Politics of Marshall Plan

By Ochereome Nnanna on

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The National Conference is ending exactly as some of us who had our reservations had predicted: a waste of time and resources.
It is not going to result in a new constitutional document; neither is it going to bring about a restructured, genuine federation with fewer federating units to cut the cost of governance. More importantly (for the purpose of this article) we are not moving in the direction of resource control or fiscal federalism, the only means of creating wealth, engendering competition and building a future that will truly be great.
What we are seeing is so much sound and fury being spent on creation of more states and squabbles over which part of the country should take more from the soon-to-be exhausted oil resources of the Niger Delta.

When the delegates from the South-South zone opened their pitch to increase the derivation take-home from the present 13%, majority of the delegates from the North East and North West (Arewa) who were bent on carrying out the injunctions of Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, that they should frustrate every move towards change, set up a roadblock.
After heated debates and fence-mending efforts, which resulted in 18% increase and 5% solid minerals development concession by the Conference, Arewa delegates insisted that a further 5% should be voted from the federal purse for a “Marshall Plan” to rehabilitate parts of the North ravaged by Islamic insurgency. People quickly consulted their calculators, and it turned out that 5% of our nearly five trillion naira federal budget in 2014 amounts to a handsome N250 billion! When some Arewa delegates started canvassing for the sharing of the amount among the three zones of the North, the supposed “Marshall Plan”, which was the North’s condition for supporting the 18% derivation raise for the oil producing states, was seen for what it really was: an ill-concealed bid to extract more money from the federation account.
Hell was let loose. Some Igbo delegates and interest groups who have been slumbering for the past 44 years, suddenly woke up and remembered that the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had reduced their homeland to rubble, killed millions, impoverished their people, shut them away from decision making centres of the federation and even declared their property in some parts of the country as “Abandoned Property”, among other most heinous post-war crimes ever perpetrated against a people in the modern world. A committee, apparently formed overnight and headed by surviving  Zikist, Chief Mbazulike  Amechi, wrote President Goodluck Jonathan demanding N2.6 trillion for the five South Eastern states and another unnamed amount for the Igbo-speaking parts of Delta where the fury of federal power laid waste people’s land, lives and property during the civil war.
Right now, we are caught between the two demands for the North (which will surpass the N2.6 trillion demanded by the Igbos in ten years if granted) and this Igbo loose cannon of a demand. So, if the North did not table their call for a “Marshall Plan” to mend theatres of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen devastation, the so-called Igbo leaders would not have seen the need to persuade the Federal Government to repair what it destroyed during the war? For more than 40 years they had a very genuine case that could have become an agenda before the United Nations. Why did nobody say anything until Arewa started their call for a Marshall Plan to rehabilitate the North from the destruction being visited upon them by their own sons (and daughters, alas!)?

The Igbos had a legitimate claim to charges of genocide against the Federal Government and the principal actors both at the war front and the state house between 1966 and 2007. Pray, what will Arewa call the evil deeds of Boko Haram against the North? Abiriba people will call it: “Mgbo’s goat eating Mgbo’s okra”. The Federal Government is actually fighting to save the North from itself, with the full support of other Nigerians, while sections of the Arewa leadership are either supporting the terrorists, blackmailing President Goodluck Jonathan, or foot-dragging and sabotaging the effort. And now, they are asking to be rewarded for it. How preposterous!

I believe that when the Boko Haram insurgency is defeated, there must be a concerted effort by the federal, state and local governments, as well as the international community and charitable individuals to help our people who have suffered from the insurgents and marauding “herdsmen” to regain their humanity. They should be assisted to their feet. We must be our brother’s keeper. As a Christian, I will not advocate the vengeful act of abandoning the North East and North Central to their fate after insurgency due to the wicked deeds visited upon the Igbos. In any case, the Igbos have since sprung to their feet, while those who were atrocious to them are the ones now mired in self-inflicted poverty, destitution and self-immolation.

But we must not accept the five per cent blackmail that Arewa delegates came up with just because the Niger Delta asked for their legitimate rights which our Constitution promised them. It will be a reward for the insurgency. It will send the signal that if you destroy your community and kill your own people and settlers you will be given oil money by the Federal Government. The same people who threatened (and failed) to make the North ungovernable for President Jonathan are at the forefront of the 5% clamour. The same ACF that decreed that Arewa delegates should block every move to make Nigeria better are prodding for this 5%. THEY MUST NEVER GET IT!!

Yes, we must assist  Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Plateau, Kaduna and Benue to recover from the Boko Haram and Janjaweed Fulani night time marauders. But no, we must not reward the saboteurs, blackmailers, those who love their region above Nigeria, the great provider (while seeking to reduce other Nigerians to serfs) and supporters of our nation’s foremost enemy!

 

 

Posted on July, 22 2014

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