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Perspectives

Wike, FG and authority stealing

By Azu Isiekwene

 

The guns of Nigeria’s three-year civil war were silenced 51 years ago, but in the battle for a truly federal state, the echoes of warfare have never been more resonant.

On August 10, Rivers State, which at an average monthly federal receipt of N12 billion, is the third richest by dole amongst Nigeria’s poor 36 states, started a war with the Federal Government over the collection of Value Added Taxes (VAT).

The state governor, Nyesom Wike, a lawyer by training and leading member of the opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP), found a loophole in the tax law. He got a ruling of the Federal High Court in Port Harcourt which affirmed that states, and not the Federal Government, are supposed to collect 100 per cent of VAT.

The ruling, which could cost an already cash-strapped Federal Government significant revenues, also set off a chain of reactions from Lagos – and at least five other states – eager to cash in and reverse decades of lopsidedness in the country’s fiscal landscape. Only Kogi State, pleaded for charity and brotherly love, instead of law or economics – a plea that should have been directed elsewhere.

The current row may have been sparked by the nearly 60 per cent drop in state revenues in a season when COVID-19 and the crash in oil prices have brought Nigeria’s prodigal government to its knees.

But the war between states and the Federal Government has a long, chequered history, dating back to the civil war era. Carving out the oil-rich Rivers State from the Eastern region was, perhaps, the first significant move to redraw the federal map at the onset of the war. It was an emergency, a strategic move by the Federal authorities to cut off supply, especially oil supply, to Biafra. It proved decisive.

It would turn out to be not the last, but the beginning of a series of brazen encroachments that has left states which were mostly created by the military without a thought for their viability, as mere receptacles of federal benevolence and brutality. The long spell of military rule after the civil war made matters worse. In contrast to the pre-civil war era, it reduced the states to zombies of Lagos (and later Abuja from 1991).

Victor Attah, former governor of the Southern Nigerian state, Akwa Ibom, said in a paper on the onshore/offshore dichotomy, for example, that up till 1970, derivation (revenue from minerals derived in the regions), stood at 50 per cent.

After the civil war, Attah said, Decree 113 of 1970 put forward by the late sage Chief Obafemi Awolowo and promulgated by General Yakubu Gowon reduced derivation to 45 per cent and at the same time appropriated the entire offshore oil revenue to the Federal Government.

The states endured. There was not much resistance that could reasonably be expected under the unitarist military rule. Also, it was thought that after the civil war, the Federal Government required considerable resources to rebuild the country.

But soon, like in most emergencies, understanding became indulgence and indulgence turned into abuse.

In his first coming, General Olusegun Obasanjo extracted another 20 per cent to the centre, and his successor, President Shehu Shagari, took yet another 20, reducing onshore derivation to five per cent.

By the time Obasanjo returned to office as civilian president 20 years later, the restiveness in the Niger Delta had boiled over. It had become so dangerous that the ad hoc measures, such as the creation of special funds and agencies by the governments before his, could barely contain the negative impact of the crisis on the country’s oil receipts.

Again, the perennially extravagant Federal Government hooked on cheap oil money, needed more fixes to shore up its falling income.

Instead of risking any legal landmines, however, Obansanjo settled for a “political solution”, in the now-infamous onshore/offshore dichotomy, a fiscal gerrymandering which left at least 20 states worse off and the Federal Government twice as crookedly rich.

Nigeria is back at the same spot. Only this time the dispute is not about oil or derivation, but about VAT, the crown jewel of the top seven taxes in the country. It’s politically convenient to demonise Wike or to treat the current dispute as some sort of abhorrent beggar thy neighbour politics.

But the trouble is not with Wike. It is with those whose thinking has been so jaded by years of military rule they just can’t get over themselves. This VAT crisis should be a welcome lobotomy.

There’s nothing that Wike has done in respect of the current VAT controversy that is outside what the constitution provided for. The tax items under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Federal Government, such as stamp duties, taxation of incomes, profits and capital gains are listed in the exclusive legislative list. No one is quarrelling with that.

It’s shocking that those who have spent years clamouring for the restructuring of the country have conveniently lost their tongue or yielded to be taken hostage by cowardice in the current VAT debate.

It’s not about Wike. In a viral video, the Chairman of the modified VAT committee, Emmanuel Ijewere, told Channels TV in an interview apparently even before the increase in the VAT rate to 7.5 per cent, that the original plan when VAT replaced sales tax in 1994, was for states to keep 100 per cent of VAT income. The Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) was supposed to receive five per cent of the proceeds as administrative cost, for easing the confusion brought on by multiple sales taxes in the states.

That plan was discarded in spite of the original intention of the military government and in total disregard of the clear provisions in section 162 (1) of the constitution which excludes VAT or taxes on sales and consumption from the schedule of Federal Government taxes. Abuja grabbed more than its legitimate share.

This is not a one-off transgression. It’s a consistent pattern of wide-ranging impunity which began with appropriating minerals to prosecute the civil war and later expanded to cover swathes of economic and social activities from policing to prisons, copyright to trade and waterways, among others.

Lagos State, especially under Governor Bola Ahmed Tinubu, reclaimed acres of federal wasteland through judicial intervention and brought relief to the states in areas such as betting, town planning laws, creation of administrative councils, and taxes in the hospitality sector.

I’ve heard the argument that in the end, Rivers State and the six other states challenging the VAT law may not benefit from it as much as they thought; that the VAT on alcohol which is the favourite trope of opponents of the current system is only three per cent; and that on account of the considerable receipt from the VAT element of import tax, the Federal Government may, in fact, be better off in the end.

Nonsense. It’s the same warped argument that has kept the Federal police a monstrous shambles that it has been all these years because some say that whereas it’s OK for the Federal police to brutalise and exploit innocents, police in the hands of states would be turned loose on the enemies of governors. We love federal oppression so much we’re happy to be sacrificed for it.

The point is not whether states will gain or lose more if they got 100 per cent of the VAT. It is whether in a democracy, we are ready to do what the law says, however inconvenient. Until the law is amended – and the Federal Government’s desperation indicates that it knows it’s on a wrong footing – the government of President Muhammadu Buhari should obey and stop the authority stealing.

The matter of efficiency of modes of collection can be discussed by all parties and hopefully, they can reach a common ground. But the unilateral decision of the Federal Government to appropriate VAT beyond its residual administrative fees for the past 27 years must be condemned by all and called out for the fraud that it is.

The benefit of not being a lawyer is that I enjoy the freedom to not think in blinkers. Those hiding under the ruling of the Court of Appeal that the parties should maintain the status quo ante as an excuse for delaying the enforcement of the ruling of the lower court are mistaken.

Status quo ante, in this case, cannot be a return to the illegality of the Federal Government stealing VAT that does not belong to it. Status quo can only mean a return to what the constitution provides explicitly – which means states, and not the Federal Government, are entitled to 100 per cent of VAT.

Buhari’s government must end the shameful avarice and illegality and do what the law says – until it is amended.

 

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2023: The north must let go

By Dan Agbese

 

 

The season is virtually upon us. The politicians are sharpening their knives for 2023. The sound is becoming jarringly louder. Prayer warriors are being pressed into service just like the eyes and the ears of the gods. It is always good to seek the assurances and the support of God and the gods in the battle for political power in our country. It is a battle no one takes lightly.

But the fate of our country in 2023 is not in the hands of God and the gods. It is in the hands of those who play god, to wit, the party moguls whose bounden duty it is to dispense favours to godsons and god-daughters, even at the expense of peace, unity, a sense of belonging and cohesion in our badly fractured republic. It is our duty as fellow citizens not to allow them to be trapped in their faux pas only for us to blame God and the gods at the end of the day.

This is the time for the rest of us to put our views across on what should be done to set our country back on the path of oneness. Politics, as the wag said, is too serious to be left to politicians. 2023 presents us with some peculiar but critical challenges, not the least of which is that the crass mismanagement of our diversities under the current dispensation has widened our traditional fault lines and opened some other fissures. This is the time to recognise them, appreciate them and factor them into the permutations for the locus of power at the centre in 2023.

The two major political parties, APC and PDP, are beset with internal problems and wrangling. They have fractured national executive committees and both are engaged in patching things up by constituting reconciliation committees to appease their members who feel aggrieved by the endemic problem of our political parties: the absence of internal democracy. The committees will reconcile them and thus help to staunch the toing and froing from one party to another and back again that instantly changes the fortunes of political parties and their members. These movements are merely an opportunistic exploration of accommodation in a rival political party with seemingly greener grass under its feet. Its deleterious effect is the inability of the political parties to build themselves into steady and strong parties able to drive, through their policies and programmes, our national development. Weak and unsteady political parties are afflictions on our democracy.

The first order of business for the political parties is the choice of a national chairman in each case. This is no ordinary choice. It is critical to the political parties because everything else rides on the section of the country that produces the national chairman of each party. In their tradition, the section that produces the national chairman cannot produce the party’s presidential candidate – all thing being equal, of course.

The real question is not who but which section of the country, north and south should produce the next president in 2023. The fortunes or the misfortunes of each party will depend on its answer to the question. Perhaps, we should lend them a helping hand in the absence of a guiding principle through which the locus of power at the centre is determined at the regular election intervals. In 1983, NPN mooted the idea of a rotational presidency between the north and the south. Its purpose was to ensure that politics being a game of numbers, number alone would militate against equity, fairness and justice. Its new formula was to be put to the test in 1987. It never was because after four years, the generals returned from the political Siberia to service their political fortune.

This was later renamed power shift. Different semantics, same primary purpose. It was the rallying cry by the south in Babangida’s transition to civil rule programme; the argument being that the north appeared bent on domiciling the presidency to the permanent disadvantage of the south, given the number of northerners who had held the levers of power since independence. It was no way to build the nation and unite the people. It was time, the south strenuously argued, for power to shift from the north to the south to make the latter an equal partner in the Nigeria project. That would be the right way to build the nation and unite the people.

Quite a bit of water has passed through the River Niger to the creeks. Power shifted to the south in 1999 and 2011. Still, 2023 presents the country with the same unsettled issue and challenges. The late head of state, General Sani Abacha, introduced the geo-political zoning system as the basis for managing our ethno-political and other interests. It is the formula for sharing or allocating elective and appointive political offices at the centre. It has virtually become an important tradition in both the management and mismanagement of our diversities. Can we use this as the basis for inclusive governments in which every part has a chance to both hold and milk the cow?

It still rankles those who, while recognising zoning as necessary in other cases, appear allergic to using it as the basis for choosing a party’s presidential candidate on the grounds that it would be a cynical abbreviation of individual political ambition. I think we are dealing with some sophistry here. Political parties are constitutional creations by tradition and that is why you find neither APC nor PDP in the constitution. By constitutional tradition they are the platforms on which people seek elective political offices. More importantly, political parties determine independent ways and means of managing power and growing the national economy without recourse to the national constitution. Each political party has its own constitution by which it runs its affairs. That zoning is not in the constitution does not prevent a political party from using it as a basis for determining the locus of political power at the centre provided it is satisfied that it makes for equity, fairness and justice and does not offend the letter and the spirit of the supreme law of the land.

It is the constitutional right of a political party to find ways and means of managing the affairs of a nation. That which it chooses to do does not become unconstitutional by reason of its not being in the constitution. Sophistry is a red herring across the path of serious and rational thinking on managing our nation and its myriads of diversities in a manner that makes Nigeria our Nigeria all of the time, not some of the time.

The south sees the north and its so-called greed for power as the nation’s main problem. In the next few months as the debate on the locus of power at the centre heats up, copious evidence would be provided to show that the north has used its sheer number to dominate power in the country since independence to the discomfiture of the south. This evidence cannot be rationally contested. So long as the south feels marginalised by the north, so long will our country continue to be a patch work of ethno-religious interests masquerading as government of the people; so long as the south feels that it is not an equal partner with the north in the Nigeria project, so long will our country remain an atomistic nation in perpetual conflict with itself; and so long as our political leaders are given to the luxury of paying lip service to equity, justice and fairness sans a commitment to those ideals, so long will the simple formula for building a nation and uniting the people elude us.

Let us quit pretending about this. Buhari’s successor will inherit a fractured republic and a divided people. It behoves our political leaders to appreciate this and take steps now that will de-fracture the republic and unite the people and make our country peaceful. It is time for the north to recognise that it has a moral duty to share and share power equally with the south. Political power is not essentially about merit. It is about what is right for a country at a particular point in time. There are potentially great leaders in every part of the country. To recruit them, we must ventilate the system and end power hoarding.

To move forward, we must take two urgent steps. The first is to accept and formalise power rotation or power shift between the north and the south and cast it in marble. Let us ride on what happened in 2019. APC and PDP zoned the presidency to the north. Two northerners slugged it out. We can do the same in 2023. Power must shift to the south and the two political parties must choose their presidential candidates from there and let them slug it out as to who wears the presidential sash.

The second step is to accept the zoning arrangement as a means of perfecting the power shift. It is not enough to broadly rotate power between the north and the south; power must also rotate among the zones in the north and the south so that no zone dominates and leaves other zones in the cold.

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IPOB AND THE REST OF US.

By Uche Ezigbo

 

The last six years have seen the rise and rise of Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB), a pro-Biafra group that has its activities firmly rooted in the five South-Eastern states, and tentacles spread across parts of the South-South. A group no one gave a chance of survival six years ago presently dictates what happens in the whole SE and parts of South-South. The organization through its radio station(Radio Biafra) and social media platforms has rallied and still rallying an army of adherents from all strata of Igbo society.

– How did a nonviolent separatist group gain acceptance effortlessly amongst a people known to be highly adaptable? -What manner of message did they preach or are they preaching?
– Did the organization furnish a kind of leadership that was/is nonexistent in the region?
– What strategy did they deploy to earn the trust and enthusiasm of ordinary people on the streets of SE and parts of SS?

I know a larger percentage of folks on this platform are unattracted to lengthy write-ups, I’ll try to be as brief as possible as I attempt to provide answers to the above questions.

The acceptance of the group, especially in the SE and parts of SS was a result of toxic politics adopted by the north and a section of the South-West before and after the 2015 elections. Those who didn’t vote for Buhari were not only seen as enemies, they were treated as one. All sorts of tasteless reasons were adduced for the exclusion of qualified individuals from the region from serving in the administration. Draconic strategies were adopted by the government to strangulate the region both economically and politically. IPOB magnified these nasty acts and the people were left with no choice but to align with them.

What manner of message did they preach or are they preaching?

IPOB’s message is embedded in amplifying the depravity of this administration. Interestingly, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu in broadcasts before and immediately after the 2015 elections predicted most of this heinousness being perpetrated by Buhari’s administration.

Did the organization furnish a kind of leadership that was/is nonexistent in the region?

It has become clear there is a huge leadership vacuum in the SE. Those who parade themselves as leaders are mere political jobbers and voracious yesmen whose only interest is where their next political appointment or chop money will come from. I believe IPOB was able to fill this leadership void because they are made up of ordinary folks: artisan, traders, teachers students, factory workers, etc while Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Senators, HOR members, and the governors belong to the camp of the oppressors; the political class. This is why a sit-at-home order by IPOB is obeyed 100% while counter directives by governors are ignored.

So, where do we go from here?

I was in the SE for close to two weeks, I traversed the whole region, I interacted with real people, I asked questions about the activities of IPOB/ESN, the answers I got were quite revealing. On the sit-at-home order, while few people especially folks who depend on daily income to feed their family decried the order, the majority of the people I spoke to supported the move as long as it hastens the restoration of Biafra and release of detained IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. Secondly, many people I spoke to claimed they have never encountered ESN, the much they know about the group is what they read or see online. One cannot help but wonder where those killing security agents, burning police stations, and destroying the properties of fellow Igbos come from.

Moving forward, methinks a clear message has been sent to our so-called leaders in the SE, real power lies in the hands of ordinary people. The Monday sit-at-home must be suspended and folks allowed to go about their legitimate businesses. Future sit-at-home protests must be strategic, the charlatans who masquerade as leaders in the SE either shape up or ship out. To Facebook and Twitter intellectuals who are in the habit of accusing IPOB and other pro-Biafra groups of being responsible for crimes committed in Igbo land, I salute una. Those of you that find it very convenient to label pro-Biafra groups, terrorists and those of us who don’t condemn them outright, haters of Igbo land, continue in you folly. Agbacha oso aguo mile.

You accuse members of IPOB of not being open to suggestions yet, you cannot tolerate a contrary opinion on your thread. Pitiable pretenders, ana emenu. Ndi obiakpor n’agbo mbo maka odi mma ndi Igbo, jisienu ike. May God reward us according to our works. Peace out.

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After The Sit-at-homes; What Next?

By Chief Bond Ohuche

 

 

It is on record that IPOB started its agitation for a sovereign state of Biafra with enormous sensitization and peaceful protests. The leadership of IPOB recognized the power of social media and exploited it effectively to enlighten, gather, and mobilize millions of followers around the world.

The leadership of IPOB effortlessly pushed a narrative that endeared them to the poor, rich, super-rich, educated, super-educated, and illiterates. Suddenly, Biafra became a trending topic on conventional media and all social media platforms around the world.

IPOB through its vast network coordinated peaceful protests in different parts of the world; Nigeria, UK, USA, Canada, Japan, South Africa, Ukraine, etc simultaneously. They have used every opportunity and avenue to make their demand albeit peacefully.

An organization that has attained this degree of success in a very short time cannot be adjudged a failure by any criterion. Obviously, such an organization isn’t run by empty heads and riffraff as some people would have us believe.

Ever since the arrest of IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB has embarked on a weekly sit-at-home program to drum up it’s demand for the release of their leader. This action has led to a virtual paralyzation of all activities in the South East region including mist recently, WEAC exams.

Unfortunately, the Monday sit-at-home protest engineered by IPOB has taken on a life of its own. The ordinary people have elected to continue the protest with or with out IPOB.

The leadership vacuum in the SE is becoming apparent as the days go by. The real people( traders, farmers, artisans, transporters) are the ones calling the shots now. Those who parade themselves as leaders have failed the people; governors, senators, HoR members, and even Ohaneze Ndigbo.

The people who are bearing the brunt of Buhari’s horrid leadership are saying enough is enough. They’re saying SE has much more to offer and can no longer afford to be part of a system that has impeded them for decades. They’re also saying: SITTING AT HOME EVERY MONDAY ISN’T GOING TO BREAK US RATHER IT WILL MAKE US STRONGER.

But are Ndi Igbo stronger in the face of these socioeconomic disaster and the attendant brigandage? Statistics don’t support that.

i. It’s the Igbo economy that’s losing billions. Of what use is a medicine more destructive than the disease it seems to cure?

ii. It’s the future of Igbo children’s education that’s being jeopardized.

iii. Any economic sabotage that doesn’t affect the flow of crude oil will neither hurt buhari nor have any impact on Nigeria

iv. The foreign embassies are not in ala Igbo, so how is the international community going to be of assistance? Where they may have intervened in the past, it had to come after thousands of limbs and lives were gone; and in the form of feeble diplomatic musings which carried no weight!

v. Are we going to destroy ourselves in order to hurt those outside our land? Mbaanu!

WAY FORWARD:

But in the midst of the successes as recorded in the originating paragraphs, the time has also come for a shift of strategy. This is the best time for IPOB or any other pro-Biafra group to float a political party. Better still, seize the structure of an existing political party, use it to contest and win elections in Igbo land.

This will offer Ndigbo the opportunity to ensure that going forward only those who identify with the agitation will be given the opportunity to represent the region in all stratas and arms of government.

The experience of the Catalans in Spain and the Gerry Adams led Provisional IRA in Northern Island offer us clear examples of this strategy.

Ndigbo must galvanize the necessary critical mass, building from the stay-at-home campaigns, to move the Biafra agitation to it’s logical conclusion starting from the 2023 general elections.

Chief Bond Ohuche is the
Convener,  New Abia Vision

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WIKE’S VAT BATTLES: FISCAL FEDERALISM LOADING

 

By Monima Daminabo

The recent ruling of August 9 2021, in favour of the Rivers State Government as plaintiff, and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) as defendant, by a Federal High Court which upheld the rights of state governments to collect Value Added Tax (VAT), instead of the federal government through the FIRS, has not only attracted a torrent of reactions. It has also launched a new impetus for the drive towards true fiscal federalism in the country as the real dividend from the dispensation. Not surprisingly, the reactions have dovetailed mainly into two streams – with one supporting the ruling, while the other indicts the states for being complacent and sleeping over their rights for so long. Hence, just as it qualifies as one big legal victory for the Rivers State Government and its iconic governor Nyesom Wike, the real deal translates into a major leap by the country towards a more prosperous future. That is if the proper lessons are to be learnt, and soon enough.

 

In the first place, the story of VAT in Nigeria’s fiscal firmament fits into the picture captured in the 1974 song by Jamaican Reggae musician Jimmy Cliff that “You can’t be wrong and get it right, no matter how hard you may try”. For a considerably long time, the argument over which entity between the federal and state governments should collect VAT had been raging, with the former deploying its humongous weight to muscle the latter into acquiescence and out of the largesse. This is even as it had never been in doubt that going by the provisions of the Constitution, VAT remained the exclusive preserve of state governments since it is a tax that is collectable at the point of local purchase of a good or service.

 

However, courtesy of the warped fiscal culture in the country, it had been collected centrally by the federal government and distributed to the states on the questionable principle of unjusticiable inequity. Hence states that contributed more VAT revenue to the federal coffers where denied the full measure of their due, while states with sub-par contributions enjoyed a mark-up in the largesse from the federal government. The situation led to a prolonged protest by the higher contributing states as they complained of being short-changed by the federal government.

 

This state of affairs attracted several implications. Primarily, it reeked of grave injustices as it manifested the sin of ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul’. Granted that the country’s fiscal regime provided for federally generated revenue to be be shared among the tiers of governance, VAT became subsumed unlawfully into the matrix of distributable federation revenue. This ‘feeding bottle economics’ dissuaded many state governments from exploring and exploiting even the loose hanging grapes of opportunities in their domains, to generate internal revenue through promoting tax yielding business enterprises, as they depended wholly on the dole from the federal government. Meanwhile, this situation runs in the face of countless studies and assurances that no state in Nigeria was too indigent to be able to fully fund its statutory obligations, if the leadership actually paid attention to own resources and endevoured to exploit such.

 

Interestingly, the VAT breakthrough by the Rivers State Government now offers an irresistible opportunity to all state governments in Nigeria to look towards claiming their due in respect of revenue from the option. While a few of them raised reservations over stripping the federal government of the powers to collect and centrally distribute VAT, it is believed that their position will depend on the success or failure of the FIRS to win its appeal against the High Court judgment barring it from VAT.
Meanwhile some states are already keying into the gains of the ban on the FIRS, with Lagos leading the trail of followers. Just before the end of last week the Lagos State House of Assembly was in the process of passing the bill to empower the state government to collect VAT in all areas within its constitutional jurisdiction. As expected, the ultimate drama shall playout when all, or a majority of states shall converge on asserting their rights to collect VAT.

 

The foregoing notwithstanding it may not also be automatic ‘uhuru’ for the states if and when they all win the rights to collect VAT unhindered, especially in their present, mostly unprepared operational status. For in the final analysis, their successes and dividends from taking over VAT collection will depend on the innate absorptive capacity which each of them will manifest individually. For even at the best of times, tax collection has never been a tea party. And with VAT being a consumption tax that requires complicated valuation requirements, there is the need for the states to ensure that a wholesale take-over of VAT collection from the federal government does not turn into a Pyrrhic victory, whereby they spend a naira to earn a few kobo.

 

As needs not be emphasised, setting up the legal framework by states with the passing of relevant laws, is only the starting point in the journey of taking over VAT collection from the federal government-owned FIRS. The transition of VAT collection from the federal government to the states, will enjoy effective implementation when and only if the three arms of government at all the three tiers, work together as one to usher in the desired state of affairs.

 

As for the Rivers State Government which kick-started the revolution (as some have dubbed the dispensation), the favourable high court ruling has imposed on it the responsibility of leading a national fight in which it stands to be targeted by net beneficiaries of the extant on-going bazaar of enjoying unearned, nationally inequitably shared largesse. It therefore needs to work towards upgrading its own innate capabilities for VAT collection across its local governments and state structures, even as it mobilises support from the other states to its cause. For in the strength of unity of purpose by it and its peers, lies the ultimate victory in consolidating fiscal federalism across the country.

 

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Okpara’s and Ojukwu’s plan was for PH to be our Lagos…but the economy would be oil driven.

Most of the oil wells and infrastructure in today’s Rivers State up till 1967 were developed by Okpara. Chief Nwodo, Nnia Nwodo’s father was the Regional  Minister for Trade and Commerce at the time. He negotiated most of the agreements with Shell and the UK govt
Gowon and Awolowo nationalised those assets in 1967 without paying a Kobe in compensation…and forced all the oil companies to relocate to Lagos
Most of the refineries that NNPC began rolling out after the war were already in the industrial plan the the East had for Port Harcourt.
At the time,oil and solid minerals were under Regional control
The East lost everything…so Lagos and the north could prosper
Okpara’s plan for Enugu was that there would be a 200km industrial corridor running between Emene where the airport was located and Nkalagu where the cement plant was located
Again, Sir Ojukwu was Nkalagu’s chairman
The corridor was to focus on auto assembly and industrial automation. A steel plant was already located in Emene and Kaiser in California was to locate a car assembly and a plant for engines and turbines there in 1968.
The corridor was to mimicking the Ruhr industrial Valley in Germany under Otto Von Bismarck. The war destroyed all that
Onitsha was to drive the East retail economy – a shopping Emporium for all Nigerians and indeed West Africans. It was opened in 1956 I believe. And by 1960, it had attained its purpose. Its location gave the Anambra Igbo a head start in trading…a dominance that holds till date
Umuahia and Umudike were to drive our agro based and biotechnology industries. That is why the root research lab and brewery were located there
Enugu was to be the academic headquarters and the headquarters for our mechanical engineering industries
Zik brought in the US firm – Arthur D. Little as macroeconomic consultants. They advised that a university be set up to train manpower to feed these emerging industries
Nsukka thus was the first university in the country to offer degree programs in engineering, business, marketing, accounting, law etc….
Adam in Rivers State and Oji River in Enugu provided the power that drove most of these industrial investments
Then there were cement plants set up – Nkalagu, Port Harcourt Bulk cement and Calabar. Calabar took off after the war but Ojukwu and Okpara had concluded every arrangement for its take off before the coup of 1966
Sir Louis Phillip Odumegwu Ojukwu was the Chairman of Eastern Nigeria Commodity Board (ENCB) and Eastern Nigeria Development Corporation (ENDC)
ENDC raised most of the funds for industrial development from both internal taxes, thecreturns from the ENCB and borrowings from the CDC – Commonwealth Development Corporation
Today’s Imo, Abia, Rivers and Cross River were our wealthy cows. Most of the palm plantations were located there. Haha of Opobo sourced most of the palm kernels and palm oil that he exported to Milner Brothers in Liverpool from these places
Okpara and Ojukwu simply went back to those ancient paths
We must teach our children our history. Igbos lost everything after the war. When I say everything I mean it. The sheer momentum at nation building through massive infrastructure development was scuttled
But it is not late. We can rebuild from the ruins of the last 54 years
Enough said.
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Interrogating the concept of “Hausa-Igbo” By Chi Ngo.

After intelligently discussing international affairs and politics (US—Kabul/Afghanistan na ndị òtù ya) as well as those of the hopeless Nigeria and you do not have a clue of what’s smoking right under your nose in Ìgbòland — where you were born or would be buried or your ancestry is traced — you would remain good for nothing/nobody.
I have been seeing recently the video of one turbaned figure seated like some Sultan speaking Ìgbò in the central Ọhụhụ or Imo/Owere dialect and claiming he is “Hausa-Ìgbò”. He also claimed that his ancestors arrived to settle in Imo/Owere in 1897 and that they have been there all these years up till this moment. Whatever the compound identity “Hausa-Ìgbò” meant, many Ìgbò do not seek to figure, inquire, dig into, historicize or situate. They’re blank or, at most, reflexively unpeturbed— the pangs of consciousness ignored.
There’s always this juvenile and uncritical emotion that tempts to overwhelm many Ìgbò anytime they encounter fluent Ìgbò flowing from the lips of onye Hausa. I’ve seen it on different occasions when such videos of onye/ndị Hausa (nwoke maọbụ nwaanyị) speaking Ìgbò circulated on the social media. But our people must not be allowed to be overwhelmed by uncritical emotions tied to historylessness and/or poor historical consciousness and rigor.
The ‘innocent’ identity “Hausa” has been forged and negotiated for and into Islam as early as 1307 — over 700 years ago. Not only are many Ìgbò unaware of this aspect of history, they seem to have no reflexes for the inaccuracies or dissonance implicated in histories that concern them with Islam.
The turbaned “Hausa-Ìgbò” man declares rather boldly and “factually” that his ancestors have been in Imo since 1897 and our people are not traveling back to that time to take him on and dig him out on his claims. Instead, emotions—irate and even patronizing ones—are all you see in reaction. Well, I do not concern myself with the Imo part of Ìgbòland and the spurious claims of Hausa settlement in it as early as 1897; I am rather concerned that it won’t be long before the identity “Hausa” is used to also claim that Igboland accepted Islam or that Islam took root in Ìgbòland as early as 1897. Before that ever happens, especially in deceiving unsuspecting younger generations of Ìgbò, I will, in my own little way, mention or emphasize that a research on Islam in Ìgbòland has been extensively carried out by a professor of history at the University of Nigeria between 2003 and 2017. Her name is Egodi Uchendu. Use your Google from henceforth to arm yourself with the available information from her research online.
Maka adị ama ama, the first Ìgbò person to convert to Islam is a man from Enugwu-Ezike in the north of Ìgbòland known as Garba Oheme in 1937 (ofu mbọsị, a ga-asị na 1937 bụzi 1897). Oheme was born around 1908, meaning he converted at about the age of 31. The next place was in the famous Enọfịa in Afikpo, Ebonyi State in 1958. Not until that Nigerian genocidal war on Biafra ended in 1970 did Islam begin to root in/around Imo/Owere among the Ìgbò garnering some converts out of the hunger and penury of that moment.
Again, “Hausa-Ìgbò” identity in Imo (geographical center of Ìgbòland) strikes strongly as a revisionist replication of the “Hausa-Ibagwa” identity in the faraway Nsụka area (geographical north of Ìgbòland) — a replication with a history and potential of continuous spiraling and/or escapist prefix, as in—if you like—“Hausa-Fulani”. Ndị Ìgbò, mepeenụ anya ka ụnụ na-afụ ife bedolu n’útù ụnụ ka ọ rapụ ịbanye n’ime ime ya. Ka m rapụ ya ebea!
By the way, if you are unable to access Professor Egodi Uchendu’s research on Islam in Ìgbòland to enable you begin to read and see through these dynamics and suspect identity revisionisms, I can help you with a primary one if you drop your email address in my inbox—ọbụrọkwa n’ebea oo maka ndị ụta.
Ndeewo nụ!h
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