Nigeria Needs Restructuring, 1999 Constitution Won’t Take This Country Anywhere – Ugochukwu-Uko

The founder/ president of the Igbo Youth Movement, Mr. Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, has reiterated the need to restructure Nigeria, saying that the 1999 constitution won’t take the country to its desired destination.

Mr. Ugochukwu-Uko made the call during an interview with newsmen on Tuesday.

Below are the excerpts of the interview:

You seem to have chosen to lie low for sometime sir. Since before and after the elections you have been very quiet. The South East has been in the news for all kinds of reasons. What’s your take sir on the political climate today.

I deliberately stay away from partisan politics, elections and contests for power, I choose to stick to the real issues. Desire and struggle for political power do not solve problems, it rather creates more problems. In my experience spanning several decades, I regrettably realized that our people are easily carried away, swayed and blinded by allure and promises of power that they seem to loose their senses.

Easily deceived and manipulated and taken along unreasonable, unrealistic and unhelpful paths. I rather choose to remain consistent in my commitment to truth and a better country for all, regardless which political party or leader emerges victorious in the elections.

I choose to remain committed to my advocacy for the return to true federalism and power devolution, as that is at the heart of our problems as a country. I cannot be seen at my age jumping up and down shouting Atikulated, Batified, Obidient or Kwankwasiya. I’ve seen many election cycles that I should know better than to allow my self distractions.

I usually allow politicians and their supporters do their thing. The most important thing in the life of this country is not which party won elections, or from what region the President hails from etc, but the urgent need to save the country and set it on the path to genuine growth and greatness by agreeing on a fair and just article of association, if you will. A consensual agreement on how to live together, a new grundnorm anchored on justice, equity and level playing field for all. A restructuring of the polity, anchored on true federalism and power devolution. The enormous powers at the centre should be whittled and more power granted the federating units. That has been central to my activism for decades now.

Added to this, is my consistent cry for 24 years that the deliberate neglect of the Eastern region by successful central Governments is unhealthy and unhelpful. A policy of affirmative action to consciously address infrastructural deficit in the region will calm frayed nerves and give the people of the region a sense of belonging. There’s no functional International Airport in my region, no railway services, no Seaport, etc. People of the region rightly or wrongly believe that could be deliberate, because of the war that ended 53 years ago. They are forced to migrate to other regions and lead in external migration. Indisputable evidence abound that the region has not been fairly treated.

I also raise my voice to present the truth that the agitation has been terribly mishandled and engaging the agitators directly remain the way to go. I have no interest whatsoever in who is Senator, Governor or President. I remain consistent through the grace of God over the decades. Politicians who struggled to turn me into a praise singer regretted their experiment.

Is the advocacy for restructuring Nigeria loosing steam? Not much is heard about restructuring Nigeria these days.

The truth remains the truth regardless of how much people talk about the truth or not. Nigeria will make greater progress and experience faster growth and advancement when we face reality and address the structural issues dragging us behind. The unitary 1999 constitution designed by the military won’t take this country to the Promised Land. President Tinubu himself knows that. Our politicians know that.

Devolving power to the federating units will positively transform Nigeria and release our energies towards attainment of our full potentials. That is the truth. We should face reality and save the future generations of embarrassment. Our huge debt burden, our untapped solid minerals, our ever-growing population, our near total dependence on oil and the reality that fossil fuel is getting out of fashion, unemployment and social and economic challenges ravaging the land, all make it imperative that we face reality.

The agitation in the South East has gotten messy. Stay at home phenomenon, insecurity and all. How did we get here?

Ralph Uwazurike founded MASSOB in September 1999, with less than a hundred random young men at Ajidedidun Street Agulejika Lagos. When he visited me at my Ikeja office a few weeks later to help him appear on Television, something Jika Attoh of AIT did for him after I introduced them to each other, he told me the membership has grown into thousands.

They grew in size and strength over the years in spite of the onslaught against them. Ralph was upstaged by Nnamdi and they grew stronger and bigger.
From 1999 till date, they have not been invited to a dialogue and the root cause is still feeding the frustration and the agitation.

From a few thousands to several millions and then the ability to paralyze the entire region simply means that whatever strategy that was adopted to contain the agitation only grew the agitation instead. The need to appraise and review the strategy of containment cannot be over emphasised. The agitators should have been listened to, their grievances collated. Error of judgement is responsible for the mess.
I co-arrangged the meeting between Nnamdi Kanu and the South East Governors on 30th August 2017.

At that meeting Nnamdi stated that power devolution and infrastructural development were central to the frustration that inspired the agitation. He pleaded for the restructuring of Nigeria and demanded for core infrastructural development of the East, Seaport, International Airport, railway services etc as the condition for closure and resolution of the agitation. He also said that his demands are not absolute, meaning that he is open to further negotiations. I was at the meeting.

The problem is that the authorities seem uninterested in identifying and addressing the foundational root cause of the agitation. The underlying causes that inspired the agitation has not been addressed. Focus has been on the fall-outs of the agitation for the past 24 years, instead of the root causes.

How do we regain peace in the South East?

The South East is sick. Nobody is willing to accept responsibility. Our past political leaders shift the blame while exonerating themselves. The current leaders are at least standing up to the issues. That is commendable. Our region is at cross roads. Aside the unfortunate situation in the region. Warlocks have taken over my region. And our people sadly seem to suddenly fall in love with what one may call militant politicking, which is both strange and unhelpful.

The matter of Warlocks, mediums, sorcerers and wizards taken over the space is more dangerous and very disturbing. It began gradually with stories of young folks drifting into money rituals and then suddenly a full blown industry emerged feeding this strange desire to make big money through blood sacrifices and rituals.

Today these Warlocks dominate the environment, captivating the soul of young people leading astray. It is truly scary and worrying. The authorities who should regulate them, sort and grade them into separate groups. Identify and separate those that are herbalists who work with roots and herbs and those who surmon and deploy demons and satanic worship, are yet to do that.

These guys are the rulers of the land today.

There are fears that the people who should regulate their activities could be visiting them at night for spiritual powers themselves. They have hoodwinked the youths that you could become stupendously rich through blood sacrifices and rituals. These young people do not know that the devil does not give anyone anything for free. They have no idea that the price they

They have no idea that the price they will pay is huge. What’s going on really is devil worship of a grand scale.

Our leaders are concentrating on sit at home while our region is slowly being taken over by Warlocks who controls the mind of the younger generation. It is very sad. These sorcerers and wizards are eulogised and celebrated as superstars. Poverty, greed and ignorance are all part of the mileu.

All kinds of demons, principalities and powers are being brought in and worshipped just for the sake of paper money. It is a pandemic. Next is the new culture of militant politics, that is attacking, insulting and brutally abusing anybody with contrary political view. That has slowly become our new identity.

That is so wrong and the backlash will be costly. We are insulting everyone no matter who he is. For crying out loud, you can disagree with someone without insulting them. Our language should be civil and respectful. Look at the attak on Soyinka, Kumuyi etc.

These great men’s followers and admirers are noting how we attacked their icons. Do you think they will support us politically tomorrow? Olisa Agbakoba, SAN, simply pleaded that we should await the Supreme Court pronouncement, that’s all.

They descending on him. He said the right thing. Why abuse him? If we insult anyone with a view that isn’t resonating with our own thoughts, we are simply boxing ourselves into a conner where others will see our behaviour as disrespectful and unacceptable and they will gang up against us in future elections.

I appeal to our people to kindly respect other people’s views and opinions.

How do you think future elections will play out, given the fact that the South East has been denied the chance to rule Nigeria?

I made up my mind very early in life to shun partisan politics. I stay very far away from politicking. I remain consistent in my advocacy for a restructured Nigeria, affirmative action towards infrastructural development of the East and identifying, addressing the root cause of the anger and frustration that drive the agitation.

By the special grace of God Almighty, I have organised 106 programmes, conferences, conventions, seminars, symposium, etc since the 1990s. Dim Odimegwu Ojukwu attended 15 of my events. Dr Alex Ekwueme chaired many IYM events.

I told the truth to all past Presidents.
I told that to Presidents Obasanjo, Yar’Adua, Jonathan, and Buhari.
I’m telling President Tinubu the same.
The unitary structure of the 1999 constitution is a cog in the wheel of our advancement as a country, devolving power to the federating units will positively transform Nigeria.

The younger generation of Ndigbo see no future for their children, Nigeria has been grossly unfair to them and their region since 1970. They are afraid of handing over the same second class status to their own children. They want to be treated fairly and justly. Infrastructural deficit in the region hurts them and inspire a feeling of resentment which powers the agitation.

And engaging them directly asking them to itemise their grievances will certainly make a world of difference. Nigerians leaders sadly seem to love AGIP politicians. Praise singers who worship any Government in power. They see genuine activists who tell them the truth as opposition.

Triple demand we plead isn’t difficult to grant, one, true federalism and power devolution , two, Federal government-driven infrastructural development of the East and finally inviting and engaging the agitators. These things will certainly bring lasting peace.