Former two-time Chairman of Oguta Local Government Area of Imo State, Dr. Louis Nonye Obodo, has lamented that Ndigbo are suffering more from self-induced marginalization, even as he called on them to embrace Agriculture as the only way to self-sustenance in food production and economic growth.
The Medical Doctor and politician spoke during the Economic Summit organized by the South East South South Network (SESSNET) which was held at Links Hotel, Owerri, on Tuesday, April 18, 2019, saying that by continuing to depend on food and related products from the North to feed themselves, the South East and South South were making themselves dependent on the North and also building the economy of the North.
He also said that the major problem of the people of the South East and South South was not restructuring the country but their attitude towards empowering themselves and becoming self-sufficient.
He said that if the people developed the attitude to cultivate enough food by engaging in Agriculture, they would become self-sufficient and depend less on the North for food, thereby building their own economy as more than 95% percent of the people spend more than half of their monthly income on food from outside the region.
Apart from dependence on the North for food, Dr. Obodo who said he is also a farmer also said that the people of the South East and South South spend the little savings they might have on religious organizations most of which ferry the money out of the region, leaving them more impoverished.
Accusing the SESS people of committing Mahatma Ghandi's seven Social sins, he enjoined SESSNet to educate the masses on their self-induced marginalization and change of attitude, as it is only when they have gained mass support that they can embark on political change.
This came as another speaker who is a chieftain of the Ijaw Peeople’s Assembly and a human rights activist, Miss Annkio Briggs, who spoke during the economic summit expressed worry over what she described as “induced differences between the South East and the South South geo-political zones of the country”.
She said that those who induced the differences are those who do not want the two zones to come together and get united to forge a common front, stressing that the two zones have been balkanized.
“Our traducers not only balkanized the former Eastern Region, but also injected false and jaundiced propaganda that has effectively left us where we are today”, she said.
According to her, “Our parents who bought into the false propaganda did not fully understand, but today we understand”. She said that her patriotism to Nigeria begins with her patriotism to the Ijaw Nation, stressing that as a proud Ijaw woman nobody could force her into being a better Nigerian without her first being a patriotic Ijaw woman.
She said: “There is a lot of misinformation in the land. We must be determined to save ourselves from the grip of those who hate us. There must be a time when we must sit down and work a way to drive the unification project.”
According to her, the claims by some leaders in the North that the North has been fending for the South was not correct, saying that the record show that during the time of colonial rule in the country, the North was run on a deficit budget whereas the South had surplus that took care of the North as had some savings.
She said that rather than the North sustaining the South, it has been the South making huge sacrifices to keep Nigeria afloat, even as she noted that the federal allocations to the states and local government were not in favour of the South.
She spoke on the issue of grazing land for herdsmen, saying that it was senseless for states in the South to do so, regretting that Bayelsa State had done so.
Earlier in his presentation, one of the conveners of the economic summit, Chief Aloysius Osuji, regretted that the South East and South South zones were the worst hit in the present government.
He said that the two zones were been marginalized economically by the federal government, saying that if the federal government allows the South South and South East zones to make use of the seaports in Port Harcourt, the region would become very rich and might even surpass Lagos State.
He said that only Tincan Port was enough to pay the bills the of Lagos State, wondering why the businessmen from the South East and South South were forced use the Tincan port.
“Why are the Port Harcourt, Warri and Calabar ports not functioning? Why should our traders be forced to use only the Lagos ports? The Federal Government should please give us the answers”, Osuji said.
Also speaking during the event, an elder statesman, Dr. Uma Eleazu, argued that what the people of the two zones needed was self-determination and urged all the groups seeking Biafra independence to join forces together.
He said: “We have several groups pulling us in different directions. What we need is self-determination as distinct from sovereignty”.