Nigeria’s 2023 elections are still years ahead but regions and individuals are already perfecting plans to clinch the topmost political spot. Against this political schemes, statesman of Igbo extraction and former Director-General of the defunct Nigerian Maritime Authority (NMA), Mr. John Patrick Egesi, in an interview with JOHN SILAS and ANTHONY NWACHUKW highlighted the imperatives of giving the Igbo a chance to take up the presidency. He also spoke on other issues of national interest. Excerpts:
Sir, there have been hue and cry over the continued killings and atrocities by suspected Fulani herdsmen. Do you think the South-East governors cannot do something to protect their people, or they may have compromised?
When you fly to Port-Harcourt and drive down to Enugu, you see several police check-points, but don’t meet members of the police from that territory on duty. This is very strange! However, it is important to state that that stretch of federal highway needs special protection. But it is an irony sending foreigners that do not know a place and yet, they are asked to look after such places. It is something that worries many of us. Many of us do not go home as often as we do before now due to such kind of harassment or reports by our people.
However, I don’t think the governors have compromised in their constitutional duty. Maybe they lack the depth of the strategy required. Why should a governor that is “elected by the people” and has the powers of government not be worried? Maybe they don’t have the strategy to formulate the sort of advertised security outfit like “Amotekun”. They didn’t give it a name, but there must be a surreptitious strategy.
They are aware that their people are threatened, and they feel it. What I am not happy about is that they didn’t use the strategy of a baby crying out for its needs. They could cry out, like the Benue and Rivers states governors are doing. It may not be the best strategy to remain a gentleman. Even the snake fears noise.
I don’t know how effective “Amotekun” is, but I know that there was a similar thing in the South-East, but they are limited by the use of very low-capacity arms, like Mark-IV, which can’t do anything compared to the Kalachnikov being used by the killers they are supposed to check. So, their strategy leaves a lot to be desired. They should complain openly, both to the president and their people.
Unlike their Northern and South-Western counterparts, the people of the South-East did not benefit from the Covid-19 palliatives.
I agree, but it is not the fault of the governors because the money is from the federal government. It is the fault of the federal government, which feeds “only the people who voted for them”, using the map of APC vs PDP, because nothing was also given to the South-South, particularly Rivers and Delta states.
It shows lack of spirit nationalism. It means the lives of some people are not important. When (Governor Nyesom) Wike was shouting, he was saying that he would not be like his brothers (South-East governors). Even in Lagos, I doubt if those demonstration of gifts came to anything at all – a piece of bread and similar worth-nots.
With the rising insecurity and grazing of farms also comes the increasing warning by Oxpharm and other global bodies on impending food scarcity. From your assessment, are the South-East governors being proactive enough?
May be the governors are overwhelmed, because they were not thinking about these variables when they were campaigning. None of them expected to see what they are witnessing now. They are called the Chief Security Officers of their states, but don’t control arms. They don’t even have coercive powers; they don’t command the police or any form of protective unit.
However, when a governor cries, the international community hears it, because the community does not carry arms. If the governors decide to buy arms, it will be termed insurrection. We must be very fair. Why must the president want to make Nigeria a settlement for foreign people that don’t have the same culture and religion with Nigerian nationals?
What of Ohanaeze President and the attacks from Nnamdi kanu on him and others?
Marginalisation and utter neglect of a people is the kind of thing that brings up such characters like Kanu, but even Kanu perhaps did not envisage what is happening now. He has every reason to be angry. How he approaches matters puts me off a little bit, but is he saying things that are correct? Yes, he is.
But for him to insult president (Muhammadu Buhari); insult John Nwodo, is not the right way. Nwodo, as Ohaneze President, has said all that needs to be said. His statements, including that they are killing our people, show that he has nothing to hide.
Kanu has a reason, and he is very popular among the young people who have to score 90% to gain admission to the university, while their counterparts in the north need 10% or nothing. They are the recipients of the pains of marginalisation of the South-East and South-South, even the Yoruba.
But his reaction of insulting (Prof.) Wole Soyinka and others is ill-advised. Soyinka, during the civil war, was the one saying, “protect Biafra”. He was imprisoned for the sake of Biafra. Has Kanu right to be angry? Yes, but when you are angry, you must find solutions to your problem, and that does not include insulting people.
Nigeria is made up of intelligent races; we are used to peace in many ways that the things happening now are a little bit strange. Would you have thought of a president that will go to Egypt and say: Let everybody enter Nigeria? Everyone is baffled and has got individual opinions and react differently. You don’t say that the other people have no idea.
When you start claiming the totality of knowledge regarding a solution, it leads to despotism. Supposing you are made president, how can you listen to your lieutenants? The governors are public servants, there are things they cannot do or say, and you must respect that bit of them. So, I don’t believe they are compromised.