Money-making institutions dominated by Buhari’s people, claim that Igbo control economy not honest – UNN ex-dean, Prof Igwe




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Obasi Igwe is a Professor of Political Science and former Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and ex-lecturer at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Zaria, State. this interview with RAPHAEL EDE, he speaks on a number of issues in the country and the row on the Value Added Tax.

How will you describe Nigeria’s federalism?

Yes, Nigeria started as a federal system, but it is today centralised a quasi-military manner with almost all resources and power concentrated in Abuja, triggering unimaginable levels of injustice and corruption, and at the heart of the various agitations for either restructuring (not mere devolution of powers), or absolute self-determination/separation. There are strong arguments in favour of any of them. Because of existing inequalities in the distribution of central power and the extremely reactionary orientation of many officials, proper restructuring is unlikely to be achieved by a federal legislative process.

Therefore, the best option is a sovereign national conference, or at least, an adequately empowered constitutional conference. The former is preferable because it will solve both the national question of relations between nationalities and the class question of the distribution of power between competing factions of the elite; whereas except if it redefines its terms of reference, the constitutional conference may only deal with the latter, while leaving abeyance the very critical issue of inter-ethnic relationships.

Do every part of the country have a sense of belonging; if not, why?

The question appears trite and too elementary, but nevertheless important. How can anyone have a sense of belonging a practically failed Presidency of which people have wasted six years arguing about which is more important between cows and human beings, between citizens and alien invaders, and almost every group is facing annihilation on account of this clash between civilisation and the 20th century primitivism. Today’s insecurity is firmly tied to unequal distribution of political goods in favour of a tiny section, and to whether the country should be a modern democratic secular state subject to a single Common Law tradition, or whether it should be a footstool of a technology-driven caliphate order with a Sharia law starting in a third of the country and gradually inching towards the rest.

That Sharia in Nigeria is a very corrupt subterfuge; it oppresses the masses while pretending to be favouring them; destroys alcoholic beverages and consumes them in secret, while collecting VAT from them; and purports to amputate and stone poor offenders, while the leaders hide under civilised Common Law rights instead of the cutting and beheading of the Sharia they impose on their masses. They share from the same pot of oil money owned by sinners and derived from sinful regions with unbelievers, but wouldn’t share the same law and standards with them.

There can be no sense of belonging until Nigeria decides to protect every citizen under a single Common Law. The caliphate and Sharia must be proscribed and abolished; the leadership of the SCIA must be by election as in CAN, and the Hausa and other oppressed tribes of the so-called Sharia states and beyond must be allowed to take their destinies into their own hands and join other Nigerians in enjoying the benefits of modern civilisation. Above all, Nigeria should stop permitting a parallel centre of power outside of the democratic constitutional order. There can no longer be any equivocation on this matter; we either are equal citizens under the same set of equal laws or let everyone go and practice whatever they deem fit for themselves.

What do you think of the current controversy over VAT?

We’ve partly dealt with that. It’s all about the same old story of hypocrisy, entitlement and parasitism elevated into a high science. We should watch whether any court in the world will order that those who arrogantly and unlawfully destroy legitimate enterprises and means of livelihood of peaceful citizens –drinks, mannequins, etc. – must have VAT from such businesses imposed on them in this archaic system. Their Excellencies, Nyesom Wike and Babajide Sanwo-Olu, have taken the right steps and others should follow suit.

The Rivers has yet to lay claims for the carcinogenic soots destroying his people and the wasteland that Ogoni is turned into to enrich others. Lagos State should have a monetised special status, because it has the only made to provide for everybody. States in which all manner of atrocities have been extra-judicially committed should compile and make appropriate claims. We must insist that we be in the 21st century and not continue to condone the feudal order being imposed on Nigeria. The VAT is a tax mostly on consumption and one cannot consume somewhere and you transfer the proceeds elsewhere.

Does the quota system in Nigeria denote a sense of entitlement?


Nigerian economy in reverse gear
The quota system is a concrete expression of Nigerian leaders’ backwardness and impossibility of moving. The affirmative action for blacks became necessary in the US because of the clear fact of deliberate oppression and victimisation against them by the whites. Now, who victimised those in Nigeria favoured by the quota system? Assuming that there was such scheme by anyone to de-educate others, can the offspring of people who for two generations have been benefiting from the quotas be still considered to be educationally disadvantaged and, therefore unable to compete with their age mates after more than 50 years of undeserved unilateral educational advantage over others?

We now have more than 100 universities, so, what is the need for further quotas in admissions? Is the present Federal Government complying with the quotas constitutionally mandated as federal character? Why will one securely keep and enjoy a quota system from others’ sweats and argue, curse, threaten and vow against the same when it comes to a similar quota or rotation for the Presidency, oil blocks, etc? The claim by any group that ‘this country belongs to us’ is a good idea if you join others to peacefully contribute to its progress. But it should not be like claims of ‘born to rule’, which systematically appears like born to ruin.

Therefore, far from harming anyone, the abolition of the quota system will trigger the latent energy in a true new beginning to build up a modern society through a competitive mutual emulation of the youth. It should not be like abolishing the quota system and re-smuggling it in through exclusive School of Basic Studies and other such decoys.

Why do the Igbo not have a sense of belonging when they are ‘in charge of the economy’ as claimed by Buhari?

The President spoke well, but no one is sure if he was mocking the Igbo nation simply because the man speaking is the same who vowed to deal with Igbo youths in the language they understand, which led to the unlawful seizure, murder and disappearance of thousands of innocent lives. Can any race easily forget such unprovoked but contrived mayhem so soon? Above all, in what guise should the Igbo honestly imagine being in charge of an economy in which almost every policy is intended to exclude them from? How many Igbo have charge of non-marginal oil blocks?

The concession, all manner of other major facilities, Customs, Immigration, military, security services, the NNPC, modern railways and several other heavy money-making and spending institutions that have been shared among the President’s people. What the Igbo have been getting since 2015 are security policies and kinetics in which thousands of innocent individuals, especially youths, have been extra-judicially exterminated following the targeted policies and orders issued to that effect.

Yes, Igbo retailers are everywhere, but they are under the keen watch of the Hisbah, which will not permit them to live peacefully, not to think of the thousands of official military/security operatives planted along the highways for the sole purpose of extorting or robbing Igbo traders in the promotion of the federal ease of doing business policy. A sense of belonging is determined by the sense of security and participation, both of which other than a few condescending tokenisms, President Buhari and the cabal have consistently denied the Igbo. The visit to Imo State was at best curious in timing and substance given that many of the people visited were still lamenting the violent death or disappearance of their loved ones.

We once again use this opportunity to call for the unconditional release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, Sunday Igboho and other political prisoners; an end to night and hooded arrests and the unwarranted killings that follow them; an accounting for those already killed and still missing; a federally assisted return to their ancestral homes of those unjustly driven away by jihadists into IDP camps with the army allegedly intervening only after the event; an end to the seeming encouragement to the Miyetti Allah and others to flout the anti-open grazing laws; a halt to the practical reign of terror and return to democratic legality and its freedoms; and the reorganisation of the military/security, parastatals, civil service and other institutions to reflect the constitutional requirements of federal character and fair conscience. Six chaotic years have gone, but some palliatives are still possible if the will is to leave behind a legacy of and reconciliation.

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