Ohanaeze names members of Alaigbo Stabilization Fund
By Chris Njoku, Owerri
Imo State leaders picked former Nigeria Ambassador to the United States, Prof. George Obiozor as their consensus candidate for the next president general of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
Just as the state Governor Hope Uzodimma warned that Ndigbo would not achieve their desire of becoming the president of the country through confrontation.
Prof Obiozor, who hails from Awo-Omamma in Oru East Local Government Area of Imo State was presented to the State Governor Hope Uzodimma at the Exco Chamber Government House, Owerri, as likely successor of the outgoing President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo.
Making the presentation, the Chairman of the Delegation Committee, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, said that many candidates indicated their interest to contest for the position, adding that the committee of 200 eminent Imo leaders picked Prof Obiozor because of his vast experience and acceptability.
“Over 200 Imo leaders met to evacuate the candidates we did a very thorough job and found out that Obiozor is the one that can do the job.
Chairman of CAN, Rev. Eches Eches while confirming the candidate said that the churches were involved in the process adding that there was forthrightness in the process of selecting Prof. Obiozor
Eze Sam Ohiri said from the traditional institution, that the job was sort of a challenge to find somebody that would match the qualities of outgoing president general.
“We asked them to submit their CVS and qualities and saw intimidating quality fixations but after scrutiny we found out that Prof. Obiozor was eminently qualified.
One of the contestants and former Inspector General of Police, Mike Okiro said that we decided to pick the best among the best,
All of them were almost qualified but we were looking for the best we were able to spot Prof. Obiozor whose CV was intimidating. We chose him and everybody accepted our choice”.
In his acceptance speech, Prof. Obiozor thanked Imo people and all stakeholders. He said the decision to contest was a decision not based on self-aggrandizement, adding that his most concern was service to the people.
In his response, Governor Uzodimma said that the decision to present a consensus candidate for the organisation is very laudable.
“The decision of the Imo State chapter of Ohanaeze to present the consensus candidate of this organisation is very laudable, I was taken unaware by their actions, I had no choice but to follow their part.
“By constitution it’s the turn of the State to produce the President General, choice of professor Obiozor is welcomed, he is eminently qualified, by his wealth of experience, his adoption is coming at a critical time in the history of Ndigbo in Nigeria.
He advised Ndigbo to go about seeking for Igbo president with diplomacy and shun confrontational means.
“Igbo is beginning to be aggrieved but we can speak with one voice, I thank you for speaking with one voice, every generation has its own challenges, Ndigbo must navigate with wisdom of Solomon, to achieve this we must be diplomatic and accommodating, a point can be achieved without firing a shot in the air, Yoruba did it without war, they did it with diplomacy, Igbo will not go to war but will pursue it with diplomacy,” Uzodimma said. (The Nation)
…We’ll support them but there must be restructuring — Afenifere
…There must be conditions — Balarabe Musa
…We shall look at presidential candidates when they emerge and evaluate them — ACF
…Let Igbos speak with one voice — PANDEF
Apex Igbo socio-political organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo said yesterday that it had gotten the mandate of the Igbo-speaking states to negotiate with other Nigerians for the president of Igbo extraction in 2023.
Anambra State president of Ohanaeze, Chief Damian Okeke-Ogene said during a press briefing in Awka that the mandate would be pursued with the seriousness it deserved because the South East was the only zone that had not occupied the office of president of Nigeria since the present democratic dispensation began in 1999.
However, different ethnic groups and personalities have reacted to the development with Afenifere saying it would support Igbo Preisdency but noted that there must be restructuring, Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, said it would look at presidential candidates after they had emerged to evaluate them.
According to Ohanaeze, if in 2023, Igbo do not get the president, Ohanaeze would continue with the struggle until it is achieved, recalling that it took the late Nelson Mandela several years of struggle to achieve it in South Africa.
Okeke-Ogene also spoke on the recent attempt by some people, led by a traditional ruler in Anambra State to factionalize Ohanaeze through what he described as a misguided effort to deceive the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, to register a parallel Ohanaeze.
He said: “Ohanaeze Ndigbo is an institution of credibility and repute that spans seven states and beyond and should not for any reason be subjected to ridicule because of selfish interest of self- seeking individuals.
“We want to use this opportunity to advise the said traditional ruler to focus on activities of his kingdom and desist from meddling in the affairs of Ohanaeze so as to protect the integrity of the stool he occupies. I want to assure everybody that Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by Chief Nnia Nwodo remains intact and very strong. We want to use the opportunity to apologize to other Igbo states for this dance of shame.”
He also explained that through the intervention of the elder statesman and first republic minister, Chief Mbazulike Amechi, Ohanaeze and the Indigenous People of Biafra,
IPOB, had resolved their differences and had started working together to achieve the collective agenda for the Igbo.
On the recent misunderstanding between some traditional rulers and the Anambra State government, the Ohanaeze president said: “We want to advise our revered royal fathers to emulate the conduct of the Chairman, Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council and Obi of Onitsha, lgwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, the grand patron of the Council and traditional ruler of Nnewi, lgwe Kenneth Orizu, as well as the traditional ruler of Mbaukwu, Igwe Peter Anugwu, among others and avoid confrontational stance against the state government as there is need to avoid sending wrong signal to the outside world.
“It is necessary to follow laid down processes and procedures in channeling grievances to appropriate authority. We equally want to use this opportunity to urge stakeholders in the state to avoid overheating the polity and creating opportunity for few individuals to hijack the power structure and hold the entire people hostage and in bondage.”
We’ll support them but there must be restructuring — Afenifere
When contacted, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, said though it supports the South East’s agitation, the country must be restructured before the 2023 general elections.
Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said: “We will support the South East to get the Presidency in 2023 provided Nigeria is restructured.
“We have been on the same page with Ohanaeze as far as restructuring is concerned, but if Nigeria goes into any election before carrying out restructuring, it will spell doom for the country.”
There must be conditions — Balarabe Musa
However, Second Republic governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa said majority of Northeners were now in support of the emergence of a President from the Southeast come 2023, particularly of Ndigbo extraction.
According to him, “this time around, it would not be solely an Ndigbo affair, as all Nigerians would participate in selecting the most competent person among the Igbo that will fit the number one seat in Nigeria.
“He must be someone that will bring about peace, justice and equality in the country. He must be someone with the qualities of late Zik of Africa,” he said.
He reiterated that Nigerians would have to participate in choosing an Igbo person with such sterling qualities, who would be President in 2023 unlike in similar exercises.
We shall look at presidential candidates when they emerge and evaluate them — ACF
Reacting, Spokesperson for Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, in a terse statement, said: “ACF believes that it is the constitutional responsibility of political parties to produce candidates. Until they do that, the forum will not interfere in that process. We shall look at the presidential candidates when they emerge and evaluate them at that stage.”
But a chieftain of the ACF, Anthony Sani said Ndigbo has the constitutional right to field a president in 2023.
“The decision by Ohanaeze Ndigbo to field a candidate to contest for the post of president in 2023 is their constitutional right under the nation’s multiparty democracy. They should design their winning game plan and canvass support across the nation, considering the president would preside over the whole Nigeria and not president of Igbos alone.
“And as Ohanaeze canvasses support, they should note that democracy is a contest of ideas and reasons and not a bull fight in a sumo ring. That is to say, in a multi-party democracy, threats and intimidation, nor playing victim with lamentation cannot secure power. Reasoned persuasion of the voters devoid of bellicose and percussive posturing are the instruments, while social skills are the requirements. More so, there is no national consensus on rotation of the president between the North and the South that is binding on the political parties.”
Let Igbos speak with one voice — PANDEF
Also yesterday, the apex socio-cultural group of the South South geopolitical zone, Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, said it will welcome Ohanaeze just as it called on all Igbo leaders and groups to eschew any form of division and support ‘Ohanaeze’ to negotiate with other parts of the country for the 2023 presidency.
National Chairman of PANDEF, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, who gave the advice yesterday in Uyo stressed that Ohanaeze must work together with everybody, including those in government to win the support of other parts of the country.
Nkanga said PANDEF would welcome Ohanaeze when approached because the South South had held that the next president of the country should come from the South East.
His words: “I think what Ohanaeze is trying to do is the right thing and they should have the support of everybody in the Southeast and also in Southern Nigeria. Which other organisation would have done it other than they themselves?
“If they (Igbos) have other organizations, whether women, youth groups, especially those in govermment, they should support Ohanaeze. It should not be while Ohanaeze is negotiating for Igbo presidency, other organizations are negotiating for other regions to take the position. Let the Igbos speak with one voice.For Ohanaeze to succeed, the elders and leaders must make sure they eschew any form of faction in the organization. This is not the time to talk about faction; they should close ranks because when they close ranks they should be able to convince the rest of the country.”
“Though they have not approached us yet on that, Ohaneze will not have problem if they come to us because they are a component of Southern and Middle Belt Forum. And PANDEF over time had supported the idea that we should allow the presidency to come to the South this time.
“And of course if it comes to the South the logical thing will be to allow the Southeast have it. In an open letter our Chairman Board of Trustees,Chief Edwin Clark wrote, he specifically said that the presidency should go to the Southeast” (Vanguard)
‘I used my pension to start AC’ General Joseph Okonkwo Okoloagu (ret.) is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Enugu State. In 2015, Okoloagu contested the senatorial election to represent Enugu North on the platform of the party. In this interview, he speaks on the security challenges facing the nation, his expectations from the Buhari administration and the desire of the Igbo to lead the nation in 2023.
Buhari We have had 20 years of uninterrupted democracy in Nigeria. How far do you think we have gone in our quest for infrastructural development?
Even though this year my party didn’t progress and we also had low key inauguration of the President, I believe we have every cause to celebrate and thank God.
I must confess that there have been ups and downs since 1999 but like former President Olusegun Obasanjo used to say, democracy is better than military regime. l concur even though I am a military man. We have not gotten it right but it is better than ‘militocracy’ because in ‘militocracy’, you don’t have checks and balances where, sometimes, you have to fight and agree to disagree.
l don’t want to sound partisan but there was a time you walk along the streets and picked gold but you didn’t invest. Now, no matter how we criticize Muhammad Buhari, it seems he is giving us a direction. Nigeria now has a direction to achieve her objectives. If you have a vision, there is no way you can accomplish the vision without a mission. We seem to be having a mission now even though it’s not enough. One thing that has become a problem is insecurity. We had 16 years under PDP during which we had petrol dollars in abundance. But it was a period of reckless thievery. I like to refer to two cases in the South-East where road infrastructure and the Second Niger Bridge have been campaign promises since 1999. But whether this administration completes the Second Niger Bridge project or not, the project is gradually becoming a reality.
Meanwhile, road infrastructure is crucial to any form of economic development because if you produce something and you don’t have the road infrastructure to transport it, it’s even better if you have not produced anything.
But if the present government continues the way they are doing on power and road infrastructure, l think we have a direction. And l can tell you that the insecurity we are grappling with is consequent upon the large scale youth unemployment.
What are your expectations from the second term of the Buhari administration?
Naturally, we expect him to build on the foundation he has laid in his first term. I have talked about power and road among other infrastructures. The one I am passionate about as an lgbo man is the Second Niger Bridge. This is a project on which promises have been made by politicians since 1999 and nothing happened. But now the Buhari regime is doing it.
I don’t want to go into the political aspect of it but if there is any Nigerian leader who has been kind to lgbo, it is President Buhari. I can say that without any apologies.
You are a retired general. How do you think we can resolve the insecurity bedevilling the nation?
Honestly speaking, it boils down to the issue l raised about the joblessness of the majority of our youths who are hungry and must eat whether they have to do armed robbery or kidnapping or insurgency. That is why l said there was a time in this country when you walked on the streets and you picked gold and that gold you picked was not invested. Now we are criticising. I believe that in the second coming of Buhari, he has to improve on the security architecture. We must not forget the fact that the boys who have been there for the past four years have been wonderful. l don’t want to sound selfish but l personally want to praise the Chief of the Army Staff under whose watch Nigeria was able to recover 14 local governments from Boko Haram. It is just unfortunate that in the military you can’t go when the ovation is high; it is left for the government that puts you there to decide. So the young man has tried. There are so many young people in the military and the Buhari administration has to tinker with the security architecture. Look for capable people to appoint and even in advanced countries, when you have this kind of humiliating situation, you bring back the people who have played in the system before. Some of us were in the military, keeping peace before. We have been solving other people’s problems and we can’t solve our own. It doesn’t look good at all.
How feasible is lgbo presidency in 2023?
January 2018 was the last time l met with President Buhari when the caucus of South-East APC went to Aso Rock to see him and extract commitment and support for lgbo presidency in 2023 and, in fairness to him, he was open. Why not? He has always admitted that what is good for the goose is also good for the gander. And he doesn’t see why an lgbo man cannot be President in 2023. Now, having said that, let’s talk about the reality. Those of us who moved from AC to ACN and now to APC know that it is not that l hated the popular party of my kinsmen but you can’t put all your eggs in one basket, and that’s why we have not been able to get it right. If the lgbo want a party of their own, they should invest in a particular party and let it control most of the states where we have influence, just like the Yoruba did. But you can say APGA today, tomorrow we are in PDP. There is no direction and you and l are talking about lgbo presidency in 2023. Even sickness has period of gestation.
I have looked at it politically, maturely, militarily and what have you, it’s very doubtful but democracy is a game of numbers. You don’t do ethnic politics like the Yoruba have done, the Hausa have done.
So if the Igbo feel they are strong in the PDP, let them give us an lgbo PDP candidate just like we the lgbo in APC are going to request. If we get it, good but what is even the guarantee that we will make it at the end of the day? Are we going to have the support of the people because some people carry PDP as if it’s a birth right and that has not helped us? One of the things that pain me in election happened in 2015 when l made it clear to my people that if we don’t get into the Senate and the House of Representatives, you have to lobby for appointment and that appointment is of no use because you are appointed at the pleasure of the man who appointed you. But if l, Gen. Okoloagu, is a senator today and l stand on the red carpet, the floor of the Senate and say ‘this is what l want’, l must pursue it. You cannot as an appointee get up and tell the man who appointed you that you want transformer for your people. Are you the one that appointed him or he that appointed you? So, our people are getting it completely wrong, and that is the tragedy of lgbo politics. 2023, l don’t know but all of us in APC are interested in Igbo presidency. If at the primaries we are able to present Igbo candidate, it’s not only the Igbo in APC that will vote for him while the rest will lobby.
And those of them who came from the PDP to APC, l thought they were coming to build the party if they had brought their followers, unless they don’t have followers, because l know the heavy weights that defected from PDP to APC.
The structure of Accord Party, AC, was my personal effort. I used my pension to start AC (in Enugu) and sustained it from AC to ACN and from ACN to APC. I thought my relief had come. But did we fare better in 2019 than we did 2015 when we didn’t have them? It is not as if l don’t want lgbo presidency in 2023 but one thing l know is that the Constitution makes democracy a game of numbers. So we must fight for it. I would love to see lgbo president in my lifetime. But you cannot desire something without working for it. All I am telling the lgbo is to work for it and we will get it.
What is your take on restructuring?
We don’t have a choice over restructuring. This country must be restructured. And restructuring has commenced. Now you can see fiscal independence of local governments’ autonomy which is one of the key legs of restructuring. APC is for restructuring which has started but what Nigerians should not ask from APC is the military form of restructuring. State police? I am for it. With time we will get there. There was a time l used to disagree with people on the killings in the North where they said Christians were being killed. How many Christians are there? All I am saying is that state police must be established.
Your kinsman Governor lfeanyi Ugwuanyi was inaugurated for the second time on May 29. What is your advice to him?
Hon. lfeanyi Ugwuanyi should continue whatever thing he is doing that he considers good for his people and those things he has not addressed his mind to which his people want. He should take road infrastructure. Okoloagu Street at Independence Layout, it was former Governor Chime that graded it but erosion has taken over now. These are some of the things we want the state government to do for us because we pay tax. (Vanguard)
Subscribe to The Republican News. Advertise with us. Call us for press release, enquiries. Email: RepublicanNewsNetwork1@gmail.com, phone: +32497220468, +23481819650279, +32466100102
Imo guber : We’ll resist the imposition of Okorocha’s son-in-law
The former governor of Imo State, Chief Achike Udenwa has expressed worries over the spate of violence in the country. He believes that the All Progressives Congress(APC) has no solutions to the situation. In this interview with WILLY EYA, he spoke on various issues including the determination of people of Imo State to resist the imposition of Governor Rochas Okorocha’s son-in-law, Mr Uche Nwosu on the state.
How do you feel about the state of affairs in the country today especially with the spate of violence and wanton killings in Nigeria ahead of the 2019 general elections?
The state of the nation is nothing to write home about. There is so much suffering in the land. A lot of people are not employed. The prices of goods are rising so much and the people are earning so little. In the country today, everybody is crying. I think that is because of the government’s inability to grasp the situation. The government seems not to know exactly what to do. All these culminate in the level of violence you witness in the country. If youths are unemployed, they could easily engage in all sorts of crimes. If the youth are gainfully employed, we would not have the level of insecurity that we have in the country today. That is the situation we have on our hands and it is very unfortunate.
But even with all these happening under the All Progressives Congress(APC), do you think Nigerians would be ready to go back to your party, PDP in the next general elections?
I think Nigerians would go back to the PDP because just compare what happened when the PDP was in power to what is happening now. I am not saying we are perfect but we did not have the level of suffering that we are having in the country today. It is not that the PDP was perfect but whatever was our own shortcoming, I believe by now, we have learnt our lessons and we would be ready to make amends. The sufferings cannot continue as it is today. We cannot vote for the APC forever. By the time the APC was coming in, they promised heaven on earth. They promised for instance that electricity would improve substantially. They promised improved infrastructure, employment and even security. And three years after, we have seen today that all the promises have come to nothing. Not even one of the sectors they made promises on has improved. They have not improved employment, the supply of electricity, infrastructure, security, prices of commodities and so on. So we have not witnessed improvement anywhere. The worst thing that is happening to us in this country today is the issue of insecurity of lives and properties of the people. Insecurity is on the increase on a daily basis. It is astonishing that every day, you hear that 20 people have been killed here, and 30 people have been killed there, and so on. It is as if we do not value the lives of human beings again. It is not pardonable for a nation to even lose one person carelessly and not to talk about losing 100 people. I do not know where Nigeria is heading. So, with the situation on the ground, Nigerians can no longer leave their country for the APC. If we do that, we are all doomed.
With your vantage position after eight years experience as governor, one area I would like you to talk about is on the fragile national unity that we are experiencing since President Muhammadu Buhari came on board. Nigerians have never been this divided since after the civil war. What in your view is the problem?
The answer is very simple; if we leave Nigeria the way she is today, with all the ethnic and religious divisions, I can tell you that we are heading to a disaster. It is not a situation we should joke with. But I am sure that if the PDP comes back to power, we would not allow this to continue. We cannot definitely allow this level of ethnic and religious divisions to continue. The PDP was in power from 1999 to 2015, but there was no time that we had this kind of ethnic and religious division. We know exactly that in Nigeria, we have several tribes and different religions. There are even some other religions but all of these existed side by side without problems. But what is happening in the country today emphasizes our religious and tribal differences. That is not how to build a nation; that is not the way to go and that would not lead us anywhere. It can only lead us to chaos. So, if the PDP comes to power in 2019, I am sure we would check that drift. I do not think that anybody in his right senses should be a religious bigot or a tribal chauvinist. Your tribe and your religion to the PDP do not matter because they are personal to you. Your religion is between you and God. But the way we have emphasised our religion and tribal differences in the current administration has never happened in Nigeria before. Today, watch the appointments when they are made, you would see that the bulk of the appointments comes from one side. The other time, somebody was analyzing it in the media, when the security council of the country is sitting, no person from the South East, a whole region would be there. I think the South-South has one person and the South West has one other person. The rest are from the North. This has never happened before. It should not be allowed to continue. I am not saying that people from the North should not be there but in terms of competence, I do not believe that the other zones from the country do not have competent people to be there. In terms of ethnic balancing, the whole country should be represented. These are ways of dousing tension. Now, we talk about federal character. We should not only talk about federal character when it is only convenient for a particular section of the country. We should talk of federal character in a holistic manner. There are federal appointments that you want to make, even if all the competent people are from one region, as long as we are practising the federal character principle, everybody should be carried along. These are very simple issues to deal with. It is just that those who are in power today do not want to deal with them.
You are sounding optimistic that the PDP may bounce back to power in 2019 but what do you make of the defections of some key members of your party to the Social Democratic Party (SDP), APCand other parties? I am talking about names like Prof Jerry Ghana, Prof Adeniran among others.
Defections are happening right, left and centre. While some are defecting from the PDP to other parties, some are also leaving other parties to the PDP. So, the defections do not worry us at all. Prof Gana and Prof Adeniran that you just mentioned, these are my two very good friends and the reasons that they are giving come from the last national convention of the party. But while they are not satisfied with what happened within the party during the convention but the party leadership has also tried to talk to them not to be angry but help in putting the party together. Even with that, for reasons best known to them, they left. But I can tell you that as they are going, other people are also coming into the PDP. I can tell you that the level of defections out of the PDP is not as much as the level of those coming into the PDP. So, at the end of the day, I do not think that it would drastically affect the fortunes of the PDP. But I must say that the two of them are eminent members of the party. At the same time, that does not mean that if they defect to other parties that the PDP cannot move forward. So many are coming into the PDP, and not the APC. The ruling party, the APC is in shambles. Despite the fact that they are in government, the party is in shambles. And if you watch their own defections, in the next two to three months, their defections would be much more than whatever happened in the PDP. I think that despite the setbacks that we are having, the PDP is getting stronger and stronger. We have passed our worst period. We can only but go up again.
What is your take on the reordering of election schedule by the National Assembly? Do you agree with those who hold the view that the move is targeted at the President?
I do not think that the move to reorder the election is personal. It is not targeted at the president. In 1999 when we contested elections, the order of elections as far as I can remember was just like what the National Assembly is saying now. It was changed somewhere along the line. The important thing is that the National Assembly has the powers to do that. If they have the powers to reorder the elections, I do not see how it is targeted at anybody.
What is your take on the position by some people that restructuring of the nation should be carried out before the general elections?
I feel that restructuring should be done before the 2019 general elections but now it is clear that the APC government does not want to restructure the country. It would have been the ideal thing to restructure the country before the election. I can assure you that when the PDP takes over the government, to restructure the country would be our first assignment. The APC manifesto with which they won the 2015 presidential election talked about restructuring and they sold this manifesto to Nigerians and Nigerians voted for them based on their own manifesto. But you can see that the way they have treated the issue of restructuring up till now tells you that the APC is not a serious party. The APC is not a party you can trust. With the problems Nigeria is having, you cannot trust the party because they cannot come up with solutions to our problems. Look at all the promises they made before the elections; tell me which one they have fulfilled; none. I can assure you that the PDP is firm on restructuring and it is paramount to the party. But if they fail to do that, we cannot say there would not be an election without restructuring. I do not support that but the thing is that it is ideal to have restructuring before the elections. But if they want to have the elections without restructuring, we leave it to when the PDP comes to power. I was a member of the 2014 National Conference and in all the recommendations, the restructuring was on the front burner. We all agreed that it is the only way we can move forward in this country. But the APC is not ready for restructuring, so I do not see how we can entrust the governance of this country in the hands of the APC any more. They cannot be trusted. At the National Conference, people gathered from all walks of life and if you know the basis of selecting the delegates of the conference, you would know that every part of this country was represented. All classes of people including market women were represented. The civil society was very well represented. The traditional institution was well represented. We made very serious deliberations to arrive at the report that we have but unfortunately, this government has said no to restructuring. They came with a cosmetic report the other time and said it was the APC programme on restructuring. Do you think that they are serious about restructuring? After how many days, you are bringing out a wishy-washy report on restructuring; what are you going to restructure? That tells you that these people do not want to restructure but we believe that Nigeria must be restructured. That is what all sections of Nigeria are saying.
As one of the leaders in the South East zone, what type of politics should the Igbo play ahead of next year’s general elections? Do you agree with those who argue that voting for Buhari is the easiest way for the South East to produce the president of this country?
Saying that voting for Buhari is the easiest way for the Igbo to produce the president of this country is arrant nonsense. If you like, give Buhari 100 percent vote, it would not improve your chances of producing the president of this country. These are all gimmicks. The Igbo should vote for a party that believes in restructuring, a party that generally believes in Nigeria’s unity, a party that genuinely believes that every Nigerian is equal, a party that believes that every Nigerian irrespective of where you come from have equal rights. That is what the Igbo should vote for and not be talking about voting for the APC because you want to be president in 2023. That does not hold anywhere and those who are saying it know that they are not serious. Even our brothers who are saying it know that they are not serious. Go and ask our brothers who went to the APC about their fate in the party. They have no place there. They are not usually there when decisions are being taken. They are not consulted when decisions are made no matter how highly placed they may be.
In view of the tension and the state of affairs in the country, what are your worst fears about Nigeria?
My worst fears about the country are that if we do not take time, and these killings continue unchecked, it could result in an insurrection that would be worse than the last civil war in Nigeria. Anybody who fought the last civil war would never wish that it could come to Nigeria again. The last civil war even had boundaries; the worst would be when we would not have boundaries and everywhere would become a battlefield. Nobody will be safe. That is my worst fear. I pray that all of us should put our differences and selfishness aside and look at Nigeria as our country. We should try and carry everybody along. Once we have equity, justice and fair play, the tension in the country would come down. But as long as people feel completely neglected and marginalized in some places becoming a permanent battlefield, there would not be peace. In the country now, everywhere you hear of Internally Displaced Persons(IDPs). In Plateau, Adamawa, Borno, Benue, Nasarrawa, Yobe, Taraba and so on, the story is the same of the IDPs. And what are IDPs? They are what we used to call the refugee camps during the civil war. But IDP is a new baptism for refugees. These things should not exist in our country. The more we have these features, the bleaker our future will be. Let us remove ethnicity and religion in our politics and build our own country. Nigeria can be a great country. I was one of those who thought that with Buhari coming in, there would be discipline in the country. I must say that he has got discipline but with what is happening now in the country, I do not know whether he is in charge. I thought that with his discipline, Nigeria would be taken to the next level but instead, the country is moving backwards. We are retrogressing. Let every Nigerian not think of his tribe or religion but the nation unless we want to go our own ways, which I do not support. I still believe in Nigeria but I believe in a restructured Nigeria. I believe in a Nigeria with equal opportunities for her citizens. I believe in a Nigeria where everybody would put his best.
You were governor of Imo for eight years and your state has been in the news for many controversial reasons. The most recent controversy is the endorsement of the Imo Chief of Staff, Uche Nwosu, by Governor Rochas Okorocha. As a son-in-law to the governor, his candidacy is generating furore, are you comfortable with the development?
It boils down to the fact that our governor has no direction. His son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, I must concede to him is a Nigerian, an Imo indigene and he is constitutionally qualified to contest for any position he wants but the issue of the governor trying to impose him, that is neither here nor there. I can assure you it would not happen in Imo State. If you listened to the media when the governor was sharing positions, you would know how naïve he is. He said his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu would become the governor, he would be the Senator for Orlu zone, and he has appointed the Senator for Owerri, he has appointed House of Representatives member for part of Okigwe and so on. He was distributing democratically elective positions. Does it ever happen anywhere? Under which platform is he standing to distribute elective positions? He is not even talking of those people being the candidates of his party. He is talking about the person that would become governor, the person that would go to the Senate and so on. Is it done anywhere? It tells you the level of madness we are having in that state but Imo people are not fools. I can tell you that Imo people would stand against it and I can assure you that it cannot happen in Imo. If it happens in Imo, then it means that there is nobody there again. The young man is qualified to contest as governor of Imo State but for Okorocha to say it must be him is the height of foolhardiness.
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohaneze Ndigbo said it has been strategising to produce a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction in the near future.
The President of Ohaneze Ndigbo in Anambra, Mr Damian Okeke-Ogene, said this in an interview with newsmen on Tuesday in Awka.
Okeke-Ogene said the Chief Nnia Nwodo-led executive of the body would address the problems of the Igbos and pursue its agenda, including producing a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction.
He disclosed that the president of the parent body was presently consulting across ethnic divides with a view to forging an understanding with other Nigerians.
“This present Ohaneze is not the one you used to know; the executive of Ohaneze is ready to pursue Igbo agenda of which the Igbo presidency is part of it. “The Ohaneze president is consulting widely among the different tribes and ethnic groupings in the country. (thenigerian.ng)
National Conference report clear on ailing president
By Lawrence Enyogahsu
Chief Goddy Uwazurike, President Emeritus of Aka Ikenga and a delegate at the last National Conference has stated that the report of the last national conference stipulated how long a president could be declared ill. He also said the clamour for Igbo presidency clamoured was in order, but that it would not favour the region.
According to Professor Ango Abdullahi, the North is ready for secession. Does it mean that they have come to terms that the country will be better off if its federating units choose to go their separate ways?
Prof Abdullahi is misleading us when he said the North is ready to secede. There is no ‘One North.’ Those that have been ruling Nigeria are the Hausa-Fulani. Military power resides with the Kanuris. In this government, the Fulani’s are fully in charge. So, when they say ‘We, the north,’ I am sure they are not talking for the Berom and those that have been slaughtered in Benue and southern Kaduna, they are not talking for the Tivs and Idomas. When someone sits in Zaria where he was once a Vice Chancellor and makes such a comment, he is just grandstanding. What I understood from what he said is that rather than allow the power to come to the south, the north will secede and I dare him to do so.
I dare him to really speak for the north, but I know he does not, and he won’t. He knows that the north needs the south. The economic power of this country rest in the south, even though the operators of those economic powers are from the north, by this, I mean the oil bloc. As long as the economic power is in the south and the political power in the hands of the Hausa-Fulani, there is nothing like secession for the north. To be real, where will their boundary be, when in almost every state you have pockets of Hausa-Fulani? They use these pockets to control the indigenes. This shouldn’t be. There must be power sharing. Power does not belong to anybody. Power must go round.
As you said that power must go round, do you think 2019 is South-East’s turn or should they wait for 2023?
2019 is achievable. I can tell you, in the struggle for power, nothing is impossible. You must say “I am” before people say “you are.” In other words, we from the southeast, we are ready. All we ask is the same understanding that was used in 1999 that produced Olusegun Obasanjo and Olu Falae, the same understanding that produced Muhammadu Buhari and Yar’Adua. We are not asking for much. Igbos are downtrodden. They are looking through the glass ceiling, while their counterparts from other ethnicities climb higher. They are denied for no better reason than where they come from. 2019 is achievable. I stand by it.
How can you say that Igbos are ready when some of them are already saying they should wait for 2023?
I thank God that I don’t belong to any political party so I can speak freely unlike Governor Rochas Okorocha who can’t speak freely. Whatever he says would be perceived as him speaking the mind of the party. As it is today, APC is still looking up to the man whose whereabouts is unknown expect that the man says he has extended his leave. Rochas can’t speak for Ndigbo. Igbos know themselves and they know their leaders and we speak with one voice, forget that once in a while we have some persons that will fall off the line and gesticulate as if Ndigbo is their command.
Who and what political pedigrees will Ndigbo consider in making a choice for 2019?
I don’t think there is anything exceptional about Ndigbo producing a president. But I say the person must be of Igbo origin, intelligent and wise to listen to the voice of the people. He must be sociable because Ndigbo alone can’t make him president. He must be ready to assuage the fears of the people. Igbos have built wealth for themselves with little or no government help; other tribes built with government loans and grants, not the Igbos. For these, he needs to be ready to allow others learn from him. An average Igbo man is hard working; it is that hard work he is bringing to the government. He would not relent because he knows that he is carrying the image of the entire Igbo race.
Can Igbo save this country from recession?
This I tell you, when an Igbo man becomes the president of this country, he would create a level playing ground. He is not going to favour Ndigbo with export grant. He would favour all that wants to establish here in the country. All an Igbo man wants is electricity and roads. It is painfully these are the things missing in the country, most especially in the south-east. These roads are federal roads, not states road. Therefore, if you provide the appropriate electricity, the Igbo man will do wonders. He does not need to travel to Lagos or Abuja for contracts. Igbo suffers for everything in this country and still makes it. What most people don’t like about the Igbo man is that he does not forgets where he is from. It is also in the nature of an Igbo man to be outspoken when things do not favour him.
Speaking of being outspoken, different groups have joined the southeast in demanding for a better Nigeria. Why are men of God not protesting?
That is not true, in my church last Sunday when the priest was preaching, anger was written all over him. He was asking why these people decided to kill us over faith. Many have asked the people to protect themselves. Let me put it this way, it is the primary responsibility of the government to protect the people. It is there in the constitution of the country, they see it, but when they are in office, they become blind towards it. Look at the man in Kaduna State telling us how he paid off those who were killing people. He didn’t arrest them, he paid them off. Other are there justifying the killings. Like he said some years ago, that some of those who were killed previously offended their killers. In the court, killing is murder and to the best of my knowledge, no Fulani person is facing trial for the atrocities they are committing. The same federal government that declared that these people are not Nigerians did nothing but watching. What is the DSS doing? If these marauding killers are not Nigerians, the government needs to send the military after them because what they did is invasion. They are invading part of Nigeria. The military should go after the invaders and leave pastors and Biafra agitators alone.
If it is in the constitution that invaders should be tackled with the military, is it in our constitution that the senate can relieve President Buhari of his office over his unknown health status?
I will give you a straight forward answer. The president rules under the constitution until his term of office expires, or he resigns, or he is impeached. Impeachment is the one that requires explanation. There are two types of impeachment. There is one that can be initiated in the National Assembly which needs a vote of one-third of the house to commence procedures and a finally two-third vote to implement it.
The other instance is where the president is ill and unable to perform his duties as president. In such case, the cabinet is mandated to pass a resolution by a certain number and taken to the National Assembly where a panel would be set up and doctors, including the personal physician of the president will verify his health status. If they find out that the president is ill, then the same National Assembly will vote. In all of this, there is always a role to be played by the chief justice of the country. As it is today, under our constitution, the president is expected to transmit power to the vice president. We thank God he has done that, but only for him to extend it, this time, indefinitely. At the national conference, we deliberated on this and we made it very clear that it is not supposed to be ad infinitum as is the case now. Unfortunately, the national conference findings have not been