•Tells IPOB to move forward
Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka; Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
Nigeria’s Minister of Transportation and former governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has urged the Igbo to have a ‘handshake’ across the Niger by voting President Muhammadu Buhari into office for a second term in 2019, to enable the South East have a shot at the seat of Presidency.
Amaechi, who made this disclosure yesterday, while delivering the 12th Convocation Lecture of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, at the university’s auditorium, said if Igbo continues to play regional politics by embracing sectional political parties without a national broad base, they will continue to produce regional politicians like senators and governors, while the presidency will continue to elude them.
Speaking on the topic: “The Igbo in the politics of Nigeria,” Amaechi described the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), as regional parties, which cannot give the Igbo the presidency, but will only make them continue to cry for marginalisation.
He said the vote for President Buhari for a second term and the APC are the surest way to fast track the president of Igbo extraction. He noted that any other Northerner that takes over from Buhari in 2019, will definitely be in charge for eight years, but if Buhari goes for a second term, he must vacate office after four years, giving better a chance for the Igbo man to take over as president.
Going down memory lane, he traced the history of the Igbo people from the middle years to the era of Trans Atlantic Slave trade, the colonial and post colonial era and the issues of Igbo identity and Igbo emotionalism, which he described as the two main issues that have impeded Igbo political advancement in Nigeria.
He advised separatist groups like the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to move forward and embrace Nigeria’s unity, reminding them that the civil war had ended long time ago. He said it is necessary to teach children the effects of the civil war, so they can learn from history.
Amaechi said the Buhari administration is reconstructing several roads in the South East while almost all the important Igbo cities like Enugu, Owerri, Umuahia, Aba, Awka and Onitsha are captured in the existing Calabar-Lagos railway project and the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri standard guage new railway projects approved by the president.
“Igbo people should focus on solutions, not recriminations. In what political direction should the Igbo go? Let the quarrel with the North, real or imagined stop. Let us join hands as one people to chart the way forward for a brighter future for Nigeria.
“We need to examine very carefully the Igbo trajectory and learn crucial lessons of history. We have an incredibly proud past, a rich political heritage forged in the most difficult circumstances. We must, therefore, focus on constructing the path to a proud future.
“The theatre of politics for the coastal and inland states of Eastern Nigeria before colonialism was in Bonny, and for the colonial and post colonial politics of Nigeria, it was in Lagos. Jaja of Opobo excelled in Bonny, while Zik excelled in Lagos.
“Why is Abuja politics so difficult for the Igbo to play? Perhaps, we are on the wrong track and employing the wrong paradigms.
“The Igbo nation should engage with others and immerse itself fully in national politics, just like Jaja and Zik did.
“The handshake across the Niger celebrated recently in Enugu by Nzuko Ummunna and Ohanaeze Ndigbo is welcomed, but a handshake across the Benue is most desirable now,” he said.
Earlier, the Vice Chancellor of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Prof Joseph Ahaneku, had, in an address, pointed out that before the unfortunate Nigeria’s Civil war, the pre-eminent position of the Igbo in the affairs of Nigeria was never in doubt.
He noted that in post independence Nigeria, prior to the civil war, Igbo, ubiquitous in all parts of Nigeria, played key roles in government, industry and commerce, but, the immediate post civil war years saw the pre-eminent position largely eclipsed.
Ahaneku noted that, subsequently, through grim determination, sheer industry and business acumen, the Igbo regained and surpassed lost grounds in business, but the political arena remains a dilemma.
President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, in a thought provoking remark, told Amaechi to fight for the interest of the Igbo because Ikwere people, where he comes from are Igbo despite their actions during the war.
Nwodo lamented that the Nigerian Federation is a complete aberration in practice as far as federalism is concerned, noting that the constitution and its apparatuses were never the consensus opinion of Nigerians.
He lampooned the skewed structure of security chiefs appointed by President Buhari and said restructuring remains imperative for the country to move forward as one.
Chairman of the convocation lecture, the Obi of Onitsha, Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, in his remarks, said the Igbo people remain the most distinct for so many reasons. He noted that the Igbo race is the most cosmopolitan people in Nigeria.
, who reside and create wealth in all parts of the country.
Igwe Achebe also said the Igbo is the only region in Nigeria that has three dominant political parties in power in Nigeria, APGA, PDP and APC and said Ndigbo also sacrificed more lives during the war more than any other region in Nigeria.