A former National Youth Leader of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Tony-Uche Ezekwelu, has lamented the continued marginaliza- tion of Igbo in Nigeria, suggesting, however, that the leadership of the Pan-Igbo socio-cultural group would need to work with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MAS- SOB) and other Pro-Biafra groups if it wants to end the alleged marginalization of the people of the South East.
Ezekwelu, who was a former Senior Special Adviser to Governor Willie Obiano on Youth Affairs, ex-Deputy Chief Whip in the Anambra State House of Assembly, also spoke on other national issues in this interview with OBINNA ODOGWU.
Igbo have been crying out over their alleged marginalization in Nigeria. How do you think this can end?
The way out for the Igbo people out of this marginalization is for the Igbo to stop marginalizing themselves. Igbo people across the world should move their businesses back to the South East and do what the Catalonians have done in Spain, making Barcelona and other key cities of the Catalonian region to become the control- ling arm of the economy of Spain. If all the Igbo big men bring back their major businesses from Lagos, Kano, Kaduna and other parts of Nigeria and invest heavily here in South East, the zone will now become the economic hub of Nigeria.
Ndigbo should know that ‘akuluo uno’ (investing at home) is the way out. Let us now concentrate our efforts in building a world-class cities like the United Arab Emirates, the people of Abu Dhabi did. Let us make the South East the Dubai of Nigeria, West Africa, and Africa. By the time we come in here to invest these ef- forts, we invest in building other places across Nigeria, the solution will come. A friend of mine who built a heavy mansion in Kaduna before the crisis in the recent years happened, a building he did on eight plots of land, something he did with over N160 million at the time he built it around 2007/8, by the time the crisis came, he couldn’t live there and had to leave.
Do you know how much he eventually sold the house after much pleading with friends? He sold it for just N10 million. What somebody laboured for, for years. If he had built anywhere in the South East, do you think anything will happen to it? Let all the Igbo know that whatever they have outside Igboland is not secured. Let us come home and build superpower economy within the South East and South South of Nigeria. Let us turn Port Har- court, Aba, Onitsha, and other areas to our own Lagos and use Enugu as our own re- gional capital. If we are able to do it with-in the next two years, Nigerians will start begging us. We need to work together.
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo should be more organized and more proactive and should work hand in hand with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and other pro-Biafra groups. Ohanaeze as a father must bring IPOB, Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), and other pro-Biafra groups together and work as one and work with the Igbo in the Diaspora because that is the biggest asset Ndigbo have. The Dias- pora economy of Igboland is second to none in the whole of Africa. In the world, it’s only second to the Jews. What we need to do is to organize here; make sure that we have world-class leaders manning the South Eastern states. Let us stop putting mediocre as governors of our states. Let us make Igbo nation one party region; one political party. What we need is stra- tegic planning and thinking; coordination, eschew unnecessary bickering and disharmony and things will work better.
At the moment, it appears all odds are against All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). What do you think should be done to salvage the party?
I am a founding member of APGA. The party is in a sore and pitiable situation; a situation whereby a Pharaoh that does not know Joseph came to bear is the problem we are suffering today. APGA does not need to be importing governors and party leaders from anywhere. That is the cause of the problem. Those that don’t know the foundation, ideology, spirituality, philosophy, took over the control of the party as the party leaders. That is the crisis we are having today. They think that APGA is just an all comers affair.
For the party to come back to life, they should first of all, bring back the founding members of the party and beg them; appease them to come back to the party. And the leadership of the party must stop insulting the head and leader of APGA, which is Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu. They have to honour him back and give him the pride of place in the party because it was with his name and ef- forts that APGA became a winning party in Anambra State, South East and in Nigeria. Nobody can deny that. They have to go and beg and bring back the founding members of the party that they have frustrated out of the party. The crisis you are seeing is just on the surface.
If APGA as a party does not put itself together, reconcile itself and bring out all these court cases, they may continue fighting over these court cases and an- other party will take over. APGA may not have governorship candidate in 2021 governorship election in Anambra State. What APGA needs now is reconciliation. They should call Chief Edozie Njoku and group; call Chief Victor Oye and group and sit down; look at the facts on ground and have a common meeting point. They should also consult the former Chairman, Chief Victor Umeh, and former Chair- man, Chief Chekwas Okorie, and most of those persons that helped in forming this party including the elder statesman, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, who played prominent role in forming the party and others.
Elders of Igboland should sit and think if this party could be the party that could play this role I am talking about; saving Igbo from marginalization. If not, elders of Igbo land should look for another party that is founded, owned, and controlled by an Igbo man; that doesn’t have these encumbrances of APGA and adopt it and make it a regional party in Igbo land. African Democratic Congress (ADC) can be an option; that was founded and chaired by the former founding member of APGA, Chief Ralph Okey Nwosu. It can be an option if they fail to reconcile. But I think they should be serious about bringing in all those aggrieved members because if not, that crisis that happened prior to the 2019 general election may bring down this party because what they did in that process was a sacrilege.