National Confab: Gov. Orji As The Elixir Of Igbo Renaissance...

By Uche Nwosu
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In a blaze of glory the south east delegates to the just concluded national conference returned to a heroic welcome. It will be recalled that the national conference was inaugurated by President Goodluck Ebere Jonathan on March 17, 2014 majorly to engage in intense introspection on the political and socio-economic challenges confronting the nation.

The delegates were also mandated to chart the best and the most acceptable way for the resolution of such challenges in the collective interest of all the constituent parts of the country. While inaugurating the 492 wise men and women from different ethnic nationalities, shades of opinions, professionals and interests groups, President Jonathan remarked that the coming together of Nigeria's crème de la crème under one roof to confer and build a fresh national consensus for the amicable resolution of issues that still cause friction amongst our people must be seen as an essential part of the process of building a more united, stronger and progressive nation.

Consequently, after the President's inauguration the national conference headed by former Chief Justice of the Federation, Justice Idris Kutigi swung into action to chart the better and acceptable framework for the country's match towards an Eldorado. It was a conference that took the delegates a total of 150 days to produce a draft for a new constitution that will be the first of its kind in this geo-political entity called Nigeria.

Indeed, as expected the south east sent its best, amongst them eggheads of different backgrounds who have achieved a lot in their various fields of human endeavour. Apart from the appointees from the south east zone selected by the federal government for the conference, the five south east states of the zone buoyed by the distinctive leadership of the chairman, south east governors' forum and Abia state governor, Chief TA Orji chose men and women of character and integrity, who are overwhelmed by patriotism and nationalism as their mouthpieces at the confab.

Amongst them were elder statesmen, the academic, the leaders of thought in the zone and so on. It will be noted that a number of issues were considered while putting their names forward to represent their individual states and indeed the zone. The criteria include their wealth of experience, their reach beyond Igbo land and other factors. But when the issue of who will lead the south east delegates at the confab came, Gov Orji exquisitely selected Gen Ike Nwachukwu to lead the group.

Conversely, at the mention of Ike Nwachukwu's name, some armed chair critics took some time and spaces in both the print and social media to question the rationale behind the choice of Ike Nwachukwu as the leader of the south east delegates. The flaks went beyond bounds. To such detractors, Ike Nwachukwu background as the son of an Hausa mother and his marital status as a husband of a Yoruba woman would make him to compromise his Igboness.

It took the conviction and resilience of a leader like Ochendo to stick to his guns; insisting that the general's national and international connection, intellectualism and patriotism to both the Igbo nation and Nigeria positioned him as the best material for that task. Consequently, few days after the commencement of the confab assignment Ike Nwachukwu's dexterity in national politics and his vast knowledge of the military eventually paid off.

Significantly, it is noteworthy to observe that Chief TA Orji displayed sterling leadership in the south east at a time Nigerians of different settings were conferring to reshape and remodel the country's destiny. He not only served as a reliable compass and a road map for Igbo's emancipation, he also became the mast on which the delegates got their motivation. And that singular leadership incentive made the south east geo-political zone to triumph at the confab. That they were able to secure the approval of the creation an additional state and some local government areas in the zone, equal access to political power as well as other major victories is a plus to his leadership ingenuity.

At the confab, the south east delegates were not only concerned with producing a Constitution that would enhance good governance and as well enthrone peace, stability, justice, equity, fairness and harmonious coexistence of the diverse groups that make up this great nation, they busied themselves in producing a Nigerian Constitution whose content and outlook would address the imbalances and the perceived marginalization of Ndigbo.

For the Gen Ike Nwachukwu led south east delegates to have galvanized this unique assemblage of men and women of character from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, amongst them were hardliners, hawks, ethnic jingos, religious extremists and resourcefully presented the south east position without hurting a fly or making it to draw unnecessary flaks in a country like Nigeria where conferences like that had been scuttled because of minor differences is a study in leadership model. It is certainly a political glory to the south east geo-political zone.

We should not fail to underscore the fact that the confab was peopled by old and young articulate Nigerians who ordinarily wanted to have their ways and also properly represented their zones and their interest groups. The finesse with which the south east delegates presented their position to this crop of individuals made this (south east) position acceptable. The issue of additional state and the marginalization of the south east have been in public domain for some time now. It is either that Ndigbo have not been given a veritable platform to explain away this precarious situation to the appreciation of other Nigerians or the Igbo leaders who ought to have done this properly have been muddling issues concerning this.

Indeed, despite their successes in presenting the issues of Ndigbo before other Nigerians at the confab, Igbo delegates also did wonderfully in other national issues such as the unity of the country, the relationship between various groups, control and management of natural resources, observance of the rule of law, religious tolerance, equity in national polity, access and control of the presidency and so on. The camaraderie by which these issues were tackled and many of them resolved shows how determined the federating ethnic groups intend to live together henceforth.

Other issues that were also tackled include the issue of the presidential and parliamentary systems of government, devolution of power, return to regionalism and so on. The confab displayed the knack that Nigerians are ready to live together under a country that is free from domination by any of its federating ethnic groups. In fact, they started the conference by agreeing that the issue of unity is not negotiable. Like President Jonathan charged in his inaugural speech, the delegates were not expected to delve into areas that will dismember Nigeria but to proffer solution to its challenges.

Consequently, at the gathering to welcome the delegates in Enugu recently, it was unanimously agreed that the south east delegates achieved more than 90 percent of the mandate of the zone. The meeting was well attended by the south east governors, clergy, captains of industries, leaders of thought in Igbo land, the academia, pro-democracy and human rights groups, professionals and so on. In the meeting chaired by Governor Orji the south east delegates were commended for their maturity, patriotism, courage and peaceful disposition in articulating and presenting south east position. This indeed is another great political leap for Gov Orji, because of his great socio-economic and political accomplishments; President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan considered it necessary to confer on him the prestigious national award of Commander of Order of the Niger (CON).

Uche Nwosu, a Public Affairs Commentator, contributed this piece from Umuahia.

Nnaji Obed Asiegbu
SA e-Governance & Strategy
to the Abia State Governor
[email protected]

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