Leader of Join The Restructuring Campaign (JTRC) a pro restructuring of Nigeria group, Izuoma Ibe is of the opinion that if care is not taken, Igbo will scuttle the chances of Igbo becoming president of the federal republic of Nigeria.
What is your assessment of the APC government so far, knowing that you are a supporter of the PDP?
Without sentiments, I’m not of the PDP neither am I of the APC but as a politically aware citizen of Nigeria, I am interested in the leadership panned out by any citizen who finds himself in any position of authority. To assess the APC government, well, I would have wished to wholly do so in the near future if not for the awarding of $1.9billion rail contract from the north to Niger Republic when there is none linking my state or region to other regions in the country. I would have also loved to ask the economic gain Nigeria would gain with the Niger rail initiative. It beats my imagination, I must say.
What is going on with JTRC?
JTRC is fine and kicking. You know it is a national movement in support of restructuring of the country…
Do you still have activities going on?
It depends on what you mean by activities. We have not changed our views about the country and we are not likely to do so any soon. Actually, we shall be making an outing in the nearest future.
There has been rumours going round that former vice president Atiku Abubakar will be contesting again, will JTRC back him again?
No, no, no, the media is always in haste and that breeds fake news. If you understand the position of my group, JTRC, we are in support of the devolution of powers not the candidate in the election. There may be a better channel that would be ripe to restructure the country by 2023. It may still be Atiku or not, it can even be me running for president. So, our commitment remains intact –to restructure the country, that’s all.
The call for Igbo presidency seems to be making headlines much as restructuring made headlines prior to 2019 presidential election, what your take on the Igbo presidency?
Without mincing words, only Igbo will cost Igbo that chance to rule. The problem of Igbo is Igbo not Hausa or Yoruba. Nevertheless, the need for Nigeria president of Igbo extraction is long overdue. If Igbo has been allowed to rule the country, there won’t be calls for secession by IPOB because they would be asked when you were president were you able to right these wrongs. There is less voice from the militants in the Niger Delta states now because they have done their bit and have seen how easy or difficult the presidency can be when attending to the needs of the people.
The country seems not to trust the Igbo man with power since they are agitating for their own country.
Let me tell you, the north agitated to leave Nigeria. Agitating to secede is not a new thing in Nigeria. In fact, it is a Nigerian thing. But it will stop when Igbo is allowed to rule like others have been given the same opportunity.
The reasons why Igbo is saying we want to leave have not been addressed since. Remember, as back as 1949 at the Igbo State Assembly held at Aba, Pa Nnamdi Azikiwe threatened the unity of the country by calling for self-determination based on the marginalization of the old eastern region.
By 1953, he was the one pleading that the north should not leave the country when they were threatening to leave just like IPOB is doing today. Although there reasons when checked will be milder than what Igbo has been facing right from the morning of the union called Nigeria. Check the records are there.
Have you not read of the Yoruba nation threatening to leave the country? They have given out a date for their demonstration; it is on the 1st of October, 2020, Nigeria’s Independence Day celebration. Why is it that Igbo is always seen as the sacred cows in the country or should the Igbo be mute when flogged? If the country is not ready to trust Igbo with power, then why should Igbo trust them to govern them? To say that Igbo can’t be trusted with power is a careless and an unpatriotic statement against my people and I don’t feel comfortable hearing someone say so, even to my face.
Without prejudice sir, we all are witnesses to the tension across the country based on the call for Biafra..(cuts in)
You don’t stop a smoke until the fire is doused. There should be more tension in the country when one citizen cries of marginalization not to mention of a whole region. Why was there anything called Aburi accord? Why was there a civil war in Nigeria? If you are triplets and your other ones are bought clothes and you are not, how will you feel? Good or bad? That is what Igbo is saying, treat us like our brothers. Let us be president?
Did you not notice the much love Igbo has for Nigeria in Ojukwu? When he was granted pardon and he returned to Nigeria in 1983 having fled the country on the eve of his side surrendering to the federal government during the war, he joined the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) where he contested for the senate. In 1993, he expressed interest to contest for the presidency.
Did Azikiwe not contest for presidency of Nigeria? Was it out of bad luck that Azikiwe, Ojukwu even Alex Ekwueme were not able to become presidents of Nigeria before their clocks stopped? Are the presidents we’ve had better than them? These were sound academics Nigeria ever produced. Where has tribalism taken us.
What calibre of person will Igbo be presenting in 2023 as president?
The most educated president Nigeria has ever had is Goodluck Jonathan. Others weren’t that schooled. As for Igbo, if you watched the rank and files of people who are tipped for the job, they are schooled enough. But 2023 is not a tea party; it is a shot that shouldn’t be missed. Much as I can’t handpick a candidate for Igbo…
But as a person from the region, you have a say.
Sure thing! But, it’s just an opinion. Igbo shouldn’t base their choice on education rather experience. It should be someone who can weather the storm when it comes raging. Did you pick things out from the candidacy of Atiku Abubakar? The ruling party tried all they could to chase him away from contesting even away from the country, but he fought them and contest even followed them up to the Supreme Court. He not only contested the election, he also enhanced the electoral laws of the country.
That’s politics for me. Igbo should pick that. Igbo need a political leader who will stick out his neck without minding if it will be chopped off; not someone who will be careful for his fine suit not to stain. We need an already stained suited person who has nothing else to protect.
By that are you going for Senator Orji Uzor Kalu?
Almost every Igbo person is calling for the detribalized senator to contest and as I can see you are thinking on the same line. (Laughs) That could make us one. The only people against Orji Kalu in Igbo are those loyal to IPOB. This is because he is not a party to the disunity of Nigeria.
Orji Kalu is Ekwueme, Ojukwu, and Azikiwe put together and for Igbo to achieve their place in Nigeria, giving Orji Kalu a chance is the right thing to do. At no point in time has he supported the division of Nigeria. At no point in time has he supported the intimidation of Igbo, Hausa or Yoruba. And that will his presidency look like.
So, is JTRC seeing Kalu as one who will restructure Nigeria?
We have not said so. But to think aloud, is Orji Kalu anti to restructuring? No! In fact, he suggested convocation of a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) where all nations of Nigeria will come together and dialogue for the future of Nigeria. What else does anyone expect?
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