As if being futuristic, a leading Nigerian academic, Prof. Anya Anya spoke on the challenges of integration and development to the audience that thronged the palatial home of Elder Statesman, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clarke to wish the old man a happy birthday at 90 in Abuja ,Nigeria’s federal capital recently.
It was the right audience for the elder statesman was worried about uneven development in Nigeria such that way back in 1971 as Education Commissioner in the then Mid-west State, now Edo and Delta States, he had concluded plans for Northern Nigerian students to study in Mid-western institutions of learning. The north had very few educational opportunities then.
Same reason propelled his rallying support behind his minority kinsman, Goodluck Jonathan to become the president of Nigeria.
Therefore when the South east caucus in the Nigerian Federal House of Representatives sponsored The South East Development Commission Bill , the words of Prof. Anya Anya, himself a south easterner, rang in their ears.
The bill, sponsored as imitation to the North East Development Commission for a region that has suffered enormously in the throes of the Boko Haram Islamist fundamentalists insurgency which attracted sympathy and endorsement from one time Military Governor of the entire North East that was once a State in the 70’s , now president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari.
The South East was renamed Biafra during the civil war in Nigeria, 1967-1970 whereby the entire south east was practically reduced to rubble by the superior firepower of the federal forces led by Gen. Yakubu Gowon. Biafra surrendered to starvation, attrition and war weariness imposed by the victorious federal forces as the Biafran leader, Col. Emeka Ojukwu fled into exile in search of peace.
Ecstatic Gen. Gowon quickly declared a No Victor, No Vanquished policy as he announced the three ‘R’s for Reconciliation, Reconstruction and Recovery.
Pundits allege that Gen. Gowon’s words were only on paper as the South East remained largely derelict, decrepit and desolate. To address the challenges of development, the lawmakers decided on this bill but the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara a minority Christian from the muslim dominated northern Nigeria called for a Voice Vote and consequently cast his support with those opposed to the bill.
Angry lawmakers especially from the south east and their sympathizers allege that the Speaker exhibited bias because according to them, the ‘ayes’ had it. Yet Mr. Dogara supported the naysayers to scuttle the development of the South east because the north is vehemently angered that South east youths, led by Nnamdi Kanu are agitating and demanding for an independent homeland for it’s Igbo people, a move if successful, may lead to the dismemberment of Nigeria as a country, a not too cheery prognosis for many people.
Meanwhile the din of cacophonous noises for an independent Biafran nation is rising in high decibels every day in Nigeria.
- ‘ There Must Be Fiscal Federalism’ -Gov. Ajimobi
- Obasanjo, Shagari, Shifted Focus To Crude Oil And Impoverished TheNiger Delta