… Advises Buhari to step aside in 2019
… Gives reasons herdsmen are attacking Benue people
Foremost nationalist and former Minister of Aviation in the First Republic, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, has berated President Muhammadu Buhari over the state of the nation, saying he is responsible for the killings in the country for failing to halt it. He said that the country is at the “at the brink of catastrophic precipice,” noting that there is an urgent need for Nigerians to come together and work out the basis of the union and enthrone a peaceful federation. In this interview with Sunday Sun, Amaechi also spoke on other issues bothering on the preparations for the 2019 elections, Buhari’s re-election bid, the bombing of the country homes of some leaders in the South-East and the activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), among others. Excerpts:
Sir, by virtue of your position as an elder statesman, what do you have to say about the state of the nation?
Well, it is clear to everybody, even the blind can see it, even the deaf can hear it that the country right now is at the brink of catastrophic precipice. Things are extremely dangerous and I personally, and indeed all Nigerians, hold the government of the day responsible for what is happening in the country now. You notice the upsurge in killings in Christian areas of the country. The President went to America and told President Trump right in his face that the so-called Fulani herdsmen are really people who were trained by deceased Libyan ruler, Gaddafi. I was watching them on the television and I don’t know if his advisers did not notice the contempt with which the American president, who never hides his feelings on anything, looked at the man when he was saying that. Gaddafi died about six or seven years ago; the Americans and their allies killed him.
So, he believed that if he goes to America and talks ill about Gaddafi, the American people would clap for him, but he didn’t know that he ridiculed himself by saying that. If Gaddafi trained warriors and sent them to Nigeria, for whom did he train them? Was it not for the Fulanis, for the advancement of their 1804 Jihad? You pressmen say that Fulani herdsmen are behind what is happening in the country now, but the fact is that it’s a new jihad, an Islamic war. It is a carefully planned arrangement to Islamise the country in a 10 to 30 years programme with the foundation being supervised by a Fulani president, which they have installed now.
And that is why they will be desperate to re-install him next year so that he will have another four years to see that the operation is properly entrenched. If you notice, the areas they are fighting are mainly Christian areas; they are fighting Christianity and other religions. Benue State was where Uthman Dan Fodio was stopped in 1804. Benue people stopped his advancement to the South and that is why they don’t take them kindly. In 1961, we were in government when such a problem was unleashed on the Tiv people. They were being killed; you either accept the Quran or you are killed. The killing was on for almost a year until the government fought them and stopped it.
Now, the programme is to overrun Benue State, which was the wedge that stopped their 1804 advancement. If they overrun the place and occupy it, they will then move forward to Cross River areas through Ogoja. That is the fight that is going on now. After that, on the South western side, they will go to Anambra through Nsukka area. So, everything is carefully planned. But I cannot understand why our Christian leaders and politicians cannot see this and do something or say something. Is it because they don’t want to endanger the huge amount of money they are sharing in the government? Will they continue to share this money until the country is no longer?
Saying that these killings are limited to Christian areas is a bit flawed as states like Zamfara, Adamawa and a few other Muslim-dominated states are also being attacked…
(Cuts in) Look, look, look. Listen to me. These people are strategists. While the president was in America, they went and bombed one mosque that is scarcely attended to give the impression that they are also attacking Islamic areas. These are simple strategies that are too elementary for people to understand. But I don’t know why the politicians and church leaders cannot see this. They bombed a mosque that was scarcely peopled while the man was in America to create the impression that the people are bombing both Islamic and Christian areas. Everybody knows that.
And you hold the president responsible for these attacks? Who else is presiding over the country?
Who else should be held responsible for what is happening in the country? He planned it! Look at what is happening in the Police Force. The Inspector General of Police (IGP) was promoted from the rank of Commissioner of Police to the position for helping to rig him into office in Kano State. He bypassed all the AIGs and DIGs and made the man the IGP. Look at the way he is disarming everyone; he ordered that the whole country should be disarmed while the jihadists whom you people choose to call herdsmen are being protected, re-armed and retrained and more recruits are being enlisted. Can’t people see it? The country is in a very dangerous precipice.
What are you expecting the government to do that it’s not doing in respect of the killings across the country?
What are they doing to stop it? Are they doing anything at all to stop it?
There are ongoing operations by the army in the affected states…
(Cuts in) What operations? How many herdsmen have been arrested? What of the leader of the Miyetti Allah? Has he been arrested? He calls press conferences and so forth. And yet when young boys and young girls in IPOB go on demonstration, they kill them. They tie their hands and shoot them and kill them. They think that the country and the whole world will be watching idly by. If the world will be watching, if the country will be watching, God is not watching. God will visit this country one day. This country is God’s creation and God will never abandon His creation.
That takes us to the issue of the recent bombing of the country home of the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo and also that of former Minister of Finance, Kalu Idika Kalu. How would you react to this strange development in Igbo land?
I don’t know about that. I’m not in a position to comment on that. But don’t forget that these people are strategists enough. Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are not easy to acquire. They have the technology. Have they found out who carried out the bombings?
You have seen so many elections in this country and the 2019 general election is fast approaching. What should Nigerians expect?
Well, for an election to be credible, first of all, it must be held in an atmosphere of peace. When there is peace and election is conducted in a transparent manner, and it is clear that it is the choice of the people that is elected, everything will be all right. But when there is no peace in the country, where people are not contented and where election results are not properly announced, may be an unelected person is announced and so forth, it amounts to laying the foundation for a very big trouble in the country. Look at the APC, look at what happened in their ordinary primary election in Ekiti State. These people are not politicians; they don’t believe in anything. That’s why when somebody seeks nomination in a political party and fails, he goes to another party and seeks nomination again. There is no ideological link. In our own time, one of the bylaws in the NCNC to which I belonged, and it was the same thing in the Action Group, was that if you were not an active financial member of the party for two years, you were not qualified to stand election on the party’s ticket. But today, people move from one party to the other carrying money to seek for nominations because they just want to be part of the looting spree that is going on at Abuja. It was not so in our time.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has been alleging that the APC is planning to rig the 2019 elections. Do you see the signs as an experienced politician or they are just crying wolf where there is none?
From what I see now, there is every sign of desperation on the APC side. I don’t know whether that will make them to rig the election, but if they want to rig the election, they have already laid the foundation for it by the composition of the INEC, which they constituted, and the Armed Forces of the country. They have laid a good foundation for that if they want to rig the election. But as I said, I noticed a lot of desperation on their part.
And what should be the attitude of Nigerians to that?
It’s for you journalists to prepare the minds of the people. Give people proper news and proper interpretation of news, write your editorials and let people know their rights. Once people know their rights, they cannot be overridden. We are now in a new imperialism; I fought British imperialism in Nigeria. Today, Nigerian youths are supposed to fight Fulani imperialism in their own country. That is the new imperialism we have in the country now. In my youth, I fought British imperialism; it’s for Nigerian youths to now rise up and fight the Fulani imperialism that is dominating the country.
IPOB recently issued a statement expressing their readiness to fight Fulani herdsmen to a standstill in the South-East. Do they have your support?
I’m not talking of Igbo land. The Igbo at the moment are part of Nigeria. I’m talking of the Nigerian situation. It’s not only in the South-east that there is this threat and Igbo land does not make up Nigeria. I’m talking about Nigerian youths whether from the East, West, South and even the North. All northerners do not support what the present government is doing. There are many thinking northerners who don’t like what is happening.
But do you think IPOB is in order on that issue and would they get your support?
For all I know, IPOB has not been violent. I have not seen any violent action from them. The boys have been demonstrating; they have been passing their resolutions. I don’t see why they should be banned and then the Miyetti Allah is allowed to go on. Then the Fulani herdsmen are being armed and trained while IPOB is banned. Can’t you see the injustice there? Can’t you see that there is a more serious diabolical plan there? I don’t ever advocate violence; if IPOB becomes violent, I will be the first to condemn them.
I asked whether IPOB has your support at least on the herdsmen issue because it appears that many Igbo leaders are not supporting their cause?
Who are the Igbo leaders? The opportunists who spend money to win positions in order to take part in the looting and sharing of the commonwealth? Are they the people you call Igbo leaders?
We have seen IPOB exchange words in the media with the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, which indicates that Igbo leaders are not in support of the activities of the organisation…
I don’t know. By my age, I’m retired and I’m resting in my home. I don’t know anything about Ohanaeze and IPOB.
Supporters of President Buhari’s re-election bid have been wooing the South-east with the promise of Igbo presidency in 2023 while some Igbo leaders say the zone should be allowed to produce the president in 2019. Where do you think the people should pitch their tent?
Ideally, Buhari is entitled to contest for a second term. But in reality, I am of the view that by his age and health, he should be patriotic enough to leave such a high position as the presidency of Nigeria for a healthier, younger person. But constitutionally and ideally, he is entitled to contest, but I think he is not fit physically, mentally and in every respect to continue.
If you say so, how do you think Ndigbo should play the politics of 2019?
I don’t think Ndigbo should have Igbo block vote. Individuals should vote wherever they want to vote. I don’t believe in tribal block votes.
It doesn’t make for unity in the country. If you say you are a country and you are divided into blocs of tribes are you making peace? Let every Yoruba man vote where he likes; let every Igbo man vote where he likes; and let every Hausa man vote where he likes and likewise across every tribe in the country. That’s the way I look at it.
You have always been optimistic about the future of the country amid calls for separation even from some elder statesmen. Why have you not joined the bandwagon?
I happened to have fought for one Nigeria. I happened to have belonged to a political party that believed and practiced one Nigeria. I have not changed that attitude. But my idea of one Nigeria is that it has to be the type of one Nigeria that we created and not the present one Nigeria where a section like the Igbo side of it is being treated as a slave in the country, and the Yoruba are made to be pickers of the crumbs that fall from the master’s table. The North has ruled this country for a total of 42 years post-independence, mainly by military men who ruled by decree and without legislative houses most of the time. They should let democracy prevail in this country.
Some sectional organisations in the country have come out to declare that it’s restructuring or no election in 2019. What is your take?
If this country is to continue as a peaceful federation, there is urgent need for the people of the country to come together and work out the basis of the union. At the moment, what we have in the country is not a people’s constitution. It is military imposition. Both the 1979 constitution and the 1999 constitution are military impositions; they are not people’s constitution. They took away the rights of the people; they took away the wealth of the people. They have denied parts of the country that produce wealth the management of their wealth. There is need for people to come together and agree on the basis of having a union that will work.
What is your parting word for the President and Nigerians?
Mr President has ruled this country as a military dictator; he has ruled this country as a democratically elected president. What more does he want? I advise him to be patriotic enough (that is true patriotism and love of the country) and by virtue of his health and age step aside.