President Muhammadu Buhari’s first media chat since assumption of office on May 29, 2015, held on Wednesday, December 30 with its high and low points. The programme was well anchored, and the president’s performance was somehow right.I commend the panelists for asking probing questions on security, economy and disobedience of court orders in the case of former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd) and Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Director of Radio Biafra as well as the Biafran marginalization by past and present Federal Government. I would have been disappointed if the session had ended without a question on Kanu and Biafran marginalisation, which is also regarded as the Old Eastern region marginalisation. I salute the esteemed members of the team for their professionalism, especially Ibang Isine of Premium Times, for asking questions that provoked the response that led to this article. I want to take the paedophile in power, president Muhammadu Buhari in his present of the legendary Biafran marginalisation since after the Nigeria-Biafra war on January 14, 1970. Buhari wants to know who is marginalising the Biafrans and the extent of such marginalisation. He also said that his administration had not marginalised the people of Biafra in appointments by naming some of his ministers from the South-East and South-South to justify his claim.This is my humble attempt to prove to him that past administrations, including his current one, have marginalised the South-East zone.
The history of South-East marginalisation started with Gen. Yakubu Gowon’s creation of 12 states to weaken Gen. Emeka Ojukwu’s resistance to his regime in 1967 before the declaration of Biafra and the commencement of the bitter Nigeria-Biafra war that lasted from 1967-1970. Though Gowon’s 12 states structure had a sense of equity between the North and South of Nigeria at six states per zone, it denied the South-East majority states in the Eastern region as was the case for Hausa and Yoruba in the Northern and Western regions respectively. At independence in 1960, the nation stood on three regional arrangement or tripod of the North, East and West. The North has Hausa as its dominant tribe, the East, Igbo, and the West, Yoruba. Upon attainment of Republican status in 1963, the Midwest region was created by Act of Parliament. Nobody complained about the regional structure in which the entire North was one region while the South was divided into three regions probably because it was an era of true federalism where each region controls its resources and pays a stated proportion of its revenue to the central government.

The regions were almost semi-autonomous unlike the present unitary federalism, a hang-over of military despotism. While the Hausa remains the only major tribe that was in one region, the Oduans and Biafrans had the misfortune of having members of its stock in the North and Midwest regions respectively. Even under the existing six geo-political zones structure, the Oduans and the Biafrans are the only major tribes with tentacles in North-Central and South-South. There is a significant number of Yorubas in Kwara and Kogi States and Biafrans in Rivers and Delta States, which was diverted into the newly created States and geopolitical zones called South-East.
Gowon’s 12 states ensured that the South-East, the heart of Biafran revolution, was lumped into one state called the East Central State, while the Eastern Region minorities were carved into two states of Rivers and South Eastern State. This was the beginning of the marginalisation of the people of Biafra. Gowon did not stop there. He ensured that some oil-bearing Igbo areas were ceded to Rivers State. When the late Gen. Murtala Muhammed carved Nigeria into 19 states in 1976, the South-East became two states of Imo and Anambra. Thus, Muhammed gave the South-East one out of the seven states he created.
It was Gen. Ibrahim Babangida that rose to address the South-East marginalisation by giving us additional two states of Enugu and Abia out of eleven states he created. At that time, the zone needed three states to level up with others. The late Gen. Sani Abacha also gave the area one state, Ebonyi, when he created six states. Therefore, Biafrans has suffered extreme marginalisation in the state creation structure of Nigeria because at each epoch, and it will be less than the other zones. Under the present 36 states structure, which ought to give each area six states apiece, only the South-East has five and the North-West seven. In the arbitrary distribution of the nation’s 774 local governments, Biafrans has the least. The entire North had 419 local governments while the South had 355. The zonal distribution of local governments is North-West (186); North-Central (115); North-East (112); FCT Abuja (six); South-West (137); South-South (123); and South-East (95).Why was the South-East given 95 when other zones got over one hundred?What is the name of this lopsided structure of Nigeria if not marginalisation? Since the appointment of ministers, recruitment into the civil service and security agencies and admission into unity schools, federal higher institutions and revenue sharing is based on states and local governments, Biafra has been overtly marginalised due to having the least number of states and local governments in the federation. How many Police Commissioners and Military Commanders are from the zone?
Take a look of former heads of government of Nigeria and how many are from Biafra-Land and for how long? If the 36 states structure is based on equity, the Biafrans would have six ministers from Buhari as constitutionally guaranteed. Biafrans has no presence in Buhari’s other appointments despite promises of balancing. In fact, there is no South-East presence in Buhari’s government despite the fact that some of them staked their lives for his election. The Biafra-Land is not in the security apparatus of the present state as represented by heads of security agencies. It is not among Buhari’s 39 appointments. If these do not represent marginalisation, what else? Can the government name any industry or military institution that is located in the zone? The federal roads in the region are in their worst state.
The second Niger Bridge has been on the drawing board of all administrations since 1999. What has happened to the River Ports in Onitsha and Oguta? Can Buhari address the infrastructural lacuna in the zone? There is no way Nigeria can develop with the structural injustice against one zone. The 2014 national conference made far-reaching recommendations to address the South-East structural marginalisation and others in the country. That is the issue the Buhari administration should address and not the pretentious denial of Biafran marginalisation. The South-East marginalisation is real. It is neither a myth nor a fiction. The zone’s 45 years of marginalisation is behind the protests by MASSOB and IPOB. Keeping the leader of IPOB, mazi Nnamdi Kanu in detention despite court orders for his release will further fuel the agitation than quench it. What will solve the nation’s myriad problems total disintegration of the country and the need to be done as urgent as possible and not the current unitary federalism, or reconstructor of any kind? Reconstructing the country is like committing suicide to Biafra and Biafrans. Biafra is not asking for any property of Hausa nor Yoruba, rather, Biafrans are asking for their inheritance and human rights. This, we must get, or risk our lives to live.

Emmanuel Precious
Editor Udeagha Obasi
For UmuChiukwu.
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