The Concerned Igbo Leaders of Thought rose from a meeting in Enugu on Friday re-affirming their position that representation to the proposed national conference be based on ethnic nationalities.
The group, led by legal luminary and elder statesman, Prof Ben Nwabueze expressed happiness that their position, which is contrary to the recommendations of the Sen Femi Okurounmu-led Presidential Advisory Committee (PAC), was eliciting the support of other interest and regional groups.
Secretary of the group, Prof Elochukwu Amaucheazi, who briefed journalists at the end of the meeting, said they hold and will continue to hold in high esteem, President Goodluck Jonathan.
“He will go down in history as really the founder of modern Nigeria if the national conference works out very well.
“So far we have been concerned with modalities about the national conference, if he gets it right every other thing will follow.
“If you look at the papers, you find that South Peoples Assembly headed by Ekwueme, Arc Bishop Gbonigi and Chief Edwin Clerk, has endorsed the views of Igbo Leaders of Thought. The Middle Belt under Prof Jerry Gana has endorsed our position. The Yorubas, Odumakins and the rest of them, they are all saying the same thing.
“We want a national conference of ethnic nationalities that will produce a new constitution will be approved by the people through a referendum. We are not in competition with any person. These are the things Ndigbo stand out for, so it is surprising that with all these endorsements you’ll find somebody, indeed there are only two people who have criticized that: ACF (Arewa Consultative Forum), in fact they said it clearly that they don’t want this conference, they are all frightened about Prof Nwabueze, they believe that once he is there and can convince the President and then Nigerians that what we want is renegotiated Nigeria that they will lose out.
“It is surprising if you look at the papers that Ohanaeze now described Nwabueze as misguided and totally wrong. Can you imagine this? That is what is written by Ohanaeze, their publicity secretary when others are endorsing our position”, he stated.
The group’s scribeadded that the present leadership of Ohanaeze is illegal but they will not like to join issues at this moment.
“As I said we are not here in contest with anybody, we know money being distributed, we don’t have the money, people are contributing on their own just to sustain this, the kind of sacrifice they want to make for Ndigbo, for our children, we fought the war.
“Some of us may not be at the conference but we produced this document which out people will rely on those who will go there and negotiate with others and achieve the stability of this country.
“We have sent a letter to the President to put forward our views, we are not talking about 2015 and all that, if at all every person supports Jonathan, there is no doubt about that, I believe that 99 percent of Ndigbo support. We are talking about national conference and that is the beginning of survival of Ndigbo and Nigeria. We are still working on substantive issues, the nature of the federation, the structure of government and devolution of powers, security, fiscal federalism”,
The fourth assembly of the Igbo leaders witnessed even more prominent Igbos in attendance, including former Central Bank Governor (CBN), Prof. Charles Soludo, a Biafran war veteran Col. Emma Nwobosi, Prof. Felix Oragwu, Chief H.B.C. Ogboko, HRH Prof Vincent Chukwuemeka Ike and Engr. Obi Thomson of World Igbo Congress, USA.
Other frequent attendees of the meeting are: Prof. Uche Azikiwe, Prof. Ben Obumselu, Arc Bishop Anikwenwa, Prince Emeka Onyeso, Sen Anyim Ude, Sen Offia Nwali, Prof Nwabueze, Prof. Enechi Onyia, Dr. Chu S. P Okey among others.