Features

Call For Indigenization Is A Subterfuge

I am writing to add my voice to the already made rejection by the states of the South-South Region of Nigeria concerning the current moves by some tribal groups in Nigeria to include
INDIGENIZATION in the on-going amendment of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The present call by some Nigerians for indigenization to be included in the on-going constitutional amendment exercise is a clear subterfuge, which is intended to bring to pass that which these Nigerians had unsuccessfully tried to achieve through several unconstitutional means in the past. This call is made by some particular Nigerian majority tribes with some hidden motives to achieve what they truly know is in contrast with the Nigerian political structure, or with any other country in which the people are naturally conscious of their nativity.
It is undeniable that Nigerians manage to co-exist as nationals of the same country and accommodate themselves. Every Nigerian is naturally conscious of where he or she belongs by birth and cannot be detached from his or her place of birth. For some economic reasons, Nigerians are wont to reside in other places outside of their home-states. But we are still part and parcel of our places of birth.
We cannot deny that Nigerians always go to their places of birth from their places of business, particularly during festive periods and national activities such as elections, etc. This is the reason why some state capitals such as Port Harcourt become virtually empty during such times. It is also true that most of these Nigerians cheat the governments of their states of business by their failure to pay their bills including annual income taxes. They run to their states of birth to make such payments. Most of them register even their vehicles which they have bought from their incomes they have had from the economic activities of their places of business other than their home states.
Despite the fact that such Nigerians claim to live in such places throughout a period of ten (10) or twenty (20) years, the states in which they have lived for such lengths of time do not have anything to show to benefit these places of business which should qualify them as indigenes of those places. They shuttle between their places of business and their villages because of the advantage of nearness.
It is sad that those who call for indigenization to be enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria are comparing same with citizenship of Nigerians in developed countries such as the United States of America and the United Kingdom. Indigenization and citizenship are two different constitutional provisions.
Whereas citizenship is a constitutional provision for non-nationals who are foreigners but are resident in any particular country, indigenization purports to be a constitutional provision which is to give ‘two places of birth’ to one citizen in his or her country.
Citizenship successfully works out in those foreign countries because of their high standard of immigration and travel documents, fiscal policies, the distance between their countries and the foreign countries. These high standards make it difficult for the foreigners to shuttle between their home countries and the United States of America and the United Kingdom or any other country at all. All these factors make the high level of cheating which is prevalent in Nigeria impossible in the foreign countries.
On the other hand, the level of these policies in Nigeria are nothing to write home about. It is ill-timed to include any constitutional provision such as indigenization in the Nigerian Constitution. Will the Nigerians who call for this indigenization enjoy it in two states and be indigenes of two states, or will they renounce their constitutional rights of their places of birth? No Nigerian should be allowed to be an indigene of two places as that will amount to “Robbing Peter to pay Paul”.
The constitutions of Nigeria from the date of Independence (1960) until date (1999) have adequately provided for the protection of all Nigerians wherever they reside throughout the geographical expanse of this country. The 1999 Nigerian Constitution (Chapter IV) has enshrined the Fundamental Rights of all Nigerians wherever they are in Nigeria, and they share in whatever religious or political, etc. opinion and benefits as provided in its sections 42 to 44. Section 42 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution provides thus: “A citizen of Nigeria of a particular community, ethnic group, place of origin, sex, religion or political opinion shall not,
by reason only that he is such a person
(a) be subjected either expressly by, or in the practical application of, any law in force in Nigeria or any executive or administrative action of government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religious or political opinions are not made subject; or
(b) be accorded either expressly by, or in the practical application of any law in force in Nigeria or any such executive or administrative action, any privilege or advantage that is not accorded to citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions or political opinion.
Sub-section (2) of section 42 provides thus; “No citizen of Nigeria shall be subjected to any disability or deprivation merely by reason of the circumstances of his birth.” The above constitutional provisions have adequately guaranteed the Fundamental Rights of every Nigerian regarding his/her social, economical and political requirements as a citizen of this country.
Why do these people from the two particular major tribes in Nigeria call for and insist on the indigenization to be specially enshrined in the on-going amendment of the constitution? The answer to this question is not far-fetched. It is for the achievement of total political power in the so-called minority states. This means the usurpation of political power in the minority tribes by the so-called majority tribes in Nigeria
The Hausa/Fulani tribes of Northern Nigeria and the Igbos of Southern Nigeria are the two major tribal groups who have been the principal agitators calling for indigenization to be enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution which is undergoing amendment. Their aim is to enable them to have dual indigeneship in Nigeria. In other words, they want to benefit as indigenes of more than one state in the same country of Nigeria.
It is a notorious fact that the herdsmen from the majority tribes in Northern Nigeria currently and always over-run the farm-lands of the communities of the minority states, particularly those states which share boundaries with them. In recent times, the lawlessness and callousness of these cattle rearers towards other Nigerians have been extended with impunity to every part of the country. The claim of right of these itinerant cattle rearers is that, the Nigerian Constitution gives them the right to go to places and graze their cattle even though they are not indigenes of those places. This so-called constitutional right has often led to clashes between theft cattle rearers and the farmers of many affected communities in the country. The clashes have always resulted to serious loss of lives and property.
The billion naira question is: What will be the likely result when such Nigerians shall have been given such a constitutional right as constitutional indigenes of every community which they do not naturally belong? It is submitted that granting such a constitutional right will obviously amount to fuelling an already tense situation and unfriendly relations among the contiguous communities in the Northern States of Nigeria and to all the other places they visit with their cattle.
It is well-known that these itinerant herdsmen are generally lawless. They graze their cattle anywhere and at any time regardless of any level of destruction they cause to the crops of fanners of the communities they visit with their cattle. They tread the highways of the country and the road of townships without regard to vehicular movements and human lives. Cattle are known to have strayed into moving vehicles which have, at several times, resulted to the deaths of the innocent occupants or drivers of such vehicles. The herdsmen “slaughter” these unfortunate commuters or drivers without any sense of reasoning or human feeling for the lives of these human beings simply as vengeance for hurting their cattle. What will be the fate of the average Nigerian when ‘an Open cheque’ such as indigenization has been enshrined as a constitutional right in Nigeria?
The situation in the Southern States of Nigeria is fairly different, but it is more serious as it is politically motivated. The people of one of the majority tribes are known to prefer living outside their places of origin. For this reason, they are spread throughout the country and beyond in very large numbers. Although they do not like to live in their places of origin, they always travel home for family meetings and festivals because of the nearness of the places of their business to their places of birth as both are within the same country.
On the agitation for the creation of states in Nigeria, the Igbos particularly agitated against the creation of Rivers State. The main bone of contention on the issue was that Port Harcourt should not be carved into Rivers State as the capital of the new state. The Igbos claimed Port Harcourt to be part of the then Owerri Province, and argued therefore that Port Harcourt be made part of the East-Central State. The contention was not hidden as a very prominent politician of the present South-Eastern States extraction “swore” that Rivers State would be created ‘over his dead body’.
Rivers State was finally created ‘over his dead body’. That agitation notwithstanding, the creation of Rivers State has benefited the Igbos more than even the actual indigenes of the state. The first reason is that the state consists of the upland and riverine indigenes and the languages of the uplanders are similar to those of the Igbos. This similarity gave room of impersonation to the Igbos and they are in almost all the government ministries and parastatals in Rivers State. Again, that one of the 23 local government areas of the state is purely an Igbo speaking people provides another room for personation for the Igbos of the Eastern states as sons and daughters of Rivers State.
Another reason is the constitutional provision of marital right in a husband’s state of origin.
Marriages between Rivers men and Igbo. women have, therefore, been another source of providing employment chances to them through which the Igbo tribe benefits from Rivers State.
The citizens of the Igbo tribe virtually control the economic power of the minority states, particularly Rivers State of the South-South Region of Nigeria. This economic power should be good enough for them. What else do they want? The call for indigenization in the constitution of Nigeria is for their attainment of direct political power in these minority states of the South-South region of Nigeria. This is the hidden plan.
In the last two political administrations in Rivers State, for instance, the people of Rivers State suffered an unprecedented setback as the Brick House in Port Harcourt was virtually converted to a sixth Government House of the South-Eastern states. A younger brother of the first lady assumed the status of a governor and the Government House became the home of the Igbos in Port Harcourt and beyond.
The people of the state also had a similar experience during the next administration, although the first lady applied a mature and fairly Godly approach. The first lady was also a daughter of the Igbos. The maturity which was applied in the new administration introduced a different style in which the social benefits of the Rivers men and women were shared between them and their inlaws. The sharing of the Rivers man’s social benefits with his Igbo inlaws created some dissatisfaction among the Igbos and an Igbo chief accused the first lady of her failure to help her kinsmen and women in comparison to how the first lady of the last administration helped them. In his own opinion, the Rivers men and women ought not to have a share in what belongs to them in their state. The accusation was published in a national newspaper.
The pregnant women of the Igbos in Rivers State are given free medical care which the pregnant women of Rivers State origin enjoy. The state government has recently granted twenty (20) per cent of the educational scholarship chances to the Igbo sons and daughters who are resident in Rivers State and beyond. Do the Rivers boys and girls or the pregnant women who are resident in any of the six Eastern States enjoy such benefits? What else do the Igbos Want again in the South-South region, particularly Rivers State? The call for indigenization to be enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution is targeted towards making an lgbo man to finally be in the Brick House in Rivers State, which will ultimately convert this state to be one of the Easterm (Igbo) States in Nigeria in all respects.
The aim of the call for indigenization in Nigeria is for them to be given such political rights as they have eagerly and unconstitutionally fought for but failed to achieve in the past. The fight is for their men and women to become the governors, chairmen of local government areas, etc. in Rivers State and turn the Rivers men and women to be slaves in their fatherland. Such a development is bound to bring back some dead and forgotten issues throughout Nigeria and create some acrimony among citizens who have hitherto amicably lived together.
The enshrinement of indigenization in the on-going Nigerian Constitutional Amendment will not augur well with this country, considering the level of political immaturity of the people of Nigeria and the several loop-holes in the Nigerian Constitution.
Nigerians of the tribal majority groups will immediately take advantage of the loop-holes to the detriment of the minority groups. It is uncalled for as every Nigerian has a birth place in Nigeria and no one MUST be given dual places of origin.
lndigenization must NOT be enshrined in the constitution of Nigeria at all because of the adverse political influence it will surely have on the people of the minority States generally. The population of each of these two majority tribes in any of the minority States, capital, particularly in the South-South Region of Nigeria is higher than that of the indigenes of each of these minority states. It is also true that the population of the Igbos in Port Harcourt alone is higher than the population of all the people of other states put together.
Politics is generally a game of number of persons of adult age. Whoever has a higher number eventually wins in the game of politics, notwithstanding the irregularity of the processes of the game at all. The population of the Igbos in Rivers State is very high and this is what they want to use for the achievement of what has been unconstitutionally impossible for them to achieve for past four decades. The present step is to use the constitutional amendment as a constitutional means to have a constitutional ‘ticket’ into the Brick House of Rivers State.
The advantage of the population of the Igbos in Port Harcourt alone was recently declared to be over (800,000) eight hundred thousand persons by an Igbo chief in their quest for free educational chances in Rivers State. But this declaration was even a clear underestimation of their actual population figure in the Rivers State capital alone. This high population can possibly be further increased overnight to win any political office in Rivers State or any other state if the request for the dual indigeneship in Nigeria is provided for in the on-going constitutional amendment.
Every Nigerian is an indigene of his or her natural place of belonging by birth (nativity) in Nigeria. Therefore, the call for indigenization by any Nigerian has an interior exploitative political motive for his personal political advantage by which such persons seek to belong to other places than their places of birth. This request is contrary to the overall interest and corporate existence of this country. The idea should be totally discarded. It should not be contemplated for the Nigerian Constitution in the general interest of the unity of Nigeria. No tribal oppression should be given a place in the Nigerian Constitution.
No Nigerian should be given the constitutional right to eat from both on the table and on the ground’. The Holy Books encourage ‘sharing’, but they discourage the dispossession of the children of the father by their strangers. “It does not seem right to take bread from the children and throw it to the dogs.” – St. Matthew: 15: 26.
ELDER IBIENEBO GBOBO

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