by Dr Chris Obidigbo Uchay
There is no stopping an idea whose time has come…
The Constitution of Nigeria states as follows – No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth.
A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not, by reason of only that he is such a person, be subjected to disabilities or restrictions and/or be accorded any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religion or political opinions.
The President of Nigeria, on assumption of office, swears to an oath of office publicly before all Nigerians to protect, defend and uphold the Constitution of Nigeria at all times.
President Buhari swore to this oath of office two times now, one at the beginning of his first tenure and the second at the beginning of his second tenure.
The treatment of the Igbos by successive Nigerian Presidents since the war ended in 1970 has clearly demonstrated that the Presidents of Nigeria have not been loyal to their oath of office as far as the Igbos are concerned. The situation has become worse since President Buhari assumed office for the past 5 years.
The marginalization of the Igbos has been heightened, the discrimination against the Igbos has been accentuated and the supremacy of the Fulani ethnic group over the rest of the country has been actively promoted. This is clearly a violation of the Constitution which the President swore to uphold.
The notion that we are born free and equal in Nigeria is now an illusion in the face of multiple bariars and roadblocks placed against the Igbos.
Apart from the Nigerian Constitution, the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights proclaims that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and also states in Article 2 that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this declaration without distinction of any kind such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinions, national or social origin, property, birth or other status
Despite the Constitution of Nigeria and the United Nations Human Rights instruments, the Igbos continue to suffer discrimination and marginalization.
Are the Igbos in Nigeria born free and equal before the law? Is any tribe above the law in Nigeria? Is justice the same for the Igbos as for other tribes in Nigeria? Where is the justice if other Nigerians are treated as free borns while the Igbos are treated as slaves, outcasts and second class citizens despite the Constitutional guarantees and the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Where is the justice if Southeast Igbos are denied their God given right to the Presidency of Nigeria while other tribes are taking their turns two times or three times over and some people are brazenly declaring that they will rule Nigeria for ever. For the Southeast Igbos, a major tribe in Nigeria, their lives have become a perpetual struggle to enjoy the basic rights and privileges that other tribes are provided with.
The Southeast Igbos this time around are ready to stand up for their rights. They do not have any other country but Nigeria and therefore must be treated in the same way other Nigerians are treated, otherwise President Buhari will be making a mockery of the Constitution of Nigeria which he swore to uphold and defend.
The Presidency to the Southeast Igbos in 2023 is one single opportunity for Nigeria to right the wrongs that have been perpetrated on the Southeast Igbos all this long since the end of the war.
Despite the massacre of the Igbos by our Northern brothers during the pogrom and the killing of the Igbos during the war through the barrel of the gun and starvation as a legitimate instrument of war as declared by Nigeria, the Southeast Igbos are not asking for a pound of flesh, but only to be accorded their due recognition and treated as equal citizens in their own country.
Never have the Southeast Igbos boycotted any election in Nigeria. They have participated actively in electing other Nigerians to the Presidency without any rancor.
Now is the time for other ethnic groups to support the Southeast Igbos to produce the President of Nigeria 50 years after the end of the civil war and 63 years after our independent, unless Nigeria no longer wants the Igbos to be part of Nigeria.
We are calling on the APC, PDP and indeed other parties in Nigeria, to ensure that their Presidential Candidates in 2023 are from the South East of Nigeria inorder to demonstrate that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander.
The Southeast Igbos are not asking for any favors but what legitimately belongs to them if Nigeria believes in equity, fairness and Justice and also in the Constitution of Nigeria.
*Dr Chris Obidigbo Uchay is the Medical Director, Eastern Nigeria Medical Center, Enugu & the Secretary, National Advisory Board (NAB) of South East for Presidency 2023 (SEFORP2023)