The Bill on New Governance Model for Nigeria Act 2024; Matters Arising

By Ben Prince AHANONU

For quite a while now, there has been much noise by the loudmouthed originators of a bill that aims at changing Nigeria’s political system and structure from the expensive, unwieldy and wasteful presidential system of government, which is only good on face value particularly in Nigeria to the more cost – effective and truly representative parliamentary system of government.

The proposed legislation authored by a chieftain of the Yoruba socio-cultural association, Afenifere, Akin Fapohunda, and titled, “A Bill for an Act to substitute the annexure to Decree 24 of 1999 with New Governance Model for the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” seeks among others, new extant laws to be cited as: “The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria – New Governance Model for Nigeria Act 2024.”

Fapohunda, who also represents the Coalition of Indigenous Ethnic Nationalities was reported to have said that the organisation is proposing the division of the country into eight geo-political regions with approximate interim boundaries.

According to him, the Southeastern region consists of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo States. 

The Western region comprises of Lagos, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Oyo, and Ekiti States, incorporating the Yoruba-speaking people in Kogi State and the Igbomina people in Kwara State. Additional options would be the Itsekiri people of Delta State and Akoko-Edo people of Edo State to make their respective choices.

Others include the Mid-Western Region made up of Edo and Delta States, possibly incorporating the Anioma people and the Eastern Middle Belt Region comprising of Northern Cross River, Southern Kaduna, Southern Borno, Adamawa, Benue, Kogi, Plateau, Nasarawa and Taraba States.

The Western Middle Belt Region comprising of Southern Kebbi, parts of Kwara and Niger States while the North Eastern Region will be made up of parts of Borno, Gombe, Bauchi, Jigawa, and Yobe States.

The North Western Region, according to the Afenifere chieftain, will comprise of Kaduna, parts of Kebbi, Kano, Katsina, Sokoto and Zamfara States.

While there may be some ingenious aspects of the said bill that will boost cost-saving for the country and encourage development within the regions, however, the fact that it has the intention to marginalize the Igbos and other nationalities further, renders the proposed bill dead on arrival. It is an unacceptable wicked concoction by the so-called Fapohunda. It is also an insult to the great Igbo nation and a devious plot to institutionalize the extended balkanization of Igbo nation while enlarging and entrenching the Yoruba nation.

The lopsided and incoherent bill, incorporates the Yoruba-speaking people in Kogi and the Igbomina people in Kwara State into the purported Southwest region with additional options for Itsekiri people of Delta State and Akoko-Edo people of Edo State to make their respective choices and there lies the disgusting sticking point and deliberate injustice. 

The so-called nonsensical bill authored by Fapohunda, limits the proposed Southeastern region to Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, and Imo States, while relocating the Igbos in Delta State – the Anioma people, Igbos in Benue State, Cross River, Kogi and Edo to his purported Mid-Western Region consisting of Edo and Delta States, possibly incorporating the Eastern Middle Belt Region comprising of Northern Cross River, Southern Kaduna, Southern Borno, Adamawa, Benue, Kogi, Plateau, Nasarawa and Taraba States.

As if that was not enough, he lumped the Igbo people in Rivers State, Southern Imo State i.e.Ohaji/Egbema, the Igbos in Edo – Igbanke, and Akwa Ibom together in his proposed Southern region to be made up of Akwa-Ibom, Bayelsa, and Cross River States and optional inclusions of the Annang, Efik, Ekoi, Ibibio, Oro, Ohaji/Egbema in Southern Imo, the Adonia, Efemia, Ijaw, Ogoni, Bini, Esan, Isoko, Urhobo and the Ijaw people in Northern Ondo State with land contiguity.

Fact remains that all the Igbo speaking areas have territorial contiguity within an expanded Southeast so why should this man unilaterally want to further divide the Igbos in Nigeria while uniting his expanded Yoruba nation through this his inauspicious and  ill-intentioned bill?

This is the time for Ohanaeze Nd’Igbo to rise to the challenge and halt the brewing storm that can destroy Nigeria.

The military in their infamous dictatorial creation of States robbed the Igbo nation significantly in revolting pursuit of institutionalized marginalization by carving out Igbo people like Etche, Obi Igbo in Abia  and 13 out of 16  Communities in Egbema to become part of Rivers State.

This injustice cannot be allowed to be festered by the badly authored bill in question.

Igbos are part of the indigenous people of Nigeria with equal rights and stakes therefore no group or individual should lord it over the other.

The Igbos have suffered a lot of injustice, inequities, marginalization and deprivation in this country, hence going forward, such should never be allowed to manifest or continue in any form.

According to the encyclopedia of World Problems and human potential: “Unjust practice in politics includes all kinds of political discrimination, unequal representation and unjust election administration. Crimes of a political nature include war crimes, corruption, subversive activities, treason and repression. Political injustice may lead to alienation, apathy and stagnation or political instability, political or national disintegration, revolution or foreign intervention.”

Therefore, members of the National Assembly of Igbo extraction in alliance with their colleagues from other geopolitical zones, should stop the wicked bill from seeing the light of day except it was reviewed to correct the anomalies.

Interestingly, the  bill has been disowned by the House of Representatives whose spokesman, Akin Rotimi, and the Chairman, Committee on Rules and Business said it had not been listed for deliberation in the ongoing moves to review the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

Clearly, the bill has disturbing ethnic undertones meant to protect the Yoruba interest to the detriment of others.

The bill is also too divisive that it originally omitted Rivers State.

The Igbos and other affected ethnic groups should not relax.They must remain vigilant.

Without doubt, the author of that obnoxious bill is unpretending about his hatred for the Igbo nation but he has failed.

It must be pointed out that the Igbo nation does not include the so-called southern indigenous people – I chose not to use the word ‘minority’ before anyone misconstrues my position.

The Igbo nation is big, robust, dynamic and wide enough to stand as a viable region with immense potential for exponential economic prosperity, steered by millions of unyielding, determined and hardworking people.

God bless the United Igbo Nation in Nigeria.

Hon. Prince Ben AHANONU is a social commentator and public policy analyst.

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