The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (Huriwa) has blasted the Deputy Speaker, House of Representatives, Honourable Benjamin Okezie Kalu, urging him to stop creating the impression that Igbo people are beggars who line up around government houses to collect bags of rice and remnants of foodstuffs.
The National President of the Association, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, who spoke early Wednesday, cautioned Kalu against continuous insult on Ndigbo by informing the World that hunger instigated the extensive and heightened state of insecurity in the South East.
He emphasized that the cause of the worrisome insecurity and seemingly unending instability in the once economically flourishing and peaceful South-East Region was not because the people were so lazy and therefore, hungry as speculated by the Deputy Speaker.
“The young man needs to know that most Igbo youths are either in their shops working very hard to make decent living, or farming and engaging in other productive enterprises even in the information technology sectors.
“The Igbo youths who are well educated and highly skilled, are busy working as medical experts and academics in the different reputable faculties in the advanced societies of Canada, USA, Australia, GB, France, Italy and Germany.
“So the Deputy Speaker should stop distracting Ndigbo because we will never reduce ourselves to the pathetic position of beggars. Begging is antithetical to our culture and is indeed a cultural heresy.”
HURIWA recalled media reports that the Deputy Speaker launched the “Food for Peace” initiative, which he argued was a pillar of his Peace in South East Project (PISE-P).
It also recalled that the misguided initiative which was flagged off in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State, fell under the agriculture and food security pillar of PISE-P, captioned: “A Hungry Man is an Angry Man” in recognition of the importance of food in the drive for peace in the region.
“According to news reports, the launch witnessed the distribution of food items across the 17 local government areas of Abia State and other areas in the region.
“The Chief Press Secretary to the Deputy Speaker, Livinus Nwabughiogu, said that over 6,000 bags of rice, 150 bags of beans, 80 bags of garri, 3000 cartoons of spaghetti, 100 cartoons of vegetable oil and 3000 pieces of wrappers were distributed to each of the councils.
“Nwabughiogu in a statement made available to parliamentary reporters said the flag off also featured the distribution of motorcycles, deep freezers, sewing and grinding machines, big capacity generators and pesticides sprinkling kits.”
HURIWA has however carpeted the Deputy Speaker for depicting the Igbo people as a set of laid back, lazy, perpetually hungry, noisy and angry people, who are in dire need of bags of rice, beans, alubo, amala and gbegiri, and some other food condiments to resort to peace and harmony.
The Rights group maintained that the action was an unmitigated insult on the consciences and great reputation of the highly sophisticated, urbane, productive and creative population of South-East who on their own terms with no federal government intervention even amidst desperate economic sanctions that characterized the unfortunate fratricidal warfare in the early 60’s, re-established themselves as the most respected entrepreneurs in the black World.
HURIWA added that what the Deputy Speaker should concentrate his legislative times in Abuja is not to go about attempting to win cheap publicity by masquerading as the messiah of Ndigbo, but he should rather work together with all the Federal legislators in Abuja to end the systemic marginalization of Ndigbo in the political scheme of things.
He frowned that even under the current political dispensation in which Ndigbo as a member of the Tripod that constitutes the majority of the Nigerian population, could only be allotted the less fancied position of a Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives even when the other major ethnic blocs are in firm control of the executive, judiciary and the legislative arms of government.
The Rights group also stated that part of the fundamental causes of unrests in the South-East is not that the youths are hungry but the fact that the youths of Igbo extractions face unprecedented challenges unlike the other two ethnicities, in the area of landing juicy or even moderately paid employment slots in the federation.
“HURIWA is therefore tasking the Deputy Speaker to refocus and redirect his attention towards attracting strategic national assets to the South-East such as a refinery, federal government offices and workable infrastructures.
“Is Kalu unaware that Kaduna State is home to over 65 per cent of all of Nigeria’s military institutions whereas the South-East only has dilapidated police and military barracks as if the region is a land under occupation.
“The South Easterners are not beggars, they are only asking and agitating for equal rights and justice within the Nigerian federation. If the Deputy Speaker is so desirous of providing economic empowerment to the Igbos, he needs to encourage investments in the areas of agriculture and cottage industry, and speak for the South -East to similarly enjoy uninterrupted electricity power supplies from the national grid to boost small, medium and large enterprises in the region.