An ex-governor of Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Ezeife, during an interview on the outcome of the Ndigbo meeting held in Owerri, Imo State, said that from all indications, President Muhammadu Buhari is pushing Ndigbo farther away from Nigeria.
He also accused Buhari of corrupting the country’s constitution.
Ezeife shared what was discussed in the meeting in Owerri with governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State. Below is the excerpt from the Interview.
On Unity and Restructuring of Nigeria
The unity of Nigeria may be un-negotiable, but that is not the problem, the problem is do you want Nigeria as one or do you want the disintegration of Nigeria? If the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable, then restructuring the country cannot be negotiable because that is the only guarantee for the unity of Nigeria.
What we have now is a unity government for a diverse people. Diverse in culture, including religion and many grounds. You must respect the pluralism of Nigeria.
Speaking on the cultural diversity in Nigeria
If you have six federating units, then, you guarantee the survival of Nigeria in many ways. Cultural diversity is taken care of, economic feasibility is taken care of. Right now, we have 36 states, most of which are not feasible economically. That is why we are borrowing money for salaries. Is it not a problem now; are we not borrowing money for salaries?
During the 2014 conference, another 18 states were proposed and the proposal was to improve the unity of Nigeria by respecting diverse groups who want to stay together on their own but within the federal government. If 36 states are said to be unfeasible, what about adding 18 more?
But with six geopolitical zones as federating units, you can even have 100 states, but they will not be called states. Any name you call them they can take, but you scale down seriously, they can be provincial government, they can be anything you call them, they may even be local governments.
On Increased Competition in Education
Do you know that in this Nigeria, there is a state where a child must score 139 points in order to qualify to enter a secondary school, while from another state, you will have nine points?
For a child from Anambra state to attend federal college, he or she must score 139, that is the highest. But when you go round, some states are nine points, some two. This is very diverse and it is not even helping anybody. So, if you have geopolitical zones as federating units there will be increased competition. Within the zone, there will be fair standards. There will be increased pressure to score well or you will not qualify.
But once it is Nigeria, you will hear, how can you allow Igbo or the Anambra indigenes to fill the school and Sokoto will not come even if they don’t score anything? What kind of Nigeria are we running?
God created Nigeria and endowed resources on her, for unmatched greatness. I don’t know what country in this our world that is more favoured than Nigeria. Here, I can step out in the open naked; I will not die. But go to Europe and step out in the snow, you will quench in a short time. Look at resources, any plant that can grow anywhere in this world can grow in Nigeria. We have mineral resources in surplus, and when we talk about minerals, it is not just coal and crude oil, we are talking about gemstones, gold, silver, aqua marine, sapphire of highest quality, etc.
Anybody who thinks clearly will see this point that God appears to intend Nigeria to be big brother and rallying point for all blacks on earth. We are the largest concentration of blacks on earth. Therefore, with the resources we are given, and with the way we have escaped natural disasters like earthquakes, volcano, hurricanes,etc, we are supposed to develop into a super power. The role of Nigeria is to wipe out the shame of slavery from the face of every black man. That is our manifest destiny.
On other issues discussed at the Owerri meeting
We discussed the problem that the South East is facing in today’s Nigeria. The problem of hatred from Mr. President.
At the beginning, not everybody saw it. I saw it early enough and thinking it was a mistake and not a deliberate action, I started shouting, ‘We have not been taken here, we have not been taken there, you have appointed 10 persons nobody from Southeast; you have appointed 20 people nobody is from Southeast, you have appointed 25, 30, 40 going further we have nobody, no soul from the Southeast.
So, I realized it is beyond a mistake. I thought it was a mistake and since I believe that the person who is President must have conscience, I was raising his consciousness to the mistake so that he can correct it even the ones I tell you to write, you will find that everything I was saying is true. Instead of being taken seriously for amendment to be made, I was called enemy of the North and enemy of Buhari. So, these days, I am not talking too much again, I am talking about Nigeria.
When asked how President Buhari is Pushing the Ndigbo Out
All these I have been saying ‘no de make wave in your ears at all? First, he swore the oath to protect and defend the constitution, he is not defending the constitution, he is not offering any job to people from the Southeast. That is called denial, he is corrupting the constitution through the appointments he is making and the best policy Buhari is known for is anti-corruption policy.
He is corrupting the policy he rolled out in many ways. One of these is unfairness in the distribution of jobs. As I am talking to you now, people sit in national security council of Nigeria, the Igbo are described as one of the third legs of the tripod in Nigeria, not one Igbo is in the national security council. You don’t kill people and expect them to be with you. The Nigerian Army massacred our people in Aba, they also massacred our people who carried the Bible to go and do memorial service in Onitsha area. Fulani herdsmen went and killed our people in Enugu.
Olisa Metuh was going to court handcuffed when people who have greater charges against them, were swaggering into the court. What are you telling his people? So, please, I am no longer interested in blaming Buhari, all I am interested now is asking Nigerians from all parts of the country to pray for Buhari because he is the President. May God give him the idea to change, may God direct him to the right path of Nigeria’s developmental governance. That is my prayer and I will appeal to everybody to forget criticising Buhari. We have seen that he doesn’t absorb criticism, so why do we keep calling him names if he doesn’t recognise what you are saying.
On Igbo’s Culture and tradition
Igbo people are not building everywhere for nothing, it is our culture and tradition. There is an Igbo adage which says, “Ebe onye bi ka ona awachi” (where you live, you mend). Essentially, where you live you build, where you live you take care of the interest of that place.
So, if you push the Igbo out of Nigeria like Buhari is doing; pushing Ndigbo hard to leave Nigeria and then he turns back to say that the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable, what kind of nonsense is that? You are pushing some parts of Nigeria out of Nigeria and you are turning around to extol the unity of Nigeria.
On how elders of Southeast can organise Ndigbo to speak with one voice
I am not praising Ndigbo, but they are the most united group in Nigeria. Ndigbo have been out of central political power for more than half a century, yet, they can call one another, “come” and they come.
Do you know what it means to be not even Vice President and not to talk about being president? We have not had Vice President or president for so long, yet we are still united.
They called us to Owerri and we trooped there. I talk and some people understand me they didn’t say go to hell. There is no bad name they don’t give Ndigbo, they say when they hear money they will drop everything and go for the money, lie.
I remember one governor somewhere in the northern part of Nigeria, who told me he had found a people more greedy for money than Ndigbo. He said these people can deal with their mother in order to get money. We are so united that if you are called a bad name, every person knows the bad name you are called and they may even be avoiding you. Our problem is not lack of unity, it is lack of opportunity.
Speaking on Unity or Disintegration of Nigeria
“Any group that intelligently looks at its interest in the long term, will find a united Nigeria more attractive than a disintegrated Nigeria.
If you want Nigeria to be a Super Power and to develop to unmatched greatness, you want every section of Nigeria to make maximum contribution; therefore I end every letter I write to a Nigerian organisation or a Nigerian president with yours for Nigeria as a Super Power. I want Nigeria to be a Super Power; we cannot be super power if components of Nigeria are not making progress.”