Paul Orude, Bauchi
Former Governor of Imo State Senator Rochas Okorocha has lent his voice to calls for a President of Igbo Extraction in 2023, saying it is only fair for the South-East to produce the next Nigerian President.
The Senator representing Imo West Senatorial District in the National Assembly made this known in an interview with journalists at Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa International airport, Bauchi, on Saturday.
Senator Okorocha was in Bauchi on the invitation of Sheik Dahiru Bauchi for this year’s Maulud and was honoured as Sarkin Yakin Talakawa (Defender of the Poor) by the TIjjaniniya Islamic sect.
Owelle Okorocha, who was honoured with the title of the Garkwuwan Almajiri (Ambassador of Almajiris), opined that since other regions had taken turns to produce President, it is high time Nigeria gets a President of Igbo extraction.
‘The issue of Nigerian President of Igbo extraction for me is more like a competition; the North had produced a President, the South-West has produced a President and the South-South has produced a President, let us see when the South East produce a President, what Nigeria will look like,’ he said.
‘I think from that kind of Chelsea, Manchester United match kind of a thing, when they belong to the same country and when they play a match, that’s exactly the way I see it, but it’s only fair, fairness calls for that.
‘Talking about the Presidency of Igbo extraction… will give everyone a sense of belonging and if everyone gets a sense of belonging, there is justice,’ he said.
He believes that the Presidency should not be a title but hard work, as the person at the helm of affairs must ensure that Nigerians are neither hungry nor suffering.
‘But that is not the doing of the job. What I propose is a Nigerian President who will guarantee the unity of this nation irrespective of religion or tribe, a Nigerian President that will eliminate poverty, Nigerian President who will make education available and affordable for everybody. This is what we should be talking about more importantly.’
On how to address the issue of Almajiris in the country, Senator Okorocha said: ‘I am calling on all and sundry called on wealthy Nigerians and the Government to see what they can do to help the situation by addressing poverty rather than blaming the children.
‘We must stop blaming the children and making them become guilty of offence they didn’t commit because they did not bring themselves to this world. If the ordinary birds can take care of their children why we can’t humans take care of our children
‘The best way to address the Almajiri issue is, first of all, the Government must accept the fact that these Almajiris are our children and once we accept that fact, then we have done 50 per cent of the job and then we have to think about how to combine this school system, the Arabic schools, with conventional schools and empowerment. If they reach the age that they should go to farm there must be something they can do because I don’t think that there is anybody created by God that is useless. It is only when there is no idea that people look useless but there is no useless person in this world,’ he said.
He denied the allegation by his successor as Imo Governor, Hope Uzodinma, that he tried to stop his probe by asking for the dissolution of the panel set up to investigate him.
‘Let me tell you the issue of the probe is neither here nor there. It is a wild goose chase. It is a political witch-hunt or the Government is seeking for relevance by saying that Rochas is being probed; the probe of what? I have told them to publish everything to let the whole world see and hear where Rochas has been found corrupt. What I do speak for me,’ he stated.
‘How can corruption take place? Where would you have resources to build an international cargo airport, the best courts, and build the best police headquarters, the best prisons headquarters, six universities, four polytechnics, two colleges of education and yet free education, and over 2,000 projects? And so if you do all this, where would corruption have taken place? So it is not true.’
On how best to tackle corruption, Senator Okorocha argued that corruption should be a fight of the people by the people and for the people.
‘We should educate people more to understand that rather than fighting corruption we should prevent corruption because most people who engage in corrupt practices do not know the impact on society,’ he said.