The President, Congress for Non-Political Party Members (CNPM), John Mayor Echefu, has bemoaned the state of the nation and called for the renegotiating of Nigeria as a panacea of solving the myriads of problems.
What is your view on the state of the nation?
Nigeria’s situation is pathetic. No place is safe again in Nigeria. The country is in its worst stage. Of course, that is why I have been speaking out. It is unfortunate that we have people in government who seem not to care about the plight of the people in the country.
So, the primary responsibility of government has been defeated, which is the provision of security and welfare for the people. Going by that, all I can say is that it is unfortunate that we are in a kind of situation we are in. But I believe together as Nigerians, where the government fails we can still salvage the situation, but if it could not be salvaged as it seems, the only option left is for us to sit and decide the fate of Nigeria.
The solution is that everybody should go back to his region and plan how to relate with other regions. The contraption called Nigeria isn’t working. That is the bitter truth.
For long, we have tried to patch it up, but to no avail. How can we continue like this? What has not been done for us to be one? What we have is a situation where a section of the country has seen itself as the rider and the rest is the horse. No, it is not workable. We have to agree on the terms we are going to live together.
What is your position on 2023 election, which zone should produce the presidency?
The way the country is going, are we sure there will be 2023. All the politicians in the South who are working to become president would lick their wounds as the politicians from the North are going to betray them.
The North is not ready to relinquish power to the South and that will be the beginning of trouble for the country.
This is their mentality, and they are arrogant and totally cocooned in their self worship of their power and authority and so on.
They don’t care what happens to this country. It is a very dangerous proposition to say that the president will not come from the South after eight years of it being in the North.
The North thinks that they are so powerful that others will just stay pensive and submissive, that is not going to work.
If there will be 2023, any Igbo man or Yoruba that goes to Aso Rock will be humiliated because booby traps must have been set for such a person if the North bowed to pressure not to contest.
You are talking of dividing the country, if that happens, can the Igbo live in peace because it is said that they don’t love themselves?
It is not true. Igbo are the most united ethnic group in the country. It is only an Igbo man that can pick another Igbo young man who doesn’t in any way relate to him; or come from the same village or even the same state with him and settle him in business after serving him for a period of five to seven years.
No any tribe the world over is doing this, and you are telling me that they don’t love themselves. That is arrant nonsence. It is usually said by those who want to demean the Igbo race.
They say Igbo doesn’t have a leader or king, but if Nnamdi Kanu appears here now, you see millions of people following him. So, what are you talking about?
Anywhere an Igbo sees his fellow Igbo in any part of the world, he would embrace him and see him as his brother, irrespective of his state. That shows they love themselves; because of the persecution they are facing they have come to be one.
The Igbo are the most formidable and united people when they meet historical challenges.
The difference between them and Fulani is that the Fulani feel that power has been bequeathed to them and they have restructured their control of it, but they should know that over confidence is a deadly thing.
The Igbo are united, during the civil war, they were united; during the election of Jonathan they were united, and even during the last election, they were still very united.
The Igbo are united and what they need to do is to try to find a way to overcome the internal forces that are trying to destabilise them.
How do we overcome the challenges facing the country?
Like I explained earlier, the country isn’t working; it is hanging on the cliff, and the earlier we do something peaceful about it, the better for everybody.
You don’t force marriage between different individuals, not only between different nationalities. Marriage is a consensual thing, people agree to live together, you don’t force people to live together. If you force them, such marriages are bound to collapse.
In Europe, the old empires created by powerful kings and queens collapsed.
In Africa, the old federations created by the British for colonial interest collapsed, except Nigeria that is being forced to stay together because of a particular nationalism that feels that they inherited Nigeria and therefore they have to convert the whole territory into their private orchard; that is the problem.
Just look at Federation of East Africa, which dissolved into Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. Nigeria is the only country put by British that is still wobbling along. The British also created the West Indies Federation, which also failed and you now have Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago; they also created Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, it failed. The only federation they created then that has not failed is Nigeria, which is bound to fail if we don’t sit down and talk and that is why when Biafra declared independence, British fought tooth and nail to make sure Nigeria didn’t fail because they hold it as the only success they have in the British empire. They also created the Federation of Malaysia and Singapore, but it failed. The time that Biafra was pulling out was also when Singapore was pulling out of the Federation of Malay, Singapore and North Borneo. The British put them together.
Until we find the right solution, which is to free different peoples and to allow them to enjoy the air of liberty or freedom, organise themselves the way they will and describe on what terms they will live with their neighbours, we will keep on living in mutual suspicion and antagonism.
Anybody fighting a war now to keep Nigeria as one country will regret it. It would be an exercise in futility. The best thing is to sit and find a way to let the different nationalities organise themselves and find appropriate mode or relationship among them.
Let the Southwest support Odudua; let the North support Arewa, let the Ijaws support Ijaw nation, let the Igbo support Biafra.
The British that cobbled Nigeria has left the European Union, but they are hell bent on keeping Nigeria together for their selfish interest.
Why must we be forced to live together? Every effort made for us to live together has proved abortive. What experiments have we not tried in Nigeria to forge together ahead?
The only useful basis of keeping the people together; working together, politically is on the basis of self determination, not on the basis of forced marriage. Those are the fundamental things and what that means right now is: Yoruba want the right to defend themselves, to protect themselves; the Igbo want the right to defend and protect themselves, and to organise their economy and make sure that their children have a future, the same thing with the Ijaw, Efik, Tiv, etc.
When you occupy every place, militarily and force everybody to be on your own palms and use agents you put in those areas to disorganise the people, frighten them, those are historical mistakes; they can’t work, they will eventually collapse.
The pressure to leave the federation has always been there; the North wanted to secede at some point, Yoruba also wanted to secede at some point, the Igbo equally wanted to secede at some point.
Right now, nationalities are waking up, Yoruba are not relaxing, Benue people and other people are not relaxing and the Igbo will wake up and join them.