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National Unity Conference (NUC), just like its antithesis, the proposed Sovereign National Conference (SNC) of Nigerian nationalities, is destined to find a niche in national political discourse now that palpable and intense intellectual manpower is being deployed by various groups and individuals in crafting practical solutions to Nigeria’s national dilemma. In an article titled “My NUC, your SNC” by Chris Aniedobe, published by Vanguard, a compelling case was made for jettisoning the crippled idea of a Sovereign National Conference which has lost its mass appeal since the return of democratic governance in Nigeria. The article’s author wishes to permanently expunge the mindset that evolved the SNC and in its stead substitute a mass appeal for a new sense of patriotic nationalism which can be kick-started with a National Unity Conference (NUC) of all stakeholders in the Nigerian experiment. While the SNC had the potential of destabilizing the nation as it is today, the NUC has been portrayed as a mere reaffirmation and redefinition of a strong and united Nigeria which is anchored on fundamental principles of constitutional law that guarantee citizenship rights to all irrespective of one’s sociocultural background.

The article sees Ndiigbo as the natural purveyors of the new concept of an NUC because of the historical role that they have played and still play in holding the Nigerian nation together. The author sees the need for Nigeria’s national unity and calls for strong Igbo nationalism as contradictory. To buttress this viewpoint, the author cautions that heightening of resentment for Ndiigbo outside Alaigbo, particularly amongst the minorities that made up former Biafran territory, shall increase not decrease with an upsurge in blatant Igbo nationalistic fervor. Economic integration of Igbo states shall lead to a more functional unity of purpose amongst Ndiigbo and shall also provide a realistic basis for ending the marginalization of Ndiigbo at the center stage of national governance. Rather than have Ndiigbo commit their political capital on finding specialized methodologies for extricating themselves from their perceived marginalization at the center, they should instead hone in their effort to liberate every Nigerian thereby achieving a more rewarding objective. The author clearly sees a leadership role for Ndiigbo in a renascent Nigeria that shall be anchored in just laws, security of lives and property and prosperity for all its citizens.

Author’s critics could easily dismiss his positions as a crafty rehash of an old idea that have been tried and found wanting by Ndiigbo, in particular and Nigerians, in general in the pre-Civil War post-Independence era. Some could term his position as a reincarnation of Zikist vision for Nigeria which some have blamed for unduly exposing Ndiigbo to anti-Igbo pogroms in the North which precipitated the secession of Biafra. For minorities of the former East and rival interest groups in the North and West, imposition of the Igbo worldview in any form or shape shall still be regarded with trepidation, if not disdain. Some Igbo groups have organized themselves with the objective of striving for Igbo autonomy, either in the reactivation of defunct Republic of Biafra or by actualizing an autonomous Igbo nation that shall exist within an envisioned future confederate Nigeria. All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) had the immediate convocation of an SNC on its campaign platform during the last general elections. Present leadership of Ohanaeze Ndiigbo believes firmly in SNC as the best possible means for getting to the root of Nigerian national malaise. These forces itemized above and many more not mentioned here are bound to rise up in arms against the novel concept for an NUC.

Beyond mere commentaries on the qualities and attributes of personalities that tower over the past and present Igbo political landscape, time has come for Ndiigbo to begin to take critical look at their historical role in Nigeria with the aim of deploying their wealth of experience so far garnered in constructive national development. The call for an NUC is germane, timely and to the ultimate best interest of Ndiigbo and the rest of Nigeria. But an idea, no matter how good it sounds, can remain dormant for a long time unless it receives a political translation that shall give it structure and wings with which it can fly. Dr. Aniedobe’s article, for it to have a real impact that inspired its writing, is in need of a political translation because it is only by so doing that the ideas it fosters can find root and acceptability not only in Alaigbo but also in other competing entities in the Nigerian polity. The Osondu Foundation, Inc. strongly identifies with key components of this article since they dovetail with the group’s vision of building a strong, united and secular Nigerian nation out of the ruins of the Civil War.

We encourage everyone to find the time and patience to read through this rather lengthy article. It is a breath of fresh air in the polluted political environment that has been the hallmark of the post-election era in Nigeria.

Review by Jimbuoy Okoye
The Survival Struggle for Ndiigbo

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