RE-DEFINING THE STATES' SLOGANS:
EBONYI STATE- "THE SALT OF THE NATION"
The era of 'Patience and Goodluck' being anchored by the most experienced architect is remarkably known for transformation and campaign for fresh air in Nigeria. The overdue pregnancy of Freedom of Information Bill (FOI) has finally been delivered in their ward. Even the poorest man in Nigeria and the birds in the air are heaving a sigh of relief. This development, no doubt, is collectively expected to blow a breeze of fresh air or at least to sustain the one already blown on the Nigerian masses of timbre and caliber; especially those who have been systematically subjected to remain oppressed and voiceless. As part of the transformation agenda, it is now a mellowed time to re-define and enliven the slogans of the Nigerian states.
The Federal Government being the marketer of these slogans or idiosyncrasies of states symbolism needs to stake out its position on the validity, significance as well as the continuity of these slogans. This can be done through impartial demonstration of federal character as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Every identifiable automobile device in Nigeria has the state slogan inscribed on it as a plate number, leading to the emergence of various iconoclastic sects that doubt the relevancy of those slogans; whether they are truly states idiosyncrasies and unique emblems or perhaps just sheer political idiocies of no relevance.
However, in re-defining the state identities, references must be made to a case of discrimination and neglect filed against the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN) and the Attorney General of the Federation in 2010 at Federal High Court of Nigeria Enugu Division at Enugu State by Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), claiming the total sum of one trillion naira damages to be paid to the victim zone together with a perpetual injunction forbidding the Government from continuing in the said acts of discrimination; and also the definition given by the United Nations Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power (1958). These acts of discrimination, which is widely condemned by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and other charter of demands for human rights, are not only deliberately neglected but are now operative in South Eastern Part of Nigeria, especially in Ebonyi State- the 'Salt of the Nation' include for example: failure to integrate the South-East in the scheme of things in Nigeria; lack of Federal Government presence in the South-East; poor quality of road networks; the second Niger Bridge issue; non exploitation of vast resources of oil and gas in the South East; abandoned natural resources in the South East; Structural States and LGA imbalance in Nigeria; dredging of River Niger, Enugu International Airport, etc.
Section 42(1) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria clearly states that a person, community or ethnic group is entitled to freedom from discrimination. The section provides as follows:
"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 the government, to disabilities or restrictions to which citizens of Nigeria of other communities, ethnic groups, places of origin, sex, religions 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 opinions."
In addition to the above, section 14 (3) of the constitution states that:
"The composition of the government of the Federation or any agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few States or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or in any of its agencies."
The transparent disparity shown in state creation and local government authorities in Nigeria does not in any way reflect the provisions of section 14 (3) and section 42 (1) as carefully quoted above. All Geopolitical Zones have more political representatives and appointees than the South-East Zone as a result of this structural imbalance. The North-West has SEVEN STATES; North-Central SIX STATES, North-East SIX STATES, South-West SIX STATES and South-South SIX STATES.
It is only the South East that has five (5) states in the Nigerian scheme of things, knowing full well that States constitute the second level of Government. This unevenness in developmental affairs deprives Ebonyi and any other states in South East of many advantages enjoyed by people from other Zones.
The North-West Geopolitical Zone has as many as 187 Local Government Areas. The South-East has only 94 LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREAS. Local Government is the third level of Government and this imbalance also deprives us of many advantages open to people of the North-West Zone. Old Kano State now made up of Jigawa and Kano has 75 LGA between them; Kano has 44, Jigawa 31, Kano and Jigawa are only two states out of 7 states in the north-west ethnic zone of Nigeria. In contrast, the South-East zone has only 5 states and 94 LGA.
The spread of LGA in the 6 geo-ethnic zones are as follows;
North-West - 187 LGAs
North-East - 111 LGAs
North-Central - 120 LGAs
South-West - 135 LGAs
South-East - 94 LGAs
South-South - 127 LGAs
By scheme of things in Nigeria, I mean that adequate structures needful for equal development and equitable distribution of 'national cake' including opportunities, human dignity and fundamental rights should be observed and enforced without fear or favour. Further evidence to back up these claims can be seen in the establishment of functional seaports/ dryports and airports in Nigeria. North-West (Kano, Sokoto), North-East (Maiduguri), North-Central (Abuja, Ilorin), South-West (Lagos), South-South (Port-Harcourt), and South-East as a whole has no International Airport nor Seaport since Nigeria got her independence. Thus, commercial activities are done on survival of the fittest approach. The South East and the Igbo community, being people who are well recognised all over the world as commercial people, deserves not only functional Seaports and Airports but enabling environments where equal opportunity is a national anthem... contd
About Author / Additional Info:
I am an agent of social change and a renowned advocate of Human Rights on the international scale. I am the founder and director of Twins Initiative Network, http://www.nnngo.org