Former Anambra State governor, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife has described the recent letter to President Muhammadu Buhari by the northern elders wherein they claimed “short changed” in capital budgetary allocations as “unnecessary”, and arising from their “studied” notice of the dominance of the three zones of the North, especially the North west in budgetary allocations, Chidi Obineche reports for The Sun.
He pointed out that “it may be a matter of how much more the North must have, in excess of the south, for the backbone North not to feel shortchanged.” Ezeife, a former federal permanent secretary, in a terse six-point letter released at the weekend entitled, “Letter to Northern Elders and all Nigerians on the Northern Elders Letter to the President” addressed the issues raised by them in their letter, and frowned against the use of Ambassador Maitama Sule, who he described as “symbol of One Nigeria from the deep North,” as a signatory.
He queried why they did not use “Dr Junaid Mohammed the irredentist deep Northerner, who appears to be disdainful of other Nigerians” instead for the hatchet job. He saluted their courage in pointing out some of the critical negative factors responsible for the rapid decline of the Nigerian economy (the collapse of the Naira, serious loss of values in the stock market, the unprecedented high level of suffering of the Nigerian people etc), adding that the letter also implies the inaccessibility of the president for advice by those who should know.
While further x-raying the letter, he agreed with their call for “immediate establishment of an economic management team; raising the ‘quality of advice and support the president requires,’ and for him to conclude the appointment of key officers and advisers,” adding, however, that they forgot to remind the president that “these officers may not all be available from Daura or even Katsina.”
He further praised them for noting the “evident weakness and gaps in skills, competences, experience and (even) integrity,” for believing the allegations “that Boko Haram still has substantial presence in many areas near Maiduguri and other towns and villages,” and for expressing doubt about “quality of intelligence, and leadership of the Armed Forces,” urging the president to handle their advice with the urgency it deserves, having come from a friendly direction.
On the claim of southern dominance in recurrent expenditure, Ezeife explained that not all recurrent expenditure is personnel emolument. It includes, according to him, operational and logistics cost of governance, citing the president’s foreign trips, “contributions to OIC and to Saudi-sponsored anti-terrorism fund; payment for power, fuel, stationery, etc.”
He challenged their posturing of being the “backbone of the Buhari administration”, informing them “that the backbone of anything, or body, or an administration should be an asset, not a liability or a leakage.”
“The North takes by far, more than it contributes to the coffers of Nigeria. Neither in funding or expertise, can it be said that the North is the backbone of a Nigerian government. Or did they mean that the North voted most for Buhari? That was in the past, even if it is the truth. What about the West, from which Buhari is not?”
Commenting on their recommendation that the president should bring the ‘full weight of the law on IPOB, (Indigenous People of Biafra) he demanded that it should be “full weight of respect for court decisions, human rights, rights to self-determination, which the United Nations has removed from the internal affairs of a state, etc.”
“Answering some of the issues raised in the elders’ letter is like chasing rats while the house
is burning. The Fulani North does have the right to, and should advise their son, on winning ways: in politics, economics and social relations,” he summarized.
The elder statesman urged the northern elders to advise the president on the neglect of the South-east and the promotion of Biafra. He accused the president of taking actions that make “non-pretenders in the South-east feel exposed to gross inequity, injustice as unfairness; marginalization, discrimination, as not being seen as full-fledged Nigerian nationals, or not qualified to hold the highest office in the land.”
He listed some of these actions as not including a South-east person in his first 40 appointments, the withdrawal of the appointment of an easterner at NIMASA three days after announcement, failure to appoint a South-east person to even the sixth and least protocol position in government, in a six geo-political zone structure; not one Igbo person is in the National Security Council, spilling the blood of eastern youths at Aba, Onitsha and many other places, and disrespect for rule of law by keeping Nnamdi Kanu in detention despite court orders for his release on bail.
Others include undisguised hatred for the Igbo, and the repugnant case of security agencies arresting and detaining 76 youths who tried to repel the rampaging Fulani herdsmen from their farms, among others.
He said: “This is what Biafra is all about – a reaction to unfairness, injustice, iniquities, and inequities against the South-east by the president.”
He further accused the DSS (Department of State Services) of ethnic bias and being the power behind the Fulani herdsmen. “This impression became stronger after their unsubstantiated allegation of a shallow grave in Abia State. It is not in the long interest of Nigeria, nor the Fulani in Nigeria, that the herdsmen maraud Nigeria, rampaging, raping, killing, sacking farmers and taking over their farmlands. He kicked against the grazing bill currently on the floor of the National Assembly, warning that “we should not institute a permanent conflict through the bill if passed into law.”
Concluding, Ezeife observed that those who need Nigeria most are toying with her survival, adding that the nation has so far failed in living up to its manifest destiny. He therefore, stated that Nigeria has no basis for continued existence, unless it can become a totally changed country.