Chima Chigozie Onyeagba Umealo, immediate past President General of the Nigerian Union in South Africa, is a former organising Secretary of the Nigeria Union as well as the former Vice President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, South Africa. The CEO of Fassy Supplies South Africa, and Founder No Kid Hungry Africa, Umealo believes the problem of banditry, kidnapping and other forms of security challenges in Nigeria are self-inflicted. He also speaks on Nigeria, insecurity, South East leaders, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and more in this interview with JOE APU.
How have the Igbo community been able to handle various cases against Nigerians in South Africa?
With the help of the Consulate, the Abia Indigenes Congress also known as Abian Union, South Africa has been able to contain some of the problems we face daily with our host community; it has really been a challenging task.
Is the Abian Union just about the welfare of Abians?
During my tenure as the President General of Abia Union, it has always been strictly on the issues of Ndi Abia, but moving to Ohanaeze and the Nigeria umbrella body, the mission and mandate changed. As the founder of No Kid Hungry Africa Project, my mandate now is to feed 10 million kids in Africa. So my role as a leader keeps changing with positions and organisations in question.
Back home in Nigeria, how would you describe governance in Abia State from reports that reach you in South Africa?
From the reports and my personal observations, it has been a tedious job in progress, the present administration under the leadership of Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu has done tremendously well, especial in roads and entrepreneurial development as well as skills upgrade amongst Abians.
What is your take on the South East generally and the Nigerian State?
South East has always been an integral part of the Nigerian society, and will still be for a long time. Most of our problems are self inflicted maladies, and as such we cannot place the blame on anyone. Most of our political leaders are practising pure greed due to their poor moral and financial background and as such become so greedy to acquire what they might never need to the detriments of the people. For now I advocate one Nigeria but with full implementation of regional autonomy.
What relationship do you have with the Ohanaeze Ndigbo as a group and do you think that they represent your ideals?
My interest with Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo is purely traditional. Politics should be left for politicians, and the moral regeneration of Ndigbo should be their most important mission. As Ndigbo today we have men but no moral leaders. The current leadership is made up of high level diplomats and I fully trust that they have a strategy to jaw-jaw with other ethnic groups for a better Nigeria.
Do you agree that the South East is not with one voice on issues that concern the Zone?
The South East just like every other ethnic nationality has its unique attributes. Igbos are republicans in nature and they hardly follow one leader, but will go beyond the call of duty to support any reasonable voice speaking on their behalf.
What are your views on the South East governors?
South East governors are trying their possible best, considering the fact that the Federal Government still holds the overriding power. So the governors are performing accordingly.
Recently there have been issues of banditry and kidnapping as well as insecurity, does this bother you especially when you think of returning home?
The general insecurity in the country is man-made, with mostly political undertones. Every underdeveloped democracy comes with thuggery which matures to banditry and all other societal vices. Yes, coming home might be an issue for some but we have no other country besides Nigeria and we pray for God’s protection and wisdom to salvage this situation for us.
What steps should be taken?
We must never give up in dialoguing with each other. Violence has never elevated any nation and ours seriously seeking development must always toe the line of dialogue.
Recently the Imo State government requested the Army to help flush out members of the Eastern Network Security and by extension IPOB, how would you describe such an action.
On the issue of IPOB and Fulani herdsmen, it is more of a self-inflicted injury that may consume the political class who have failed to utilise several funds in their positions to build industries for the teeming jobless youths. An idle mind will always be reserved for the activities of the devil.
Talking about the herdsmen, what would be your advice to the South East governors regarding the menace of cows on farmers?
The governors should be able to identify a grazing route for the nomads in their various states as well as protect and prosecute defaulters with less delay. Herdsmen movement has been with us for decades. Any lawful government can never tolerate their recent violent methods.
Recently you launched the No Kid Hungry Africa. What is it about?
We launched the No Kid Hungry Africa in Nigeria on the 30th of January, and our aim and mission is simple.
Our plan is to feed kids of Africa with balanced diet and gauge their academic performance within the period we have fed them, to be able to fully grasp the problems of our children and finding a better solution for a better tomorrow, for a well fed child today becomes a well behaved adult tomorrow. We also plan to help them in re-establishing small scale vegetable farms in their various schools thereby keeping their young minds within the frame of practical agriculture.
How is it helping kids in South Africa and what is the set target in the long run?
In 2003 I singlehandedly established a free computer training lab for matric students in South Africa and in 2016 I started a programme to introduce e-learning in our various schools in Nigeria, currently the “No Kid Hungry Africa Project is for the continent of Africa and I am calling on all the well wishers and lovers of children to partner with us for a fast and impactive programme among our children in Africa.
The North and the West have leaders that speak for them. Why is this not so with the South East?
The South East will always follow an honest leader, when it is necessary, that is our nature, even with the marvellous and unprecedented works laid out by the late Chief Sam Mbakwe, the Igbos never saw his greatness until his demise.