Nigerian government sets up committee to review ‘indigeneship’

The government says the idea of indigenisation could be discriminatory.

The National Council of State has set up a committee to work towards the abolition of internal indigenisation and citizenship policy.

The Council took the decision to abolish citizen registration at the Extra Ordinary meeting, which was called by the President Goodluck Jonathan to discuss the state of the country, on Thursday.

The Security Council had, a forth night ago, discussed the on-going issues of relocation and indigenes registration in states, especially in the Northern part of the country. It stated that if allowed to continue, the effect may be worse than that of Boko Haram.

Briefing journalists on the outcome of the meeting, the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Godswil Apkabio, said the meeting was one of the most important and frank meeting held in the last five years.

He spoke alongside the Governors of Niger State, Babangida Aliyu; Enugu, Sullivan Chime; and the National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki.

He disclosed that the Council discussed the issue of how Nigerians could actually be Nigerians in their own country, feeling free to live and do their business without molestation.

“Council viewed the report seriously that some citizens were being deported; deportation should be from one country to the other but where you have a Nigerian who is being returned to his state of origin from other states then you know there is a problem. We felt that that was capable of disrupting the unity of the country, making Nigerians to become apprehensive and unsafe,” Mr. Akpabio disclosed.

He said the Council frowned at the idea of registering citizens in any part of the country.

“And so we looked at all these issues and the role every leader should play; from the local government level to the federal level, the role each one of us should play to ensure that we solidify the unity of this country. We also looked at these discriminatory practices across board from all parts of the country – north, south, west and the east – and we felt all those issues must be brought to the front burner, with solutions proffered to ensure that Nigerians are united, live freely and do their businesses without hindrance,” Mr. Akpabio said.

Subsequent to this, he said, a committee of six state governors was set up to discuss with Nigerians and come up with the possible solutions on the way to permanently stop the issue of indigenisation.

The members of the committee included the governors of Sokoto, Niger, Enugu, Akwa Ibom, Ondo and Gombe States: one from each of the six geo-political zones of the country.

The committee would identify discriminatory practices in all states of the federation and in all the local government areas and submit its report to council in the next two months.

“Whether we need to go to the National Assembly, then we will go to the National Assembly. Whether we need to do so through policies at federal, state or local government levels just to make sure that the country is totally united and all those discriminatory practices are brought to an end so that Nigerians can truly feel free and safe to work in any part of the country without hindrance,” he said.

The Niger State governor, Mr. Aliyu, said the discrimination when it came to school fees for indigenes and non-indigenes at state schools also came to the fore at the meeting. Usually “non-indigene” students pay higher than “indigenous” students

“In fact the very concept of indigeneship came to the fore; whether in Nigeria we should be concerned about so called indigeneship or residency,” Mr. Aliyu disclosed.

The NSA, Mr. Dasuki, said that council was worried by the idea of relocating people from any part of the country as this was how the civil war started.

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