Former governor of Ebonyi state and one of the delegates from the South East geopolitical zone, Dr. Sam Egwu, has applauded the conference for recommending an additional state for the zone. According to him, the gesture has given the Igbos a sense of belonging in Nigeria.
What has impressed you most of all the recommendations made so far?
What has impressed me is that we are now gradually going to practice a true federalism. As a federal government we should practise what we preached and even in this conference we have agreed that we are going to be a federation and by implication it means we are going to have federating units and the federating units will be the federal and states governments.
So our agreeing to operate a federating unit where power is no longer concentrated in the centre but has devolved to the federating units: states mean we are going to become a true federation. This is why you now have state police, local governments under the states, among others and we have adopted it here at the conference.
But these recommendations seem radical and there are fears out there that they may not see light at the end of the tunnel?
I don’t share this view. Remember when we started the public didn’t give us a chance because they believe we won’t succeed, but we are proving them wrong. Since the decisions of the conference are popular ones I think it will be carried at the end of the day.
When it gets to the National Assembly they are also Nigerians and these are the concerns of Nigerians so I think they will act on them. Besides, these decisions were reached by consensus even though we debated. But it’s all about give and take.
Would you say the South East has got what they wanted?
All along everybody had talked about the South East being shortchanged in our federating unit because of the number of states for the zone. We were glamouring for at least one more state to make six states in the zone. With the recommendation for an additional state, the South East is very happy.
At least we don’t have to look at ourselves as people who are subdued, shortchanged and not part of this country. With one extra state we are at par with some other zones. We can now say we have a sense of belonging.