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25 Mar 2017

Osita Okechuwku Wants Igbo To Wait Till 2023 Before Taking Over Power

Mr Osita Okechukwu, the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria(VON), has said that the Igbo's should wait till 2023 before talking about presidency as that is when it may favour them.
Okechukwu who made this known in a chat with newsmen after attending a popular radio programme, Freedom Square, in Enugu said that the Igbo had supported other zones in the
past to produce the president, but failed to support President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, and therefore should support him in 2019 while waiting for the North to join the others zones to support the South East in 2023.
He also disclosed that he may contest the Enugu West Senatorial District election currently occupied by Senator Ike Ekweremadu if his constituency permits him in 2019. Excerpts:
We have looked at all the indices, they are not cheery, if you look back at those promises the APC made to the Igbo, do you think the Igbo have reasons to be cheerful?
I think so and sincerely too in the sense that if you cast your mind back, at 62 years, I have done my own analysis and prognosis. I have asked myself that question: on this earth, what actually does my people the Igbo want? And I said, who are the Igbo? I reasoned: one, these are hardworking people; these are entrepreneurial people; these are people that are committed to advancing any environment they find themselves. Without prejudice to the fact that appurtenances of good offices are also good for any group, but these appointments are not as enduring as projects. I said to myself, there was a time we had Secretary to Government of the Federation, minister in charge of the economy, finance, power etc, and no meaningful projects. If you recall, we had about seven billboards. If you cast your mind back, the billboard for Enugu is talking about coal, to revamp the coal industry. And I can say today that Mr President is about revamping the Enugu Coal to generate electricity. The last meeting held a few weeks ago in South-Africa was with a group that is interested. It is almost being concluded. Initially, a Chinese group came and some locals are on the wings, but Mr President asked the Minister of Mines and Steel (it used to be Solid Minerals), the former Governor of Ekiti State, John Kayode Fayemi, to do a background check because I gave him an analysis of how we have suffered in the past five or six years to revamp the Enugu Coal. We had a very false hope when Prof Barth Nnaji who was an adviser and an author of the power sector reforms became a minister. Prof Nnaji did his best but he could not get off the ground. Luckily or incidentally, Prof Chinedu Nebo, our own brother again took over from Prof Nnaji. In that interval of years, we couldn’t lift it off the ground. All efforts we made to remind them of the import of the project was in vain. At a certain point, I even had to write under the Freedom of Information Act, a letter to Prof Nebo, which luckily or unluckily, he did not answer. I was heading for court when his adviser, Prof Onyia insisted and said, “Osita why are you doing this to your brother?” I said, it seems that my brother is sleeping on the desk; that the last time I saw him, was when I saw him in the Presidential Villa preaching. I said, I respect the Almighty God, but that is not his mandate. So, what I did or what we did, because I was not alone, was that we took time to brief Mr President about the coal in Enugu. I showed him the number plate one day we were driving together to let him know that we are answering Coal City without any block of coal being mined out of the soil and this is a wealth that can create a whole lot of employment. Luckily, on January 10, 2015 when Mr President came on a state campaign, he spent three minutes out of 10 minutes and made this promise. So which time is appropriate in your own opinion for the Igbo to get to this plum position?

In my view and the majority view point, the practical and pragmatic position is this. There are two contending issues in the political domain. One is the law with its legal teeth. It is written. It can pull down any mountain. The other one is the convention. It is not written but it has moral weight, it can also pull down mountains. From 1999 to 2007 is eight years. Forget that something happened with the death of Umaru Musa Yar’adua, otherwise it would have been another eight years by the North. So, there is a convention. We are saying that no one group should have it all. Remember that in 2003, we campaigned with President Muhammadu Buhari. The majority of the North voted for him but he couldn’t be president. No one group can win the presidency alone. So, for Igbo presidency to be germane, we must key into the convention so that we can harvest the goodwill on our side because we have done a small analysis. When you come to Lagos and ask any indigene of Lagos to stay on one side, the next ethnic group is the Igbo. When you come to Kano, you tell the truly Kano indigenes to stay on one side, the next group is what? Ndigbo. We are only third in four states – Edo, Kwara, Niger, Kaduna is contentious between Yoruba and the Igbo!

So the Igbo should wait for the presidency till 2023?
Yes, if we go again and waste our votes and think anybody will compensate us, nobody will do that. My considered view is that we should this time vote for Buhari as we did to Obasanjo and Jonathan in 2019. What I am saying is that a brilliant group like the Igbo should not listen to ethnic merchants and their sentiments. There are those who harvest ethnicity. I wrote a small pamphlet of about 20 pages. I used my town Eke as an example; that we should be pragmatic and sensible. Eke is more divided than Nigeria today. But we are of the same parentage, the same Catholic Church, the same Wawa dialect of Igbo language. If you take Eke as a case study, you won’t see religious difference, you won’t see language difference, so you must look inwards to know our challenges and problems. What do we need to do to harvest, to bring good people to rule the country? That is what we should be talking about. It is not about saying, we are not speaking one language; that is why we are where we are. If it is about one language, why did Enugu and Ebonyi vote against one region. Region is just close to secession, being a country. Region decentralizes or devolves powers of the central government.  In sum, Enugu State and Ebonyi for three times, voted against it. Lagos and Ogun voted against it. The whole South-South voted against it. So, why can’t we reason? Today, the PDP is failing, why will you throw you votes to PDP and APGA which belong to only two families? It is a waste of votes. That is what I am saying.
Nnamdi Kanu is a sore testimony for the Igbo. We don’t know what the law says but he has been kept in detention for so long and we think that justice delayed is justice denied. Can’t those of you in government intervene in his matter?
Mr President is just back. We will continue to plead on his behalf because we told Mr President that this is a young man from England. That actually, we don’t know his stand in Nigeria. Give him pardon. Mr President asked me, Osita, have you talked with him. I will find time to talk with him. But anybody that has access to talk with him should tell him that Nigeria is not a zoo where you want to bring Igbo out.
In 2011, you vied for the governorship, but in 2015, you supported the Buhari presidency. Now INEC has released its timetable for 2019 elections, do you intend to vie for any elective post?
I think it depends on the wish of my people. If my people decide that Senator Ike Ekweremadu has stayed in the Senate for four times, that it is the turn of our people, the Udi and Ezeagu-axis; if it is the wish of my people, I will throw my hat into the ring.

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