The National Integration Forum (NIF), an association of non-indigenes residing outside their states of origin throughout Nigeria, has called on the Federal Government to abolish ‘state of origin’ factor in all government considerations.
The forum made the call at the weekend at its annual conference in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
Addressing the conference, the forum’s National President, Dr Camillus Asumo, said using ‘state of origin’ as a factor in taking decisions by the government promotes mediocrity above merit, adding that it further divides Nigerians.
He argued that the provision of the constitution that any citizen who has resided and paid tax in any part of Nigeria for a given number of years should prevail over ‘state of origin’ consideration because it will enhance national integration and encourage every Nigerian to contribute their best to wherever they choose as home.
He said that millions of non-Indigenes are negatively affected by the ‘state of origin’ policy which he said creates identity problem for them as they are neither accepted at their places of residence nor where their parents hail from.
His words: “ State of origin should be removed and be replaced with state of residence. It should be removed from all official documents to foster national integration. The Nigerian constitution states that if you have lived in a place for a number of years, you have become part of that place. So, you are entitled to enjoy all your rights as a Nigerian citizen there.
“As non-indigenes, we don’t enjoy our fair share as citizens in our places of residence simply because people say we were not born by the natives of the places. This is in spite of our huge number and contributions to the economic development of the places
“We believe that we are all Nigerians regardless of where we live. All citizens should enjoys all rights as enshrined in the constitution. We should be allowed to contest for the highest position anywhere in Nigeria.
“We are the farmers, traders, professionals and artisans. We believe we are being unfairly treated in many states. So, we demand respect.
“God made this nation great by bring people of different tongues, religions and origins together as one country. Yet we have bonded in spite of our differences.”
The forum also posited that Nigeria should be restructured in a way that will make the local government the basis of governance and development efforts. It argued that the local government is the closest to the people, hence, it should enjoy the freedom to generate its own resources and contribute to the state and the centre.
This way, the forum argued power and governance will not be concentrated at the centre.
The Seriki Hausawa of Ibadan land, Ahmad Zingeru, also lent his voice to the position of the forum, stressing that all citizens of the country should enjoy freedom to be their best wherever they choose to live in Nigeria.