Professor Chiweyite Ejike, the deputy chairman of Igbo Leaders of Thought, ILT,
By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor

Professor Chiweyite Ejike, the deputy chairman of Igbo Leaders of Thought, ILT, in this interview, spoke on the centrifugal issues that give rise to Igbo marginalization and agitations for Republic of Biafra among others.

On alleged marginalization of Ndigbo by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration The issue of marginalization had been a constant theme in discussions of the dividends of governance in Nigeria since Independence in 1960. 

At any point in time, it has been either the North or the South claiming marginalization in the distribution of government amenities and services and blaming it on the government in power while suggesting that the zone or region producing the Head of Government is being favoured. Many a time, one can say that there is no smoke without fire. 

There is no denying the fact that favouritism, nepotism and related unwholesome practices are part of the second nature of most Nigerians. In the current situation, it is important that we work with the knowledge and understanding that marginalization form part of the general problem of bad governance in the Nigerian polity. 

What is necessary is that we should fight marginalization not by pointing accusing fingers at any party, government or ethnic group, but by undertaking a proper study of the genesis, causes and empirical proof of this phenomenon both as it had played out in the past and as it is now being practiced under the current APC government at the centre and one might add, in almost all the state and local governments of the country. Thereafter, we should be able to proffer ways and means of providing remedies for this negative aspect of our national governance. 

The Igbo Leaders of Thought had in the past discussed this and other related national challenges at several of its Focus Group meetings. In summary, what we are saying is that, first, we need to be fully informed about the remote and the immediate causes of marginalization of Ndigbo. Secondly, the external and internal socio-economic and political dimensions of this fact of marginalization must be tackled. 

Thirdly, the need to evolve a viable road map with which to act in rectifying this deficiency. For the time being, the immediate reaction recommended is to realize that we (Igbo) as a people had fallen short of our expected role in preparing our people to take on the challenge of appropriate positions and role in the national theatre of operations in Nigeria. 

We must therefore, through our individual and corporate efforts, serious and determined good governance of the various states, initiate emergency action-plans and programmes that would enable us stand out as a beacon of excellence in Nigeria. That way, we would legitimately demand and fulfil the responsibilities and duties expected of us and claim the reward that Ndigbo deserve considering their past and present investments in the founding and nurturing of the Nigerian nation over the past 100 years. 

There is the opinion that Biafra agitations are being fuelled by extreme marginalization of Ndigbo in the country’s political and core professional appointments. Is this so and what have the ILT done in this direction? 

We are living in an age of grave circumstances. Protests are accepted in the world over as modulating techniques for keeping any given democracy on a steady keel. The danger, however, is that what normally starts up as peaceful protests could readily escalate into violence especially if not well led and if met with disproportionate police action. 

As for the nascent militancy in the South-East, the ILT would like to remind the nation that the constitution guarantees freedom of expression manifested in lawful protest(s) as a fundamental right. The solution to this serious development of Pro-Biafra demands is that we approach it with standard conflict resolution strategies accepted by the civilized world and directed by rules of engagement prescribed for such levels of national difficulties. What is required is not necessarily strong-arm response but consultations and dialogue aided by peaceful negotiations.

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