The Igbo Leaders of Thought, an association of prominent Igbo personalities led by foremost constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, has said that corruption is not Nigeria’s primary problem.
The Igbo leaders stressed that while President Muhammadu Buhari engages in the fight against corruption, he should equally address other critical problems, particularly what they described as the ‘Nigerian question’ – the dysfunctional federal system practised in the country.
Nwabueze made the group’s feelings known after an extensive meeting in Enugu.
The Igbo Leaders of Thought, comprising mostly elder statesmen, stressed that other vital issues like poverty, illiteracy and security should not be neglected because of the campaign against corruption.
Speaking to journalists, Nwabueze, however, observed that the current preoccupation with the anti-corruption campaign had unfortunately relegated other serious national challenges to the background.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria said, “Everybody is thinking that all that we need is to fight corruption; it is important, but it is not our primary problem.
“There are other issues that are even more important than corruption.
“We have the question of illiteracy, the question of poverty, the question of security.
“As important as the war against corruption is, we are of the view that there are other issues that overshadow corruption.
“Another issue is what we call the national question.”
Shedding further light on the ‘national question’, Nwabueze said Nigeria was not a nation.
He said the Federal Government must take necessary steps to ensure that Nigeria becomes a nation, rather than a mere state.
He said, “The national question means the problem of evolving Nigeria into a nation.
“Nigeria is not a nation; it is a state.
“We all want to belong to that state but we deceive ourselves always by thinking and painting the picture that we are already a nation; we are not.”
Nwabueze spoke of the need to integrate the over 389 ethnic nationalities that make up the country.
According to him, almost every Nigerian will be happy to see the country unite.
In the same vein, the Igbo leaders urged Buhari to execute the anti-corruption war without neglecting the rule of law.
“Fight corruption; fight it relentlessly but that fight should be subject to constitutional limitations, especially limitations arising from the federal system.
“The federal system is a conspicuous device to limit power.
“If you do away with the limitations on power arising from the federal system, we will be in trouble; graver trouble than the trouble of corruption,” he said.
The group also demanded the immediate relocation of the detained Boko Haram suspects transferred to Ekwulobia prisons in Anambra State.
Some of the Igbo leaders at the meeting were: Col. Ben Gbulie (retd.), Prof. Chukwuemeka Ike, Senator Anyim Ude, Evengelist Eliot Uko and Prof. Lawrence Ocho.