.”
“In the same light, I want to assure you that the National Assembly will continue to uphold the rights of Ndigbo, and indeed every part of the nation, to fairness and equity.”
He disclosed, “the Senate is currently engaging the Executive Arm of government on the railway development and modernization projects which he said had totally excluded the Eastman Rail Line or Eastern Corridor, traversing major towns and cities like PortHarcourt, Aba, Enugu,ooh Otukpo, Igumale, Makurdi, Kafanchan, Kuru, Bauchi, Gombe and the way to.”
The Senator noted that contrary to the attempts to misrepresent the coverage of the Eastern Rail Lone the public, this corridor is not just about the Southeast, but also covers the South-South, North Central, and North-East.
Curiously, he remarked, “all the loans for rail projects by the current administration, totally excluded this vital corridor to the advantage of the Western Rail Line, running from Lagos to Kano. Work is already ongoing on the Lagos – Ibadan portion this line at the cost of USD1.231billion, while the Kano-Kaduna segment will dost USD1.14billion. There is also the Lagos-Calabar Standard Coastal Line, which will cost USD3.474billion”
Ekweremadu further noted, “The last request to the Senate by the Presidency for approval of USD5.185 billion. China Exim Bank loan indicated that the Federal Government was still searching for concessioners to develop the Eastern Corridors.”
“But the questions are: why will loans taken on behalf of Nigerians and to be repaid by all a Nigerians exclude more than a half of the country from the benefits of such loans? Why should the Southeast, South-South North Central and North East pay what they were inexplicably excluded from enjoying? Why must the Eastern Line be relegated to concession arrangement? What is the likelihood of even getting a concessioner, especially given the history of concessions in the country?
He noted, “Fairness and equity, as espoused by the Federal Character Principle in section 14 of the 1999 constitution, demand that every part of the country should be carried along”
It was learnt that the theme of this year’s summit is entitled: “Oganiru Ndiigbo: Navigating the Future” and was the maiden edition on home soil.