By Ochereome Nnanna
*Why Zik did not work with Awolowo
*The genesis of agitation for COR state
Getting to the country home of Chief Mbazulike Amechi in Ukpor Nnewi, was no easy task, even in a Jeep. But when we eventually got there on Wednesday, February 3rd 2010, we met a man of 80 plus a couple ofÂ months still standing tall, still handsome and still very sharp in the mind and memory. Our mission was to encounter him in this interview to get a clearer picture of some historical issues surrounding the early political life of Nigeria before it degenerated to the sorry state in which we find ourselves. When I was through with him, he autographed three of his books which I have since found to be invaluable for the better understanding of Nigeriaâ€™s early beginnings. It is my pleasure to present to you, Chief Amechi, A PLEASURABLE READ.
You are known as â€œThe Â Boy is Goodâ€. How did you come by that name?
(Chuckles). I think it was in 1957. A constitutional conference was taking place in Lagos. I was in the secretariat team of the National Council for Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) delegation. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was leading our team. The Sardauna led the Northern team and Chief Awolowo led the Action Group. At the Lagos Marina, the Sardauna had just arrived at the residence of the Colonial Governor. He drove into the compound. Awolowo arrived with his own team and they drove into the compound. As we approached the compound we came down for Zik to enter the compound in a Chevrolet station wagon. As we opened the gate for him to drive in, one big stone landed on the side glass of his car.
The driver quickly applied the brakes. I was in my car together with Chief Fred Anyiam, an old Zikist. As I looked back to see what was happening, I saw a young man dressed in a fine suit pull out one long, sharp dagger from under his coat. He meant to stab it on the chest of Zik. Then I shouted: â€œthis is an assassination! This is an assassination!â€ I jumped out of my car and grappled with the young man. The policemen who were there looked the other way and everybody was scared. I held him by the hand and he stabbed me in my hand (shows a large scar on his right forefinger).
I was bleeding and yet the white police officer who led the policemen stationed there looked the other way. As I was grappling with the man I shouted to Zikâ€™s driver: â€œSam, donâ€™t you see it was your master they wanted to kill? Common, drive into that compound, donâ€™t be silly!â€ he drove into the compound and I raised the traditional Igbo war cry: Igbo onozikwa ebea e? Igbo onozikwa ebea e?â€
At this one Inspector Chukwuma, from Anambra as I was later made to understand, rushed out with a long baton, gave the man a big blow on the head and on the elbow and the dagger-holding hand, and the man slumped. The Inspector stepped on the dagger and then picked it up and I was rushed to the General Hospital in Lagos Island. I was treated by a lady doctor, Dr Ofili. This was relayed in the news everywhere. And when Zik was narrating the story in Onitsha, he kept saying: â€œthe boy was really goodâ€. That was how it started. Since then wherever I come in contact with people they hail me: â€œThe Boy is Goodâ€, and it has become part of my nameâ€.
So it has a noble connotation. But today â€œThe Boy is Goodâ€ now means, â€œHe is richâ€. He has a lot of money?
Good luck to him.
We hear of â€œAwoistâ€. We hear that some people are Aminu Kanoâ€™s political disciples. Who is a â€œZikistâ€? What is Zikism?
When nationalism was building up it took a dramatic crescendo when Zik returned to Nigeria around 1934-35. He went to Ghana or Gold Coast and when he returned to Nigeria he set up the West African Pilot and other newspapers. Nwafor Orizu came back and wrote a book on youth and dynamism. Azikiwe means Azi ka iwe (or, the youth are more revolutionary than the elders). It was a source of inspiration to us and we decided to make a radical organisation out of him.
The Zikist Movement was founded around 1944 with MCK Ajuluchukwu as its first National President and Dr Kola Balogun as its first National Secretary. As the organisation grew the NCNC in 1948 tried to revolutionise its activities and drew up what they called the Freedom Charter at the Jos convention. Then in 1949 the youths in the Zikist Movement felt that the NCNC elders were not sufficiently forthcoming in implementing the Jos resolutions. So the Zikist Movement drew up its own programme and passed its own resolution.
The first phase of it was Passive Resistance. After that we would enter the phase of Dynamic Action. And after that we would enter the Total Revolution stage. The stage of passive resistance was to educate the people on their rights and ask them not to do anything that is anti-Nigeria or anti-nation as may be ordered them by the white colonialists. The second stage was to urge Nigerian people to stop paying tax because taxes then were being paid in favour of the British government in Nigeria.
The final stage was to go into demonstrations, to go into positive action and to urge the police and military officers not to obey their white commanders. So, it was decided that the first stage should be given effect in a lecture. We looked for somebody to deliver the lecture and we zeroed in on Osita Agwuna. He agreed to deliver a lecture entitled: â€œA Call for Revolutionâ€.
He delivered the lecture. Anthony Enahoro was the chairman of the lecture. Zik was billed to chairman the lecture but he sent a message late that he was not feeling well and would not be able to attend. Enahoro, who was then the Editor of The Comet, one of Zikâ€™s newspapers, presided. A few days after the lecture, the authorities pounced on Agwuna and arrested him, seized the text of the lecture and charged him to court for sedition and being in possession of seditious documents and so on. Agwuna was defiant in court. He told the magistrate that he did not recognise his court because the court was an instrument of British imperialism and not a Nigerian court, even though his salary was being paid through the Nigerian tax-payers fund.
The executive of the Movement decided to repeat the lecture a few days after Agwunaâ€™s arraignment, at the Glover Memorial Hall, Lagos. It led to the arrest of more Zikists: Mallam Raji Abdallah, Obed Macaulay, Fred Anyiam, Mokwugwo Okoye and others. They were all arrested and sent to prison. They made no plea in the courts. This was late in 1949 and it spilled into 1950. In my book: The Forgotten Heroes of Independence in Nigeria, I captured it all. I was in Benin myself as the Assistant Secretary of the Zikist Movement. Henry Igbosua was my Chairman. The files were in my house. They searched my house and found a circular directing us on what we must do.
They arrested me and sent me to Benin prison. I did not know that the Oba of Benin stepped in on my behalf and the case was withdrawn from court. I quickly moved down to Lagos because when the other leaders were arrested it created a sort of vacuum so there was a need for people to come in. Bob Ogbuagu was in Jos.
The Zikist Movement was meant to cause a revolution in the country and achieve independence through revolution, and that was why many of us swore never to get married until Nigeria became independent. We did that because we did not want to bring into the world young children who would be fatherless or to create young widows. We expected to die in the struggle. We were not expecting to survive. We were prepared to die for Nigeriaâ€™s freedom. That was the same spirit with Dr Nelson Mandela. When he was being pursued by British intelligence in South Africa, he escaped to Nigeria to stay with me in Lagos.
Yes. He stayed with me for six months. By then Nigeria had got independence I was a Parliamentary Secretary. I got married immediately Nigeriaâ€™s independence was imminent in 1960. When Mandela came to Nigeria with his wife after his release from prison he came here to my house in Nnewi. When he was in prison he was writing me. I still have some of his letters.
After six months, Mandela decided to return to South Africa, saying he was tired of hiding. He said he wanted to go and be part of the struggle. â€œIf I dieâ€, he said, â€œMany people will be inspired and continue with the struggle. But if I did not die and we won, I will give leadership to the peopleâ€. That was the kind of decision we Africa freedom fighters had taken. We would rather die and give inspiration to people who will succeed us or give them leadership. He went back and was sent to prison for 27 years. He came out and led South Africa.
When the Zikist Movement was approaching the drive for the independence of Nigeria through that revolutionary method, was the same push being applied in other parts of the country? The North and Western Regions?
No. Except in the West. The Action Group elders were like the NCNC elders who wanted to proceed with caution. But there were in the Action Group young people who were nationalists, like Olu Adebanjo, Bisi Onabanjo and so on, who were thinking along the same lines with those of us in the Zikist Movement. For example, when the Queen was to visit Nigeria in 1956 we formed a joint committee of NCNC Youth Association (when the Zikist Movement was banned we changed the name to NCNC YouthÂ Association) and Action Group Youth Association, and these two bodies worked like radical wings of the parent political parties.
In the north, no. There were radical elements like Aminu Kano, Tanko Yakassai, Bello Ijumu, Saâ€™adu Zungur and others. But they could not form a body in the north to come and join us in the south because the influence of the white rulers and the emirs would not allow them becauseÂ ofÂ their system of governance. If you said a word they would just seize you and send you to prison with or without trial. This was theÂ system they had which the white man saw and allowed them to function under the Indirect Rule approach.
Would you say that the different approaches to Â decolonisation in the East as compared to the North made the British colonialists to load political advantages against the East and in favour of the North when they were about to go?
Definitely, it was Zik that opened the eyes of people. And then, the radical elements in politics were found more in Igboland and second to Igboland was the Yoruba side. The British colonial authorities did not allow themselves to trust the Igbo man or Yoruba man. The Hausa/Fulani was the man they could trust. And so, they gerrymandered the constitution that brought independence in such a way that made sure that the North had all the powers. If you go to my other book: Nigeria, the Two Political Amalgams you will see the figures I gave there.
In the 1959 election, the election that preceded independence, the NCNC, which was predominant in the East, having 50 per cent in the West and having a foothold in the North through NEPU, scored a total of 2,594,577 votes to capture 94 seats in the Federal House. The Action Group/UMBC alliance had 1,992,364 to capture 73 seats in the House.
The NPC scored a total of 1,992,179 votes to capture a total of 142 seats in the House. So, the constituencies were carved out in such a way that the North would always be in control, and if you look at subsequent delimitation of constituencies and the population figures, the North has always ensured to maintain this pattern of dominance because nobody will like to throw away his advantages voluntarily.
That was a creation of the white man. And two, when elections were over like this and there was no one with a clear majority, what usually happened was that somebody could beÂ called upon to form a government. But in the case of Nigeria it was not like that. Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa of the NPC was not called upon to form a government. He was not invited by the Governor General to form a government. He was appointed Prime Minister. Balewaâ€™s emergence as the first Prime Minister of Nigeria was by appointment.
What led to that? They could easily have invited him since the figures indicated they had the majority?
What happened was that even the North was not expecting that. They were afraid. But we knew that the British government wanted the North to produce the Prime Minister because they did not trust an Igbo or Yoruba Prime Minister or anybody from the South.
After the elections and the three parties saw their standings, we were meeting at Onitsha a message came to Zik telling him that Awolowo was sending a delegation for the purpose of forming an alliance with the Action Group. They proposed that Zik should be the Prime Minister while Awolowo would be the Finance Minister. We were discussing with the delegation in Zikâ€™s main sitting room when the telephone rang upstairs. Zik went up to answer the phone. When he was coming down the stairs, he said in Igbo, as if he was talking to someone upstairs: â€œagwo anyi na ya no bu kwa agwo isi na-buo!â€ meaning: â€œthe snake we are dealing with has two heads!â€ When he came down, he told the Awolowo delegation: â€œOkay. Go and tell Awolowo that we are considering his proposal. We will send a delegation back to himâ€.
When they left, Zik told us that the telephone that he went to answer was from the Sardauna of Sokoto, and the Sardauna told him that a delegation from Awolowo was with him, offering the North Prime Minister and Awolowo the Finance Minister. This meant that if he got what he wanted from the North he would kick the East out and if he got it from the East he would kick the North out. There and then, Zik and the Sardauna decided that this man was a treacherous person and was not the type of person they wanted to work with in a government that would usher in Nigeriaâ€™s independence. It was on that ground that Zik and the Sardauna agreed to negotiate.
During the negotiation the North insisted that they should produce the Prime Minister, otherwise they were not ready for independence. In the agreement signed at the Lancaster House, it was agreed that if any Region said that they were not ready for independence, independence for Nigeria would be postponed indefinitely until all regions were ready. The North took advantage of that. Zik and the top leaders of the NCNC said having fought for independence and sacrificed so much, it was better to allow the North produce the Prime Minister so that the independence wouldÂ be achieved.
So this was what happened when they got the Prime Minister and the NCNC got the Finance Minister through Chief Okotie Eboh?
Isnâ€™t it an irony of Nigeria that when General Gowon needed to build his federal coalition against Biafra, he quickly released Awo from prison and offered him the Finance portfolio which he coveted so much?
You see? Let me tell you how Okotie Eboh got the Finance Minister portfolio under the first indigenous federal cabinet. Sir Louis Ojukwu, Emekaâ€™s father, contested election to the Federal House. Another multi-millionaire like him, one Shodipo from Abeokuta, contested and won election also on the NCNC platform. In those days you had to be a member of the House of Representatives to be appointed Minister. Both of them as millionaires, were expecting to be appointed minister of finance. The way power was shared between NCNC and NPC was by putting all the posts on the table and NPC to pick first and NCNC next until all the posts were exhausted.
They chose the Prime Minster, we chose Finance. They chose Minister of Defence; we chose Commerce and Industry because our people were mainly traders. It was not a question of one victorious party or region sitting down and choosing what to give to the junior partner. We got Finance and gave it to Delta (Okotie Eboh). We got Communications and gave it to OndoÂ (Olu Akinfosile). Shodipo was bent on having the Finance portfolio. Ojukwu was bent on having it. The NCNC leaders sat and deliberated on this. They said if we give it to Ojukwu, the Yorubas will opt out accusing us of tribalism. If we give it to Shodipo Igbos will feel very bad, and Ojukwu was a major financial muscle of the NCNC. They decided to look for a rich man from the minority areas, and that was how Okotie Eboh got it. Immediately after that, Ojukwu resigned from the House, and I took over his seat.
Let us revisit the famous carpet crossing event, which many people blame for the tribal nature of Nigerian politics. Could you tell us exactly what happened?
Yes. That was in 1952. There were elections to the Western House of Assembly, Eastern House of Assembly, and Northern House of Assembly. Lagos was part of Western Region then, and NCNC was in control of Lagos. From Lagos, the NCNC put up four candidates: Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Olorunnimbe, H. O. Davis and Adeleke Adedoyin. We defeated the Action Group in Lagos and all members of the Western House of Assembly from Lagos were NCNC members.
Generally, the NCNC had a very comfortable majority in the rest of Yorubaland in the Western House of Assembly. The constitution then said that the leader of the party with the majority in the house would be the leader of the House, and when self governance came he would be designated Premier of the Region.
Awolowo quickly mobilised the Ooni of Ife and other prominent Yoruba Obas and said: â€œcanâ€™t you see the danger that is coming on now? If we allow an Igbo man to be the Leader of this House the Igbo man will one day be the Premier of this Regionâ€. His message hit home, and the Yoruba members of the NCNC were lobbied to cross over the Action Group to stop an Igbo man from coming to be the Premier of Western Region. When the House met, there was a red carpet and the Speakerâ€™s bench was in the centre, the government side was this side and the opposition bench was over to the other side.
The NCNC, the majority party occupying the government side, had the red carpet separating them from the opposition. The Governor was then the Speaker or Chairman of the House. He took his seat. Awolowo got up and said he had a matter of urgency to raise to forestall a situation that could lead to riots and anarchy, which he said, many members of the House had decided to correct. One by one, our members got up and said Your Excellency, I donâ€™t want to be part of a situation where Yorubaland would be set on fire.
So, I am crossing over to the other side. He would get up, walk across the carpet and take his seat. It started from Ibadan, where Adisa Akinloye led the four decampees. Adelabu, Richard Akinjide and Mojeed Agbaje, refused to cross over. Adeleke Adedoyin from Lagos, Olorunnimbe from Lagos, and others crossed the carpet. After the crossing, the NCNC majority was reduced to a minority. Okotie Eboh broke down and started crying.
At that time to be a member of the House of Representatives you had to be elected a member of the Regional House of Assembly. That was how the expression: â€œCarpet Crossingâ€, came into the political dictionary of Nigeria.
The leaders of the NCNC decided it was no use for Zik to be the leader of the opposition in Western Nigeria; that it was better for him to go to head the government of his own region since the politics of Nigeria had been reduced to this absurd tribal level. It was then that a member representing Onitsha was persuaded to resign for Zik to take his place at the Eastern Region House of Assembly.
It was also decided that Professor Eyo Ita, who was the Leader of Government Business in the Eastern Region House of Assembly, should resign for Zik to assume that position. Eyo Ita refused to resign. Eyo Ita, along with R. R. UzomaÂ of Orlu and A. C. Nwapa, Ubani Ekeoma, all of whom were ministers at Enugu, refused to resign. So it was not possible for Zik to come in. Another crisis was created, this time in the Eastern Region. Then I was the Secretary General of the NCNC Youth Association which, as I told you, was a reincarnation of the Zikist Movement. During the crisis, I was arrested along with Malam Umaru Altine and five others and imprisoned at Enugu because we insisted that the proper thing must be doneâ€¦
Which was thatâ€¦
Which was that these five ministers must quit. The Governor, C. J Pleass, was backing them. The House decided to dissolve itself, so the Governor had no choice but to dissolve the House. Fresh elections were conducted throughout the Eastern Region and Zik became the Leader of Government business and later, Premier of Eastern Region.
That was why the minorities of the East said the Igbos took advantage of their majority and elbowed away Eyo Ita. But the leaders of the Party did not see it in that light. What we were looking at was that it was absurd for the national leader of the Party to be a floor member while an ordinary floor member couldÂ be the leader of the government. Naturally, the national leader of the party should take precedence over everybody. The minorities then started their agitation for the creation of the Calabar/Ogoja/Rivers (COR) State.
You mentioned Umaru Altine, the first Lord Mayor of Enugu. Many people just mention the name but they donâ€™t know how a Fulani man became the first Mayor of Enugu. Can you explain it? These days, people are harassed and killed in parts of the country, and they have no right to be elected or get jobs outside their states of origin, especially in the North?
It will interest you to know that Malam Umaru Altine was not appointed. He was elected Mayor of Enugu two times. Malam Umaru Altine was the Vice Chairman of the NCNC Youth Association at Enugu. He identified with the NCNC as a political party. During elections NCNC decided to nominate him at Coal Camp where he lived. He contested and won the election in the same manner as we did that kind of thing in many places. After what happened at Ibadan and the crisis it precipitated in the East, Altine was fully involved with us. He was arrested with me as I told you, and we were imprisoned together. That was in 1952. I shared the same prison cell with him and one Ernest Obianwu and one Akunne Nwanolue, and one Okeke, a blacksmith from Awka.
Later, one M. E. Ogon from Ogoja later came and joined us. When Altine won the election, we decided that this man did not see himself as a Fulani man but a nationalist. And we NCNC we believe in one Nigeria. So, let him be the Mayor of Enugu. In the same manner, John Umoru, from Etsako in todayâ€™s Edo State which was then in the Western Region, was presented by the NCNC as a candidate for the House of Assembly, and he won to represent Port Harcourt in the Eastern Nigerian House of Assembly. Later, Zik appointed him as Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier. That was the way we saw Nigeria at that time. When the Eastern House of Chiefs was constituted Malam Umaru Yushau, the Sarkin Hausawa or chief of the Hausas at Onitsha, was elected as a member of the Eastern House of Chiefs. He was there until the military coups of 1966.
I must mention that a year or two before the coup, the Sardauna of Sokoto and Premier of Northern Region, reciprocated our gesture by appointing one Felix Okonkwo, then known as â€œOkonkwo Kanoâ€, as a special member of the Northern House of Chiefs. He was the leader of the Igbo State Union, which was very strong. It had Igbo State primary and secondary schools everywhere, including the North.
The term: â€œOne Nigeriaâ€ of the NCNC vision, was it the same thing as the One Nigeria of today which emerged after the civil war?
It is not the same thing. In our own time we said it and we meant it. We used it as a slogan but we concretised it in action. During the Second Republic, the NPN took it up. That is the symbol there (pointing to a wooden statue that had a bunched hand with one middle finger pointing upward standing on a shelf in his sitting room). And One Nigeria then was that the North would produce the presidential candidate after Zik was deceived by Jim Nwobodo into believing that the NPP could give him the presidency. When Zik left the National Movement (which became the NPN) we insisted on the One Nigeria policy to the extent that that was what led to the coup of 1983.
President Shagari and the leadership of the NPN agreed that the next president of Nigeria after Shagari in 1987 would be an Igbo man. So, Buhari and the northern hawks said they cannot live to see this. That was why the coup of January 31 1983 took place. Dr Umaru Dikko said that.
That it was not acceptable to him that an Igbo man would be president in 1987?
No. Dikko exposed the conspiracy that led to the coup. That was why they crated him and wanted to bring him back alive and kill him. Umaru Dikko said this was the motive behind the coup; this is where the conspiracy was hatched.
Was this before or after the coup?
After the coup. He was speaking in London before they put him in a crate.
You know, Professor Jibril Aminu has always kicked against that notion that the coup of 1983 was staged to stop Ekwueme from being president in 1987?
I wouldnâ€™t say it was staged to stop Ekwueme but to stop the Igbo.
Aminu says it is not true.
What did he know? He was not in the party hierarchy at that time. He was running the University of Maiduguri. He was not in a position to know what was happening.
Could it be called a Northern agenda to stop the Igbo producing the president?
It was not a northern agenda. There was a group they used to call the Kaduna Mafia. It could either be the agenda of the Mafia or just the hawks in the military and few of their confederates in the civilian class.
The hawks in the military must have been in the vanguard of it because they were the ones who fought the war. Obasanjo was one of them. When in 2006 he came to visit in Amichi in my local government here where the surrender document was signed he said, how do you people expect thatÂ after conquering you we come and hand over power to you? Many of the northern officers had that feeling. He said it when he had lost his bid for third term. So it could have been said out of frustration.
You mentioned Igbo State Union, which was very strong and did a lot of exploits. Can you compare and contrast the Igbo State Union and the Ohanaeze Ndigbo of today?
I can only compare and contrast them insofar as I can compare and contrast them in relation to the Igbo politicians of that time and the Igbo politicians of today. At that time, Abiriba Union could invite an erring Abiriba son at Port Harcourt and say: â€œcome and kneel down hereâ€ and he would come and kneel down. That was the picture of discipline. But today you find someone whose mental faculty or even natural intelligence is limited. If you tell him to wait, if he looks into his bank account and finds some one or two billion naira which could be stolen he will tell his father, â€œwho are you?â€. His own father. That is the mentality of today.
I am not saying this anomaly is found only among the Igbo. It is a growing trend across the board. Thatâ€™s why there is no more discipline now. There is no more patriotism now. In those days, just like today, there was no part of Nigeria you would go and not find anÂ Igbo man. If you found an Igbo man engaged in a fight, once the news went out that an Igbo man was involved in a fight with someone who was not an Igbo, the Igbos in that area would come out and fight the non-Igbo to submission. At the end, they would ask the Igbo man, what caused the fight.
Then where he was wrong they would tell and warn him to desist from doing such a thing in the future. It is no longer the same now. I shudder to think of what would have happened to Zik in those days when that young man wanted to stab him. If it were today, unless he had his well paid thugs with him who are working for their money, he would have perished. More so, if I had not intervened and I shouted as I did, the policeman, Inspector Chukwuma, would not have responded. He would have been more concerned for the safety of his job and his own skin. I would have perished. At that time, one Igbo manâ€™s problem was the problem of all the other Igbos in a branch of the Igbo State Union. Today the Igbo man will mortgage or sell his own brother to make money. At that time, politics was more for patriotism and nationalism, rather than opportunism and mercenary tendencies. Today, the politics of Nigeria is politics of money. No principles, not patriotism, no nationalism. The same thing has permeated the Ohanaeze. You saw what happened. While the Igbos were saying that they did not want Obasanjo and his third term, the then President General of Ohanaeze,Â and the Secretary General,Â along with the PDP governors of the South East, came out with the statement that had have consulted with 50 million Igbos and they all said they supported Obasanjo for third term. See what is happening with the Yarâ€™ Adua case now. Look at the five South East Governors issuing a statement saying that Yarâ€™ Adua is right in what he is doing, without consulting those who elected them.
The present crop of Igbo political actors have no sense of patriotism and are more influenced by material and mercenary considerations than patriotism and national interest.
How would you situate Olusegun Obasanjo in Nigeriaâ€™s history? Was he an Igbo hater?
Obasanjo was a soldier. He fought for Nigeria against Biafra. As a military head of state he handed over to civilians in 1979, which was a patriotic act. Obasanjo was elected president in 1999. How well he performed is for history to determine. But I donâ€™t think he was the best president Nigeria ever had. I do not know if it was deliberate but he did not project the interest of the Igbos. He was there as a Yoruba president and if he did not have love for Ndigbo he did not hide it.
Is this the Nigeria you nationalists fought for?
Certainly not. We envisaged a country that was rich in human and natural resources. We founded a country that was big and had the potentialities to lead Africa. We founded a country where patriotism was the motivating factor. But unfortunately, an unpatriotic military came and intervened and distorted everything. And so from there change came. What we have now is not in any way near the country we envisaged. In our own time there was no oil and gas or mineral resources except coal, copper and tin.
We only had agricultural produce such as palm oil, cocoa and groundnuts. Look at how rich the country is in natural resources and there is nothing we can do for ourselves. Common electricity, common water supply. Even the industries we created with our lean resources at that time have all been killed. They have all died. The only investment you find in Nigeria is in oil and gas.
But a lot of the oil is offshore, and people just suck the thing, give a little part of the proceeds from the stolen oil to people who are around them, people in government, people in the military, some privileged traditional rulers and chiefs and these foreign countries cart away billions and billions of dollars worth of oil everyday. I have here an industry where I process kaolin. I can no longer continue because there is no electricity. I have a generating plant but I cannot afford the high cost of diesel.
There is no security in the country. How would you expect an American investor, a European investor, a Chinese investor, to come and establish an industry in Nigeria where there is no running water and electricity, where they can be kidnapped, where armed robbers can kill them on the road? This is not the country we envisaged. This is a creation of the military, inherited and further developed by an unpatriotic political class raised under the tutelage of the military.
Finally, what should Yarâ€™ Adua do at this juncture?
Before answering that question, I donâ€™t know whether I should not put it back to you. Are you sure that Yarâ€™ Adua is in a position now to understand what I tell him to do? Are you sure he is conscious? What happened is that a few hawks, a few nation-breakers have stolen the issue of Yarâ€™ Aduaâ€™s illness to perpetuate their own interest, to run and own the country, even if it means destroying the country. They have taken the country to such a dangerous precipice that the constitution, which is the thing that holds the country together, is being violated with impunity. And when that happens, this country could break up.
The constitution is clear. This is president. This is vice president. If the president for one reason or the other is not able to perform his duties the vice should continue to perform those duties. Then you have one Attorney General,Â who has no scruples twisting the constitution. You have a jellyfish national assembly just sitting down there thinking of money and passing the buck to the Executive Council asking them to pass a resolution as to whether Yarâ€™ Adua is fit. How do they expect them to do that? All members of the Federal Executive Council were appointed by Yarâ€™ Adua.
The moment they say that Yarâ€™ Adua is no longer fit to continue it automatically means they have lost their jobs. Even Osama bin Laden who is wanted by powerful American intelligence is in hiding. But once in a while when he issues a statement he brings out a tape. Al Jazeera or other world television networks will publish the tape to show he is till alive. Have you seen any tape about Yarâ€™ Adua?
So, who is sure thatâ€¦ well he is still alive because as a Muslim if he dies he will be buried at onceâ€¦but is he in a conscious state? If he is not in a conscious state, then why should the health of one man hold 150 million people to ransom? If they want to keep violating the constitution because they donâ€™t want Goodluck Jonathan to take over, if anything happens, those hawks in Aso Rock will be the first to suffer.