Obinna Odogwu, Awka
Elder statesman and former governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, has said that rotational presidency between the Northern and Southern Nigeria is one of the ways forward for the country. Chief Ezeife was replying President Muhammadu Buhari’s cousin, Mamman Daura, who said that merit should be enthroned in the place of zoning. In this interview, the elder statesman also spoke on other issues of national concern.
President Muhammadu Buhari’s cousin, Mamman Daura, recently kicked against rotational presidency between Northern and Southern Nigeria, saying that the country’s presidency should be based on merit. This is coming at a time Ndigbo are saying that it’s their turn to produce the next president after Buhari in 2023. How would you react to that comment?
I believe that every right thinking person knows that it should go to the South East. But we don’t have to attack anybody who is against us. If Buhari’s cousin says it should be merit, by merit, Igbo will dominate the presidency. If it is to be chosen by merit, when one Igbo man goes in and comes out, another Igbo man will take after him and it continues like that. Yoruba have merit, Hausa have merit. But no part of the country has more merit than the South East. No part of the country is building the houses everywhere as the South East. Yes, we are about to set up an Elders Committee for the 2023 presidency. The job of the elders committee is to go to Mamman Daura and the kind of people who are, may be opposed and plead with them, lobby them and explain to them. And we believe that when we do it enough, we will win. We don’t want to antagonize anybody. But I, talking to you, was the Chairman, Power Sharing Committee during that national conference. We talked about rotation and zoning at national level. We also worked very hard to make the office of the governor rotate among the senatorial zones. And so, as you know, they said that Buhari is doing enough and after Buhari, it goes to the South. North/South rotation is an agreed proposal but if people are saying something against it, we try to convince them. I will try to convince them not to go against rotation. Rotation is good because it makes the cost of running election very low. And it brings out better person; not a matter of, who is the biggest thief, he comes with money; distributes money and becomes president. Rotation makes sure that people whom we are bringing know what they are going to do because the people who voted for them will be around them. So, there is nothing wrong with that. People can say anything they like. Anybody who likes justice, equity, fairness will have no doubt about the South East being the next people to produce Nigeria’s president and there is no reason to go against that. If you say that they are looking for Biafra, the moment they get the presidency, the issue of Biafra disappears. Unfairness is generating Biafra. Now, presidency to the South East is fairness and that ends Biafra. So, I am not attacking the man at all. We will go and beg him to change his mind because it is wrong. And we will emphasize to him that we don’t want to dominate Nigeria. We want to have just playing field. We don’t want to have ‘talakawas and almajarai’ in Nigeria. Our philosophy of life is believing that God created all men equal. Our people want their children to be bigger than them. The fathers want their children to be bigger than them. Even the apprentice, his boss wants him to be bigger than himself. So, egalitarianism is what our system supports. Anybody who has objection should mention it now like Mamman Daura has done so that it will be tried out. Let justice win; let fairness win; let logic takeover.
Recently, the leadership of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) said that it would establish its own security outfit nationwide. This is coming at a time when Fulani herdsmen’s clashes with farmers are on the increase. Many people believe that doing so would energize them to do more. Do you share that view?
I am sure that that statement does not have total blessing of the Miyetti Allah because if they were to set up security outfits across Nigeria, if they are declaring war, how many are they? You know, if Miyetti Allah antagonizes the rest of the country, it will only be to their disadvantage; in fact, a breakup of Nigeria which seems to be very near but God will forbid it. What the Fulani should do is to go and pray God to open their minds and make them understand that ranching is for now and future. Roaming around with cows is ancient. It is antiquarian. And to my knowledge, I don’t want to hide it from them; many in the South are thinking of ranching. And there are some cows we enjoy their meats better than the ones we get from them. And if we start ranching in the South, it means that their market will disappear. I found somebody in Miyetti Allah who is so intelligent; in fact, he quotes the Bible and Quran. All the problems I had with Quran he explained to me. Look, we are better off together. Nigeria needs Fulani but Fulani need Nigeria more. So, I want you to make it as clear as possible that that project can only cause disaster and the disaster will affect Miyetti Allah more than other people. And so, if it is fake news, let them just deny it and call it fake news because if it is true that they said so, they are just digging their own graves.
A national daily recently carried a report that a House of Reps Committee discovered a clause in the Chinese/Nigerian agreement signed by both countries before the latter got approval for loans from the former. In that clause, Nigeria would give up its sovereignty to China if it fails to meet up with the terms of the loans. Are you happy about the development and also the way the Federal Government is sourcing foreign loans everywhere?
I want to talk about China. We have to study Chinese policies and their motivations and see how much we must continue dealing with China because there is the fear that the Chinese don’t like blacks at all. And the Chinese are planning to depopulate the black lands and take over the lands. I am not going to be attacking anybody but any Nigerian who participated in writing that agreement should be found out and dealt with. However, the Chinese are clever. They may find a way to plant it in the agreement when it was not there to begin with. So, that agreement should be null and void and there is no way a loan should make us lose our sovereignty. The United Nations have their own rules and regulations about this. But I think that the most important thing now is to constitute a committee that studies Chinese relation with us; Africa as a whole not Nigeria because I am told that they bought up lands in many countries in Africa and that in some areas, they have their own police within Africa. This is not something we should allow.
Not long ago, the Anambra State government withdrew the certificate of recognition from a traditional ruler. Based on the information on ground, it has everything to do with the 2021 election in the state even though government gave a different reason which many persons see as very flimsy. Do you think that is the way to go in South East particularly Anambra State over electoral issues?
I cannot comment on this issue. I do not know the background. I do not know the reason why the recognition is withdrawn. I do not have the idea of what the governor is saying or what the people are saying. It is wrong for me to jump into a major issue like that without information. So, forgive me, I do not know anything about it. I cannot say anything about it.
The South East governors said that they would name the South East joint security during their next meeting but that their report received so many criticisms from the people in the geopolitical zone who accused them of foot-dragging and trying to play to the tune of certain persons in the North. Are you impressed with the way the governors are going about?
Let me say what I know. We read in the newspapers that the South East governors have decided now to set up regional security and we were dancing in Abuja. In the meeting of elders in Abuja which I chaired, we decided to write a letter to praise the South East governors for that bold decision they have taken. We wrote the letter and I and my secretary signed it. We praised them for deciding what Igbo want. We, the Igbo people, want a regional security outfit and we are very grateful to governors for having it. And our governors must fight for our rights and our interests. Let them not be so afraid of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC] or anything. If they are doing the things our people want, we will get up to defend them. So, in the case of Amotekun, the Yoruba didn’t make a noise. Only one day, we woke up and found painted vehicles, many of them for the same thing and it was announced. Finish! That’s what we want. We don’t want community policing that has any ties with the Nigerian police, no!