Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (retd) has said that the Igbos have been marginalised in Nigeria’s polity.
He went on to canvass for the restructuring of the country so as to integrate Igbos into the polity.
The former head of state, who ended the Nigerian civil war with the slogan “No Victor, No Vanquished”, spoke at the debate for national unity with the theme: “ Federal Character, Restructuring and Rotation of Presidential Power in Nigeria” organised by Igbo Leadership Development Foundation in Abuja.
He emphasised that the Igbo nation still remains marginalised 50 years after the civil war.
Gowon, who was represented by a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, appealed for urgent steps to be taken to ameliorate the pains of the Igbo people.
He added that Nigeria has what it takes to cater adequately for all Nigerians irrespective of tribe or creed.
He further canvassed for the convocation of a constitutional debate on restructuring to undertake a holistic correction of the observable imbalances that had kept Nigeria down over the years with a view to making progress and promoting national unity and cohesion.
He said: “I believe that a lot of injustice has been done to the Igbo and a constitutional debate on restructuring must address all imbalances and restore hope and confidence.
“Nigeria is big enough for all of us and I believe that the Ndigbo, Middle belt and the Yoruba are the true Nigerians because if you look round our borders, people came from abroad and are still coming but Ndigbo’s have always been there, middle belt have always been there, even Yoruba have always been there.
“People who came in yesterday who have a duty of respect are now the ones talking. Going forward, we must create a federal democracy that will respond positively to all the aspirations of our people not about East-West but all about working together in equality, bringing in the youths and the women to build a new Nigeria.”
Gowon stressed that Nigeria remains incomplete without Ndigbo, adding that the nation needed to properly harness the intelligence, creativity and hard work of the Ndigbo for national growth and development.
He further said God did not make a mistake by making the Igbo people part of Nigeria and he called for justice, equity and fair play in the practice of Nigeria’s democracy.
He explained that while restructuring was critical to national advancement, it must be carried out in an atmosphere of tolerance and love for one other.