Says Ndigbo ‘ll continuously reject APC
Kanu must apologise to Ekweremadu’
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
A former Minister of Health, Professor ABC Nwosu, in this interview, speaks on the state of the nation, faulting the All Progressives Congress, APC, for claiming that it has improved the quality of life in Nigeria. He also has strong words for those behind the Ruga settlements project for herdsmen.
What is your assessment of Buhari’s cabinet as it relates to assigning portfolios?
It was what I expected. The APC is not a political party. The APC is a conspiracy group formed to take power from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, unlike the PDP which was formed in 1998 on basic principles such as good governance. That is why PDP ab initio decided that it would do a rotational presidency. That was why we had good governance under the PDP. In Obasanjo’s first term the GSM was brought into the country. The debt burden gave way to debt relief. But look what the APC government has done to the Paris Club refund money which was painstakingly negotiated. Corruption was seen as a problem during Obasanjo’s first term, and he created the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission ,ICPC, and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. When I came into government as a minister, my task was very simple and we worked on a six-point agenda in the Ministry of Health. We started the 200 Primary Healthcare System. It was in that administration that we called a meeting for the African Plan of Action which everybody is now talking about. We created a global fund which Nigeria benefited over half a billion dollars from. When HIV became a threat, we started the diagnosis and we started providing antiretroviral drugs. We created the National Health Insurance Scheme, NHIS. Compare these with what is going on now under the APC.
This is the first time we have a minister of finance who is not known nationally and internationally. We have had Kalu Idika Kalu, we have had Chu Okongwo, and we have had Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. We were criticised for having many ministers but they now have 43. They are monkeying around and things are getting worse. This is a dangerous regime that regards honest criticisms as hostility.
What do you make of the debate over the geopolitical zone to produce the President in 2023?
I would have said no comment, but that it would not be helpful. All those who are saying power should remain in their mother’s womb are agents provocateur. They don’t mean well for this country and they can keep the presidency in their mother’s womb. It won’t bring about good governance. It won’t bring about the relief that we are seeking. I think sensitive issues like this should be addressed by people more sensibly. How can someone wake up and say that the Southeast won’t produce the president? This is the Southeast that had no problem with the presidency going to Southwest because of June 12 based on principle. This is the Southeast that gave the Northwest all the support when the late Dr. Alex Ekwueme was Vice President. Nigeria is bigger than everybody. Let the agents provocateurs go on. Let them acquire all the money they want. In the end they will just be put in a simple coffin and put under the ground.
How will you rate the present security situation in the country?
If anybody goes by road now from Abuja to Kaduna and something happens to him, he will be blamed for doing so. Towards the end of President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, every other state was safe except three, Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe. Now, look at the spread of insecurity. Look at the tension in the country. People are attacking the Southeast governors that they have no right to take measures to protect people who voted for them. I think the security situation speaks about the quality of leadership we have in Nigeria. I remember what the President said in Chartam House before he was elected. He said he had served as a general, he knew what the situation was, he knew how to correct it and he ended by saying he would lead from the front. Sadly, everybody knows those who have lost loved ones.
I have said before and let me say it again, if the security situation is becoming difficult to handle, they should seek international help. There is no shame in seeking support to secure your people.
Do you agree with those who said the attack on former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu was a sign of more to come?
The attack was an Igbo matter. Ndigbo are very upset about the situation they are in Nigeria. Unfortunately, it happened to the former Senate President. It could have happened to anybody. If a governor had gone there it could have happened to him. If another high ranking person had gone there it could have happened to him.
Roser Parks of the Montgomery bus boycott said: “I am in favour of anything that my people do to show that they are unhappy with the situation they find themselves”. Ndigbo are very unhappy with their situation in Nigeria and all Nigerians should know that.
What happened to Ike Ekweremadu was unfortunate considering the role he played in the release of Nnamdi Kanu, I believe Nnamdi Kanu owes him a personal apology.
Ike Ekweremadu might easily have been thrown into detention or jailed in Nigeria. The same could have happened to Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe because of the way Nnamdi Kanu broke the bail conditions given to him. I am happy that Ekweremadu had understood it in the context that Ndigbo at home and in the diaspora are unhappy with Nigeria and the way Nigeria is treating them. Ndigbo are not begging anybody to be citizens of Nigeria and they will not accept second-class citizenship. What belongs to them belongs to them, what belongs to others belongs to others.
If you treat them like second-class citizens they will reject it and that is why slavery was offensive to Ndigbo during pre-colonial times. That is why Ndigbo will continuously vote against APC under the present arrangement. They will never vote themselves into slavery.
When APC decides to treat Ndigbo as full citizens, Ndigbo would embrace the party.
There is this notion that in the National Assembly only Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe and Nkem Abonta champion things that concern Ndigbo. Do you agree with that?
Nigerians are docile. Nigerians are the most docile population in the world and that is why the level of bad governance in Nigeria can persist. Now talking of the house, Enyinnaya Abaribe is an Igbo son in whom we are well pleased. If you look at the level of representation of Ndigbo you will see that it is very disturbing. We end up sending the most educationally unqualified persons to represent us, which also complicate our problem. They cannot give what they do not have. Some are running away from the EFCC.
The Federal Government is going ahead with the National Livestock Transformation Plan, NLTP, despite the nationwide outrage against Ruga settlements proposal. What is your take on the issue?
I have hesitated this long because I don’t want to use words that will send me to jail. The hottest place in hell should be reserved for the person who decided that Ruga project should be imposed on people. For wanting to force it on people whether they like it or not, they are destroying Nigeria.
For example, land does not mean the same thing to all of us in Nigeria. I will speak of Igbo land which I know. I don’t know of any prominent Igbo man who died, even if he died in Alaska or Russia that arrangements were not made to bring his body back for burial in his fatherland. Land is like a deity in Igboland and it is the second deity worshiped in Igbo land.
We worship God who is in heaven, who oversees heaven and earth and then we worship the deity Ana or Ala that is why we say Omenala, tradition. That is why we have Nsoala, abomination. I attended Catholic Central School, Okwuani Nnewi, it is the home of the land deity in Nnewi.
So for people who don’t know that what guides us, to impose Ruga on us, is an abomination. How can you begin to explain to villagers with little education that everybody has a right to their ancestral land?
The other people may have different approaches but for Ndigbo, land is a very serious thing. It is a deity. Foisting your belief in land on people for who regard land as a sacred thing, is insensitive. I don’t see myself going to another part of Nigeria where they take certain things seriously and then seek to change those things. Whoever is responsible for it should get ready for the hottest part of hell. The people who want it can have it.
The Southeast governors recently banned the movement of cattle from one community to another community but the move has also generated some criticisms, especially from the northern part of the country. What is your reaction to that?
Agents provocateurs should leave Nigeria alone. Benue made its law, Taraba made its law. Trying to break the Benue and Taraba laws led to the loss of many lives.
The governors of the southeast being conscious of their responsibilities have taken a joint decision. They have introduced the forest guards. Communities have a way of doing things but when you have a government that comes in and wants to impose things on people as if they are second class citizens, there would be issues.
There are things that are against human dignity. I recall that when Zik set up the University of Nigeria, he said it was to restore human dignity that was debased by colonialism. That is why I said they must rethink the principle of governance because Theodore Roosevelt said any political party that is not founded for the good of the governed and protection of their rights is simply a conspiracy to take power and that government can do anything. For instance, Hitler thought he could do anything.
Recently the FBI published names of fraudsters from Nigeria and the majority of them are Igbo. Are you not worried about that?
Why should I be worried? If you publish the list of those who are killing people in Nigeria, 85 percent of them would come from another extraction. If you publish names of those doing other things, what will that mean? Despite the profiling, people should check the number of Igbo who gain admission into Ivy League schools in America. I want people to find out the number of Igbo who are bringing pride to Nigeria? What worries me is that we have not been able to create Silicon Valley kind of revolution in the South. Any government in the southeast should be thinking of this. That is why when people were unhappy that Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu was given Science and Technology portfolio, I wasn’t. Ogbonnaya Onu is a first-class mind. I just don’t know why he hasn’t thought of doing certain things. He has a First Class Honours from the University of Lagos and his Ph.D. was obtained in Beckley. He should be thinking of the kind of things that can create a technology-based economy. By the middle of this century, nobody will be using Nigeria’s oil. What is happening in Nigeria is that our rights are being stifled. I am glad the Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka said they should stop stifling Nigerians. Freedom is important. Freedom to think, freedom to create, freedom to criticise, and freedom to innovate are essential in national development. I simply think this government is afraid of its shadow. The road to suppression of freedom is the road to tyranny.