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Chief John Nnia Nwodo

Sixth State for South East: Nnia Nwodo, ex-Ohanaeze President General under fire over Buhari’s statement

Chief John Nnia Nwodo

Immediate past President General of pan-Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, has been asked to respond to President Muhammadu Buhari’s assertion that Igbo leaders failed to return to him with a recommendation for a state to be created from the South East zone to bring the number of states in the zone to six as in most other zones.

Five of the six geo-political zones in the country, South South, South West, North Central and North East zones have six states each while the North West has seven states but the South East zone is made up of only five states.

This has been one of the major issues cited when leaders of the zone allege marginalization because many advantages accrue to states which the South East zone is being deprived of as a result of not having that additional state.

For instance, the zone would have had three additional senators through that one state, there would have been another set of House of Representatives members, there would have been revenue allocation to the state and its local government areas, there would have been federal establishments located in the state as well as federal projects on the basis of states etc etc.

President Buhari in his New Year television interview had said that a delegation of Igbo leaders paid him a visit and one of their major demands was the creation of an additional state in the zone to bring the South East at par with the four other zones.

He said he told them to go and come back to him with a recommendation of the state they wanted created but that as at the time he was speaking, they had not returned to him with a recommendation.

The delegation, made up of Governors of the zone, National Assembly members from the zone and other prominent Igbo leaders, is said to have been led by Chief Nwodo then the Ohanaeze President General, and had visited Buhari in 2017.

Upon return from the visit, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, then led by Nwodo, in consultation with the Governors and other stakeholders, is said to have set up a committee that invited memoranda and reviewed such in a bid to identify the most suitable part of the zone from where to carve out the sixth state for the South East.

Majority of the members are said to have voted for an Aba State and submitted a report to that effect to the Ohanaeze leadership. But the recommendation never got to Buhari who by his assertion, is implying that the Igbo leaders who came to him to make the demand and who he asked to return to him with a recommendation are to blame for the South East not having a sixth state.

None of those who were part of the delegation, to the best of our knowledge, has come out publicly to refute Buhari’s assertion or to say why they failed to submit a recommendation, especially Nwodo who led the team in the first place, and many are asking, what happened?

Many have said that Buhari was playing to the gallery and wanted to knock together the heads of Igbo leaders by his comment, others say it is not within his power to create a state for the South East even if he wanted to. But others insist that the leaders who went to him to make the demand knew that he could not decree a South East state into being, that he would need to carry the legislature along and that there were rigorous constitutional processes involved and yet went ahead to make the request to him.

The argument of this later school of thought is that if the Igbo leaders made the request at all and he asked for a recommendation, the least they could have done was to submit to him the recommendation that the committee they set up had came up with without minding their own preferences, or even gone ahead to submit any other for that matter, so that the ball would be in his court.

Allegations are that Chief Nwodo favored the proposed Adada State, which he has continued to champion, rather than the Aba State the committee he set up recommended. There were other parts of the zone that also wanted the state to be from their own part of the zone.

Those who are agitated by the submission of President Buhari want Nwodo or the current executive of Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by Professor George Obiozor (upon perusal of the records) to speak up and clear the air on the matter so that the impression will not linger that selfish interests frustrated the creation of a sixth state for the South East.

Many are already worrying that, to a large extent, the problems of the zone may actually be self-inflicted, especially with regard to the question of selfless leadership.


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