From PETRUS OBI, THE SUN
In his interview recently the Secretary General of the Igbo apex body Ohanaeze Ndigbo Dr. Joe Nwaorgu dismissed insinuations of a division in the Igbo body, describing the caretaker committee led by Chief Ralph Obioha as pretenders and members of a drinking club who are disillusioned.
H e also said Ohanaeze endorsed Jonathan because he is the only one of the two major presidential candidates who will implement the National Confab report. “We made input in that report and a lot of Nigerians agreed harmoniously, by consensus on the way forward for Nigeria. And between Jonathan and Buhari, Jonathan is the one likely to implement that report.”
In this interview Mr. Osita Okechukwu, the South East spokesperson of the APC joins issues with Nwaorgu insisting that Ohanaeze endorsement of Jonathan was on selfish grounds and a gross deceit of Igbo people and cannot be justified.
Ohanaeze said they endorsed Jonathan because only he would implement the decisions taken at the Confab; do you agree with him?
He is not sincere in the sense that he is self serving and did not consider the collective interest of Ndigbo who reside across the length and breadth of our dear country. Methinks Chief Nwaorgu and his cohorts either did not thoroughly digest the outcome of the confab or sincerely do not appreciate what are the germane or true interest of Ndigbo. Do they have a Check-List of Igbo interest, if yes did they give President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR before endorsing him in 2011? Did they give him before the recent endorsement racket that our elder statesman, Chief Mbazulike Amechi, Chief Ralph Obioha and co are contesting?
One agrees with him that Jonathan convoked the National Conference; one agrees with him that Jonathan is the president but the constitutional conference submitted their report months back and President Jonathan has not found the political will to present the findings of that confab to the National Assembly. Nor has our dear president implemented those that did not require constitutional amendment, so who is fooling who?
He has not deemed it necessary to do so; he has not even issued a white paper report on the findings of the report. So for God’s sake what our Secretary-General Joe Nwaorgu is engaged in is wishful thinking. Delusion as he said in his interview and outright falsehood to the Igbo people. And I don’t like people trying to dish out lies to Ndigbo because even the enemies of the Igbos the traducers of the Igbos do not deny our hard work, dexterity and entrepreneurship. No Yoruba man has called an Igbo man a foolish man; no Hausa man has called an Igbo man a foolish man.
Everybody believes on the dexterity, the hard work, the entrepreneurship of the Igbo people. So if a president has convoked a conference and months after the delivery of the report, there is no white paper, no executive bill to the National Assembly for the amendment of the relevant sections, how can you bestow Ndigbo hope on him? And there are also issues of policy; because some of the recommendations do not require constitutional amendment. So what one is saying is that the Ohanaeze Secretary-General, Joe Nwaorgu and the President Chief Enwo Igariwey are being less than transparent and should be condemned for being unfaithful to the Igbo cause.
Why do you say so sir?
I say so because I do not want to delve into the issue of whether they have four-year-tenure or two-year tenure because I attended the 9th November meeting of Imeobi meeting of Ohanaeze. I attended the January 3rd where they even made a presentation or what they call the amendment; I don’t want to go into that because I asked the Secretary General “where is the minute notebook that detailed the amendment of that constitution in 2010. They didn’t read any notebook what they showed us is a projector film; I don’t want to go into that Nollywood film. I asked him, I said look; where is the newspaper you published the agreement reached to amend the constitution? And where are the copies of the amended constitution you circulated to the general of Ndigbo?
In the Communique along this line which I read was published on 6th November 2010, which stated interalia, ‘the General Assembly resolved as follows, in accordance with article 29 of the Ohaneze Constitution, that amendments should be made, to the constitution to provide that the national and state offices be a one term of four years and the current executive committee shall remain in office till December 2012 as approved by Imeobi on 30th October 2010.’ Is that amendment? But I don’t want to go into that money politics, where I am concerned is about the Confab.
We of the APC noted that the Confab was untimely, political motivated, predetermined to pursue a Jonathan agenda. That Jonathan as a wise PhD holder is aware that critical ingredients of elections in liberal democracy are about the performance of the incumbent and wanted to overshadow this core ingredient of democracy. He knew he failed; Soludo gave him F-9; Dr. Alex Ekwueme said he can’t get what he got in the South East; the London Economist magazine gave him F-9, the New York Times gave him F-9. So in an effort to circumvent that core ingredient of democracy, of the electorate trying to assess performance his performance he convoked the conference as a cannon-fodder. This is why the APC opposed the conference. We said that Jonathan was sworn on May 6, 2010; that between then and 2014 he could have convoked a conference and there could be a lot of time to discuss what the conference had to offer. So that’s why I said it’s fraudulent for him and those other people who say it’s only Jonathan that can implement it; how can he implement it? In all honesty constitutional amendment is built around consensus of all, because you must secure 2/3 of members of the National and State Assemblies, before any amendment. Our constitution is a rigid constitution, therefore no group can amend any section by abusing or demonizing any section, talk less critical groups like the Hausas and Yorubas who embraced our great party the APC.
Are you saying that he wouldn’t want to implement it or that he doesn’t have the capacity to?
The 1999 constitution which is the foundation of any amendment or any law that is governing us states explicitly that for you to amend this constitution you need two-third of the National Assembly, you need two-third of the State Assembly. My brother, Jonathan doesn’t haven’t the capacity; he has failed the South-South, he has failed the South-East, his core supporters; you don’t talk of the North, he has failed the North; he failed even the middle belt or what we call the North Central who hoped on him. So where is he getting the votes; why can we bank on a sinking ship? If the presidential election was held on 14 February, Jonathan could have lost, no matter the date he will loose, so why put all our eggs in one basket? What we studied in primary history, what they ask us in every history exam is the ‘rise and fall’ of empires. Jonathan’s empire is on the departure lounge, truly speaking.
Joe Nwaorgu, Igariwey and their supporters are trying to pitch the destiny of the great Ndigbo on a sinking ship; they are not kind, they are very fraudulent; they are thinking about themselves and their pockets; I should regard them as food-is-ready politicians. Are they happy that if Jonathan is voting back to office, the 2nd Niger Bridge will be the only federal toll bridge? Must our cow be the only one being milked?
Buhari wrote them a letter saying let’s discuss; what does the Igbo’s really want in a new dispensation lets categorize. I delivered that letter and I thought that the letter alone could have been a platform to tell Jonathan ‘please what is your checklist for the Igbo’s. They went out if their way; the only thing I have read from what they have said is that the only condition they are supporting Jonathan is because of Confab and I said if it’s the only condition then its fraudulent. As our leaders I challenge them to show us the Ndigbo Check-List? If they are truly Igbo leaders and not Food is Ready, why can’t they prepare a check list of Igbo demands and present to the two major contenders? Because they know that going by that constitution the ingredients of consensus, the ingredient of compromise, of negotiation are key. Jonathan doesn’t have the political will for negotiations because he is an auto pilot; he doesn’t have the will for compromise, he doesn’t have the will for negotiation, he doesn’t have the will for consensus and worse of all he doesn’t keep promises. So whats the chances he will implement it if he comes back. Did he revamp Enugu Coal which he promised? As Rev. Fr. Mbaka pronounced in the profound New Year Sermon; it will be a disaster for the country to vote Jonathan back power.
What do you think would happen to the report of the Confab should Buhari win the election?
In 2003 I was in Buhari’s Presidential campaign and one of his programmes is restructuring of the country to true federalism. In 2007 and 2011 Buhari returned restructuring; in 2015 he returned the same agenda and luckily now Buhari has a bigger platform with Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu and co, who are adherents of true federalism.
In 2003, we had a Northern platform; in 2007 and 2011 we had a Northern platform but in 2015 we have a Pan- Nigeria platform that includes the South West and other progressive elements who are supporters of devolution of powers. Which is timely, as we of the APC do not want a Federal Government that drill borehole. And Buhari believes in democracy and the necessity of exploring the common ground, therefore it is futile not to support the Big-Battalion. Buhari is pleading with Ndigbo to vote for progressives, because Igbos are progressive by nature. Ndigbo had always supported restructuring and believes in devolution of powers; which includes creation of States. Buhari supports as well the creation one additional state for Ndigbo and the provision that the centre concentrate more on security, foreign affairs and policies. Buhari says he doesn’t believe in a federal government that drills boreholes; so what’s the local government doing with the money it gets? So that’s’ a new dimension; and he said that he believes sincerely that the Igbo people as hard working and enterprising group. My take is that we will benefit more from where there is transparency than patronage system. A lot of people forget that APC has in our midst those who support state police and all the fine points raised by theNational Conference. That’s what Buhari believes, that’s what Jonathan couldn’t do for six years. That’s why the country collapsed; that’s why we are broke; that’s why the naira collapsed.
So Buhari and APC are looking at what can change fundamentally; why did the West develop? Why did China decree a law which says anybody who is corrupt should be shot? Because they know that corruption is fundamental; and the Jonathan regime doesn’t care about or give a damn about corruption.
What one is saying is that Jonathan in 2010 awarded three refineries one for Bayelsa his home state, one for Lagos, one for Kogi at $23bn, it may interest you to know that on that date the federal government had $17bn as excess crude account; Which means that Jonathan was sitting on top of $17 billion. When the Chinese saw that he couldn’t pay from the huge Excess Crude Account, they offered to contribute 80% of the $23billion and Nigeria to contribute 20% . Despite this juicy offer Jonathan failed to honour it and the deal failed. The unfortunate outcome is that Nigeria sells the Crude Oil with right hand and buys refined petroleum products with the left hand; hence little is left in our coffers.
Is Jonathan the man you are saying the great Igbo people will hang their fate and destiny on; and you say you are sincere? It is fraudulent; gross deceit that nobody can pardon. For those who clamour for Jonathan have they forgotten how his regime awarded the Eastern Electricity Distribution Company to a company via less than transparent process? The unpleasant result is that the South East now has the highest electricity tariff in the country, which means that the few factories here will soon close. They can’t compete even locally as the electricity tarrif in the South West is cheaper than the Shylock Tarrif approved by Jonathan who so loved Ndigbo than Buhari.
Considering this position of Ohanaeze what do you think will be the position of the Igbo’s should Buhari win the election?
The GMB I know if he wins the Igbo’s will be the greatest beneficiary as all hard working Nigerians not only the Igbos will be the collective winners. Buhari will run a transparent administration and transparency does not encourage patronage. Because transparency is his foundation and transparency is for the talented, the hardworking and the innovative.
That GMB I know, if a Fulani man from Katsina fails in contract bid he won’t award him the contract, that’s why the elite in the North is fighting him. He is not being fought by the Southerners he is being fought more by the elite of the North, East and West. That’s why he is Mai Gaskiya; the Talakawa’s that are supporting him in the North, not the rich; and that’s why we have been supporting him. And so the gainer is the hardworking Igbo, the hardworking Efik, the hardworking Hausa, the hardworking Yoruba, the hard working people of all the tribes we have. Buhari will spread the joy. He will revamp Enugu Coal, generate electricity with it, export, attract coal ancillary factories and create one million jobs in four years in the South East.