- Says Igbo Unserious About Presidential Bid
Eze Ikechukwu Ilomuanya, the Obi of Obingwa Owerri, Imo State, and a delegate to the defunct National Conference, here speaks on Igbo presidency, governance in Imo and some other issues in the polity. Excerpts:
What is your position on the statement by Ohanaeze Ndigbo that lack of unity among Igbo leaders is anathema to the quest for Igbo presidency.
Ohanaeze’s view is justified due to lack of unity among the leadership in Igbo land. If, for instance, we say we want to lobby for an Igbo president, you will find millions of Ndigbo vying for the position. Moreover, we have not found a serious presidential contender including the so-called Rochas Okorocha.
But this is not the first time Okorocha is showing interest.
What record has he got to contest for the office of the president? He has no record to vie for such a high office. This is one person who cannot rule a state successfully! Have you not heard about his activities in Imo State? He does not obey the rule of law and has no respect for anybody. Is such an individual fit to be the president of a big country like Nigeria? Let us be serious about the ideal person for president, not a person who cannot obey the constitution of the country he swore to uphold. We, Igbo, are not serious about the contest for the presidency. If we find a formidable Igbo aspirant, we will surely support the person.
What are the royal fathers doing about this?
We are not politicians, all we do is give fatherly advice and blessings to our people on the subject. We are part of Ohanaeze. In due course, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo will take a position and royalty will support them by giving our blessing to it. The blessing will guide them. Ohanaeze, being the umbrella body of our people and traditions, is the highest body in Igbo land that takes a position on such matters.
What is your stand on Muslim/Muslim, Christian/Christian presidential ticket, a speculation many believe will put our democracy in jeopardy?
To me, religion means nothing when it comes to governance. What Nigerians are interested in is effective leadership that will take us to the promised land, not political deceit employed by selfish politicians.
Do you see President Jonathan displaying effective leadership if re-elected?
Goodluck Jonathan is in the league of great Nigerian leaders that ever emerged in this generation. The policies and projects he embarked on, like roads, seaports, even airports, are comparable to any in the Western world. Electricity has improved when compared to how it used to be. I remember during the former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s tenure, electricity supply was very poor. Some areas stayed for more than five months without electricity. People ran on generators everyday. President Jonathan has performed creditably well. All we need is to give him is another chance come 2015 rather than antagonising him for nothing. People should stop witch-hunting him and start discussing issues. Being partisan and insulting the position of the president, being a symbol of authority of this country, is an insult to Nigeria. If you had observed President Jonathan, he has not commented on anybody’s attack on him. This to me is a trait of a good leader. He has the power at his disposal to hunt his critics but he chooses not to. That is a president that is going somewhere.
How do you react to former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s comments, condemning Jonathan’s administration as condoning corruption and his handling of the lingering insurgency?
President Obasanjo, being an elder statesman, we have respect for him. During his tenure, for eight years, we gave him our support. He has done his own bit to the best of his ability. While in office, why didn’t he wipe out insurgency? If he has any issue, it would have been honourable for him to sit with Jonathan as a member of the National Council of State, than casting aspersions on the president on the pages of newspapers. After all, he handed over jointly to Umaru Yar’Adua and Jonathan.
Some economists have predicted the fall in crude oil price as the beginning of the fall of Nigeria’s economy. How do you react?
The fall in oil price is not peculiar to Nigeria. It is a global phenomenon, and, recently, President Jonathan, under the Ministry of Trade and Commerce, addressed top 100 companies in Nigeria, both in manufacturing and agriculture, encouraging them on the efforts by the Federal Government to support their productivity by discouraging importation to a large extent. Nigerians should give President Jonathan a chance. The Finance Minister said recently that there was no cause for alarm, that our economy is doing well.
How do Nigerians trust President Jonathan to make insurgency and unemployment a thing of the past?
He used his first tenure to get a thick skin and expertise in governance. I believe if given the opportunity, things will improve. I trust President Jonathan to do just that.
The opposition accused the president of ignoring key issues while pursuing his presidential ambition. What do you say to that?
I think everything in the Presidency runs on programme, so as a president, he must attend to all the programmes on daily basis. Nigerians should be patient, while promoting peace and love among themselves. Let us know that Nigeria is our own, if we run it down by condemning everything, we will actually be destroying ourselves. Attacking the personality of President Jonathan won’t solve the problem. Let us give the president a chance. If anybody wants to run for the office of the president, the person should endeavour to bring forth his manifesto, convince citizens on what he can do for them. Attacking the personality of people will not take us anywhere. Moreso, politics should not be a do-or-die affair. You may lose election this year, another election may favour you. I remember when Governor Rochas Okorocha came into office, his four years is almost gone; all the unpalatable things he did will be clear to him soon, because I told him.
He knows virtually nothing about due process; see how he awards contracts. He does not obey the rule of law. He has not obeyed judgements against him by the court of law. He destroyed the local government structure. Go to local governments in Imo State, you see bush everywhere; he destroyed the traditional institution. Whenever he summons traditional rulers for meeting for 9 am, he comes in by 5pm. He will ask traditional rulers to do match past while he takes the salute. That is the level to which he has ridiculed the traditional institution in Imo State. Since he came into office, he has been fighting me. There are procedures for coronating traditional rulers; he will be in the comfort of his home, coronating a ruler. Imo State people are crying. He doesn’t relate with anybody.
What is the way forward for Nigeria?
Let’s be sincere with ourselves, if we destroy Nigeria, we have nowhere else to call our own.Our politicians should learn from the late Nelson Mandela of South-Africa. When you know you are tired, don’t play a demi-god like what Rochas Okorocha is doing in Imo State. He is the alpha and omega. Look at what Governor Fashola is doing in Lagos State, and what Governor Chime is doing in Enugu. Their people are happy with them because they are doing well. People should not allow tyrants to take over highly sensitive public offices like the presidency and governorship . Anywhere such tyrants are, they should be voted out.