Chief Tobby Anumaka, is the patron Okpoko Igbo, a Pan-Igbo cultural Organisation and a chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), has backed the South East governors over their rejection of the idea of setting up Fulani Youth Vigilance groups in the geopolitical zone.
In a recent letter to British Parliamentary Group, the Northern Christian Elders Forum accused the Buhari’s administration of persecuting Christians in the country. What is your take?
It is not true and a pure lie which is aimed at destabilising the country. I’m a Christian from the South East and I have always defended the rights of my people even though I’m a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). President Muhammadu Buhari is a true Nigerian and elder statesman who fought during the Nigerian-Biafra civil war to unite the country. How can Mr. President turn round to destroy the house he helped to build? Also, the vice president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and a pastor for that matter cannot watch while Christians are persecuted or killed. It is outright false and like I said if it is true that the Northern Christian Elders Forum actually wrote such letter, it’s unfortunate. Boko Haram, bandits and kidnappers are nobody’s friend because they kill and kidnap Muslims and Christians, they burn Mosques and Churches, including public arena such as markets and motor parks where you have people from all walks of life.
South East governors have opposed the proposal by the Miyeti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) to set up Fulani Youth Vigilance groups in the geopolitical zone, don’t you think MACBAN meant well?
It is funny, laughable and an insult on the Igbo for Fulani to provide security in a peaceful region while their geopolitical zone is under siege by Boko Haram. It is a Greek gift and misplaced priority on the part of the Fulani. These are people we are accusing of killing and maiming our people, but now want to provide us security. It’s like making your enemy your gateman. I repeat, it is an insult on the entire Igbo race. So, I toe the line of the governors and Ohanaeze Ndigbo. We don’t need their protection rather let them go and protect North West and North East where Boko Haram, armed bandits and kidnappers are having a field day. As a matter of fact, South East is the most peaceful zone in the country. Today, we all know that Fulani lands are volatile. So, it is like a case of one leaving the scale in his eyes and tries to remove the one in another person’s eye. To me, that is pure hypocrisy.
Many have accused President Buhari of shielding Fulani herdsmen. Do you share this view?
It is a mere allegation because it has not been proven that the president is protecting herdsmen. So, the accusation is neither here nor there. The herdsmen/farmers clash is a domestic problem and you don’t expect President Buhari to take drastic action as though we are in a war situation because these are his subjects. What is required in dealing with the problem is carrot and stick approach. So, I’m not one of those who accuse the president of not dealing decisively with the Fulani herdsmen because he is a Fulani. Don’t forget that not all herdsmen are criminals because we have been with them for a long time. So, you don’t expect the president to approach internal matter the way he would have approached external incursion. On the establishment of cattle colony in Igbo land, I also toe the path of Ohanaeze; the president should jettison the idea because already Igbo are no longer comfortable with the Fulani and any attempt to give them a land in the South East means worsening the situation.
What is your take on the recent report by European Election Monitoring Group that said the 2019 general elections in Nigeria were flawed?
There is no perfect election anywhere in the world even in advance democracies. Nigeria’s electoral process is a work in progress and gradually we will get it right. One peculiar thing about Nigeria’s election is that election figures have always been manipulated by political parties across board, but the smartest candidate wins and most atimes is the most popular candidate that wins election. If PDP is accusing APC of manipulating the results, I know some states where PDP also manipulated the results. Like I said, the smartest candidate always win election and as expected the loser will go to the election tribunal to challenge the result and that is exactly what Atiku has done. If he can prove his case, so be it
Let Atiku show us the server he got the result he is brandishing from. The onus of prove rest on him to tell the world where he got the result that shows he won the 2019 presidential election from.
South East voted massively for PDP in the last elections, could that be the reason the ruling party sidelined the region in the selection of principal officers in the 9th Assembly?
You cannot say the South East voted massively for PDP in the just concluded general elections because APC made an inroad in the South East this time than in 2015. In 2015 we had only Senator Ben Uwajumogu representing Imo North as the Senator elected on the platform of APC from the entire South East and not that he defected from another party to the ruling party. But in 2019, the number has increased to three senators; they include the former governor of Abia State and Senator representing Abia North, Orji Uzor Kalu, and Uwajumogu who was re-elected and former governor of Imo State and Senator representing Imo West, Rochas Okorocha. In most states in the region, APC got 25 percent.