A Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Nnamdi Onochie, has taken his peace building initiative to traders in Onitsha and other parts of the South East, asking them to embrace peace to make Nigeria stand.
This is contained in a statement made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja.
Onochie had since last month been paying advocacy visits to prominent Nigerians, including traditional rulers and associations, to persuade them to preach unity and oneness among Nigerians in their various domains.
Last month, he was at the palace of the Emir of Katsina, Alhaji Abdulmumini Usman, to persuade the traditional ruler to sensitize his subjects on the need for Nigeria to remain an indivisible entity.
Onochie, speaking when he paid a courtesy visit to the Chairman of Onitsha Amalgamated Traders Association, Chief Nnanyelugo Ekwegbalu, pleaded with the traders to rise and stand with Nigeria at its moment of need.
He noted that the support of traders was needed in the effort to pull Nigeria out of its current travails, saying that unity of purpose was needed to make Nigeria rise again.
Onochie, however, advised the government to take immediate steps to provide a conducive atmosphere for market men and women to thrive in their businesses.
He pointed out that the hallmark of good governance was the enthronement of a congenial environment that would give confidence to local and foreign investors to do business in Nigeria.
“Nigerians need a country where traders will not be harassed or intimidated by anyone, including security agents.
“Prosperity of the business class can only be achieved by freedom to operate and engage in fruitful and legitimate ventures. We need peace and unity to achieve these goals.’’
The multi-lingual politician disclosed that he planned to visit community leaders in the five South Eastern states to advocate peace and to ask traditional rulers to prevail on their subjects to have faith in one Nigeria.
Onochie noted, however, that sustainable peace could only be achieved in Nigeria when every ethnic group respected equity, fairness, justice and fair play as necessary ingredients for national cohesion.
The PDP stalwart noted that the founding fathers of the party had envisaged enduring unity in the country with Article 7, Section 2, Sub-section C of the party’s constitution, which mandated zoning of all the parties and government positions.
“The same provisions are akin to the Federal Character law inserted in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).
“Both provisions provide a buffer of unity, equity and fairness, a bedrock of all federal and multi-ethnic societies.
He argued that the political parties, especially the two dominant ones, should zone their presidential slots to Igbo-speaking areas of the country during the 2023 elections to give the people a sense of belonging in the Nigerian project.
Also speaking, Ekwegbalu said that Onitsha traders would always support a united and indivisible Nigeria, noting, however, that traders in Onitsha expected the presidency to be zoned to Igbo-speaking areas in 2023.
He appealed to the government to introduce policies that would help traders to overcome current hardships facing them, including unfavourable exchange rates and multiple taxations by government agencies.