By Chinelo Chikelu
Nigeria’s delegate at the ECOWAS Parliament and member House of Representative, Hon. Linda Ikpeazu, called on the Nigerian government to address issues of discrimination, political imbalance and inequality, the main issues of the agitators of the Biafran State to avoid another civil war.
Ikpeazu who spoke at the ECOWAS parliamentary session, yesterday, which deliberated on ways to resolve internal conflicts within member states in West Africa, drawing from Ireland’s experience, expressed the urgent need to address the existing political situation in the country, at the executive and legislative level of government, at the early signs of the conflict before it erupts into war.
She said although the Nigerian government is working towards addressing issue of discrimination, it can do more to largely address issues raised by agitators including, Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Speaking on the role of legislators on the ongoing conflict, Ikpeazu highlighted the need for direct relations with the parties involved, as well as harmonized activities between south eastern parliamentarians to curb the conflict spill-over to other states of the region.
“What we can as legislators is to engage the people, find out the particular areas of dissension and see if there is a legislation that could be put in place to address that.”
Special guest speaker at the session and EU Special Envoy for the Peace Process in Colombia, Eamon Gilmore, while sharing the Northern Ireland peacebuilding experience with the parliamentarians re-emphasized the importance of governments to nip conflicts at the bud, by prioritizing issues likely to arise to it.
Identifying and addressing causes of conflicts in good time Gilmore says, is a major challenge for political leadership global wise, since “such issues are not always immediately popular or not often the most urgent on the political agenda.”
However, responding to the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representative and the first Deputy Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Hon. Sulaimon Lasun, Gilmore cautioned nations with colonized foundations to not fall victim to their histories.
He recommends Ireland’s example to tackling its conflict by understanding it’s history, how it’s shaped the country and its contribution to the Northern Ireland conflict rather than being trapped by it.
Gilmore averred it is easier for a nation to liberate itself of an older history than a more recent history where involved parties and victims’ griefs are fresh. However, he reiterated that confronting the impact of history on conflict is part of the long and persevering path to peace building.
Meantime at the special session, only four of the thirty-five Nigerian delegation at the ECOWAS parliament were in attendance. This is a new low from the highest record attendance of 10 parliamentarians per session. They include Hon. Linda Ikpeazu, Hon. Sulaimon Lasun, Hon. Nelson Asuquo Effiong, and Hon. Gaza Jonathan Gbefwi.