The Igala nation of Kogi East has called for the creation of Okura State from the current Kogi State and rejected the call by a section of Nigeria for a return to the political system of Regional Governments.
The position of the Igala nation was articulated at a press conference on Wednesday on the‘Clamour for the Political Restructuring and National Unity in Nigeria’ held at Ibro Hotel in Abuja.
The National Leader of Uk’omuIgala, an umbrella body for all socio-cultural organizations in Kogi East, Major General Patrick Akpa (rtd), told journalists at the event that rather than return to Regional Government, the Igala nation supported the federal system as it is today, but that government should create Okura State in the interest of equity, justice and fairness.
He said, “We… reject any proposal for restructuring Nigeria which takes us back to the idea of regionalism as if we are so forgetful about the ugly experiences of the First Republic. Regional governments in the First Republic squeezed and emasculated the minority ethnic nationalities in the North, West and East, and the bitterness associated with the report of the Willink Commission which rejected the quest of minorities for separate states did not die until the premature collapse of the Republic.”
Affirming the support of the Igala nation for the unity of the country because “the blood of hundreds of Igala sons was sacrificed in the fratricidal war to keep Nigeria’s unity” during the 1967-1970 civil war, General Akpa called for the creation of Okura State “in recognition of the persistent struggle for [it] since the Second Republic in 1981.”
General Akpa (rtd) expressed the Igala nation’s rejection of the proposal by the North-Central Caucus at the 2014 National Political Conference which called for the creation of Kainji State from Niger and Kebbi States, instead of recommending the creation of Okura State that has been on the front burner of political discourse since 1981.
He said, “Insisting on the creation of Kainji State out of Niger State (North-Central) and Kebbi State (North-West) will definitely alter the geopolitical configuration of Nigeria,” adding that the creation of Okura state is “the natural equitable expression of political balance in the state creation exercise.”
Igala nation therefore declared its support for the retention of federalism and “the recognition of the rights of ethnic groups within the states to express their right to self-determination. It also called for the devolution of power as the “over-concentration of power at the centre [is] to the detriment of the federating units.”
General Akpa further advised government to review the percentage of revenue allocation to states producing oil, the reconstruction and rehabilitation of arrears affected by insurgency and other conflicts and the diversification of the Nigerian economy by “fast-tracking the development of solid minerals sector.”
The press conference was attended by executive members of the group, drawn from all socio-political groups in KogiEast and in other parts of the country.