“We want a constitution that works for us, that accommodates us as equal citizens, that guarantees us justice, equity and fair play, a constitution that makes us proud to be Nigerians,” Uzodinma said before the House of Representatives Committee on Constitution Amendment in Owerri on Wednesday.
“Broadly speaking, our people want a constitution that devolves more power to the federating units, that gives vent to restructuring, that allows for greater autonomy without losing the essence of the federation. In whatever name that it is called, we need a constitution that will make us stay together as one country comfortably,” he said.
The governor noted that Nigerians everywhere wanted a country that would accommodate their legitimate desires without compromising the rights of others. He was hopeful that the ongoing constitutional review would address the fears and expectations of all Nigerians.
He said the leadership of the South-East had reiterated the region’s allegiance to the Nigerian state during a meeting last week with the delegation of the Federal Government led by Nigerian Minister of Defence Bashir Salihi Magashi.
He noted that the meeting reaffirmed that the region longed for an equitable country where youths would not get conflicting signals of being second-class citizens irrespective of where they were from as Nigerians.
“For us in the South-East, we have made it abundantly clear that we believe in a united Nigeria that works for the benefit of all. Last week, when the leaders of the South East met with the presidential delegation led by the Hon Minister of Defence, we reiterated our stand that we do not support secession. We also reaffirmed our quest for an equitable country where our youths do not get conflicting signals of being second-class citizens.
“Fortunately, we are in a democracy where questions of doubt are resolved through dialogue and robust debate and not through violence or insurrection. That is why this public hearing is most auspicious for the people of the South-East.
“I am sure that Ohanaeze Ndigbo on behalf of Igbos would canvass our position before you. I am also sure that various interest groups would also canvass their various positions. That is the beauty of democracy. Plurality of ideas distilled in a democratic ambient makes for a strong government.”
Uzodinma also noted that the worries and the ongoing tension in the South-East would be put to rest if a sixth state was created from the region.
“But I think that Ndigbo will begin to see equity in action when an amended constitution of the Federal Republic gives birth to a sixth state for them. This will go a long way to assuaging their present worries.
“Put succinctly, our people want a constitutional guarantee of their inalienable rights as citizens, and that must include a palpable sense of justice, equity and fairness. I dare say that a sixth state will go a long way in this regard.”
He called on all Nigerians to take advantage of the constitutional review to express their misgivings so that the nation could make progress.