By Daniel Kanu
President, Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), Prof Uzodinma Nwala, no doubt is among the Igbo leaders with integrity.
In this exclusive chat with Sunday Sun, he speaks on the Nigerian condition, the gale of agitation, IPOB, 2023 Igbo presidency, among other national issues. Excerpt :
How would you react to the latest siege to the premises of Supreme Court Judge, Justice Mary Odili?
Well, how will I react to it if not condemn the action? This is somebody who is second so to speak in that elevated judiciary, Supreme Court position and she is being treated in such a cavalier manner, that action speaks volumes; it shows that this country is totally a banana republic, there is no rule of law, what else can one say and until now everybody is denying responsibility for what happened.
Most analysts contend that Nigeria is at a tipping point. What is your take on this?
There is no doubt about it that Nigeria is at the verge of collapse. That is really what it is, I can’t understand any normal society where the kind of things that we are experiencing in Nigeria happens. There is no rule of law or perhaps there is total disregard to the rule of law. So, it’s difficult to say anything more. There is anarchy and the people are dissatisfied with all that is happening.
What exactly in your opinion is playing out because most Nigerians believe that it has never been bad as this?
Well, the truth remains that it is obvious to you and I think it is not just in Igboland alone that people are agitating, it is happening all over the country. You can see it is already happening within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, where one will expect that the rule of law will prevail and that anarchy will not reign supreme, that security will be very high. If you really watch what has been happening in recent days, no less a place like the University of Abuja was attacked, which is very much at the heart of the city. You know and you read about what is happening in other parts of our cities, it’s very sad, it is total anarchy all over the place, not only in the upper North, it is happening in the Middle Belt, it is happening in Yoruba land (Southwest), it is happening in Igbo land and everywhere, it is very sad and very much out of place.
What do you think should be done because the government itself is insisting its leadership is on top of the situation?
It is obvious that they are not on top of anything. What we have raging now is total anarchy; let nobody deceive anybody any longer. Apart from what the government is doing and what other bandits and groups are doing, I mean other groups in the name of IPOB, unknown gunmen, ESN, and other ordinary bandits who have been hired by the politicians or by individuals, that is what is happening, that is the state of affairs, it’s a very saddening situation. We have been reading these things happening in other places like in Ethiopia, Sudan etc, but coming back home now; it has come to envelop us as lives are being wasted.
Some commentators also say there is infiltration from the outside Igbo land to the Southeast region, the reason there appears to be some sort of siege to the zone…?
(Cuts in) Definitely, there is infiltration not only…you can’t say it’s the Fulani alone, you can’t say it’s the lawless elements in the various communities alone, or hirelings of politicians etc, all of them are at work. What we need to do, frankly speaking, is for those who will want to save the fatherland for them to stay together and begin to raise, should I call it local militia? They should begin to take interest in vigilante in the various communities, they should take interest in the farm guards in the various communities, let the youths organise themselves, work and protect the farms, that is the message Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) has been spreading, that we need to have an organised cooperative farms where farm communities work together, organise their youths to work and protect the place, individual farming, private farming is becoming very badly exposed. So, our group is saying that: we should organise cooperative societies in such a way that youths can be engaged both in farming and in protecting the farm land. I think that should be where the emphasis should be and if they do such, they will be producing food, providing food, they will be fighting hunger, they will be fighting all kinds of negative forces, they will also be fighting bandits if they properly organise themselves in such various farms. Israel did the same and today Israel is one of the most sophisticated agricultural communities. They are also strong security-wise. When the enemies come they fight them and go back to their farms to produce. We should borrow a leaf from Israel.
What is your greatest fear today for Nigeria?
My greatest fear is what is bound to happen, that Nigeria will have to settle down to the various nationalities. What is happening in Nigeria now is the song of freedom raging among various nationalities, they want to be free, they don’t want to be under the Fulani manipulation again, they don’t want to be under anybody’s manipulation, they want to be independent, they want to be autonomous. The Yoruba want to be on their own, Hausa want to be on their own, Tiv people want to be on their own etc, that is what is going on now, trend of autonomous independence for various communities. That is what is going to happen eventually.
But if we have a statesman, a great leader that is able to provide the right type of leadership, do you think this agitation will still continue?
What kind of Statesman?
A leader who can live beyond and above the ordinary eye, one that will lead by example, who will be fair to all, one that will not use structural imbalance as an excuse?
The fear is this: injustice is perpetuated by people very much based on their national inclinations and national affiliations, which is the truth of the matter. If Sardauna was alive today, you find that no matter how great, he will be loved, respected by the Fulani, not the Yoruba, if Awolowo was alive today he will be respected by the Yoruba, so the trend is that today the world is moving towards separate identities of nationalities, people of one language, one culture, and as soon as the world gets to that point nations will be relatively free and they will now want to associate with each other on free terms. Let’s take Africa for example, at one point they were all British territories, French territories, but as history goes on the British empires, French empires all of them collapsed, leaving those federations they formed and those federations eventually settled down to autonomous federations, that is how the East African federation settled down to separate nationalities, the same for West African federation. The Nigerian federation is on the part of dying finally that is what is happening. But as the countries are settling down to their national identities they are coming together to form African Union, in Britain to form European Union (EU). The difference between the federations of the British in Africa and the African Union is that the federations formed by the British were compulsorily members of those unions, but the federation formed by the African Union is a free federation, any of the countries can move out or move in and nobody will question you, nobody will arrest the leadership or fight the leadership that they must come back. No. If Nigeria wants to survive they must acknowledge autonomous existence, independence existence of the various nationalities as separate republics then they can have a common relationship, a common union, call it Nigerian union or whatever, but it should not be one held by the compulsion of Fulani army or Fulani judiciary or Fulani Central Bank, that is the problem we have. We are living in a false federation, an imposed federation, that is the problem. Nigeria’s federation is fake, false, and is bound to collapse.
Do you think a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction is feasible in 2023?
Well, as long as we are held together in the same federation there is nothing wrong in trying to see if we can achieve getting the presidency, there is nothing wrong with it, but we should not be deceived into believing that that will automatically come or that they will give it to us. You can see the game they are playing; they are trying to recycle themselves or recycle themselves with their crony allies either in Yoruba land or anywhere and you can see the way they are marginalizing the Igbo either in the PDP or APC, but what we really need to do is to fight to get Alaigbo as an autonomous union, get the Igbo united as they were united under the Igbo State Union where our brothers in Rivers State, Delta State, Benue State etc, where they all recognise that they are Igbo. Look at the Yoruba nationalities today, it is not in doubt, they have members in Ilorin, Kwara, Kogi etc. The Yoruba identity is very clear. The British and the Fulani tried to tear us into pieces after the civil war, they divided us, put enemity between us and the Aniomas in Delta, Ikwerres in Rivers etc, to begin to see ourselves as different when we have the same identity, but gradually things are changing, we are beginning to realise that we are one people. Osadebe was the Secretary of Igbo State Union, Obi Wali and others were all active in the Igbo State Union, even in Ohanaeze, so we should recover that identity. The way people are talking about Southeast, Southeast is just a portion of Alaigbo, they should be talking of the autonomous region of Alaigbo.
How do you see the activities of IPOB, some say they are violent?
The problem is to know who is IPOB and who is speaking for IPOB, that is the confusion we have. The enemy has infiltrated IPOB, that is the truth of the matter. If we want to recover IPOB, we must stay outside IPOB and begin to recreate the youth vanguard to fight for the Igbo nation. We must gradually win over our youths, they are not being guided properly. The way we are going we are not going to have the support of the international community or their respect, we have to retreat. We have to know genuine patriots, those who tell you that all Igbo intellectuals, all Igbo politicians, all Igbo clergy, all Igbo traditional rulers are enemies of the people. There are genuine Igbo leaders in politics, in business etc, those who believe in our manifest destiny, but there are also agents who are working for their paymasters, the enemy to destabilise Alaigbo, they should separate the two. Our youths must be able to respect genuine Igbo leaders rather than fight or despise everybody. When they do so they are creating a state of anarchy and that will not help us. And anyone in trouble who is genuinely fighting for Ndigbo we must stand up to defend the person and to work for the person’s freedom.