David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
The only surviving nationalist, a member of Zikist Movement and First Republic Aviation Minister, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi has again ventilated his anger about what he sees as lopsidedness in the leadership of Nigeria, which he said has continued to favour the North over a long period of time.
He, therefore, called for a quick review of the Nigerian constitution to balance the equation just as he lampooned the judiciary “in its attempt to render the electoral system ineffective.” Excerpts:
You said that the judiciary is giving judgments that are ridiculous and ludicrous. What exactly do you mean by that?
Yes, the judiciary is giving judgments that are ridiculous and ludicrous. First of all, the whole thing started from the former Chief Justice of Nigeria. The way he was removed, the way he was tried and the way the whole thing was handled left much to be desired. It showed it was just done in preparation for the presidential election and he was removed and a new Chief Justice took over. Judges of the Supreme Court and some Federal High Courts have been giving judgments that lawyers all over the world condemn. The scandal of what happened in Bayelsa State, there wasn’t any election there. Everybody knew that there was no election there. Look at what happened in Kogi State, where they killed people in a broad daylight and the law covers them or the people that rule the country cover them. Look at the way they kill people. Killers will be arrested, but there will be no prosecution. This year in some parts of the Southeast these Miyetti Allah cattle rearers have been killing people. They move about with their AK47 rifle openly in the public. The police don’t do anything to them. The military doesn’t do anything to them. But when an Igbo man carries on ordinary dane-gun to hunt squirrels they arrest him. They even disarmed the vigilantes in this part of the country. What kind of country is this? South-south at the moment produces over 80 per cent of the wealth of this country. What has the zone gained for it? When they agitate, they carry money to the place, silence a few people and the whole thing goes out. This country cannot be ruled by one small tribe – the Fulanis. They alone are ruling the country now and they regard the rest of the country as their colony. They have no regard for the West, the East, the South and the Middle Belt. They don’t regard them as part of Nigeria. They don’t regard them as equal partners in the federation. They regard them and treat them as conquered people and people who God has destined that they will be ruled by them for life. This is not going to continue. The people of this country must rise up. They must rise up. Other people have done it, other countries have done it. We did it against the British in Nigeria. Why can’t the present generation fight and save themselves.
You said democracy has fled this country. Is that in connection with the recent development in Imo State where the Supreme Court sacked the governor of the state?
Not only that of Imo State. The presidential election was not won by the All Progressives Congress (APC) party. The judgment of the Supreme Court was not true. So, there is no point pretending. The presidential election was not won and many of the elections conducted were not won. The election in Bayelsa was not won. The one in Kogi State was not won. The one in Osun State was not won. So, where is the democracy? And then you come to the states themselves, I’m not talking about the federation only. Look at Anambra State. For instance, since the present governor came to office, he has not held local government election in Anambra. When once it was held, all the candidates of the APGA party were declared winners. And when the council officials agitated that their revenue were being controlled by the state, all of them were dissolved. The state governor will nominate members of the Electoral Commission. They are all party puppets and when elections are held, they declare their party members winners. There is no democracy in the country. Democracy is not working in the country at the federal and State levels. Everybody wants to protect his way of looting the treasury in this country. Over 80 per cent of people in government are people who are there to loot. There is no patriotism, they are not nationalist, they don’t think about the welfare of the people. People like us who fought the imperialists to free our country can’t understand what is happening. Can what is happening now ever happen in any other part of the world?
What about our human right activists who have turned to ruling government apologists?
You are talking of individuals. I’m talking of the masses of the people. Individuals can be sinners today and saints tomorrow. What I’m saying is that this country should now notice massive uprising and non-violent uprising of the people of the country, the masses of the country, the youths of the country, children of the country, organized labour, for instance, NUPENG alone can bring about a change in this country, if they refuse to operate, for example, and there is no distribution of fuel and they will say until this is done we are not going to work, a change will come. Look at what happened in Egypt. People confirmed massive demonstration, non-violent demonstrations, day and night, for two or three weeks and there was a change. It happened in many places. That kind of thing is long overdue in Nigeria, that is massive uprising of the people without being violent. That’s what I’m talking about. I’m not talking of individuals.
You said Nigerians must meet to discuss the basis for this union. Could you throw more light on this, sir?
What I mean is that Nigeria is being ruled not with people’s constitution. In 1978, the then military Head of State, Olusegun Obasanjo set up a National Conference. They gave a draft constitution to the military government, instead of sending it to the public to decide. What did we see? It was government concocted, amended constitution. They removed what they did not like and put the ones they liked and then called it a decree. How can one man not elected by the people, one man who assumed power with the gun in an illegal way give the people of the country a constitution? The same thing happened in 1999 when the then Head of State set up a conference that drafted a constitution and sent to him and then again he removed what he did not like, what the military government did not like, inserted what they liked. Tell me any state in this country that was created according to the law except by decree. Look at Revenue Allocation. The old constitution said that the states should have primary control of the resources in their place and contribute to the centre. They removed this from the draft constitution and said all the states should come to the centre and the centre will give them what it feels is good for them, appropriate for them. And that is not the will of the people. So, the country is being ruled illegally, not by the constitution made by the people, but by the constitution imposed by the military which is a criminal institution. Anybody who governs the country with gun power is a criminal. And so, this country needs to meet and find a new constitution. There is need to meet, not just the politicians, the people of this country should meet and agree on how to be together as a nation. If they cannot agree, let the whole thing be dissolved. But if they can agree, let the nation go on as a true federation.
North is afraid of restructuring as it were. What do you think is their fear and how is it to be addressed?
There should be a conference. You go in there. The fears of the other man will be stated in a spirit of give and take. That was how we handled it in our own time, in a spirit of give and take then you proffer a solution. You don’t solve the problem by one man using a gun to say it must be the way I want it. And there will never be peace.
You said the country is going down. Could that be related to economy, education, technology or anything else?
When the head is rotten, the whole part of the body will only need time before they start being rotten themselves. In every aspect of the federation, revenue is important. Many people have no more confidence again in the federation. South-south, Southeast, Southwest, Middle Belt – four zones in the six geo-political zones of the country – have no longer any say in the affairs of the country. And then only one group will say it must be the way they want it. Not the way the constitution provides, but the way the military wants it. Don’t forget that of all the military rulers that ruled this country for about 40 years, the only Southerners that were military leaders were Aguiyi Ironsi, who held sway for six months and Obasanjo, two years. The rest were people from the North. And every thing was done to the advantage of the North. If we are going to be partners in the federation we must meet. You state your fears, you state your difficulties, and then I state my own fears and my own difficulties, if we really want to remain together as partners. We called it give and take in our own time. Instead of sending it to the public to decide, what did we see, it was government deleted and amended document. They removed what they did not like and put what they liked and called it a decree. How can one man not elected by the people, one man who assumed power with the gun in an illegal way, give the people of the country a constitution? The same thing happened in 1999. All the states of the federation were created by decree not by any law. The source of wealth of this country is from the South-south, Southwest and Southeast are being controlled by people from the North. The Minister of Finance, the President, the Attorney General of the federation and others in key ministries are all from the North. In the oil sector, how many Southerners are there on top? The man on top is from the North and all the departments, all the key departments are occupied by people from the North. The security services of the country, including the army, the navy, air force, the DSS and the police all are controlled by people from the North. This is verifiable, people from one side of the country. How can you say that this is a country that belongs to all of us?
What can you say about the Southwest formation of Amotekun?
You cannot beat a child and ask him not to cry. Self-defence is a natural law. Citizens, since Federal Government can no longer punish the people who kill others, the people have the right to self-defence, arrange for their self-protection. I think it is natural right and no law can deprive it from the citizens. No Attorney General can wish it away or can explain it away. What they did in the West is to arrange for their self-defence because they are being killed and their killers are not prosecuted. Those arrested were released. So, what do you want them to do? If your own governors in the Southeast or South-south don’t do it, it is either that they don’t know what to do or they are yet to come up with what they want to do.
So, you support the Southeast and South-south to emulate the Southwest in this security arrangement?
I say the Southeast and South-south have a right to organize their own self-protection and security. They should prepare their own in their own ways.
Fifty years after the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, has the country learnt any lesson?
To many Nigerians, particularly to the Buhari group, the war has not ended. The war against Ndigbo has not ended amongst certain people. And they are still fighting the war in any sphere.
The Igbo are demanding the presidential slot, but suddenly the South-south which left office before Buhari came are now demanding the slot. What’s your advice to Igbo?
Personally, I will be interested in such issues, when I’m sure that it is a Nigeria to which I still belong. If it is Nigeria in crisis, a Nigeria that is craving towards precipices and collapse, what is my business? But talking about Nigerian president of Igbo extraction, I have always said it to gentlemen of the press, ideally, that is not the situation in Nigeria. Nigeria is not an ideal place. Therefore, for self-protection sections should demand that office to protect themselves. For an example, if the Igbo normally have their rights, normally enjoy their rights in the country, then very few people will talk about presidency. But the question is that presidency now goes with self-protection and belonging. Now, if the Igbo want to be president, I have always said it, you don’t become president of a country by merely wishing to be a president. Presidency has never been awarded. Presidency has never been given as a Christmas present, no. If you want to be president, you have to organize, you have to strategize, you have to mobilize and you have to reach out because you can’t be a president with the votes of the Igbo alone. You can only be a president of Nigeria with the votes of all parts of the country to win the majority. So, any Igbo man who wants to contest the presidency should ask himself ‘will the election be a free and fair election.’ What tells you that in 2023 that you will have an election, that you won’t have a thing you had last year (2019), that you won’t have a thing that had been perfected and executed in a more scientific way, like the Imo robbery or like the Osun robbery. So, the Igbo man could contest the election and may not be pronounced a winner. That is the country as it is now. That is why it is necessary that there should be a dialogue before 2023 election. The country has to be together, first before the next year’s election. The country is heading towards a very dangerous precipice.
So, specifically, what do you think about the recent Supreme Court judgment on Imo State governorship election?
I wouldn’t want to be involved in matters of law. One, I’m not a lawyer. But two, I see the judgment of the Supreme Court as a judgment that should not have been, that it is not just. I see it as not just and it has brought this country to a shame to the whole world. The whole world is now saying shame to Nigeria. So, if there is going to be, if the judiciary could talk to themselves, there is no other alternative than to revise the whole thing and see if they have made a mistake here or there. The honour of justice is that not only there is justice, but to see that justice has been delivered. The world condemns what has been delivered as justice. If they want to save the judiciary of this country, they have no other alternative than to meet again and find a way of correcting this and saving their faces.