Reaction to my article 'Defending the Igbo interest' has come in different ways. Apparently, Government has reduced checkpoints in Eastern Roads. Contractors have resumed work in the dilapidated Aba-Port Harcourt expressway at Aba. The President reportedly told the World Igbo congress “I Am one of you”. Opposing political contenders tried to over do themselves with promises hinging on appointments of Igbo sons and daughters to political positions. Earlier the Ohaneze Ndigbo said it had not backed any aspirant or party. Finally the latest caricature came as the South East Governors met and congratulated the President for appointing the first Igbo Army Chief of Staff. Meanwhile, I am still waiting for someone to come out with further articulation of Igbo interests aside from the few articulated in my last article. Why is it the hardest thing for Igbos to articulate their interests? Why must others decide what we want or what benefits us and then go ahead to pull the wool over our eyes? With all our education not even the World Igbo congress could become anything but a campaign ground for horse-trading? I shed tears again for the Igbo Nation.

What it means is that our present Igbo leaders are leprous. They are so sickening in their ways to think that what the Igbo nation needs is political appointment or even position- the same old issues that led innocent people in to their early graves. I want to difer with those who believe what the igbos need now is political positions in a thoroughly disadvantageous political system designed to snuff out life from their bodies. You cannot also change a system that gives you a position. You have to be a daft to think that way. In the same way the Igbo nation does not need to produce the President or his vice. A president cannot even change the constitution that puts him in power without destroying the structure and building afresh. since it is unthinkable, what Igbos need is change of policies to assure her people of survival in the Nigerian State. If an Hausa, Yoruba or ijaw man can do it let him show us guarantees first before we support him. Even if no Igbo are appointed to anything in any case has it made any difference? What appointments have achieved is handing over the destroyer baton to the son of the soil. Oh how many souls have been sent away prematurely? Was it not our son who presides over the Police that spread innumerable checkpoints in the South East to nearly strangle her economy? Was it not our son who as Governor blocked the fairy tale development of Obuaku city in Asa LGA of Abia State designed to help decongest Port Harcourt and give traders sorely harassed in this city a lease of life? Was it not the same Governor who refused to help upgrade Umuahia electricity grid to 133kva substation and instead spent time to destroyed community peace and harmony with introduction of autonomous communities and chieftaincy bonanza? Isn't the Igbo nation better off without such children?.

Now what are Igbo interests looking at our present level of decent in Nigeria? From first. to second and third and now sixth. Recently the World literacy day was celebrated and I said to myself -look at the Igbo man once at the forefront of education but today more than sixty of her youths have dropped out of school and now dwell in dilapidated markets. The remaining 40 percent are divided between the Diaspora and unemployment and underemployment in Nigeria. The biggest Igbo interest is survival of the majority of her sons and daughters who are presently helpless paying the price of war. What they need most is rehabilitation not political positions which have proven to be a mirage. Being hard working, they need economic justice. Since the destruction of Nigerian education the average Igbo man can be found trading to make a living. The Igbo man offers service and you can reach them best if you provide enabling environment for them to trade. Presently some studies have determined that 80% of traders in Nigerian markets are Igbo's. So my friends simply improve the deplorable state of our markets and Igbos will vote for you.

Aha, you want to question the state of markets in Nigeria in every city try me. My study shows that most markets and environs are neglected in terms of facilities because they are mainly occupied by Igbos. Seventy percent of the access roads are in disrepair. Most markets are hell on earth to navigate through on foot and they are not planned the sanitation level can make you vomit uncontrollably. Check it for yourself. I was at Mile One Market Port Harcourt the Market where Aba and Port Harcourt meet on Wednesdays. It was a rainy day and behold a multitude swimming through muddy track ways between stalls. I saw the old women suffer with their loads and I saw the local government officials shower them with no mercy until each one coughed about N2,200 for various levies including sanitation, security and other excuses. It was pure economic injustice at lay. Market prices are shooting up each day as these levies reach the sky. One woman hawking with chewing sticks grumbled that the entire value of her merchandise had just been taken away by brutal hands. I wept.”You have not seen anything yet”, a group of traders volunteered. “If only they can spend 10 percent of this money to floor the market there will be better environment but I doubt if the government gets to see that money” a trader contributed anonymously.

I learnt that this day was reserved for the local government to collect market tolls and as expected their competitors are sending down the rain to deter them from fleecing the market traders too much as to depress their own collection the coming week. The community will take the loot coming Wednesday and that day the market will experience sunshine and likely to be filled to its estimated 30, 000 capacity with more than half squatters. I understand the communities are as ferocious as the local government and usually the indigenes are bypassed from these fees. Do not try to reason with them for they are equipped to fight you and make away with your wares.

So market reform articulated well to ensure that what the traders pay as fees are plowed back to make markets safe clean and accessible. Will it be asking for too much for a nation's vote? I guess not. Live and let live. If you appoint our son to high position you are telling us that it is only through corruption we can feed our children. Is it fair to Nigeria? And when you like you can arraign our sons in kangaroo courts over corruption when you want to use their seats. So we ate tired of deceit.As one former Head of state was quoted as saying we know we are defeated people and we shouldn't bother trying to govern or put these reforms ourselves for a long time to come but we can ask for basic rights. We can ask that Igbo goods are no longer ceased at the Ports or that exhaubitant custom duties are not extended to traders to enable them make profit and help Nigerian economy back to its feet. We ask that our delicacies and protein sources are not banned from the import list so that we do not die of protein deficiency diseases. I mean okporoko, not the head. If you cannot bring down the high price of locally bred cattle and you cannot unban importation of meat b why don't you allow stock fish from Norway as substitute, except you want the Igbo nation to suffer from protein deficiency. To boost trade consider building an international airport and a seaport in Igbo land. Why not after all they constitute nearly 50% of Nigerian traders and businessmen and if economic parameters are used to cite airports then the Igbo nation will make one viable. As for the old age tactics of keeping us out of the sea by putting our kits and kins in adjourning riverine States instead of allowing the Igbo man own a jetty it is time we reversed this inhuman policy since we know that proximity to the sea is no longer an indices to measure security in a global world. The Igbo man is law abiding more than any I have seen and we are not really interested in secession anymore as long as economic and political justice is not denied us. It is over to the aspirants to work out tangible plans and policies to show how they can tackle these interests of the Igbo nation. All Igbo aspirants and legislators who come up with credible plans on how to realize the above interests will henceforth be regarded as true sons of Igbo land. Any friend of the Igbos who tackles these interests not in empty promises but with credible plans will receive support of genuine Igbos. Any one who opposes these interests will be regarded as an opponent of the Igbo nation even if he or she is an Igbo. We extend our hands of friendship to all tribes who wish us life by acceding to our demands. As for those who wish us otherwise why should they seek our votes and support?

Mr. Nworisara aspired to be President of Nigeria in 1992

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Articles by Nwokedi Nworisara