Why Igbo Presidency Is Not Feasible In 2023 – Uwazurike

Chief Goddy Uwazurike, a lawyer, is the ex-President of Igbo think tank, Aka Ikenga. In this interview with INNOCENT OKONKWO, he spoke on the state of the nation, President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term ambition, and the Igbo Presidency, among other issues.
Do you agree with the opinion of some South East politicians that President Buhari‘s victory in 2019 would guarantee Igbo Presidency in 2023?
Those who are banking on the information of an Igbo man becoming the President in 2023, are the Igbo men that point to their fathers’ compound with the left hand. Every Igbo man will understand what I am saying. No true Igbo man will say what such people are saying.
All those who have been talking about Buhari handing over to an Igbo man are pedestrian politicians. They are migrant politicians, who are very anxious to please their pay masters. Such individuals are willing to condemn their own mothers to please an outsider.
They are not real politicians because real politicians have constituency. If their constituency is Igbo land, they should do everything to uphold Igbo land. The political party, All Progressives Congress (APC), in its constitution, says that power springs to north and south. The party does not believe in the six zones. It believes in north and south. If it comes to the south, it is for everybody. If it goes to the north, it is for everybody. That is the party’s constitution.
Again, I don’t see how anybody who is mentally balanced will say that President Buhari will hand over to Igbo. Does Buhari have the power to hand over to Igbo? Definitely not. Buhari has only one vote, but he can endorse a candidate. However, such candidate will also pass through the party’s primaries before he faces the public.
Those who are saying that Buhari’s second term will facilitate Igbo Presidency are just telling childish jokes all aimed at 2019. It is just the kind of jokes they are making about the Second Niger Bridge, where they were showing us pictures of a bridge under construction. The only mistake they made in their propaganda was that they didn’t show any worker at the construction site.  The propaganda over the bridge is what I hate. We are adults and adults do not tell others, ‘look at this building,’ when the building cannot be seen.
How would you react to President Buhari’s decision to seek re-election in 2019?
President Buhari has been elected once as the President. Constitutionally, he has the right to stand for another election as clearly stated in the constitution. But, for him to be elected, he has to be a candidate of a political party.
In this case, the leadership of All Progressives Congress (APC) should ask itself, this question: Has this man that we projected to the nation as the messiah who would  reduce the price of a bag of rice from N7,000  to N5,000 and a litre of petrol from N78 to N50, really achieved them? The man who promised work for thousands of youths and pledged to lift workers to a very gigantic salary level; has he done these things? How far has he gone in fulfilling these promises? Can we be presenting him as our candidate? These are the questions the APC leaders should be asking themselves.
The three things that the President promised the citizens of this country are security, war on corruption and revamping of the economy. But, which of them has been fulfilled? Is there security in a country where priests will be saying mass in the morning and they are shot dead? People stay in their homes, they kill them, they go to their farm and they kill them.
If you are moving between Lagos and Benin, the moment you get to the Benin Bypass, the Fulani killers will come out. If you are going to Abuja, between Lokoja and Abuja, the Fulani killers will also jump out. If you are going from Abuja to Kaduna, the same thing happens. We are not talking about Boko Haram, which has been there.
On the anti-corruption fight, as a lawyer, I know that they have failed because the government invested so much in propaganda and propaganda is not evidence, media trial is not evidence. Now, they are going after the National Assembly members because, according to them, the members of the legislature are corrupt. All kinds of cases are coming up, including criminal trial, invitation for murder, and arrest for possession of guns.
Now you talk of economy and you hear the Minister of Agriculture’s statistics on rice importation. But, all those statistics are funny. If the importation of rice into Nigeria has fallen, then go and check the importation of the same commodity into other countries from the same Thailand. Our neighbouring countries have massive increase in rice importation and we know that they come in over land.
Still on the economy, the government owes lots of debts that I do not know how the country will pay back. The debt is so huge that how this country will pay back becomes questionable. Yet, they said that Customs has more than doubled its revenue generation. Even JAMB and other agencies have been recording fantastic revenue generations, not to talk of the very incredible sums which the anti-corruption agencies have announced that they have recovered. Yet, Nigeria is borrowing and it is the worst kind of borrowing that the country is into.
Mr. President has failed in the three key things he promised Nigerians. I can tell you this with facts and figures.
What is your thought on President Buhari’s meeting with the U.S President Donald Trump? Would such interaction change the current state of our nation?
I will not comment on that because our President does not believe in ‘State of the Nation Address’. If he has been addressing us, we will know how he reasons. The few things we have heard from him were said abroad.  So, when he described the youths of Nigeria in a very unpalatable term, I wonder if they were not the same youths that he singled out for praise when he was being inaugurated.
He has also moved against the social media campaigners. In fact, the President has gone against virtually all the things that he stood for. So, let us keep our fingers crossed. When he addresses the press afterwards, we may hear something from him, because, it is only during foreign trips like this that we hear something from him.
We heard his attitude to women when he went to Germany. We heard his attitude to the youths from Britain. The other time he was in America, that was where he said that Igbo gave him less than five per cent votes, as a result, they shouldn’t expect anything as much as other people that gave him 97 per cent and up. Till today, that is what has been guiding his decisions. He has not deviated from it not withstanding all the attempts by those who appear to make him look good.
You participated in the 2014 National Conference. How do you feel about the non-implementation of the confab’s recommendations?
I happened to be one of the 450 people from all walks of life who spent four months trying to discuss the set up of this country and its future, the workload and cost of governance, as well as the nature of the democracy for the country. When I said people from all walks of life, I mean Speakers of the various Assemblies; state governors; ministers; parliamentarians; civil servants; students; market women and all the professionals in this country. They were all there and we were proud of our work.
If indeed, this government has listened to wise counsel, it would have opened the pages of the report, look at it and from it see the analysis of the problems and their solutions. We reached so many decisions by consensus and we all agreed with one another, because, we are matured people. The oldest person there was 92 years, the former President of the Court of Appeal, and the youngest person there was a 24-year-old lady from Borno State.
We had someone like Chief Richard Akinjide, who had been a part of every conference since 1958. When we were talking, we weren’t talking like amateurs. Those older persons were not talking because they wanted to take part in government, but they wanted to bequeath a legacy to the future generations.
I feel sad that this government failed to look at it. The Boko Haram problem was discussed even before they started using female suicide bombers. We discussed these issues and made our recommendations. The herdsmen killings were also discussed, including the grazing routes and ranching and our decision was very simple. If any state wants to go for ranching and anybody meets requirement for land, it should go ahead.
I remember one of the delegates of Kano saying, ‘If we go to any state, they must give us land, otherwise, we will be moving about.’  Those from Benue State brought spent canisters from killer herdsmen. They also brought pictures of those killed with bullet wounds. They also brought all kinds of evidence on the floor. At the end of the day, they made one comment, that it is ethnic cleansing. A lady from Southern Kaduna said that it is land grabbing, and that they are suffering from it too.
Our decision was simple. Obey the law of the state, if a state says that you are free to move around with your cattle, fine. If it says, ‘no’ you must leave. We can’t condone a situation where people are dying for the sake of cattle.  We look at all these and we put the knowledge we got in the report. So, it is simply preposterous for somebody not to look at it.
What should be the solution to the herders/farmers clashes?
The great Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe said that it is only a tree that people want to cut down and it does not do anything. So, let me also refer to what General Theophilus Danjuma said, ‘Defend yourself.’ It is natural, it is constitutional. They have been running to the government and expecting the government to take actions. But government said, ‘Accommodate them, they are your brothers.’  One of the ministers said that the killers are the remnants of the Boko Haram because they have defeated them, they became herdsmen. Another minister said that they are foreigners. But, Mr. President said that they are the remnants of the late Col Muammar Ghaddafi’s men. I call all these excuses discordant tunes, when another minister described the problem as a communal clash.
Meanwhile, Mr. President has gone to America, let him go and rub minds and I am sure that if they can understand one another, they will ask each other what is going on, because, you don’t kill priests. That is the worse sin. The moment you kill priests, the world will rise up and watch. The world is watching all the happenings in this nation and nobody is happy about the killings and bloodshed in Nigeria.
Senator Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West, has been having running battle with the Police, which some people see as victimisation. Do you have contrary view on this?
Let me tell you something that I know about democracy. In a democracy, if you expect everybody to rise up at the same time as they do in China and North Korea, then that is not democracy; they stand up at the same time, clap at the same time, wave and sit at the same time, then it is not democracy. The truth is that the leadership of the APC squandered its own party’s arrangements because the party from the day one was made up of strange bed fellows.
Now, by accident or design, those who came from the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) were in control of the National Assembly; Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) controls the Executive. Of course, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) managed to grab a small part of the National Assembly and maintained their stranglehold over the media.
Mr. President with the goodwill he had when he took over, would have changed all that. But, the government of the day didn’t do it. Firstly, they have to blackmail the legislators on the issue of constituency projects when they knew clearly that constituency project is the only thing that affects every constituency in this country.
It is not the legislators’ pocket money as some people erroneously think. All it means is that a legislator should choose one aspect of service that he wants this government to do for his constituency. For instance, if the constituency wants 10 boreholes and electricity, every year, the legislator makes it part of the budget. Borehole goes to the Ministry of Water Resources; electricity goes to the Ministry of Power. It is never made part of the legislator’s budget. But, they engaged in drama and blackmail and everybody thought that the money is going into the legislators’ pocket.
So, mismanaging or squandering a relationship is horrible. Now, how the President goes back to reclaiming his good relationship with the legislators is what I’m wondering. What do I mean by that? The Executive must implement the laws made by the National Assembly; the Judiciary is the only one that can interpret such laws. If the dictate of democracy is being respected, the kind of nonsense that we see today will not be seen.
Today, all those outspoken legislators are in trouble. For instance, Senator Shehu Sani is being accused of murder. Senator Dino Melaye was accused of giving someone gun in the FCT. Yet,they want to carry him to Kogi at the 11th hour when his recall, which has just failed, was going on. Fortunately for him, his constituency didn’t believe in that trash that was being spilled about.
As it is, Mr. President has to learn that democracy is not a military rule where you obey the last order. It is not so. Mr. President has just withdrawn money belonging to the federation, not to the Federal Government, but to the federation to go and buy aircraft. The National Assembly is next door to him in the Three-Arm Zone. All he should have done was to tell the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) to prepare a letter to that effect to the National Assembly seeking its approval.
That is how it is done. But, it is not done. Yet, they turned around to accuse the legislators we are complaining of being unpatriotic. But, those who are truthful will tell him, ‘Mr. President, you are wrong.’  If today the outspoken legislators are in trouble, then they need a political solution to the problem.

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