A former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has described the recent quit notice issued by the Coalition of Northern Youths and the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) to the people of South-East resident in the North as a big mistake and a condemnable act.
Kalu, a politician and business mogul, said it was unfortunate that such utterances were made by Nigerians against fellow citizens.
He, however, applauded the Northern States Governors’ Forum (NGF) for promptly condemning the action.
The former governor, who reaffirmed his faith in the unity and oneness of Nigeria, said unguarded utterances that tend to create division among Nigerians should be discouraged at all times.
He blamed the divisive tendencies in the country on certain policies of the government which emphasises the ethnic, geographical and religious roots of the citizens, thereby creating room for discrimination in the society.
“The federal government and state governments are encouraging nepotism and tribalism by even asking people what local government area or what state they come from whenever they are required to fill forms for employment or other official purposes.
“What I will like to see is that every Nigerian filling forms for anything within Nigeria should simply identify himself or herself as a Nigerian and not state, local government area or tribe,” he said.
On the growing agitation for the revival of the defunct Republic of Biafra, by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and other youth groups in the South-East, Kalu said even though he had always believed in one united Nigeria, those agitating for Biafra had a right under the constitution to express themselves on their own beliefs.
According to him, what has been fuelling the agitation for Biafra among the young people of Igbo extraction was the inequality and lack of social justice in the polity.
“The whole issue of Biafra is because people from the South-East feel they are not carried along in the politics of Nigeria. Although, I never supported what they are doing even when I was a governor, the whole issue centres on injustice.
“The Igbo people want to be treated equally with other people everywhere in Nigeria. If they have social justice, rule of law, if you have one law for everybody, there will be no problem and every part of the nation will agree that they are Nigerians,” he said.
Kalu said that the best way for Nigeria to tackle the Biafra challenge was for the federal government to heed the alternate agitation for restructuring of the federation and return to regional governments that would have relative autonomy to develop at their own pace.
He said that going back to six regional governments and adopting the parliamentary system would not only save cost, but will enhance the cooperation between the legislature and executive arms of government.
He urged President Muhammadu Buhari not only to fight corruption, but to tackle the economic challenges facing Nigerians frontally.
“My advice is that the Federal Government and every other level of government should stand up. Nigerians are very hungry.
“In terms of fighting corruption, they have done very well. Government has also done well in the area of fighting Boko Haram because by now Boko Haram would have taken over this place.
I want this government to see that our problem is not political, our problem whether Boko Haram, Biafra, militants, OPC are all economic. Once you solve the economic problems, these agitations will cease,” he said.