Former governor of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife has given a new interpretation to the spate of killings in various parts of the North Central zone of the country. He believes that the development is calculated to reduce the population of Christian voters ahead of the 2019 general elections. The former governor spoke with WILLY EYA on various issues.
With the recent incident in Plateau State, it does not seem that the killings in Nigeria would stop in the nearest future. Looking at all of these, what is your state of mind?
I must say that some of us the older ones were never thinking of anything other than one Nigeria but after looking at the gory pictures of happenings in Plateau State especially, I am afraid for the future of the country. The killings are continuing and it appears some people have decided to reduce the Christian voting population and the motive is the Islamisation of the country. The most disturbing aspect is that the chairman of Miyetti Allah had the guts to come to the public to own up what happened and is happening. He said it was in retaliation for the rustling and killing of their cows. We do not know when their cows were killed but even if cows were killed, we do not equate them with human beings. Are we the same types of human beings? How can some people have such callous, beastly insensitivity to other human beings. Obviously, the government is part of the whole show. If not, there is no way Miyetti Allah chairman can come out publicly to say what he said concerning what happened in Plateau. It shows that what T.Y Danjuma was saying was true but was not even the whole story. When you say a God’s blessed country, in every respect, the climate, the material and human resources, we have it, and the rest of Africa and all blacks are looking toward us for prestige, respect and dignity. But when people see the carnage, bloodletting and dehumanization of people and it is coming from us Nigerians, they would be worried about what is happening. I think there may still be hope if we can restructure and that is one issue which I want to talk about. I heard that President Muhammadu Buhari said that those who are pressing for restructuring are being selfish. Whatever he was talking about does not make sense because restructuring does not only mean resource control. We can have optimal restructuring, optimal resource control but it cannot be such that we wake up one day and all the revenues that are normally going to various states and local governments are mopped up immediately. We can do optimal restructuring and resource control and then a phased implementation of the programme such that it can be even in five years. It may even be longer. I do not think that if you say resource control, it means that the South South for instance would just mop up everything at once.
There is no question about it. The internal security of the zones and states, should become the responsibility of the zonal governments and the state governments.
Some people have continued to call for the overhauling of the nation’s security architecture as a way to tackle the spate of violence and killings; do you think it is the solution to the situation?
There should be an amendment to the constitution for a state police because without that, there is nothing we are doing that will improve the security situation.
But are you not worried that the politicians are currently more interested in 2019 than the killings all over the place especially the North Central part of the country?
One of the reasons why politicking is high is that some people think that power should go to some areas where common sense and human sympathy should affect the actions of government. Some people are working on changing the existing situation. You cannot fold your hands and continue to cry whereas nobody cares for your situation. I was reading about one boy who said he killed 10 people. The way some people were massacred shows that we are in a very big problem. With the situation, those who do not want the breakup of Nigeria are beginning to think twice. In the latest killings, Benue was not involved; it was this time in Plateau and it is continuing. It is not easy and also I must say this, instead of having a breakup of the whole country, we can think of the Gideon Orkar’s Nigeria. I do not know why Nigerians are not thinking about that. Instead of Nigeria becoming small and tiny countries that would not affect the future of the black man, it will be better to keep the Gideon Orkar’s Nigeria. It is also an option that is viable but the first choice would be the sustenance of one Nigeria. But if you cannot get it, you begin to worry. When the situation comes to the point of what is life worth after all and it is very close to it now, then everybody would take his destiny in his hands.
Ahead of the 2019 general elections, do you think the opposition parties have a chance of taking over power from the All Progressives Congress (APC)?
As far as I can think and because I believe there is God in heaven, with the comprehensive failure of the APC in every respect, I am not expecting the ruling party to win. But if it is the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), I am not sure it can singlehandedly win the election. I think there will be a coalition of parties that will come together to try and remake Nigeria. And no party can come out now and say it has a solution unless the process of going into politics is made more sensitive. Anybody going into politics should swear to an oath that he would work for the people. He should swear that he would not be going there to enrich himself and his people.
Many think that the only way such a coalition can work is if the parties involved present a common candidate like in the case of the APC in 2015; With the time available before 2019, do you think it is possible?
I do not know how it will play out but I know that God in heaven will ensure that the right person will take power in Nigeria. In 2015, I supported former President Goodluck Jonathan and opposed President Buhari but all the noise I made in favour of Jonathan and against Buhari did not stop Buhari from winning. So, if it is the will of God who works in a mysterious way, and He wills that Buhari would win again, there is nothing anybody can do to stop him. It is only the will of God that would make Buhari to win. So, in the human calculation, the APC and the President have lost the 2019 election totally but it is not only human calculation that determines the outcome of such elections.
But unlike Jonathan, many believe that Buhari knows how to use power and that it may be difficult for any other candidate to beat him to the 2019 poll.
You may be correct but man proposes but God disposes. I think Nigerians should form the habit of praying very hard against any problem that confronts them. Let Nigerians pray to God to touch the mind of Buhari to re-examine his decision to run. Let us pray that Buhari should make an emergency restructuring move. Buhari should accelerate the constitution review process that empowers the zones and the states to control the security of their states. What is emergency restructuring? It is a process of taking all the advantages we have. We have regional Constitutions available for the regions; we have Federal Constitution available for the Federal Government. We have recommendations virtually on every issue even in that of the 2014 National Conference. I think if the president says let’s do emergency restructuring, let’s form a sovereign national body and entrust it with this responsibility of emergency restructuring; let’s give them powers that if there are emergencies, let them find the solution out of the emergencies so that even if they overshoot their time and the 2019 election is not easy to conduct, they pass it and continue.
Emergency restructuring will make sure that Nigeria survives. It will give Mr. President the greatest name.