Igbo presidency poses zero danger to Nigeria – Obioha



Chief Ralph Obioha is a former presidential aspirant and ex-national chairman of Justice Party. In this interview with KENNETH OFOMA, he bares his mind on the state of the nation. For him, a frightening drift to destruction is developing in Nigeria and voices expected to offer words of caution for mitigation are silent probably for fear of persecution


The security situation in Nigeria is worsening by the day. It’s no longer a question of North-East or North-West or South-South. Every corner of the country now lies prostrate due to insecurity. What’s your take on this grim situation?


It is nationally accepted that the security situation in today’s Nigeria seems intractable and has defied solution, and failed state status is staring Nigeria on the face.


Dismissing the stark reality of this situation is at the peril of our very existence as a country. There is no contest as to where responsibility of this state of failure lies. The principle of ‘the ‘buck stops here’ places that responsibility squarely on the head, the President and looks no further elsewhere.


He was elected simply to take charge, create a safe environment for Nigeria citizens using the instruments and institutions of the state to accomplish that task. A sizable percent of the electorate voted for him as the most viable person to accomplish that task but with each passing day that hope and expectation are dashed with an unmitigated failure.


It insults the sensibilities of average Nigerians for government’s image launderers to advance one excuse or the other for such a monumental failure on the part of the government. In plain language, we are more insecure today than we were five years ago.


On this plank, a vast majority of Nigerians are regretting voting President Muhammadu Buhari five years ago.


What do you think is the way out of the security challenges today?


Nigeria can turn things around by revamping the nation’s security infrastructure with the assistance of a commonwealth friendly country like Canada, which at our independence in 1960, organised our first independent Police Force. This will be needed to ensure professionalism and transparency.


The same can apply to our other security platforms and outfits to restore confidence and banish corruption that have eaten deep in the system. The lopsidedness of our security personnel will automatically be eliminated.


A nation without proper security is naked both internally and externally.


Are you worried by the decay in almost all the institutions of state?


The decay in our civil institutions is obvious and palpable. Our civil service is a public service in name only. The civil service is now a lord of the manor and the days that civil servants close their letters with ‘your obedient servant’ is a relic of the past. In fact, the permanent secretary used to be more powerful than the supervising minister and a ‘foolish minister’ dares not challenge his or her permanent secretary.


He or she hires and fires as the boss of that department and a wise supervising minister must beg if he or she wants to give any associate a job in the ministry. The answer they will offer is to call this speaker as being ignorant of the rules and regularities and placement by a central body for all job offers in the federal civil service. Not a chance, all Nigerians are aware and in knowledge of how things happen in our country.


Policy wise, Nigeria has devised on paper, excellent protocols on these matters but in practice, it is a totally different ball game that is played. How can one explain that in the nation’s security structure, not one person from the South-East is seen to be qualified to head one of over 30 of such outfits?


Have we abandoned the Federal Character provision enshrined in our constitution as amended? How can anyone turn a blind eye on such an aberration? By extension the same applies to every sector and facet of our country. This sort of marginalization breeds discontent and insecurity. If the President so wishes, this can be banished within hours by instruction and as head and all will fall in line.


What do you say on the ongoing debate for power shift to the South and a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023?


The 2023 presidential election looms as a do-or-die determination of existential proportion in Nigerian politics, drawing so many faulty lines in Nigerian contradictions. A nation is more or less governed by conventions, especially when it has been the custom.


In Nigeria’s search for stability, it was resolved that due to the nation’s hard and sad experience at the truncation of MKO Abiola’s presidential victory and all that followed at the return to civilian rule, Nigeria fielded two South-West presidential candidates to ensure that one of them wins the position and thereby creating a rotational convention for the presidency.


It was not the fault of the Igbos that providence truncated that arrangement and threw   up Goodluck Jonathan by the unfortunate demise of Umaru Yar’Adua.


One can argue that a stain was inflicted on that arrangement by the insistence of Jonathan to seek another term after the expiration of Yar’Adua’s tenure. But looking back, it was a political mistake for Igbos to troop out in support of Jonathan though many of us stood firm and backed Buhari.


Having said this, I will add that Buhari as a statesman should rise above the primordial human instinct to pay back and help build a nation by doing the right thing. Revenge is the pastime of ordinary beings, whilst putting the nation first is the hallmark of statesmen.


The convention indicates that the Igbos, in 2023, should produce the next president of Nigeria. Front liners like Ayo Adebanjo, Wole Soyinka, Olusegun Obasanjo, Balarabe Musa and Edwin Clark have all advised that an Igbo should be elected the next president. A nation is built on equity, justice and fairness.


In all this, how do you see the agitation for Biafra by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) led by Nnamdi Kanu?


Nnamdi Kanu is an expression of frustration of the youth of Igbo land, a spiritual cult-following of free spirits, who are fighting for justice. It will be foolhardy for any group to think that they can fight a spirit and defeat it. If the state constructs a level playing field for all Nigerians, the likes Nnamdi Kanu will not thrive not to talk of anyone beating the drums of war.


There is no substitute for peace and the keys are in the hands of the President to open wide the doors of freedom, equity, justice and opportunities for all Nigerians, so that peace will reign. The president has done enough for his people and should not be afraid if they will still love him and therefore should be father to all Nigerians by supporting an Igbo presidential candidate in 2023.


The entire Igbo people will sing his praises if he does that. Besides, that will be doing the right thing on his part. To all Nigerians the Igbo presidency poses zero danger. There is the constitution to guide, whoever will emerge. If he strays, history will expose him; if he does a good job, the same history will be kind to him


Let me add that a pan Igbo group, the Resource Group is working day and night to screen responsible and fit Igbo men and women to put up. Let all Nigerians join hands together and rebuild Nigeria by creating an all-inclusive entity built on justice, equity and fairness, so that we can find progress and peace.




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