South-East has been marginalised since 1960, Buhari only made it worse – Chief Odom

Chief Chuka Odom

Chief Chuka Odom, a former Minister of Environment, Housing and Urban Development – have said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s led administration only worsen the marginalisation of the South-East, adding that it has been like this since after the end of the civil war.

Speaking to Daily Sun newspaper in Abuja, over the weekend, Chief Odom shed light on the issues bordering southeast geopolitical zone and the agitation for Biafra nation.

According to him, the marginalisation of the South-East zone did not start with President Buhari. It has always been the story since the end of the Civil War – Chief Odom added.

Speaking further, he said; The only thing is that, it assumed another dimension under President Buhari. While others pretended to be in love with the South-East, President Buhari has no such pretentions.

Buhari announced from the beginning that those who voted for him would benefit more from his government; he put us on notice that he would not do anything for us. This is one of the reasons there is tension in the South-East. Not that we have been accommodated in the past and President Buhari came and reversed it. It’s just that Buhari made it clear that we will not get anything from him.

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He did not pretend about it. That is why I believe that the President needs to consider if the current policies have worked. He also needs to check if his policies have served the long-term political interest of his people. These are questions that should be answered by the President and the people close to him.

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For me, I think the policies have been counter-productive. They have not worked. They have generated unnecessary tension in the South-East. The Nnamdi Kanu phenomenon is as a result of the policies of the Federal Government towards the Igbo. These policies will continue to create tensions. It will continue to cause national discord. We need national cohesion to align and work with the same vision. The President needs to carry everybody along.

I think that the continuous detention of Kanu is counter-productive. It is in nobody’s advantage. I was seven years old when the Civil War broke out. I was 10 years when it ended. Even as a child, I saw the destruction. I know what war is all about. Those agitating for Biafra have never seen war before.

The concept of Biafra as a distinct Republic from Nigeria is a dream. No Igbo man should buy into it. Even Odimegwu Ojukwu who led the Biafran War, said before he died that the Igbo will not secede again. Those agitating are using Ojukwu’s name.

Speaking on the right way to douse the tension in the South-East, he said; the government can amicably resolve the problem. It is not in the interest of the Igbo or the larger Nigerian project to have the Igbo marginalised.

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I think that the new impetus of the agitation is as a result of the posture of this current administration. They need to diffuse the tension. The only way they can do that is to release Nnamdi Kanu. Kanu is a citizen of Nigeria. He should be released unconditionally. The moment you release him, all these agitations will stop. Those keeping him are the ones giving him the status of a martyr.

They are creating more followers for him. I share in the sentiments of young Igbo people. It is easy to recruit these people just like they recruited young people into Boko Haram group. This kind of ideology festers in an environment where the people are abandoned.

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I need to make that point. If you do not understand the pains of those protesting, it will be very easy for you to wave aside what they are doing. They have been given no other choice in a country where they are citizens. They do not have jobs or the basic amenities of life. That was the kind of situation the Israelites found themselves in Egypt.

The only difference is that Moses was divinely anointed to rescue the people. Kanu has not been anointed to pull the Igbo out of Nigeria. Kanu is a strong symbol of the disaffection of millions of young Igbo who feel marginalised in their own country. Will the agitation lead to the salvation for the Igbo? My opinion is that, it is not the right path. The Federal Government on its own has not done enough to temper this agitation. It has not reached out to the leaders.

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When the South-South agitation started, there were hawks that told late Yar’Adua to ignore the people. But he knew that he had a problem in his hands. He quickly got the stakeholders in the region and had a discussion. Eventually, the amnesty programme was worked out. What is wrong with extending that same approach to the youths of the South-East? Instead, you are sending soldiers to go and kill them. Did they do that with the Niger Delta? This is where I do not agree with the Federal Government.

As far as I am concerned, the Federal Government needs to find a solution. The solution is not in policing the South-East. The solution also does not lie with the continuous agitation for Biafra. The solution lies with constructive engagements that will involve the leaders of South-East. The Federal Government needs to be told that the continuous detention of Kanu is not the solution.


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