By Sunny A. Ijomah
The Obi of Onitsha, His Royal Majesty, Igwe Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe lamented that the country is experiencing deep chasms in various aspects of its national life including the political, religious and social aspect of its life.
The Onitsha Monarch said that 70 percent of Nigerians are living below poverty line while small proportion legislators live stupendously opulent lives at home and abroad.
Igwe Achebe disclosed this during his 17 Ofala festival held at the Ime Obi Onitsha, Anambra state, which was attended by important dignitaries from all walks of life including the Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra state.
He further stated that Nigeria is drifting close to precipice in the current administration more than any other time since the Nigeria Biafra civil war.
“Today our country is experiencing deep chasms in various aspect of national life including political, social religious life and indeed, many analysts at home and abroad have characterized our country as drifting closer to the precipice today than any time since the civil war almost fifty years ago.
“It is against this background that we view the forthcoming general election, while the political class are jockeying for and switching positions within and between the political parties for personal gains, there is no clear message on how these parties plan to move the country out of the present quagmire.
“We therefore pray that the election would be free, fair and peaceful, and uphold the principles and tenets of democracy and that the winning party would buckle down to addressing the myriad challenges that face the nation, the most paramount in my mind being income inequality.
“It is regrettable that 70 percent of Nigerians are living below poverty line while a small proportion including the Nigerian legislators, live stupendously opulent lives at home and abroad, globally compared, the minimum wage in Nigeria is among the lowest while our legislators are among the highest paid,” the Onitsha Monarch stressed.
Igwe Achebe noted that “poverty is the most common denominator across Nigerian population, irrespective of ethnic, religious or other affiliations, yet there is rumour that the Federal government is proposing to charge up to N500,000 per session at Federal Universities, thereby disenfranchising the poor class.
“Poverty is fuelled among other factors, by growing unemployment particularly among the youths, and manifests itself in a variety of social ills such as corruption, frustration, and militancy, cultism, drug addiction and armed robbery,” Igwe Achebe said.
The traditional ruler thanked President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal government for signing the agreement and releasing the first trenches of the funds for the second Niger Bridge project, noting that the bridge will be an important asset that will connect all parts of the country.
The twin cities of Onitsha and Asaba will benefit much by becoming more peaceful due to the diversion of thorough traffic away from both city centers by the new bridge, also opportunities for industrial development will abound on the access roads on both sides of the bridge.
“However, as we rejoice on the execution of the contract, we call on the Federal Ministry of Works to accelerate the payment of compensation to communities and stakeholders whose land and properties will be affected by the construction.”
In his speech Governor Willie Obiano expressed satisfaction with the turnout of people to the Ofala festival and called on other traditional rulers in Igbo land to invite dignitaries from all walks of life like Igwe Achebe, to make their own like that of Onitsha.