“The military ruled and ruined Nigeria with 36 states, 774 local governments, most of them in the North and nothing was done with fairness.”
Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja
Former governor of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife who will turn 80 in the next couple of days has said that the parlous state of affairs in the country is making him to be angry on daily basis. He regretted that no Nigerian of his age could be proud of the country.
In this interview, where he x-rayed happenings in the country, the former presidential adviser on Political Affairs accused the incumbent administration of deliberately sidelining the South-East zone, saying that the panacea to the country’s poor shape remains returning to the regions.
What does turning 80 mean to you?
I don’t know what it means to me. I thought it would mean great things – success, mission accomplished, etc. But today, I feel useless. I feel like a failure. I feel lack of accomplishment. I look at the younger ones and feel I disappointed. I look at Nigeria and I say to myself, why shouldn’t I be the change, with the kind of things I could write or I should write? Couldn’t I have done better? I was well prepared. I didn’t go to any secondary school, but I told myself I would be properly prepared for leadership. So, nobody approaching 80 in Nigeria today should be proud or happy. This is a disappointment in the extreme. I did well at home and abroad. I beat every human being born by a woman in Ibadan. In the Faculty of Economic and Social Studies, I was number one. I came to the Civil Service; the first two years, I was a flyer. Then the problem of Nigeria, the civil war came and I went to America.
What is that you feel you should have done for Nigeria that you didn’t do that evokes a feeling of failure in you?
I don’t know, but I think maybe I would have been less haughty and more humble. There are things I proposed for 10 years and they were not done because corruption is serious. I proposed how to use petroleum industry to make Nigerian economy massively successful. I proposed to Obasanjo, I proposed to Jonathan, I proposed to Yar’Adua on his sick bed. They understood the issue. They appreciated the thought. But they could not implement. I decided that the best way for Nigeria is to use our petroleum gift by God to make our economy explosive. What I meant was we produce our own crude and sell it cheaply because every sector of the economy needs oil, whether it is your car, you are driving or your industry. You need petroleum product. So, I said we produce petroleum product, estimate how many litres of crude we need to satisfy our local demand. Once we establish it, even if we don’t have the facilities, we go overseas and produce it, bring it back, sell it, use it to promote other economic activities. What killed it was corruption because to do that, you need to cut off importation of petroleum. There are some people who are so big, who are in charge of importing petroleum and they are gaining massively by so doing.
But this corruption has been with Nigeria for a long time. At what point would you say the descent really started?
We have always been in corruption practice. You remember during the coup, Nzeogwu said 10 percenters. That was infant level of corruption and you could survive. But eventually, the military ruled Nigeria and ruined Nigeria; it became monumental corruption and they pervaded every aspect of society. If you were a lecturer in the university, for a girl to score well, she would have to be under you. For a man to score well, he would have to be loyal. If you go to church, you will find corruption. Go to mosque, you will find corruption. Go to police, you will find corruption. Go to army, you will find corruption. Everywhere is pervaded by corruption. But it couldn’t have been so massive and effective in destroying Nigeria if it were not for the destruction of the structure of Nigeria.
Who actually started the destruction?
Some time ago, maybe you were born; maybe you were not born; the World Bank said parts of Nigeria were growing faster than the rest of the world. Awo brought free education to the West; Ahmadu Bello tried to push the North up. It was not just the groundnut pyramid, Azikiwe, in the East. Every part of Nigeria was growing at its own pace and any man and woman, those who are intelligent, who are in public service had vested interest in what is done with the property of Eastern Region, Western Region. You are interested in how government spends money because it’s your money. In those days, it is your tax. Whatever contribution you make to the treasury, that’s what the state is using. We didn’t have oil. Therefore, we were interested in how those who are spending it use it. When the oil came, the size of corruption changed. If it were not for military, we would have been far better than where we are today because God planned it that way. Nigerians are great people, but the military messed up God’s plan.
How did the military actually help in stunting the growth of Nigeria?
I have made the first point that the World Bank said that parts of Nigeria were growing faster than the rest of the world. There was a recent statement from a foreign leader. The Prime Minister of Britain came here and said Nigeria is one the poorest countries, that it is leading the world in poverty. The change from growing fastest to becoming poorest was effected by the military who ruled and ruined Nigeria. By 1954, our political leaders and founding fathers had decided on the structure of Nigeria. They decided Nigeria will run a federal system with regions as federating units and there were only three regions, then four. Federal system means that the regions have their own constitution and how you govern your own is your own making. But then there was a coup in January 1966. There was Nigerian/Biafran altercation about planning war, etc and the Nigerian military wanted to win the war and they wanted to win it fast. How would they beat Ojukwu who was fighting from the other side? They thought about it and they got the right answer. They decided that it is best to isolate the Igbo from the rest of Eastern Nigeria so that Ojukwu’s command is just Igbo; the other people would not obey as much as they would have obeyed if nothing happened. That was achieved by creating 12 states in Nigeria. Southeast became Igbo state. That knocked out federal system based on regions. That’s how Nigeria died. If after the war, the northern military leaders had ended this isolation, we would have been far ahead and the Igbo man would have been leading the world.
The argument is that yes, the military distorted the structure and the steps they took hurt the system. But we’ve also had politicians who took over, who have never shown interest in reverting to the old system, why?
You are wrong. The whole idea now is reversing to the old system. Restructuring is what we are talking about and that’s why Atiku has won the PDP ticket. Restructuring is going back to our agreed structure.
Is restructuring all about going back to regions?
Yes, that is the correct thing to do. It’s to go back to the regions as federating units. If we are going back to what we knew, what worked and what made Nigeria grow faster than other parts of the world, we are going back to true federalism with regions as federating units. I want to tell you something which many Nigerians don’t know. Many northerners say they are opposed to restructuring. If the North insists on no restructuring and the South wants to grow, that’s the end of it. But Nigeria is better bigger. It’s the largest concentration of blacks in the world and what did God do with that? Maybe you saw recently the Hurricane Michael and it is around the world, except most of Africa. We don’t have hurricane, we don’t have tornado, we don’t have those natural disasters. God made it that way. You can go naked outside and not die. Every vegetable can grow here. Anything you plant can grow here. God gave us every plant and animal. God designed for Nigeria unmatched greatness. God gave us all; but today, ignorant man in Nigeria has messed up God’s design. Maybe this PDP something in Port Harcourt is a change. It was open, free, fair and everything was positive. The man who won talked like a human being with intelligence. Maybe we can still go back to what God designed for Nigeria. However, the military ruled and ruined Nigeria with 36 states, 774 local governments, most of them in the North and nothing was done with fairness.
The impression people have of you is that you are against this government. Is your stand on account of government’s refusal to restructure Nigeria?
I am not against the government. I am against the government’s policies. I’m not against Buhari. Buhari and I have been friends. I visited Buhari in his Kaduna home many years ago and he served me. He didn’t call anybody to serve me. He respected me. But the government is ruining Nigeria’s future. Nobody forced Buhari to say that he belongs to everybody. But do you know that Buhari has ruined Nigeria more than all the military people who ruled this country?
In what way?
There is something in the constitution of Nigeria called federal character. If you listen to those who know, you will know that Buhari did not come to use Nigerians to work. He has Nigerians who have superior intellects, superior ability, yet he does not use them because of where they come from. Instead he prefers to go to only Katsina and get people who have blood relations with him and dump them in government. They are sitting in the country and the country is going down. There is nobody who wants Nigeria to make progress that will like Buhari’s government. I am Igbo, God made me so and God made Igbo people a people of destiny. No man can change it. The man as president has turned against the Igbo people. Any list of people who are being driven from office is dominated by the Igbo. On the list of new appointments, the Igbo are non-existent. The agenda is to pull Igbo down. Look at the case of Innoson, Emzor. Their containers are seized. As we are here today, if there is a meeting called National Security Council, nobody from South-East is there. This is not imagination. It’s reality. Out of the 17 security bodies in Nigeria, 16 are headed by Muslim Fulanis. What can you say about that? The Senate and the House of Reps are there and this kind of policy is going against the constitution. Federal character is a matter of constitution. It’s not a matter of individuals. I have good prayers for Buhari, but I don’t think he has enough preparation for what he got himself involved in. It was even clear from the first time he came as a military leader with Idiagbon doing virtually everything.
But he assured recently that if re-elected, no part of the country will be ignored. Do you not agree with him?
You are telling me what you will do when you will come back. You are already there and you have been there three years plus. So, does it make sense? Should he make that statement even when he has ignored most parts of the country? He has preference for people who he can use to work for Nigeria. If it is the will of God that Buhari will come back, no man born of woman can stop it and no force available to us in Nigeria can stop him from coming back and we don’t know the will of God. God works in mysterious ways. It is possible that even what he has done is God’s will for him.
But we’ve seen many people from your part of the zone also joining forces with him and defending him. Are you saying that there are things you know that they do not know?
Igbo people know themselves. They know their children. They know their leaders. They know what is prompting them to act in one way or the other. Some people see money and they move. The true Igbo behaviour is coming out. We believed in Jonathan and we voted for him. We may be losing, but everybody we are dealing with knows where we stand. We have some people who represent Igboness and we have some people that represent cash. Where money comes, they go there.
Some have continued to argue that the Igbo stood with Jonathan, but they got little for that support. Their roads are in bad shape, the Second Niger Bridge was not built, key infrastructure in the zone are neglected. Why did you not also criticize the former administration for that?
I went to Uyo area where the first governor of Akwa Ibom was buried. During the funeral, they gave me microphone to talk. I said ladies and gentlemen, my brothers and sisters, I did not bring any tribute. What I brought was a bomb. For as long as the South-South, the South-East continue on parallel lines and not meeting, for so long will they suffer in the Nigerian system. But the moment they team up, what they ask of Nigeria is what they get of Nigeria. I came back after making that statement and we started meeting – South-South, South-East at the home of Edwin Clark. It was like magic and it turned things around. After that, we got the Yoruba. We formed Southern Nigeria’s People Assembly. Now, we have gone to South/Middle Belt. God gave us Nigeria and made it with unmatched greatness. We messed up God’s design. But man cannot dominate over God’s will. Therefore, I have hope that things will change. We have an election coming. God knows me inside out. I will prefer that Buhari does not run. It will be helpful to Nigeria if Buhari does not run. It will be helpful to Fulani if Buhari does not run. If he does run, we are just tearing further apart the Nigerian system. The Miyetti Allah, my friends who supported me when I was going for president, I understood their point of view and they understood mine. They said they will support me, although I didn’t go far. Let us Nigerians lift our hands from the back of Igbo. Let Nigerians stop pressing Igbo down because if you leave the Igbo and he jumps up, Nigeria jumps up. Whatever you call all those people who are backward, they are the people to gain most from the revival of this country and it is the will of God that it will work. There is one man from the North who God used to keep me alive. That man is called Justice Mamman Vatsa. He is from Katsina. I cannot hate a person because of where he comes from.
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Killing of Christians: Buhari lied to Trump – CAN fumes
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has reacted to President Muhammadu Buhari’s revelation of his conversation with United States President, Donald Trump, on the massacre of Christians in Nigeria, saying President Buhari was economical with the truth.
President Buhari had on Tuesday, revealed that at the heat of the bloody clashes between herdsmen and farmers in Nigeria, the United States President, Donald Trump, unequivocally accused him of killing Christians.
Buhari said these in his closing remarks at the two-day ministerial performance review retreat held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.
At a point, the President digressed from his prepared speech and narrated his encounter with Trump on the bloody clashes.
He said he managed to explain to the American leader that the clashes were not about ethnicity or religion.
He said, “I believe I was about the only African among the less developed countries the President of United States invited.
“When I was in his office, only myself and himself, only God is my witness, he looked at me in the face, and asked, ‘Why are you killing Christians?’
“I wonder, if you were the person, how you will react. I hope what I was feeling inside did not betray my emotion, so I told him that the problem between the cattle rearers and farmers, I know is older than me not to talk of him. I think I am a couple of years older than him.
“With climate change and population growth and the culture of the cattle rearers, if you have 50 cows and they eat grass, any root, to your water point, then they will follow it. It doesn’t matter whose farm it is.
“The First Republic set of leadership was the most responsible leadership we ever had. I asked the Minister of Agriculture to get a gazette of the early 60s which delineated the cattle route where they used meager resources then to put earth dams, wind mills even sanitary department.
“So, any cattle rearers that allowed his cattle to go to somebody’s farm would be arrested, taken before the court. The farmer would be called to submit his bill and if he couldn’t pay, the cattle would be sold, but subsequent leaders, the VVIPs (very important persons) encroached on the cattle routes. They took over the cattle rearing areas.
“So, I tried and explained to him (Trump) that this has got nothing to do with ethnicity or religion. It is a cultural thing.”
However, CAN’s Vice President and Chairman of the association in Kaduna State, John Hayab, was not impressed with Buhari’s submission, saying “Buhari and his government will never stop from amusing us with their tales by moonlight because what is happening in Zamfara, Sokoto, Katsina, Birnin Gwari, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Plateau and others cannot be described as a cultural thing.
He told Punch correspondent in an interview: “President Buhari’s weak story about his conversation with President Donald Trump further confirms why his government does not care about the killings in our country by calling them cultural things.
“Just this (Tuesday) evening, I received a report from the Kaduna Baptist Conference President about the number of their members that have been killed by bandits in Kaduna State from January 2020 to date to be 105 and our President will call it a cultural thing? All we can say is may God save our Nigeria.”
CAMA: Bishop blasts Christian lawmakers
The Catholic Bishop of Nsukka, Most Rev. Godfrey Onah, has blamed Christians in the National Assembly (NASS), for the passage of the 2020 Companies and Allied Matters Bill (CAMA), signed into law by President Muhammadu Buhari recently.
Bishop Onah, said in a remark during the Sunday Mass that if Christians in NASS had opposed the bill, it would not have been passed into law.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Aug. 7, signed the CAMA bill into law, giving provision for religious bodies and charity organizations to be regulated by the registrar of the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), and a supervising minister.
“The question many Christians have been asking is, where were Christian legislators during the debate of this bill and its passage in the National Assembly?
“Because, if they had opposed this bill on the floor of the house, it would not have been passed and sent to the president for assent.
“I blame Christian legislators for doing nothing and allowing the passage of the 2020 CAMA Act,” he said.
“When I say that Christians are too divided and too selfish, don’t forget that the second in command in this country is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, a professor of Law and a pastor.”
Onah, however, wondered what the Federal Government wanted to achieve in monitoring how the finances of churches in the country are managed when it contributed no dime to the church, NAN reports.
“Government should focus and monitor its ministries, agencies and other government institutions where it budgets billions of Naira annually and not church offerings.
“Had it been that the government gave allocations to churches and decided to monitor its usage, nobody will question the government,” he said.
Nigerians spit fire over fuel, electricity prices hike
Anger and condemnations, across the country, have continued to trail last week’s take off, of new increases in pump price of petroleum products and electricity tariffs, as directed by Federal Government.
Recall that the Petroleum Products Marketing Company (PPMC) official, D.O. Abalaka announced on Wednesday September 3, on behalf of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) that the new price of petroleum is now N151.56k per litre instead of N149 – N150 per litre which it was previously.
The new electricity tariff which the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) tagged “Service Reflective Tariff” has also come into effect. It requires consumers to pay N53.87 – N66.422 per kwh of electricity.
Outraged consumers of fuel and electricity have therefore warned government to get ready for collision with the masses if it fails to rescind these new prices.
Those who have expressed outrage over the new prices regimes include, the Organized Labour, Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Nigerian main opposition political party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Nigeria Employers Consultative Association (NECA) and the Major Marketers Association of Nigeria (MOMAN).
Others are: Petroleum Products Retail Outlets Owners Association of Nigeria, the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) and the Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce (NACCIMA).
The NLC said, “The frequent fuel price increase will no longer be accepted. We will not allow Nigerians fall victim of government ineptitude and negligence to make the country self-sufficient in terms of refining petroleum products at home.”
On its part, the PDP has described the price hike as “callous, cruel and punishing” and demanded an immediate reversal to avert a national crisis.
The All Industrial Global sees the incessant increase as a confirmation that deregulation means just price increase.
“This is unacceptable! Under a pandemic, we should put money in the pockets of citizens to revive collapsed livelihoods and preserve lives.” In its reaction, NECA said it has always urged Federal Government to adopt deregulation policy in the oil and gas downstream sector.
The MOMAN in its statement insists that monthly price variation of fuel was no longer sustainable. It urged PPRA to adopt quarterly price mechanism which would save the market the hassles of price volatility. The statements by IPMAN and NACCIMA also followed along the same line that the hike “…serves only to increase the severity and duration of the looming economic recession.”
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