Sunday Aborisade, Abuja
A former governor of Abia State, who is representing Abia Central in the Senate, Senator Theodore Orji, has asked the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd), to dialogue with the leadership of the Indigenous People of Biafra, to avoid further trouble in the country.
Orji stated this in an interview with journalists in Abuja on Sunday as part of activities to mark his 70th birthday celebration.
The Senator said dialogue with the dissident voices, including the IPOB, remains one of the best ways to achieve peace in the South-East geopolitical zone.
He noted that the Igbo, which has been crying of marginalisation over the years, deserved a listening ear rather than the use of force.
He said, “If there are dissident voices, the president should call them and discuss with them.
“He should find out the cause of their agitation and work out ways to address their grievances.
” He should see how he can bring them in and fully integrate them into the system.
“That is what will solve the problem of the country. Call the dissident voices to a conference.
“There is nothing bad in discussing with the IPOB. If you don’t discuss with them, they will continue to give you trouble.
“We can’t be happy when other regions have six states and we have five. It shows that we are marginalised and cheated. That is what is causing the agitation in the region.
“Some groups are agitating that the zone should be a country on its own. Others are demanding restructuring because it is glaring that the South-East is being marginalised.
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“If you treat me fairly like you treat other persons and I’m convinced that you are sincere, I will not complain. It is when I look around me and I see that I am being marginalised and treated like a second-class citizen that would make people be agitating.”
Orji maintained that the South-East geopolitical zone remained marginalised being the only region with just five states and the major tribe that had not produced a President of Nigeria since 1999.
He said restructuring remained the only way out of the country’s social, economic, and political crises.
He said, “My advice on how to move the country forward is already on the table and that is restructuring and resource control
“The issue of resource control should be addressed because the resources are coming from the same people who are agitating.
“You won’t expect us to keep quiet when we are producing and you are not giving us enough.
“Governor Nyesom Wike is shouting every day because the Niger Delta people are not getting the required attention they require as oil-producing region. We know the areas that are sensitive.”
On additional state for the South – East, Orji said, “That is why we want to take the advantage of the ongoing constitution review process to push for the creation of additional state so that we could have at least six states like other geopolitical zones.”
He said, “We will do everything possible to abide by the constitution so that we would make it a reality. We are not keeping quiet on the matter at all.”