The Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige has said the perceived marginalisation of the South-east geopolitical zone by the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration could be as a result of the zone’s failure to invest in the 2015 presidential election.
Ngige recounted how all his efforts to persuade the Igbos to wisely invest in Buhari’s presidential bid in 2015 failed because of lack of co-operation by many South-east leaders, who threw their weight behind former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Ngige also revealed how he went to Lagos and convened an Igbo stakeholders forum in William Nwodo’s house in Ikoyi, in 2014, where he analysed the voting pattern in Nigeria and told them that even if they did not want to support Buhari, they should give him 25 percent of their votes.
“This is not a question I should answer because I’m a politician. But before these things happened, before the government of Jonathan failed, I went to all the Igbo fora to tell them that the Jonathan government will fall.
“I went to our Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo in Enugu twice. They could not even reply to a letter written by Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, seeking a meeting with them…
“They refused to listen to me and to make matters worse, there was no voting in most of the areas in the South-east; they just allocated 5 per cent to APC.
“It was that bad, it is too late to cry when the head is off. Politics is business in a way, you invest in business and you reap profit.
“Yes, that is what it is. But all I want to tell you is that we played bad politics; we made a bad investment because they invested in the Jonathan presidency. They invested in Jonathan more than the South-south, where he hails from,” Ngige told Thisday.
Stating that it is enough to marginalise the south-east or not allow them come in, Ngige stressed that he will continue to speak for the Igbos and when there is anything to be distributed, ensure that the South-east gets its own portion. However, he added that they will not get an excess portion.
“Even in a family where the head of the family goes to the farm to harvest his yams those who accompany the farmer to the farm get more share.
“When they bring back the yams some of them will be damaged, and the pieces are put out in one section. Then the whole yams are put into the barn and some will be sent to the market for sale. And some will be sent to the family centrally for distribution among the family units.
“Those ones that are in pieces, the extras, will be shared among those that went to the farm. We did not benefit from the extras with people who went to the farm. We didn’t go to the farm in the south-east,” he said.
On what the All Progressives Congress (APC) will be campaigning on ahead 2019, Ngige explained the progress the present government has so far made in it’s anti-graft war saying:
“Oh my God, so you are in the group of those who are pessimistic, who have refused to see the wonders of this government?
“Well, I’m from the South-east, so when we get there we will show them that first and foremost we have fought corruption to a standstill and that people can no longer steal at will, much less keeping such monies at home.
“The movement was from the bank to the house, but now that homes have been raided, maybe they will go to the farm to keep them. But people cannot steal money because there is no hiding place anymore.
“They cannot steal primitively like it was done before. The poor people of Nigerian are happy about this.”
Stressing that he has no regret for the role he played in helping to bring Buhari to power, Ngige said if the opportunity presents itself again he will do exactly the same thing.
“If not for this government, the government of Muhammadu Buhari a government of change, Nigeria would have been worse than Venezuela.
“The crisis you have in Venezuela today, the demonstrations in Venezuela, are as a result of the collapse of the whole economic firmament of that country. Venezuela, like Nigeria, did not plan for the rainy day,” the Minister said.