Two Igbo groups, the Igbo Youth Movement, and the South East Self Determination Coalition, on Friday held a rally in Enugu to press home their demand for the restructuring of the country along regional lines, immediately after the general elections.
The groups expressed concern at the ongoing “fierce” struggle for central power in the country, a situation which they said could lead to post-election violence.
They identified ‘a weaker center’, which would be brought about by the proposed restructuring, as the only antidote to the violence and tension that characterize elections in the country.
Members of the groups carried placards inscribed with messages like ‘true federalism alone will save Nigeria’, ‘restructure Nigeria immediately after elections’, ‘weaker center is antidote to electoral violence’, and ‘confab report must be implemented after polls’.
The groups noted that they decided to speak up, a week to the commencement of the election, “just for the records.”
Stating their message in a pamphlet made available to journalists and members of the public, the groups said, “We all know that the fierce struggle for central power is serious business. Why? Because Nigerian presidency is one of the most powerful in the world.
“The 1999 Constitution makes the centre so attractive that all manner of strategies are usually employed to grab power at the centre.
“Because of the winner takes all syndrome, the struggle for Aso Rock is bitterly fought.
“We are worried that the plea to restructure Nigeria into true federalism is being delayed. We believe that if the centre is made less attractive, the vicious struggle for central power will be a thing of the past.
“Hence there would be no more fears of post-election violence in Nigeria.
“In April 2011, hundreds of Ndigbo were slaughtered in northern Nigeria as Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was announced winner of the polls.
“We plead that such ugly incident does not repeat itself this year.”
The coordinator of the rally, and President of the IYM, Evangelist Eliot Uko, urged all Nigerians to support the restructuring of the country and reduce the powers in the centre, that way, the fierce struggle for central power will come to an end.
Urging Igbos to vote right in the presidential election, he stressed that only true federalism would prosper Nigeria.
He added, “Only a restructured Nigeria will grow big and great. Insist on restructuring, insist on justice.
“We have endured so much humiliation for over four decades, locked up in only five out of 36 states.
“We are suffocating in the unitary structure, restructuring Nigeria is more important than election.”