From John Silas and Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
Among the many benefits to the country and people, a president from the Igbo race in 2023 will bring about the much elusive national healing and boost the nation’s image among the international community, an Igbo leader of thought, Mr. John Patrick Egesi, has said.
Egesi, who was a former Director-General of the defunct Nigerian Maritime Authority (NMA), now Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), also condemned the rising killings and other atrocities across the region by suspected Fulani herdsmen in spite of the presence of security agents.
He expressed concern that federal security presence across the region is dominated by agents who are total strangers to the environment and incapable of addressing their peculiarities, just as over 130 checkpoints dot the road to the region, with most molesting law-abiding traders and making business travel unbearable.
Insisting that equity is the best way to address the nation’s disunity and backwardness, he told The AUTHORITY: “Are Igbo being maltreated? Of course. Are they suffering injustice? Of course.
“I don’t like Nigeria to break up but to be equitable, where anyone can become what he/she wants, and not prevented from the innermost part of things in the country.”
Egesi dismissed the notion that an Igbo cannot be president, insisting that “there is an assumption why somebody becomes president. It is an important gesture if Nigeria really wants to give it to the Igbo, even in a confederation – the feeling that ‘you are one of us.’ Not to do that is also dangerous. It is not good for Nigeria, not only for the Igbo.
“An Igbo as president is good for Nigeria because it will take the stink off some of the accusations against the country at the international community, it is something that everybody is aware of. It is not a good thing to forcibly exclude a population that runs into tens of millions of people from ruling their country. It doesn’t make sense.”
More importantly, however, he urged the Igbo to address themselves to the priority of true federalism through restructuring, and the strategy to maximise its advantages eventually.
According to him, “what we as Igbo will ask ourselves is, what do we want in Nigeria? Will being the president solve it? It has passed the level of wanting to be president, nor is it about somebody being Biafra. No. It is a case of restructuring.
“If an area is restructured and people contribute to the centre, anybody can be there. You develop your area, give jobs to your people. If the country is well restructured, exploitation and anger will come down. Nigeria is better off where we can exchange views, but it is not good where one person will take everything.
“Anything that makes the country not to be one should be jettisoned. There must be a strategy – the same strategy that makes a reconstructed country a confederation of sorts. What will solve it is a confederation because the centre must be weakened, with each area contributing to the centre.”
Meanwhile, he cautioned against the move to polarise the Igbo apex socio-cultural organisation, Ohaneze Ndigbo, stating that the president, Mr. John Nwodo, has done his best so far and has shown understanding and maturity in his handling of issues, including the agitation for self-actualisation.
He urged the group to share ideas with the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, on how both groups could achieve ends that are beneficial to the region.