Emmanuel Adeyemi, Lokoja
The President General of the Igbo community in Kogi Central district, Joseph Anikwe, has said the Igbo living in the state have not been treated fairly by Governor Yahaya Bello, unlike what was obtainable in the previous administrations. He said the Igbo are not second class citizens but hard working, enterprising and peaceful people who are always ready to contribute to the socio- economic development of the state and would only support any governorship candidate who gives due recognition to them.
The governorship election is around the corner and there mixed feelings from residents on whether Governor Yahaya Bello deserves a second term or not. As a stakeholder in the state, what is your take?
Although, many people are complaining in the state, I believe that Governor Bello as an Ebira man should be given another term to consolidate on whatever he has done in the first term. The Igala have produced the governor since the creation of the state, so for equity and justice, let Bello run his full term and then it goes to another senatorial district like the Okun who has never tasted power.
Are you advocating that the Igbo should give full support to his re-election bid?
I need to consult my people before I make a categorical statement but honestly speaking, the Igbo are annoyed with his administration because we feel we have been relegated to the background unlike previous administrations where we were accorded recognition and respect, this government has been shutting us out.
The previous governments in the state used to consult the Igbo community before making vital policies and we benefitted from political patronage. For example, during Ibrahim Idris’s tenure, we were given political appointments and annual slots to Jerusalem. Also during Idris Wada’s administration, we were given political appointments and Jerusalem slots. Even the then chairman of Okene local council, Yahaya Karaku also recognised us and gave us an appointment.
Also in any empowerment programme made by legislators and state government, the Igbo community was always carried along. When Smart Adeyemi was there as senator representing Kogi West, we were carried along, but this government has consistently ignored us. We have tried more than 10 times to meet with Governor Bello, but they have completely shunned us and relegated us, and this has angered our people especially those of us living in Ebira land, his fatherland.
By 2023, hopefully the presidency will be moving to the South and lots of people are agitating for Igbo presidency…
Yes, I am fully in support of Igbo presidency. In 1999 Obasanjo a Yoruba man from the south was president; it later went to Yar’Adua a northerner, unfortunately he died in office and Jonathan from south- south became president. Now Buhari from the north is there, it is therefore natural justice that the Igbo be supported for the presidency in 2023. If Buhari wants to be fair and just, this is the best thing to do.
There are those who say there must be restrustructuring in order for the country to move forward, do you agree?
I agree 100 percent. In fact some of us believe that the 2014 Confab report is the best solution to this country’s problems. Let Buhari bring out the document and study it so that it can be implemented.
If you have the oppourtunity to see president Buhari, what will you tell him?
I will tell him to harmonise this country and bring everybody together. I will ask him to seek the opinions of all the ethnic groups within the country to be able to know what their problems are and I will advise him to give listening ears to all Nigerians and not the cabal as we are made to believe.
Recently the Federal Government introduced the Ruga Policy to curtail the movement of herdsmen in the country but the proposed policy was later suspended. Would you have supported it?
It is good that the FG suspended that policy because it will further bring division and more insecurity to the country. I hope the same policy will not be re-introduced again under the guise of another name.
What is your reaction to the recent quit order given by some northern leaders to southerners residing in the north over the incessant killings in the country?
To us in Kogi, that order has no impact on us; nobody is going anywhere because the Igbo people are living peacefully with our host communities and we have no issue whatsoever with them. For example in Ebiraland where I am the leader of the Igbo community, the paramount ruler, Dr. Ado Ibrahim, has assured us several times that we are part of his domain and that as far as he is concerned, he has no second class citizens. The governor has also assured us of our safety and the safety of our property and business, we have no fear of any kind.