Nigeria at 57 – Our position – By the Midwest Movement
By: Professor Echefuna’ R.G. Onyebeadi.
We, the Members of the Midwest Movement felicitate with our fellow compatriots all over Nigeria and beyond as we mark the 57th b Independence of Nigeria today; October 01, 2017.
“THE MIDWEST MOVEMENT is a pan-Edo/Delta group of distinguished sons and daughters of the twelve tribes of the old Midwest Region, later “renamed” Bendel State “by Military fiat”.
The entire geographical area of the two states of Edo and Delta form the territorial area of Midwest Nigeria. The area covers a total of 35,500 square kilometres. The northern tip of its territorial area stretches from Imoga/Lampese/Bekuma/Ekpe in Edo State at latitude 7.5906/6.1171 to the southern reaches of Gbesa/Burutu/Bulou-Ndoro of Delta State at latitude 5.0126/5.651717. Its western tip stretches from Ofunama in Edo State at latitude 6.302216/5.012297 to the eastern reaches of Mgba-Obiocha in Delta State at latitude 6.16838/6.76840.
Historically, the territory was part of the old Western Region of Nigeria. It was created as a separate and equal federating region of the country through constitutional process of plebiscite, which was conducted on 13th July 1963, endorsed by a majority of 89.01% of eligible indigenes of the mid-west area of the Western Region. By 8th August 1963 the Western Region Assembly affirmed the outcome of that exercise and by the next day 9th August 1963 the Midwest Region was born.”
Today makes it exactly 54 years, one month and 22 days that the Midwest Region was created. The Midwest Region was just about three years old when the Military interrupted our developing system of governance and threw away the bath water with the very promising growing baby – The Midwest Region against the popular wish and desire of our people.
As we mark the 57th Independence of Nigeria today, we solemnly affirm that:
1. We believe in the unity of Nigeria where nobody is oppressed and/or suppressed; where nobody is master and lord over others; where freedom of speech and association is guaranteed; where people are allowed to grow and develop at their own pace; where nobody is held down for others to catch up with if not surpass; where people get their due worth and not unduly favoured against the others; where there is EQUITY, FAIRNESS and JUSTICE for ALL irrespective of tribal, ethnic, social, cultural, geographical and religious beliefs.
2. The Nigeria State and how we chose to live and govern ourselves is a product of NEGOTIATION at Independence in 1960 and to that extent remains NEGOTIABLE even in the face of the various and varied growing agitations prevailing now throughout Nigeria.
3. The Constitution and the system of governance as it is in Nigeria today is imposed on the citizens of the various ethnic nationalities that make up Nigeria without their knowledge and consent by a military decree in favour of a particular group against all others in a lopsided military regime.
4. The 36 States and the FCT, Abuja in Nigeria today were created by military fiat and decrees without due reference to the peoples of Nigeria in a universally accepted due process of plebiscite
5. Out of the four equitable federating units prior to the unsolicited military aberrational intervention in the affairs of Nigeria in 1966, the Midwest Region has remained the most marginalized and maligned to date.
Whereas the former Northern Nigeria was subsequently split into 19 States and spread across 3 geopolitical zones; the old Eastern Region was split into 9 States and spread across 2 geopolitical zones; the former Western Region was split into 6 States in a monolithic geopolitical zone; only the former Midwest Region remained as one State till lately when it was inequitably split into 2 States and subsumed in another strange geopolitical zone.
The Midwest Region was one out of four equitable Regions, then made one out of twelve States, then one out of nineteen States and so on till now that it is just two out of 37 States (ie plus FCT)! by a skewed military fiat.
For example, “There is No South-West State except Oyo, that is larger than either Edo (6,873 sq miles/17,801 sq Kilometers) or Delta (6,873 sq miles/17,697 sq Kilometers).”
For example, “The MIDWEST is LARGER AND BIGGER than ALL THE SOUTH-EASTERN STATES COMBINED! – Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu & Imo States combined, has 11,346 sq Miles (29,386 sq Km) as against the MIDWEST States of Edo/Delta which is 13,706 sq Miles (35,757 sq Km).”
For example, whereas “The combined States of Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom & Cross Rivers (which were the “minority parts of the old Eastern Region” under, Azikiwe, Okpara & Ojukwu) now has “80 Local Govt Areas.” and
“The combined States of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu & Imo (which were the “majority parts of the old Eastern Region” under, Azikiwe, Okpara & Ojukwu) now has “95 Local Govt Areas.”
The MIDWEST REGION (Edo/Delta States combined) now has only 43 LGAs as against the Old EASTERN REGION that now have a whopping 175 LGAs. Needless to recount or compare the inequalities in this regard with the old Northern and Western Regions. The disparities are too enormous and very obvious to restate here.
Meanwhile, all the aforementioned States and LGAs continued and are still receiving monetary allocations and other developmental projects and programmes from the Federal Government in the above stated skewed proportions! among other things.
6. “The Midwest Area that contributes more than 11.8% of Nigeria’s GDP, has only 2 States (or less than 6% of 36 states), and only 43 LGAs (or about 5.5% of 774 LGAs).”
7. With a combined nominal GDP of about $40bn, (inspite of just 13% “derivation” debacle), the Midwest Region (now Edo and Delta States) has an economy larger than some Nation States in Africa like that of Senegal and competes favorably with Ghana & Ivory Coast among others.
8. The “Federal Republic of Nigeria” today is only so called as a mere expression and not in reality as what is now operative in Nigeria is an ill acquired “UNITARY Republic” imposed by the military against the negotiated genuine “Federal Republic” passed on to us by the founding fathers of Nigeria.
10. There is high restiveness, palpable fear, very bleak future facing the country Nigeria today as evidenced in the various clamour for Restructuring, Resource Control, Fiscal Federalism, True Federalism and such like.
11. The Federation of Nigeria as presently constituted has tremendously retarded the growth, progress and peaceful coexistence of and in Nigeria as evidenced in Nigeria’s backwardness in virtually all spheres in the committee of Nations.
Consequently, as we mark the 57th Independence of Nigeria today, October 01, 2017 we, the Midwest Movement do hereby declare and demand as follows that:
1. The Nation Nigeria must retrace her steps to the original negotiated Union at independence in 1960 and as modified in 1963.
2. Since the nation Nigeria as presently constituted is not working and has never worked in the larger collective interest of all the various nationalities that make up Nigeria, it has become imperative to revert to the Nigeria’s status of the 4 functional regions of 1966 prior to the unsolicited military interregnum
3. The the present States in Nigeria be drafted into the Regions as it existed prior to the military coup of 1966. Nothing in this proviso shall however, inhibit the said Regions from merging or de-merging the States and LGAs within it or even create new States or Regions within its jurisdiction as deemed fit.
4. The Federal Government should urgently set the machinery in motion to actualize the aforementioned declarations demands before the 2019 general election for peace, progress and good governance of Nigeria.
5. In a possible event that Nigeria is allowed to further deteriorate, the Midwest people shall resist any attempt to annex, attach, or conscript the Midwest Territorial Area as accepted in 1963 or any part thereof to any other Region or geopolitical zone as presently taunted in Nigeria.
6. In the unlikelyhood event that Nigeria is allowed to disintegrate, the Midwest Territorial Area as constituted in 1963 shall employ and deploy all known international instruments and stand out as an independent Republic by whatever name it choose to bear.
Happy independence Nigeria.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Professor Echefuna’ Rotimi G. ONYEBEADI (Member, Interim Management Council)
For and on behalf of The Midwest Movement.
October 01, 2017.