South-east, South-south Groups Demand Self-determination
Monday 27 Apr 2015
http://www.thisdaylive.com/articles/south-east-south-south-groups-demand-self-determination/207914/ lalasticlala fp
Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Some groups from the South-east and South-south regions of the country have called for self-rule and self-determination for the regions.
The groups, in a programme in Port Harcourt on Monday tagged: “A Solemn Assembly of the Peoples of the Lower Niger”, said they were not satisfied with the present constitution of the country, insisting that the country was designed to suppress the people from the Lower Niger comprising the present-day South-east and South-south zones.
Speakers at the one-day conference organised by the Lower Niger Congress (LNC) expressed their disappointment with the outcome of the 2015 general election, alleging that it was conducted to further push the two zones into the backwaters of the Nigerian nation-state.
The conference lamented the loss of President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 elections and said it was an orchestrated move by other regions of the country to relegate the region in the affairs of the nation.
They also described Nigeria as a country lacking the basis of a one united, one nation entity.
In a five-point proposal adopted at the conference, the people outlined the basis for the continued existence of the country as a united entity,
In the proposal, the people rejected the 1999 Federal Constitution as the basic legal framework for the continued existence of the country as a single entity.
It also mandated the production of a charter that would bind together all the language groups in the Lower Niger as equal partners in a proposed federation of the Lower Niger.
It was also unanimously adopted that there should be a mandate for the conduct of a referendum, as it was done in Scotland against the United Kingdom, to determine the continued existence of the two zones with the other parts of the country.
The congress adopted the call for a referendum proposing that an Asset Protection and Guarantee Scheme should be put in place to take an inventory of the assets of the people of the Lower Niger and ensure adequate compensation in case of any displacement.
Finally, the congress asked for a recall of its elected representatives at the Federal Capital City, Abuja, and whoever may be so appointed for consultations, warning that whoever contravened the order does so as it his/her own risk.
Setting the tempo of the discussion for the day, Secretary of LNC, Mr Tony Nnandi, said the aim of the conference was to bury the falsehood which he said had rubbished the people occupying the Lower Niger.
Going down the memory lane, he said the people of the Lower Niger had been short-changed and sacrificed in the course of building the country, as demonstrated in the last general election.
According to him, President Goodluck Jonathan lost out in the last elections, not necessarily due to incompetence, but because of an international conspiracy to sustain an alleged northern hegemonic hold on the other parts of the country.
“Jonathan’s offence is that he is from the Lower Niger and he thought he could be on the same pedestal with the entrenched system. He had forgotten that the slave can never rule over the house of his master”, Nnandi said.
Also speaking, human rights activist from the Niger Delta, Ms Ann-Kio Briggs, warned of the danger ahead for the in-coming Muhammadu Buhari-Federal Government as she said the people of the Lower Niger may go back to militancy to press home their demands.
According to her, the outcome of the last elections had willingly or otherwise pushed the people of the Lower Niger to be more vigorous in their quest for self-determination and self-rule.
Her words: “Nigeria, in outlook is oppressive and, in word, is deceptive. There is nothing one in the country called Nigeria. God didn’t create Nigeria because He is not a god of injustice.
“The conspiracy by the United Nations, the United States and the United Kingdom, as expressed in the Boko Haram insurgency, to get President Jonathan out had done the people of the Lower Niger a great favour in the quest for self-determination.
“We have seen the change as being pushed by some people. We, in the Lower Niger will no longer sacrifice our wealth and environment for the sake of the country.”
Briggs, who was a participant in the last national conference held in Abuja last year, said there would not be any negotiation with the in-coming Buhari administration, warning the people against complacency in the face of intimidation and harassment by the government.