By Daniel Kanu
Erudite scholar and two-time minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Prof Ihechukwu Madubuike, in this encounter with Sunday Sun speaks on Nigeria’s condition and the problem, the security challenge, the feasibility of Igbo president in 2023, unlearned lessons of June 12, and why Ebubeagu, the Southeast security outfit is not roaring, among other national issues. Excerpt:
IPOB leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu has been forcefully brought back to the country by the Federal Government. How do you view the entire scenario?
I think it’s early for me to comment on the issue. Let’s watch first and see the pattern it’s taking. Nigeria has laws, let’s see how the laws will be put to test, let’s see how justice and rule of law will play out. Then you come for my comment.
What is your take concerning the security challenges in the country and why the violence does not seem to abate, but escalates by the day?
The act of keeping peace within the boundaries of a sovereign state is one of the perquisites of nationhood. Without its national laws internal security will be compromised, cannot function properly, jeopardizing property and life as well as the orderly functions of the polity. Intelligence gathering and its judicious application are the executive functions used to douse tensions and threats. The government must know how to apply all that is needed properly.
Some commentators say that the Southeast is under serious siege…?
(Cuts in) The Southeast zone has been under siege for decades now going by the number of security operatives in the region, especially when compared with other sections of the country. You cannot routinely drive through our major roads without being confronted with roadblocks manned by policemen, sometimes by the military and other members of our paramilitary agencies, posted at short intervals on the same road. These blockades through which a lot of money is siphoned into the itchy hands of the operatives, cause a lot of delay, frustrations, and impede business. Furthermore, they inflict heavy psychological blows on the citizens. Southeast has been treated like a conquered zone and the treatments, insouciantly inflicted on the inhabitants, hurt. They enhance the siege mentality, a paranoid attitude or belief that the authority is out to get you. It has also given vent to unintended explosions and violence. What is wrong in the Southeast is the Federal Government’s vindictive policy towards the citizens. There are no factories, nor industries, limited avenues to employ the teeming youths that come out of Nigerian institutions in their numbers, leading to manpower and capital flights from the region. All the industries that used to blossom in the East have all been allowed to wither. No new ones have been built, leading to youth anger and frustrations. An idle hand is the devil’s workshop is an aphorism that has remained constant as time itself. The refusal of the Federal Government to implement the 3Rs agreed after the civil war in 1970, a declared and systemic policy of exclusion, a shared feeling of victimization by most of the inhabitants because the people’s fathers were forced into a war of unequalled partners in which three million died, are all parts of the fault lines.
Where in your view is the problem with Nigeria?
The problem with Nigeria is a leadership that is largely myopic, a leadership that has failed to see the country as one and has failed to build bridges of common identity. These have led to the establishment of fissiparous tendencies and forces that have enthroned a mediocre leadership that cannot think out of the box, but is desperately hanging on mediocrity and revisionism — steps that are ante-diluvium and backward prone.
2023 is fast approaching, do you think that the call for the president of Igbo extraction is feasible in 2023?
Ordinarily, the presidency of an Igbo from the Southeast should be a win-win situation and applauded by every section of the polity, if we are truly democrats and believe in justice, equity and fair play. Nobody should begrudge Ndigbo of this epicenter of power. Politics is the art of the possible and I am optimistic of the possibility of an Igbo president emerging in 2023 if a fair and credible election system is enthroned. The Igbo believes that we can run better if we run together. Igbo have right to power, not a privilege.
You picked holes with the attitude of Southeast governors on the running of Ebubeagu, the Southeast Security Network. What faults do you see on why Ebubeagu is not roaring as expected?
Yes. I picked holes with the formation of Ebubeagu, a hastily put together security outfit by our governors to cater for the security needs of the Southeast. When you see a champion you should know it. Ebubeagu as presently constituted is an abstraction of the ideal, not a winning formula. It’s like a masquerade without followers, all sounds and fury signifying little. Ambition, says Shakespeare, should be made of a sterner stuff.
June 12 has come and gone again, do you think we have learnt useful lessons in view of the way the country is being piloted by its leadership in recent times?
I am not sure June 12 as conceived is meant to teach us a lesson. When the civil war was launched, the slogan was to teach the Igbo a lesson. Unfortunately, that lesson is still being taught because of a flawed curriculum which has become historic. If we had a curriculum, based on international rules of engagement we would be making progress and teaching our children globalized norms and values. Ditto for June 12, a progressive ideology that would address the challenges and the present situation of anomie all over the country. Replacing June 12 with a new form of anarchy and dictatorial tendencies would not be the outcome of a salubrious policy objectives, for a lesson properly assimilated. What have we done to stop the shenanigans that made 12 June possible? What have we done about our flawed electoral processes? What have we done about voter apathy; and what have we done to make our votes count?. What about the suspended electoral bill? No. We must not be deceived by names which have been elevated to abstractions. Let us not turn history to hysteria or to a farce.