Our dear brothers, sisters and In-laws,
1. I write to reiterate our firm belief in the concept and country Nigeria which has lasted centuries but amalgamated about 100 years ago. We are woven by the similarity of our skin, cultures, traditions and most importantly our collective affinity as a conglomeration of people who through dint of perseverance and camaraderie fought and gained our independence on October 1, 1960. An indelible and watershed event in our match to nationhood with The Right Hon, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as first President and Alhaji Tafawa Balewa as Prime Minister.
2. Unfortunately, we encountered a Civil War (1967-1970) which almost dissipated our collective will and determination to live and survive as a nation, indivisible and with equal opportunity to all. However, following our spartan and stoic spirits as a people of indomitable and inimitable belief and will, we weathered the storm with equanimity and forged ahead as “No Winner, No Vanquished”.
3. It is debatable that the process of reintegration and reconstruction of Ndigbo hemisphere hasn’t been as rapid, sporadic and superbly gainful as may have been desired. However, the political process of equal political opportunity has yielded a Vice Presidency of Dr. Alex Ekwueme , Speaker Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, Senate Presidency of Pius Ayim Pius and others. This is not to say that these are the best heights that can only be achievable for the generality of Ndigbo with over 50 million in population.
4. Moreover, a large number of Ndigbo are living in all parts of Nigeria with great business and progressive acumen. This situation had gone on for long without rancour and bitterness until the very evil and fundamental religious sects creeped in to attempt to divide us along religious lines.
5. We believe firmly and sternly in the inalienable rights of anyone and everyone to practice and associate themselves to the worship of whichever divine authority they so desire without any iota of disturbance, discrimination, disdain or malice. Atiku will be a President that ensures the sanctity of religious rights and places of worship throughout the length and breadth of Nigeria. No religion should be coercive or an attempt to devour, embed or erase any other. Atiku will stand to protect and provide all enabling environment which will uphold such rights without fear or favour.
6. Atiku is an incurable democrat and cannot trade freedom of speech and association with tyranny and despotism. He do not believe or will ever practice the detention and illegal jailing of lawful dissent or association. Anyone or groups are allowed to espouse their creed and beliefs in manners consistent with non-violence, hate and peaceful coexistence and bonding.
7. One of Atiku’s cardinal principles of leadership has been his consistent call for the establishment and practice of true Federalism through Restructuring of Nigeria. The epidemic of federal take-over of state and voluntary organisations, schools and hospitals which began in the 1970’s must be reversed. Some of what his ideas of restructuring involve require constitutional amendment; some do not. Take education and roads for instance. The federal government can immediately start the process of transferring federal roads to the state governments along with the resources it expends on them.
8. It would mean, by implication, the reduction of the powers and roles of the federal government so that it would concentrate only on those matters that could best be handled by the centre such as defence, foreign policy, monetary and fiscal policies, immigration, customs and excise, aviation as well as setting and enforcing national standards on such matters as education, health and safety. The federal government can voluntarily withdraw from most of the items listed in the very thin concurrent legislative list of our constitution. Atiku believe that the benefits accruing from these first steps will help us as we move towards the changes that require amendments to our constitution. The country can be restructured in six months, all you have to do is return the items on the concurrent list to the states.
9. Atiku is an Igbo man by family affiliation to his wife and children with heritage from Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria. He has lived a life of inclusion, multiculturism and integration with people of all class, colour or creed. He do not know, practice or encourage discrimination of any sorts. He understand that every society has its ethos, mores and traditions that must be evenly respected and not tarnished. He is fervently inclined to ensuring that Ndigbo will have equal and every opportunity that is derivable under his leadership. He believe as Chinua Achebe said that the reason everyone gathers in the village square is not because we do not have foods in our homes, but if affords us the chance to commune, collaborate and consummate friendships and community.
10. Atiku will be clear in addressing the issue of herdsmen and flock. We have existed together in years past without rancid rancour. What most Nigerians don’t know is that there’s an existing law on open grazing in Nigeria. Hon.Justice Adewale Thompson’s 1969 Judgment on Open Cattle Grazing – Suit no AB/26/66,17th April,1969 at Abeokuta Division of the High Court. ” He do not accept the contention of Defendants that a custom exists which imposes an obligation on the owner of farm to fence his farm whilst the owner of cattle allows his cattle to wander like pests and cause damage. Such a custom if it exists, is unreasonable and he hold that it is repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience and therefore unenforceable…in that it is highly unreasonable to impose the burden of fencing a farm on the farmer without the corresponding obligation on the cattle owner to fence in his cattle.” Sequence to that he ban open grazing for it is inimical to peace and tranquillity and the cattle owners must fence or ranch their animals for peace to reign in these communities.”
11. He will work in tandem, immediately with the National and state assemblies to create cattle ranching for herds and to be rehabilitated under hygienic, expansive and more convenient environment which will facilitate the ease of movement and control of wandering and resultant destruction of farmlands and properties of other citizens. He is of the sound opinion that this will go a long way in solving this very tasking issue now and for all times.
12. In sum, I appeal for calm and understanding with our Ndigbo family and pledge on our honour to do good to all manner of men and women. Atiku will not renege or vacillate on this promise to help build a virile, viable and sustainable country where everyone will be a proud Nigerian.
Thank you most candidly.
Amb Aliyu Bin Abbas is National Chairman,
Atiku Care Foundation
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