From David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi
First Aviation Minister in Nigeria’s First Republic, Chief Mbazulike Amechi has taken a critical look at issues bordering on the unity of Nigeria. He talks about Nigeria of his choice and the antidote against agitation for separation from the rest of the country, apportions blames and tell the Igbo what they would rather do as an alternative to Igbo presidency. He spoke at his country home, Ukpor in Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State.
President of Igbo origin
Presidency is a very key and strategic office in Nigeria. But it is not the beginning and the end. In 2019, there will be another presidential election and you have been talking about Igbo presidency as if to say that a president of Igbo extraction is the only way Igbo can survive.
First of all, let me say that I do not think that Igbo presidency is realistic for anybody to go for. There is a Northern President and the North fought desperately to capture the presidency two years ago. The President that was elected has been in and out of hospital. He has not really been an effective president since his election. We don’t know how it will all end up, whether he will still return from hospital to continue with the job. But let’s assume that he does come back. By 2019 will he or will he not want to contest for his second tenure. If he wants to contest, it is reasonable that he should be given an opportunity to complete his second tenure so that the North would have had their full two terms. If he is not in a position to contest, the North will still want to put up their own candidate and will stoutly fight to get the person elected. And so, there will not be any chance for any President from Igbo land or any other ethnic group in 2019. This is being realistic.
The basic thing is that if presidency is all that the Igbo are talking about, if a new leader is elected in 2019 form the North, he would like to complete his two terms and that gives the North three terms, that is if Buhari does not go for a second term. Before it will be possible or easy for an Igbo to make it at presidency, many years must have gone. It is not only through presidency that the Igbo can effectively make themselves relevant in Nigerian politics.
The truth is that so far, since the end of the civil war, the Igbo have been calculatedly pushed out of Nigeria. The only time the Igbo were able to fully belong to Nigeria was during the four years Presidency of Alhaji Shehu Shagari. But again, just at the beginning of Shagari’s second term, Buhari conspired and frustrated the possibility of an Igbo man succeeding Shagari. That government was then toppled, thereby pushing the Igbo back again into the position in which the other parts of Nigerian have conspiratorially relegated Ndigbo to after the civil war.
In my opinion, therefore, the only reasonable thing to do is for the Igbo to use what God has given them, the gift of hardwork, the gift of entrepreneurship, trading expertise and the gift of their technological superiority, exploit them and look homeward to develop Igbo land industrially and technologically to such an extent that the rest of Nigerians, or at least majority of other parts of Nigeria will be forced to depend on Igbo technology, expertise and industry. That is the way the Igbo should go instead of building skyscrapers in Kano, factories in Shagamu, factories in Lagos, building factories in Port Harcourt. They should bring those things back home. That is think- home philosophy. It is not only when an Igbo man is president that you can assert your position. That is if the Igbo will not be pushed out of Nigeria. If the people who rule Nigeria now do not misrule Nigeria to such an extent that there would be an implosion and explosion.
If the country is not restructured, if a new constitution that reflects a truly one Nigeria in which federating units of the country would be equal and none would be inferior or superior to the other, if that is not done, anybody who gives ultimatum will fail because sooner or later the implosion or explosion will occur.
See war coming
I do not see any war coming. I have not used that word. The people of this part of the country are agitating for Biafra. They demand self –determination. One relatively unknown young man, Nnamdi Kanu rose up and started leading an organization, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), the second organization that is agitating for Biafra, that is apart from the Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB). Now the government decided to stop him. He committed no offence. He and his organization were only expressing the right of expression according to the constitution, right of association and then the near military government we have at the centre got him arrested, charged him to court. The court found that whatever charges they had against him were bailable offence and granted him bail. They refused to allow him go, they continued to hold him in prison against the ruling of the courts.
Three courts granted the young man bail, the young man and three or four of them, they were granted bail by three different courts and yet the dictatorship, the democratic dictatorship we have now continued to hold him. And so, by holding him, they made him popular. People who did not know about Nnamdi Kanu came to know him.
The demand for Biafra became almost a household affair. Nnamdi Kanu became a household name not only in Igbo land but throughout the country and internationally. And so, they just created a hero by their myopic attitude to the law and constitution of the country. They just created a hero. That was why the other day when his organization ordered a stay – at – home to demonstrate, to support the demand for Biafra the reaction of the entire Igbo land and some States in the South South was total acceptance of the order.
Earlier, when the organization came out to do a peaceful demonstration which is permitted by the law of the nation and international law, they were killed by Nigerian soldiers and Nigerian police. And the insult was that when they killed these young men, they carried the bodies away which was a descecretion of the dead by the culture and tradition of the Igbo. The Igbo man has great respect for the dead. That is why in diaspora when an Igbo man dies, no matter how poor he is in the place he died, the town union will raise money to take his corpse home for decent burial. And when they, the security agents did that, our people did not talk, our government did not talk, our traditional rulers did not talk, our religious leaders did not talk. And so, in order to remember a significant date in the history of Igbo land, they ordered people to stay at home. Don’t come out. If you come out, they will kill you. The order was obeyed one hundred percent. And then that annoyed them on the other side. The annoyance was that instead of those people coming out to be killed, they were wise enough to stay at home. They now knew that there is a growing understanding and sympathy for Nnamdi Kanu and his group. Having said that, I have only tried to analyse the situation. But I personally believe that there are advantages in a big nation. And I support Igbo being part of a big Nigeria. But it must be only part of big Nigeria as equal partners and not as a slave. Instead of being a slave in a big Nigeria, I will rather support being a free man in the smallest country because Biafra will still be bigger than many other countries in the African continent.
Basically, I fought, I devoted my entire youth in the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroon ( NCNC) party and Zikist Movement of the First Republic of Nigeria, to fight for one united Nigeria. And my party demonstrated a total belief in one Nigeria.
When we elected a Northerner as a Mayor of Enugu, when we elected an Eze Hausa at Onitsha, when we elected someone from the present Edo State as a member of the Eastern House of Assembly we did that to show our serious belief in one Nigeria. I still believe that there are several advantages in belonging to a big country but it must be as equal partners not as a slave. So far, the rest of Nigerians have conspiratorially placed Ndigbo in the position of slaves. And that is intolerable and unacceptable. As a matter of fact, a new constitution should be written that will contain and state the true wishes of the people that live in the geographical entity called Nigeria.
Apart from the 1962 Republican Constitution, all other constitutions in Nigeria were constitutions imposed by the military. And going by the present constitution, Nigeria is an illegality now. Nigeria is an illegality because we have thrown away the peoples constitution and we are using the one imposed on this country by an illegal military government made up of people who are guilty of treason. So, these are the people who have imposed their constitution on us. And who are these military people? they are all Northern soldiers.
It is either the Gowon constitution creating states outside the confines of the constitution or Babangida creating states, or Abacha. So, it has been the North and I think Nigeria should come out of it. Let the various components of Nigeria come together and say this is how we want to be ruled, this is how we want this country to be. Outside that, what we are now, what they call 1999 constitution is an illegality. It’s not a true representation of the people’s will. The Constitution Drafting Committee did its job but that was submitted to the military, an ill constituted authority that amended the constitution against the will of the people. Until this constitution is cancelled and people’s oriented constitution put in place, there will be no peace in this country.
Implementation of National conference decision of 2014
I was not present at the National Confrence and I don’t know what they decided. But if the whole country would meet at that level and arrive at certain decisions, what right has one man, to say it will not be implemented or it will not be at least examined to see the good or bad parts of the decisions. What right has the present government to say they will not look at what top men and women of this country did before he assumed office. Who is the one man, who gives him the right to say it will be thrown away.
Advice to Igbo
The igbo should think deeply. When two fowls are fighting and the hawk hovers above, the fighting chicken will go into a hole for safety. Ndigbo should forget personal animosity and enmity and come together for a unity of purpose. They should think deeply, plan deeply, survey the position, analyse the position and forget individual political superiority at this critical moment. I advise Ndigbo, politicians, traditional rulers, religious leaders, town union leaders and so forth to go into a private long session and plan out a strategy for either bringing themselves to be truly part of the federaltion or to be on their own if Nigeria does not want them. And it has to be done in a peaceful way without any bloodshed because we have lost enough lives and blood.
Quit notice to Igbo
Arewa youths are only acting a script written by some people. How is the organization or coalition formed over night? What tells you it was the Arewa youths.Yes, the youths were brought together and allowed to hold their meeting in Arewa House, the official building owned by governments of the North in Kaduna. They held their meeting there and issued that insulting and irresponsible statement asking the Igbo to leave the North on October 1. Who says they are on their own. They are sponsored by some people who paid for what they are doing. They are speaking the mind of some people, alright? The governor of Kaduna state in whose domain these unfortunate statements were issued has cried out to arrest these boys or their sponsors. Has any of them been arrested? If it were in Igbo land, would they not have gone to their houses blow down the houses of parents of those youths. Who will arrest the Arewa youths? Is it the Inspector General of Police appointed from the position of a Commissioner to IGP by the present president of the country. Who will arrest them? Can the DSS arrest them? Who is the DSS? The DSS man who will defy court order to detain Nnamdi Kanu, detain Dasuki, detain Ifeany Ubah and so many others? So, the North know what they are doing.
Now, the government says that Arewa youths are irresponsible, that the security agents will defend the people living in the North. Who tells you that they will defend you? Our Igbo parable says soso osisi nuru n’aga egbu ya, wee kwuru ofu ebe. (Only a tree hears it will be cut down and still stand at the spot). Igbo should start making arrangements to reduce the number of their families in the North so that when they unleash what they have plotted,, it would not be wiping out a whole family at a go. And as an Igbo man, when they try to kill you, you kill them first in defence. They will be armed and protected by the security agents. Never mind about what they are saying concerning protection of people living in the North. That is rubbish. Look at what happened the other day. The Acting President was addressing Igbo leaders including traditional rulers and they lined up. He was talking to them as if he was talking to a group of Scouts being addressed by the Scout leader. He was talking to them about the indissolubility and indivisibility of Nigeria-grammar. They were listening to him as good students. But I expected one of them to get up and say something. He just dismissed them after addressing them. The present generation of Igbo including traditional rulers, religious leaders and politicians are not the type of Igbo we were that fought for the Independence of this country, Igbo of courage, Igbo of resolve, Igbo that are bold.