By Chukwudi Nweje
Former member of the House of Representatives, Chief U.S.A Igwesi has warned that an urgent step should be taken to address the worsening security situation in the country to avoid a looming danger.
In this interview, Chief Igwesi who was once Majority Leader, Enugu State House of Assembly, spoke on various national issues including the need for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023.
What are your thoughts on the issue of insecurity in Nigeria?
The worrisome issue of insecurity in Nigeria, ranging from kidnapping for ransom to armed robbery, banditry, negative activities of criminal herdsmen, and terrorism all over the country is a keg of gun powder waiting for explosion. The country is, indeed, in a state of anomie, anarchy and at a precipice. The primary responsibility of any government is to protect lives and properties; so, the ruling government should rise to their mandate. Worse still are the inflammatory utterances of some of our so called religious leaders. Some of them have constituted themselves into religious bigots and war mongers, drumming stubbornly the sounds of war, which is not only inimical to good conscience but one capable of igniting another civil disturbance.
The ruling government should, as a matter of emergency, charge the new service chiefs to completely decimate the insurgency and come up with an executive bill amending the relevant sections of the constitution that centralised the Nigerian Police Force, and retain same in the exclusive list. This, therefore, brings to bear the issue of state police. Power devolution is key to the problem of insecurity. Nigeria is a federation and should be able to allow its federating units to deal primarily and sufficiently with the issue of insecurity in their various states.
The attacks are perpetrated in the states, and as such, those states should be empowered to face the criminals head-on without recourse to the Federal Government. This constitution amendment can be achieved in months provided the various stakeholders demonstrate the will and willingness to do the needful. All that is required is to have executive bill or private member bill on ground. But, prior to this initiative, both the leadership of the National Assembly, the President and his relevant team, the governors and Speakers of state Houses of Assembly, or in addition, the majority leaders whose job is to lead debate on executive bill in their various Houses in good conscience and faith agree primarily to have the bill passed into law and assented to. This can be achieved in good time and we will see the security architecture working effectively for good and Nigeria will once again have peace. The police as presently constituted do not have enough manpower, capacity and technical know how to deal with this hydra headed menace posed by terrorism.
The problem is not only to increase the population of the police but to decentralise the force for it to be able to be ubiquitous. Proximity is key and central to the fight against crimes and criminalities. This arrangement will now give the state governors the taunted powers as chief security officers to deal with the situation and also to appropriate funds in their various state budgets as a matter of priority. So, funding and procurement of state-of-arts equipment will no longer be an issue, because it can be handled by each state. The second version of it is that there is hunger in the land; an empty stomach does not understand the language of peace and co-existence. The government should create wealth by empowering small and medium scale enterprises.
Do you support a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023?
No reasonable Nigerian who has been following the political trend and power equation that will not support such immaculate project. This is the best and acceptable project for the emancipation of the country from lopsided and clueless leadership since the return of democracy. If you examine power sharing arrangement since independence of the country from 1960 and the leadership table vis-a-vis geo-political zones, you will not hesitate to insist that a president of Igbo extraction will do the magic. It is popularly said that he who comes to equity should come with clean hands.
In fairness, South easterners should be allowed a grip of the plum job. Equity, fairness and justice demand that the next president of Nigeria should come from the South East to assuage the notable imbalance in the political engineering of the country and to establish a solid based, and technically oriented economy. Moreover, it will douse pockets of agitations for secession and incessant cry for marginalization and injustice meted to the Igbo since after the civil war.
It is not wrong to believe that Igbo escorted other ethnic groups to the country called Nigeria. It is only the South East that has five states while other zones have six states; no reason has been adduced for such imbalance and injustice. This is inexplicable. If we believe in the sermon of re-integration as one of the cardinal R taunted after the civil war, the Igbo should be re-integrated in the mainstream. The Igbo are the most peaceful zone in the country with lots of enterprising spirits. They are not only resilient but technically endowed to reposition the country to a standard that can be equated to what is presently happening in China.
Every average Igbo man is creative, innovative, resilient, enterprising and technically strong to navigate the troubled waters of governance in the country.
We need a creative mind with good spirit to return the past glory of Nigeria and who will be able to churn out policies that will move the country to the next level. Countries like China, Japan, Taiwan, Indonesia etc were once like Nigeria but with good leadership and creative ingenuity of their leaders, they were able to return faith and good governance to their country. What is happening at Aba, as an industrial hub of the country is a typical example of what an Igbo man can do given the support and necessary opportunity to replicate same at a larger scale. All the great economics of the world were driven by technology, entrepreneurship and technical know-how and Nigeria cannot be an exemption. The Igbo themselves have to come together and do the necessary lobbing, exchange hands of fellowship, and above all, have a streamlined master plan on how to go about it and ensure that all political parties field an Igbo man as a candidate.
Recently, the media have been awash with stories of kidnapping of school children in parts of the North. What is your take on this ugly development?
It is dehamanising, wicked and worrisome that crimes have moved to a point where innocent and harmless pupils and students are being taken away forcefully from their schools to the bush by some hoodlums. You can imagine the mental and physical torture the students will be going through in the hands of their abductors. The safe school initiative launched in 2014 to promote safety of pupils, students, teachers, and facilities in the schools, should be reviewed and implemented. This has exposed the inability of government of the day to provide security to these harmless pupils. The insecurity of Nigeria has degenerated to the level of packing our children like goods in their various schools unchallenged; the country is doomed. This will get to a time when parents will be afraid to send their wards to schools and you can imagine the rate at which the country will witness out of school children and the subsequent social repercussions.
How do you react to the threat of food blockade from the North to the South?
This will definitely resuscitate the enterprising and the resilient spirit of an average Igbo man. It is going to be a wake-up call and a challenge to ensure food security and sufficiency to a technically endowed region like the South East. It will always remind the Igbo that what they need is not to go out of Nigeria but to establish and make the region very attractive, economically, technologically, and infrastructurally. As the Catalonians did in Spain when they realized that Madrid will never give them independence, they decided to turn inwards and develop their region, technologically, economically and infrastructurally and now they are the economic power of Spain. The same thing is with Bayern in Germany. Bayern had a choice to stay out and be a country of its own like Austria did, but instead, it opted to stay within a greater Germany and become its best.