Obinna Odogwu, Awka
Acting President-General of Ndigbo United Forum, Chief Godson Ezenagu, has said that Igbo leaders are very committed to the ongoing struggle for the emergence of Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in the 2023 president election.
He said that already efforts are being made to ensure that no stone is left unturned to actualize that target, adding that it would be very unfair, unjust, and against the spirit of equity if the Igbo are denied the opportunity to lead this country just as others have done.
In this interview with Sunday Sun, Chief Ezenagu also spoke on other issues of national concern. Excerpts:
What exactly does Ndigbo United Forum stand for, what do you people do there?
Ndigbo United Forum is a socio-political organization that has come for the emancipation of Igbo people. If you look at history in Nigeria today, Ndigbo are nowhere to be found in the echelon of things. We are not the President, the Vice President, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, or anything. So, all the paramilitary, police, army, Customs, EFCC, ICPC and the rest of them, none of them is headed by an Igbo man. And it is wrong. Where is the federal character that we are talking about? Is it when it comes to distribution of funds that we look for federal character? Why has the federal character failed the Igbo? When we look at it we found that we are departing from where we are supposed to be. We have the three major tribes in Nigeria today: the Igbo, the Hausa and the Yoruba and other tribes come under them. And that’s why you have the West, the East and the North in those days. But the problem with Nigeria is that whereas we have an entity called the North, the opposite should be the South. We don’t have the opposite. What we have is the North and you know that they have the Institute of Regional Studies, northern newspaper, Northern Governors’ Forum, northern bank; they have everything. And they hold meeting every month. The opposite should be the South, but there is no South. What we have is Southeast, Southwest and South-south and they can’t come together. And that is why they can’t checkmate the North. So, we are at the mercy of the North. That’s the major problem we have. So, we noticed that the problem we have as Ndigbo is that we are not together as we should. Look at what the Southwest governors have just done, setting up an outfit that will checkmate the activities of these bandits, herdsmen, and all that. That’s what they want to checkmate. And the opposite people are not happy. This thing has become what the police cannot handle. The police have failed already in policing Nigeria. So, what do you expect? There shouldn’t be a vacuum. In fact, they have taken a long time to do this. I expect the Southeast, the North-central and other geopolitical zones to put their own units together. By even doing this, they are helping to also checkmate crimes in Nigeria today. I think that will help to put a stop to all this herdsmen palaver if they do. So, anybody saying that they are illegal, is Boko Haram legal? What about the herdsmen; are they legal? Why are they carrying guns? Before you stop Amotekun, you should first stop Boko Haram and herdsmen that are causing trouble everywhere. A daughter to one of the leaders of Yoruba people was killed the other day. Is that not an abomination? Why do you expect a people like that to keep quiet? They said that necessity is the mother of invention. The need for peace brought this invention of Amotekun and Amotekun will stand unless the police improve in their activities. It appears the Boko Haram and herdsmen have out-powered the police force. So, we have started to talk about the welfare of the Igbo. We have started to bring peace to the Igbo people. Look at the issue of presidency. It is the turn of Ndigbo.
What is the position of Ndigbo United Forum on the issue of Igbo presidency?
Like I told you earlier, Ndigbo United Forum is a socio-political forum. It is drawn from seven states and we will soon increase to 10 states. All the states where Igbo language is being spoken must come together. We have majority of Igbo in Rivers State and they are part of us. It is not just the five Southeast states of Anambra, Imo, Abia, Enugu, and Ebonyi. No! It includes the Rivers. They speak a lot of Igbo. Look at the names of their former and present leaders. Odili is an Igbo man, Nyesom Wike is an Igbo man, Chibuike Amaechi is an Igbo man. That shows you that Igbo have come to stay in Rivers. Then, if you go to Delta State, all Anioma, Asaba and other parts of the state are Igbo. So, they are part of us; seven states. So, you find that the Igbo are nowhere to be found in the affairs of the nation anymore. And so, we are bringing them together so we can go for it. I know it will be given to us because it is our turn. The Yoruba have done it for eight years through Olusegun Obasanjo. The Hausa have done it for the North. By 2023, they would have been there for about 12 years. Where are the Igbo in the affairs of the country? Under principles of natural justice, equity and good conscience, it is the turn of the Igbo to lead this country. And they will see a lot of difference. The Igbo man is a gifted man, he is a lover of peace, and he is an enterprising man. Igbo man is a commercial man; mercantile. They should be able to put the mercantile in order; employment in order and then bring in peace completely. Some people begin to ask what about MASSOB and IPOB? I say it is usually like that. If the Igbo are treated well, it wouldn’t be like that. MASSOB and IPOB are all complaining and struggling for emancipation. If the Igbo are treated well, there wouldn’t be all these agitations. Like I said earlier, necessity is mother of invention. It is when you begin to treat a people badly, that’s when agitations will begin to come. That was what gave birth to Amotekun. And more of them will be given birth to. So, the Igbo feel that of all the tribes: the Hausa, Yoruba and even the South-south have all taken their turns. So, it is the turn of the Igbo and let nobody make mistake about that. Denying someone his right is what leads to restiveness. So, that is the situation of things. I want Nigerians to think twice and do what is right; do what Nigerians have done before. When Olusegun Obasanjo was given the position, he was from prison. They brought him from prison and supported him. Even I learnt that he lost election in his ward, but he still became the president of Nigeria. The Hausa, the Igbo supported him in that party. What did they do that time to make sure that the Yoruba man became the president? The two major parties at that time like we have the APC and the PDP brought their candidates from the Yoruba enclave. This is the same thing I am calling on the APC and the PDP to present the candidates of Igbo extraction in the next election; to make sure that the Igbo man is compensated the way the Yoruba and the South-south were compensated. That’s what the Ndigbo United Forum is fighting for and we said, fighting for this, we are not ready to compromise anything short of it. We will work with all local governments, state and the Federal Government. Ours is not forceful. Persuasion is what we are using and by the grace of God we will get that.
What are your thoughts on the leadership of the Southeast governors? Are you impressed with their performance especially as it concerns the welfare and protection of the interest of Ndigbo?
As the acting President-General of Ndigbo United, what I am saying is that the governors are doing well. Those who are not doing well should change and emulate those who are doing well. Like I told you, we are not going to be confrontational. Anyone who is not doing well, we advise. We want peace. They are doing well in their various states and we expect them to do more.