Senator Ifeanyi Ararume has advised Igbos who are agitating for an independent state of Biafra to first hold their governors accountable over how they spend the funds they generate internally, from the federal allocation, and from local governments on a monthly basis before complaining of being marginalized.
According to him, Igbo people can still achieve their dreams without a state of Biafra.
In an interview, Ararume said he believes there is no justification for any group in Nigeria to seek to break away as the Buhari-administration is working hard to meet the aspirations of all Nigerians.
He said: “I can say categorically that there is no deliberate attempt by this government to deny the South-East of what rightfully belongs to the zone.
“In any case, each state in our zone has its own government that generates internal revenue, gets allocation from the Federation Account every month; gets fund for the local government councils.
“And for those states that are oil producing like Imo, Delta, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, they receive 13 percent derivation fund.
“We should also hold our state governments accountable on how they spend these funds. If you put side by side the debts, the allocations and value of projects in these states, the result you will get will be unacceptable to their people. What that means is that some have not really met the people’s expectations.
“Well, what I know is that Nigeria is a sovereign nation and every governor and his deputy in the South-East took oath of office and oath of allegiance to the Constitution and sovereignty of our nation. Nigeria is one nation; the state governors took oath of office to defend this nation; the president also took oath of office to defend and protect this nation.
“And as citizens, we are Nigerians. We have the right to protest on issues but we cannot call for the dissolution of Nigeria. If there are issues, we must resolve them amicably. For this country to remain one, our past and present leaders made huge sacrifices; lives and property worth trillions of Naira were lost.
“Therefore, anybody thinking of breaking up Nigeria is not being fair to this nation. We are one and we will remain one. I can say that in spite of the present challenges, we will overcome and remain one.
“My point is that no matter our grievances, we can resolve them through dialogue and without resorting to another civil war. If any zone, be it South-South, South-East, South-West and North-West, feels it is not getting what it deserves, there are better ways to resolve the matter.
“There are agitations even in a family; people who eat from the same pot still agitate. There are legitimate ways we can put our views across to government.
“First and foremost, you have your representatives in the Senate, House of Representatives and the state assemblies. You can also channel your grievances to government through your representatives.
“We can equally channel our agitations to the National Council of State that is chaired by the President and comprises former Heads of State, former presidents, Senate President, Speaker, governor, among others. Violence has never achieved anything. There are better ways to engage government.
“But the truth of the matter is that we have also had people from the South-East who have occupied sensitive positions in the past: We have had Secretary to the Federal Government, we have had Senate President for years; we have had Coordinating Minister; Deputy Senate President and different ministers from this zone. What I am saying is that the situation we are complaining about has been there over the years.
“I am from the South-East; we have a government that listens and we should channel our agitations properly. The present government is building East West Road; the government is building the coastal rail line from the South-South to Lagos and it will also get to the South-East. No matter how justified you are in your agitations, there are better ways to resolve the issues.
“The present government is listening to the agitations of our people and we should exercise patience and do more of dialogue. I believe we shall get result. We must do our best to keep our youths safe.”