As the face-off between Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, and business mogul and misanthropist, Arthur Eze, deepens, the National Association of Igbo Youths (NAIY) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to Ngige from his cabinet.
NAIY threatened to declare Ngige “a persona non-grata in the entire Igbo land,” if he did not desist from what they called ‘the puerile attacks’ on Eze.
It said Eze is “the number one Igbo man in terms of care for our race, financing of Igbo projects, and encouragement of Igbo sons and daughters, through financial empowerment,” and such they will not allow any form of attack on the person of Eze.
NAIY said the position in a statement jointly signed by Ndubuisi Oke, acting president; Oji Emeka, national secretary; and Chuks Nanyelu, director of publicity, yesterday.
“We, members and leadership of NAIY across the country, have watched with soberness and sadness the puerile attacks on a notable Igbo son and philanthropist, Eze, by Ngige. We, therefore, warn the minister that if he continues this way, we would declare him a persona non-grata in the entire Igbo land.
“We would prove to him that Eze is the number one Igbo man in terms of care for our race, financing of Igbo projects, and encouragement of Igbo sons and daughters, through financial empowerment,” it said.
Ngige reportedly called Eze “a fair weather politician” and called for the banishment of the 12 traditional rulers purportedly suspended by the Anambra State Government.
The minister later clarified that he only advised that the traditional rulers should be ‘relocated from their communities to avert breach of peace.
NAIY, which described the latest position of Ngige as ‘a blatant lie’, said the minister made a turn around because he could not swallow his pride and apologise.
“Ngige should know that as a minister and acclaimed respected Anambra son, he was not supposed to jump into the fray and take a side. Seeing that it was wrong for him to have called for the banishment of the traditional rulers in a democratic society that guarantees freedom of expressions and association as well as movement.
“Calling for action against Igbo who supports President Muhammadu Buhari, as Ngige did in the case of the 12 traditional rulers and Eze, makes it difficult for the government and the All Progressives Congress to make a stronger in-road into the South East for the much-needed synergy to develop the area. Eze is working for the integration of the Igbo in the mainstream of Nigeria politics, for the good of the South East. He needs support, not condemnation,” NAIY said.
Reacting, Ngige, in a statement from his media office signed by Emmanuel Nzomiwu, described Eze as ‘a fair weather politician’ who befriends ‘any government in power’, and uses his wealth to intimidate, oppress and brutalise the downtrodden in Anambra State communities, bordering his Ukpo hometown in his land grabbing spree.
The minister also denied ever taking his father to court as allegged by Eze.
On the position he took on the royal fathers’ matter in the state the minister said as a former governor and elder of the state, he had only advised Anambra government to relocate the traditional rulers out of their domain for administrative and security reasons.
According to Ngige, when officials of government and in this case, these government certified traditional rulers are suspended from office, they should stop to perform the functions of the office and hence, they should not be allowed to be visiting or threatening those carrying out their functions by still visiting the office whether it is in the palace or elsewhere.
“Eze had sabotaged the Anambra State Government by gathering a group of disgruntled persons, some gullible and even non recognized traditional rulers for ‘a thank-you-visit’ on behalf of the South East when in actual fact, no traditional ruler from Enugu, Ebonyi, Abia and Imo states, was in his motley gathering of Ezes.
“The chairman of Anambra State council of traditional rulers was not there, same with the chairman of the South East council of traditional rulers.
He also neither involved nor informed South East federal ministers, not to talk of those from Anambra State, even out of courtesy,” Ngige said in the statement.
Ngige rightly asserted and stood by his earlier statement that Eze should be sanctioned and punished for the act of sabotage, of aiding and abetting those traditional rulers to travel out of their kingdom without appropriate clearance from the Anambra State Government, an action for which all of them have pleaded guilty and apologised to the Governor.
Ngige asserted and stood by his earlier statement that Eze should be sanctioned and punished for the act of sabotage of aiding and abetting those traditional rulers to travel out of their kingdom without appropriate clearance from the state government.
The statement equally debunked claims that Ngige sued his father and lived in FESTAC before Eze rented a decent apartment for him in Lagos and helped him change his Volkswagen car.
“In 1980, he was already living in comfort in the 1004 Estate, National Assembly wing, Victoria Island, having been moved from his temporary accommodation in the Federal Palace Hotel, Victoria Island where he stayed when he arrived in Lagos as a youth corps medical doctor.
“Rather it was Eze who had been a family friend since 1967 that relocated from his elder brother’s house in Kirikiri to squat with him (Ngige), he (Arthur) having come back from the USA in 1979 and doing petty trading, buying and selling trips (Afia attack) to London, in the United Kingdom.” The statement maintained that the minister had a hand in growing Arthur’s petty business in the early eighties, from his buying and selling of T-shirts, ladies pants and Bra, to VHS cassette business, even as he provided him and his young trading associates with shelter and food whenever they returned from business trips from London into Lagos. He equally introduced him to many VIPs from where his business metamorphosed from supply of VHS cassettes to NTA and Anambra TV to construction of TV stations in the 80s.
Ngige said while he had nothing against the traditional rulers personally as four of them are his friends, just like Eze, a friendship that started in1967 in their boyhood days during the civil war, but as a former governor, senator and minister from Anambra State, he would not sit by and watch while the seat of governor of Anambra State was being desecrated, diminished as if a single individual or persons are above the state authority.