Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, has said the Igbo nation has suffered marginalization from the Nigerian state and called for measures to be adopted to reverse the trend.
He said this in Abuja during a debate for National Unity entitled: “Federal Character, Restructuring and Rotation of Presidential Power in Nigeria”, organized by Igbo Leadership Development Foundation.
The Wartime Head of state said Nigeria was sufficiently large enough to accommodate everyone irrespective of tribal leaning.
He said a constitutional debate on restructuring must look into issues of imbalances that has hunted the nation to correct it and promote equity.
“I believe that a lot of injustice have been done to the Igbo’s and the constitutional debate on restructuring must address all imbalances”
“Nigeria is big enough for all of us and I believe that the Ndigbo, Middle belt and the Yoruba’s are the true Nigerians because if you look round our borders, people came from abroad and are still coming but Ndigbo’s have always been there, middle belt have always been there, even Yoruba’s have always been there”
“People who came in yesterday who have a duty of respect are now the ones talking”
“Going forward we must create a federal democracy that will respond positively to all the aspirations of our people not about East-West but all about working together in equality, bringing in the youths, the women together to build a new Nigeria.”
The former head of state said he believed that without Nigeria remains incomplete with Ndigbo pointing out that if the nation sufficiently harness the intelligence and hard work of the Igbo man Nigeria would have been better.
The former head of state was represented at the event by former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) Dr. Obadiah Mailafia.
Gowon said God did not make a mistake by putting Igbo in Nigeria and democracy which the nation practice demands fairness, justice and transperacy in the leadership and governance of the country.
He maintained that while restructuring was critical to national advancement, it must be carried out in an atmosphere of tolerance and love for one other.
He noted: “I am not a friend of hate speech, bitterness but a friend of patrotism because Nigeria is dear to my heart and I believes in bright future of Nigeria and Igbo and that together, we can make our country great.”
Founder of Gregory University, Uturu, Prof. Gregory Ibe, who also addressed participant to the debate said in his keynote address that Nigeria’s unitary system and federal structure, were only in name.
Gregory regretted that the present system was a clear departure from the federal system bequeathed to the country by its founding fathers and Britain.
According to I’ve: “Most of the powers that will engender real growth and development are tied in the exclusive list.
Solid minerials, electricity, railway, ports, security, etc. are all tied to the federal exclusive list to be executed only by the federal government.
He pointed out that Federal government has not been able to live up to the expectations of Nigerians in harnessing her God-given resource both natural and human to make the black race proud.
He maintained that restructuring was all about restoring to the States what the military took away from regions.