Sir, as a stakeholder what is your views about the forthcoming election of Ohaneze?
My views just like those of the majority of the stakeholders is for Ndigbo to insist on fairness, equity and the right things to be done by the outgoing leadership. Ndigbo will resist and reject any form of imposition or coronation of someone by selected few selfish individuals.
What does that mean? Please can you clarify and elaborate on this sir?
I mean that a bad precedent is about to be set and this will definitely destroy the only umbrella that covers all Igbos.
It was unanimously agreed years back when Chief Garry Igariwe was elected that from then, all major events and activities of Ohaneze will be at Enugu, the headquarters of Ndigbo.
Before then, elections were being rotated without being teleguided. For instance, Prof. Joe Irukwu from Abia state was elected as the PG at Owerri, Imo state.
Similarly, after Prof. Irukwu, Dr. Dozie Ikedife from Anambra state was elected at Umuahia, Abia state as Ohaneze P.G
Again, late Amb. Ralph Uwechue from Delta state got elected at Awka in Anambra state as the Ohaneze P.G.
Similarly ,Chief Garry Igariwe from Ebonyi state was elected at Enugu as the PG of Ohaneze and there and then, Ndigbo unanimously resolved that from then, all elections and major events of Ohaneze will hold at Enugu, the headquarters of Ohaneze and Ndigbo in general.
This decision of Ohaneze started with the election of my senior friend and associate Chief Nnia Nwodo in Enugu.
So, why will they mischievously change the decision of Ndigbo just to achieve a predetermined agenda of coronating a “Joseph” that knows “Pharoah”.
This is the first in the history of Ohaneze that a state that will produce the PG is to host the election and this bad precedent if allowed to take place will climax the death of Ohaneze and Igbo unity. These people don’t mean well for Ohaneze just because of their ulterior motives.
What happens if after Imo’s turn and it gets to the turn of Rivers or Delta states and the Governor then is not an Igbo person, what will they do?
Who will fund the elections then? I’m saying this peradventure they claim they chose Imo because of funding.
Ohaneze is supposed to be apolitical, a socio-cultural organization that unites our people. Leaving the fate of Ohaneze in the hands of governors will make it not only a parastatal or an agency of the state but also partisan because “He who beats the tune or is it the drum will certainly dictates the dance”.
Sir, with all that you have said so far, what do you think can be done to avert crisis of leadership in Ohaneze?
It’s very simple to avert leadership crisis in Ohaneze and this can be done first and foremost by seperating Ohaneze from partisan politics and from the grips of elected or appointed government officials of the state. Ohaneze must remain apolitical at all time!
Second and most importantly is for the forthcoming election to be held in a neutral ground and Enugu our headquarters which has been agreed for years ago should be the venue for the election.
Also, a free, fair, transparent and credible election as it affects section 11(b) of Ohaneze constitution should be allowed.
Anything short of these will lead to the death of a united Ohaneze but God will not allow that to happen.
I am therefore calling on our elders, traditional rulers , religious leaders and all igbos to rise up and save ohaneze from extinction.
Now, let’s leave Ohaneze politics and talk of other burning national issues.
Prof.What is your views or rather, position on Restructuring of the Nigerian federation?
Honestly, this issue of Restructuring is just but diversionary. Why will any sensible Igbo person be talking about Restructuring now? Why didn’t people agitate for Restructuring when the southwest produced Chief Obasanjo who did two terms of office as the president of this country?
Why didn’t the north raise Restructuring as an issue when President Yar’adua was in power or even before he was elected? Please tell me why our brothers in the South-south didn’t agitate for Restructuring for more than six years that President Jonathan was in power?
Even now, I want you to tell me why the entire North never talked about Restructuring before President Buhari came in 2015 and even now.
For me and many other well informed Igbos, we know that Restructuring is a diversionary ploy to deny Ndigbo the presidency in 2023. In as much as I accept that the country is due for Restructuring atleast to address some of these lingering crisis but I will only support it after a Southeast Igbo has tasted the executive power of the office of the President and commander in-chief of Nigeria.
Talking about Restructuring now is a big loss and infact cheating to Ndigbo who have contributed so much for the growth and development of this country. I will be a disciple of Restructuring and infact be at the forefront of it but that will be after a Southeast president of Nigeria had governed this country. Anything outside this will be a great loss and cheating to our people.
But Prof Sir, what is so difficult in Restructuring a Federation like Nigeria and why do you consider it a loss to Ndigbo?
My dear, the truth is that this issue of Restructuring is a gimmick Southern politicians normally use to bamboozle and give their supporters hope of correcting the imbalance and injustice in the country. Politicians and even legal practitioners knows very well that Restructuring is a herculean task and almost impossible to accomplish especially in a democracy like ours.
Simply put, Restructuring imply more powers given to the federating units with a weak centre. Now tell me of any Executive President anywhere that will willingly allow you to take away his powers while he watch and clap for you, tell me Please? Even the national assembly themselves will lose their powers and relevance as there will be no need for them again. The politicians knows the challenges and difficulties involved with Restructuring but they will never tell their supporters.
So Sir, what is the way forward? Must things and these imbalances continue?
Well, the only way forward to address these issues is through constitutional amendments and this is very slow and could take several years to finish. The constitution can only be amended piecemeal by piecemeal.
Another way would have been through the military junta via decree . The military governments suspends the Constitution and govern by the decree but we all know that military rule is no longer in vogue and unacceptable all over the world.
My dear, the truth is that we missed the opportunity of repositioning this country after the last confab. The 2014 confab provided an avenue to address almost all the burning issues in the country but for whatever reason the then president failed or refused to put machineries in place for the implementation of that report. Insecurities, marginalization and even this so called Restructuring was addressed in that report.
Truly, there is the need for Nigerians to come together on a round table and discuss issues of this country. Call it whatever name you may want but Nigerians need to come together and discuss for the way forward for this country and whatever report or decisions reached must be implemented.
What do you have to say about insecurities, banditry and kidnappings in the country?
There is nothing new that I will say now that has not been said before. For me, security should be a collective efforts and responsibility of every responsible citizen to support the professional security operatives.
Community policing is the most effective way of ensuring security. Everybody lives somewhere, nobody live in the sky or moon. Communities know their inhabitants, including where they work or do their business. Communities also know strangers and unfamiliar faces when they come into their communities. Honestly, community policing is the most effective way and this is what developed nations especially UK adopted, hence the water tight security there.
Community policing will address all these issue of terrorism, kidnappings and banditry. But then, you can’t talk of community policing without reforming the police force as an institution. So, the police entirely should be reformed and retrained to fit into our dynamic society.
Like I said earlier, all these issues was properly addressed in the 2014 confab report that has been abandoned.
Interview granted by Dr. Promise Onyewuchim ,an associate professor of political science and international relations , the pioneer secretary of Southeast People’s Assembly (SEPA) under the leadership of Dr. Alex ekwueme and a former secretary of AkaIkenga Abuja Federal Capital chapter