Chief Goddy Uwazurike is a former President of Aka Ikenga, an Igbo think tank group. In this interview with ANAYO EZUGWU, he speaks on the recently held election of apex Igbo body, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and insecurity in Nigeria, among other issues
The election of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo has come and gone, as a participant how do you rate the conduct of the exercise?
It is the first time the governors participated fully and effectively and it has come and gone. Somebody won and that is the truth. He had the organization to campaign and he really campaigned, so he deserved his victory.
What is the implication of governors’ involvement in Ohanaeze Ndigbo election?
In a way it means they are beginning to see the president general of Ohanaeze as the man for all the Igbo speaking areas instead of seeing him as a man who has to come and beg for money.
So, they now have to go to him. In other words, they are now the ones to bow to him. The governors queuing publicly behind him is very significant, so they have stepped-in but whether it is for good or for bad, time will tell.
Are you satisfied with the conduct of the election?
YesI’mokaybecauseitwasOption A4. One thing with Option A4 is that youcan’tdisputeitbecauseyouknow the winner upfront. If you are standing alone in one corner and nobody is behind you, you are not going to be told thatyou lost theelection.
The only issueisthatyouhavetofollowtheline of your governor. If you don’t want to follow the line of your governor, then you must be a courageous man to follow another line.
So, it was more like each state deciding who they want to support and all the governors doing what I will call trade-off; rub my back Irubyourback, meaningsupportmy candidate, I will support yours and it worked very well.
Have you congratulated Prof. George Obiozor, who won the election?
Not only did I do that publicly, I also visited him the next day and congratulated him privately. I will work closely with him. We have to work closely with him because Ndigbo are the winners by cooperation.
In fact, all the candidates should work with him because his success becomes our own. If we are to be held down by what is already past, then it makes no sense.
Some contestants for the position president-general withdrew from the process, what actually happened?
They can speak for themselves. Anything I tell you will be hearsay. So, it is better you hear directly from them why they withdrew.
Do you think it will be possible for Ndigbo to form a common front ahead of 2023 general election?
In 2023, an Igboman should be there. We must all work together and if Ohanaeze President General is coordinating and then if the Igbo members of the three major parties, All Progressives Congress (APC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) work hard to garner the delegates and become candidates themselves, in other words, if they are able to garner enough support, then we Igbos will support.
All we want is an Igbo man, the party does not matter to me. That is my position and I have to clear it with Prof. Obiozor and he said that is his position also. An Igbo man must be there in 2023.
How will Ndigbo achieve their aspiration, considering the fact that Chief Olusegun Osoba, a former governor of Ogun State, recently said that no Igbo man has reached out to him to say that he is interested in the presidency?
This is 2021 and all the interested candidates are very busy running around. I will name one, Peter Obi is busy running all over the place, what is he doing, is that not consultation?
Is there any event that happens in any place of the country that you will not see Peter Obi either in solidarity or in support or grieving with them? That is called consultation. So, Ndigbo are stillmoving around, includingtoOgun State. I also know that Osoba is actually acampaignmanagerforBolaTinubu. He also speaks from a point of view of an interested candidate.
In the interim, what do you think should be the focus for Prof. Obiozor?
When he came out to contest he has his own agenda. So, whether good or bad it is his own and it is not for me to give him my own agenda.
A man came out after thinking and a lot of consultation to contest and he won, so you cannot come to him after he has won to tell him this is how you go about or this is what you should do.
What is your position on rising insecurity in the country?
It is what the white man will call a conflagration revolving in different directions, consuming everything in its path. And because it is revolving in different directions, nobody knows who the next victim is. Therefore, it is either the President of Nigeria wakes up or it consumes him also.
To preside over a country where you cannot travel along the road is a big problem. If I have a very beautiful car and I say take it from Lagos to Imo State, the people who are carrying it are also in danger unless they actually look haggard. Those herdsmen all over the roads will just grab them and if they see me in it then the real problem has started.
If you get home and seat down in your village, the kidnappers are there. Those from the North-East can’t even move out. If you are in Abuja, you stay put. If you are in the North- East, you must pay homage to Boko Haram otherwise go and ask the politicians how many times they go home.
Those in the North-West, they termed their own bandits but we know who they are, where they come from and their tribe.
So, since they are still busy trying to shelter the name and give the impression that those people who are killing them are not really their people, so be it to them.
The Middle Belt will tell you that they have history with them. And the latest of course i s the gaffe by Garba Shehu recently, telling a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) who is also the governor of Ondo State that he cannot order those herdsmen out.
My answer is very simple, there is nothing like presidency. We have the office of the senior special assistant who is Garba Shehu and we also have the office of his senior man, Femi Adesina as the media adviser.
So these are offices and below them, you have so many people working for them, special assistants on print media, electronic media, among others. On their own, they gave themselves the appellation presidency, there is nothing like the presidency. What we have is the Office of the President and the ministries.
WhatGarbaShehusaidiswhatthe ministerin-chargeof landsissupposed to say, unfortunately there is nothing like minister of lands because the Federal Government has no jurisdiction over lands. Land is a state matter and the government cannot talk.
So, if a man arrogates himself the power of Attorney General, the power of the President and the power of a nonexistent Prime Minister, in fact the power of the Chief Justice to make a pronouncement, itmeansthatheisan embodiment of confusion. Put it bluntly, Garba Shehu is actually overstepping his bounds.
The state owns all the land, it is either individually owned or community ones. So there is nothing like land not own by anybody, which is the argument of Fulanis and that is ridiculous. I come from a village, local government, senatorial zone and state, in all these places, if I need land for any business of mine, I will go and buy. I live in Lagos, if I need land to domybusiness, I buy. I can’t imagine going to Epe or Ikorodu, the ruralareastooccupy their land and tell them that nobody owns the land. No Igboman will do that.
An average Igbo man understands that if you are doing business, you pay for your business. So, those Fulani herdsmen who are making that ridiculous argument of nobody owns the land are funny. They also come from a local government if they are Nigerians and if they are not from Nigeria then they should go back and stop killing our people.
Is the comment by Garba Shehu not bringing up the issue of the confusion in the 1999 constitution where the Land Use Act said that the land belongs to the state whereas the Federal Government is now trying to order the states around?
I’m sure he didn’t consult any lawyer before issuing that statement because a lawyer would have told him the correct thing.
The Land Use Act is a permanent document; in fact, one of thosepartsof theconstitutionthatcan only be amended by four-fifth majority, not by two-third. There are some places that are iron craft. States own land and if the Federal Government needs land like they were trying to do during RUGA, you apply to the states.
The day you stop using that land for the purpose it was given, the land reverses to the state, which is what Lagos State government is insisting on. They took back the State House because the Federal Government does not need it anymore. Let’s face reality, this government has done a lot for Fulani oriented issues, it doesn’t make sense; not Hausa issues but Fulani oriented issues.
You want RUGA, if you don’t want RUGA then you want another one; either radio or RUGA or even finances. In simple language, a cattle owner isabusinessman, soheshouldfinance hisbusiness. WillOndopeoplesharein the profit of the cattle owner; certainly not? So, going to occupy a forest saying it is a forest reserve is rubbish.
What is the way out of this kind of situation; is it for the Ondo State government to go to court?
There is no crisis. The governor being a Senior Advocate of Nigeria knows what to do. In any case nothing lasts forever.
Ahead of the 2023 general elections, is it possible that the National Assembly amends the Electoral Act to reflect yearnings of Nigerians?
Thereiswhatwecallhonestyingovernment but it is a scarce commodity right now. They couldn’t amend the constitution before the last elections and now they have wasted a year and half. So, who is deceiving who?
Let’sfacethefact, Idon’t expect anything reasonable from them. Look at the PetroleumIndustryBill( PIB) that will streamline what happensintheoil industry, they even broke it up into three and said we are taking one part and it is still there with no movement.
The National Assembly is involved in what I would call all motion and no movement.