Barrister Uche Achi-Okpaga, the National Publicity Secretary of Igbo apex socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, in this exclusive interview with OpenLife’s Staff Writer, Isaac Ngumah, speaks on developments in the Nigeria polity ahead 2023 general election
What is your assessment of the insecurity in the country?
A former Head of State, late Gen Sani Abacha, once said that any insurgency that lasts for more than twenty-four hours has government patronage.
Recall also that prior to PMB’s ascendancy to the presidency, he had said that killing of Boko Haram is killing the North. Today, we hear from grapevine that soldiers are punished and locked in underground cells for killing Boko Haram members. You find it difficult to assume that it is not true as it lends credence to Abacha’s vindication and connects to PMB’s statement as above.
The sum total is that something is deliberately wrong somewhere which the government is capable of fixing if it so desires.
Some analysts say infrastructural decay in the country is alarming. Do you agree?
It is a deliberate ploy to keep the developmental pace of the southeast in check. No appreciable Federal roads, no functional rail line, sea port and international airport. All tailored to stifle and retard our glowing and unassailable capacity in trade and commerce.
I do not see the tide changing because the present government did not mince words in the outset about the Northern 97% and the Eastern 5% votes.
50 years after the civil war, do you think the wounds have been properly healed?
The principle of “no victor, no vanquished” was a mere rhetoric. The concept of rehabilitation, reconstruction and reconciliation was abandoned in the dustbin of history as early as it was said. It is only the Almighty God, who is always with us, that has brought is this far. There is no gainsaying that during the war the plan was to clear the Igbos from the dust of the earth. It was not to be anyway, but it has continued like that since then. The Igboman is he that must not be allowed to have his way in all ramifications. Today, there is a move through the NASS to establish an agency for the Boko Haram who are still killing Nigerian soldier and innocent civilians in tens and hundreds while the armless and harmless IPOB is termed a terrorist group. It smells to high heavens.
So, nothing has changed.
Do you support presidency in 2023?
Igbo presidency in 2023 would be most apt. Only a man without conscience would discredit it. Mind you, it is only an Igboman that can fix Nigeria. In every nook and cranny of the country you must find an Igboman trying to contribute his quota in developing that area forgetting his own home. That is our natural penchant. It is inherent in us and that is the spirit with which an Igboman will govern Nigeria. The height or proportion of ethno religious chauvinism enthrenched by the “body language” of this present administration is at an alarming crescendo and the more the lgbos are denied the opportunity the faster we thread the verge of colossal and irretrievable disintegration.
It is Igbo presidency that will completely douse the agitations for self determination from various pro Biafran groups because the youths were not only told, they have seen the criminal marginalisation of Ndigbo.
For Igbo President to be achieved, many feel the geo-political zone should properly align with the ruling party to actualize their dream. Do you agree?
On choice of party, the beauty of democracy is that people have freedom to belong to any party they have chosen. It would be undemocratic to restrict people to a given political party. Instead, the party should woo the people by offering of juicy packages to them. Note that any party that wins election becomes the ruling party ( in power). PDP was the party in power. Today, APC is the party in power. The issue of ruling party has to do with currency and not permanency.
Do you support the clamour for regional security force like Amotekun?
The degree of insecurity in the country has the tendency to defy all local arrangements in sight. It is only apt that States should harness a collaborative efforts regionally to check the menace of ferocious miscreants, bandits, insurgents and/or killer herdsmen as the case may be. We do not have to wait until we are severely subdued and that is why the Amotekun initiative is welcome. The kidnapping and killer herdsmen were at the verge of holding the entire southwest standstill on insecurity. The Amotekun idea is a soothing balm to the psychological trauma that the people of the region have been through.
The implication is that the people’s confidence in the respective state governments in protecting their lives and property are been restored.
On Igbo security outfit, you know that if you show people the eye with which you see they will prick you to blindness.
That is the way it is for Igbo security. I am pretty confident that with what is on the security pipeline the people will be happier and better for it.
Do you believe in restructuring?
Restructuring is our swan song and we have sang it in many fora. The way Nigeria is structured if we refuse to restructure our sociopolitical and economic progress will remain like a round robin, going round the field and ending in the same spot. It is a pity that the political spirit is willing but the physical “presidential body” is weak and unwilling to implement it.
What are the qualities you would expect from Buhari’s Successor
This is only a headache to Buhari himself or the presidency. Nigerians would choose from the options that would be provided by the political parties.
The presidency is a heavy shoe and anyone on it would like to have a successor that would not open his “nyash” when he is gone. So, it is his headache and not that of Nigerians.
What can you say on the call for the resignation of President Buhari and the service chiefs in the country?
A house divided against itself cannot stand. That is what we are witnessing in this government. First, it was Aisha, wife of the President who said that only a two-man cabal was ruling Nigeria. Few days ago, the NSA to the President, corroborated that by saying that Abba Kiairi was giving others to the security chiefs. If this could come from an insider like the National Security Adviser it is enough for the President to resign. How could one who did not swear to uphold the constitution of Nigeria be calling the shots with or without the consent of the President.
Okay, even if Nigerians are not calling for the sack of the Service Chiefs, do they not have tenures of office. Are they not public servants paid with tax payers money. Are they Permanent Service Chiefs. Does it mean that Service Rules do not apply to them?
It is irritating that anything, just anything, goes under this administration.
Now, the war is taking a new dimension. The Minister of Information has stated that the Boko Haram is now targeting Christians and Christian villages. Bearing in mind how fragile religious issues could be and the alarming sentiments they are capable of arousing it is obvious that it is either that the presidency equips the military to tackle Boko Haram and keep Nigeria or encourage its separation by going ahead to even establish an agency to carter for the same criminals killing soldiers and now Christians.
In elitist climes these issues were enough to have the President impeached. After all, Donald Trump of USA was impeached by the US House Of Representatives for merely wanting his political rival to be investigated .