The perceived marginalisation of the south-east region by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration have continued to be a source of worry to Igbo leaders. In this interview, Chief Rommy Ezeonwuka a member of Board of Trustees (BoT) of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) , says it’s time for Ndigbo to work out a new political and economic framework, in line with the legacies of the late former vice president, Dr Alex Ekwueme.
Is it befitting renaming a federal university established by former President, Goodluck Jonathan at Ndufu Alike in Ebonyi State after the late vice president, Dr Alex Ekwueme?
It is befitting and I am okay with that. But what most of us would have preferred was for the Federal Polytechnic, Oko to have been named after this great Nigerian. After all, we had Ahmadu Bello who established the University of Zaria and it was named after him. So there is nothing bad to name OkoPoly after the man that brought it to existence. However, renaming a Federal University after him shows that the Federal Government is appreciative of his immense contributions to the development and growth of Nigeria.
Which of legacies would you like Ndigbo to emulate?
Considering the situation the Igbo find themselves, post Ekwueme era is a time for new political and economic framework in Igbo land. We need a new political and economic framework in line with the legacies of the former Vice President. Looking at the life and time of Ekwueme there are many things we can learn from him because he was an embodiment of legacies. If you listened to the sermon delivered by the Primate of Anglican Church Most Rev. Nicholas Okoh during the burial service, he described Ekwueme as a one-man university, considering his intimidating academic credentials, political wisdom and selflessness towards nation building.
Okoh also described him as a community man who was very close to his native people despite his position as number two citizen. The Primate pointed out that Ekwueme was a role model to politicians in the area of think home and being closer to those who elected them into office. Former Foreign Affairs Minister and ex-Secretary General of Commonwealth of Nations, Chief Emeka Anyaoku described Ekwueme as different from the typical Nigerian politicians. He wasn’t corrupt and he did not condone any act of corruption. So, as a university, community man and a different politician there are lots of things to learn from Ekwueme and the most important among them all is his life of simplicity, humility and think-home philosophy.
As an elected former Vice President, Ekwueme until his death had the honour as the Igbo man who served at the highest political level among Ndigbo but who never moved with siren and convoy of uncountable cars with intimidating security guards. He was simple and humble. This is what true leadership is all about. It’s time we change our way of life and live like normal people.
Why should a lawmaker come home to visit the people who elected him with a convoy of vehicles and a battalion of security men? Is he going to war? What message is he trying to pass across? That those who elected him to represent them now want to kill him or what? Why live in fear if you have represented the people well? They don’t even know what their people need and they do not make any effort to respond to the plight of the people who gave them that mandate to represent them. This is most unfortunate because such people only draw us back. They should emulate Ekwueme’s life of simplicity and humility.
Secondly, they should also emulate him in the area of think home philosophy.
The people are wiser now. In 2019, a lot of them will be flushed out. It’s time to elect people who are simple, humble, and ready to listen to the people, and make meaningful contributions to the development and progress of Igbo land. We don’t want siren-blaring senators but service-oriented lawmakers. With our present condition, Ndigbo have to be serious and careful about the people they elect to represent them. We can no longer afford to waste our seats at the senate and House Representatives. Look at the poor conditions of the federal roads in the south-east and tell me the efforts being made by our senators toward getting them fixed. During the Jonathan administration we had a south-east senator as chairman of the senate committee on Works and a Rep as chairman House Committee on Works, but they did nothing. Enough is enough.
It’s time to start thinking home. Do you know that business will improve in the south-east if Onitsha Seaport is functional? Business will improve in south-east if Enugu-Onitsha Expressway is motorable? If Enugu-Port Harcourt road and other federal roads are fixed, things will be better. But what we hear every day is that they have made arrangements for the federal roads in the south-east to be fixed. Under Ekwueme as Vice President, federal roads were built, but successive representatives have consistently failed to do something positive about them and that is why they are in the state they are. This poor representation at the highest level must stop.
The private sector in the south-east is still analogue while it has gone digital in the south-west, where they have Public Liability Companies (PLC). But in the south-east business is still “Me and Sons” Nigeria Limited. Under this arrangement, business establishments crumble after the death of the founder, but under PLC, business goes on and on after the exit of the founder. This is a major problem in the private sector in Igbo land. It’s time for change.
As a champion of youth empowerment, how would you assess the impact on youth in recent time and what hope for the Igbo youth?
The progress of Igbo youths lies on good governance on the side of the governors, quality representation on the side of the federal lawmakers, ministers, Director- Generals, and philanthropy from wealthy businessmen and bringing investment home.