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|Constitution: South-east, South-south Ready For Amendment by PointB: 1:57pm On May 23, 2012|
Constitution: South-East, South-South ready for amendment
by Ozioma Ubabukoh
The National Assembly has commenced moves for amendments to the constitution. OZIOMA UBABUKOH examines the partnership between the South-South and the South-East ahead of the process
L-R: Cross River State Governor, Liyel Imoke and Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan
Professionals from different parts of the country are already gearing up for the South-East/South-South Development Forum. But there is a question: Would this proposed forum not go the way of similar ones before it, that is, with little or no success to help in the development of the two zones concerned?
The question about preparation for the forum was borne out of the fact that should it fail or its recommendations not implemented, it would perhaps further compound the travails of the South-East and South-South zones. Should it succeed and its implementation carried out at almost 100 per cent, then the two regions would be on a course of political and economic transformation.
Considering the opinions of leaders from the region, THE PUNCH gathered that there were no doubt that they, Ndigbo in particular, would cash in on the anticipated gains of the forum to actualise their aim to assume the presidency by 2015 and the expansion of their economic fortunes and maybe that of the country. For the Niger Delta leaders, they seem to be working on improving upon the gains of the recently concluded South-South Economic Summit in Asaba, Delta State.
One of the facilitators of the forthcoming forum and President of South-East/South-South Professionals, Mr. Emeka Ugwu-Oju, gave his assurance on the preparation.
For Ugwu-Oju, no stone would be left unturned in ensuring that the event holds. To him, the forum is handy for the economy of the South-East zone to be revived.
"We have spoken with the Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and she has assured us of her corporation and assistance and we are already putting every step in the right direction to ensure it goes beyond our expected success," he noted.
He said, "All that we are doing now is to ensure that by the time the development forum holds, it would be action-based. There wouldn't be too much of talking. We would go into specifics that would fast-track the development of the region.
"For fast economic growth, you must have solid political institutions, and how many of such political institutions do we have in place. And if we don't, how do we go about it."
He asked, "Must we have six federating units and not the 36 states structure in place now? What are the incentives necessary for economic growth? These are the issues that would be at the front burner at the development forum."
He said, "How people choose their representatives matter; this is another issue that we would discuss. We need to put in place the right political institution at the forum because we don't have the right political institution that can guarantee that kind of economic growth."
But based on previous experience, there are already mounting insinuations that the South/East South /South alliance or partnership at fostering development for both regions would not work.
The absence of South-East leaders from such a summit in the past is also another major concern among political pundits.
In responding to the above issues, Ugwu-Oju said, "We had a retreat, and as professionals, we analysed issues. Even though you have your own interest, you will ask yourself if you can achieve your goals all alone. Alternatively, do you have to be together? So after the analysis, everybody saw it is better for both zones to pursue their common interests together."
He said, "We came to the conclusion that it is mutually better for both zones to be together than to be apart. It will be easier for South-South to get some of the things we mentioned if they are together with the Igbos.
"It is good for the Igbos to also get those things if their South -South brothers are with them. We saw how beneficial it was during the President Goodluck Jonathan's campaign. The driving force of the unity showed by both zones together with the support of South-West and Middle Belt coming along helped in getting Jonathan into Aso Rock. We the professionals have realised that we need each other for the two zones to get what they want in Nigeria."
He also said, "Since this realisation is now on the cards, there is already a yearning desire by every Igbo leader of thought to attend the forum and contribute positively to our development."
Just before the preparation of the development forum comes to the peak, Ugwu-Oju and his counterparts have started to canvass against certain policies that could affect the projected gains of the forum.
According to them, if these policies are administered rightly and not the wrong way, "we (people from the South-South and South-East) would reap from the gains of the development forum in all ramifications, politically, economically and otherwise."
First, they are saying that the proposed Central Bank of Nigeria Amendment Act should not be encouraged. "We are going to engage the National Assembly with statistics and figures of what happens in the Central Bank of the United Kingdom, Germany, France, South-Africa, Ghana and the Reserve Bank of the United States of America, and in other places. And by the time we are done, the lawmakers would definitely see reason not to forge on with the CBN Amendment Act," Ugwu-Oju said.
On the subsidy report, the president of the South-East/South-South Professionals said, "We think the way the oil subsidy is being administered is not good for the economy. We are canvassing now, and we would do the same later at the forum, that oil subsidy has to be administered in the right way."
And on the recent comments from former Head of State, General Mohammed Buhari (Retd.), he said, "It is easy to destroy but difficult to build. It would be much better if all of us focused on building our nation rather than destroying through words of the mouth."
All said and done, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo group thinks the discourse of regionalisation should top the front burner at the development forum.
A former Ohanaeze youth leader, Mr. Bismack Oji, who spoke to our correspondent, was of the view that only the subject matter of regionalisation can position the regions for the development they seek for.
He said, "Today, Ebonyi State contributes less than 0.01 per cent of the national GDP. However, with her abundant mineral resources such as limestone, zinc, lead, salt, etc she ought to be an industrial powerhouse."
Furthermore, Oji said, "Ebonyi State's under utilised agricultural resources are enough to feed the entire South-East region and have enough to export, if properly harnessed. Nigercem Cement Company, Nkalagu is presently a shadow of itself, owing to issues arising from its privatisation by the Federal Government."
The Ohanaeze leader asked, "Why should the Federal Government decide who should be the core investor in an industry located in Ebonyi State, against the wishes of the State Government?" He said, "In true federalism, that is an aberration since each state or federating unit is supposed to be control of her own resources and from thence contribute to the centre, not the other way round."
He stated that Imo and Abia states are both oil-producing states. "However, it is a fact that if they were not burdened with undue interference from the centre in the management of their resources, their oil industries would have been much more advanced, thereby triggering all round development in both states," Oji added.
|Re: Constitution: South-east, South-south Ready For Amendment by bashr8: 5:30pm On May 23, 2012|
ezeuche thanks for this, its about time.
|Re: Constitution: South-east, South-south Ready For Amendment by bashr8: 5:37pm On May 23, 2012|
am going to attend the forum
|Re: Constitution: South-east, South-south Ready For Amendment by PointB: 5:37pm On May 23, 2012|
bashr8: ezeuche thanks for this, its about time.
Again, I am not ezeuche,
You are welcome nonetheless.
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