By Ugochukwu Alaribe – Umuahia
Chieftain of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prince Richard Ozobu, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari does not hate Igbo people.
Justifying his claim, Ozobu in an interview with Vanguard said; “Buhari does not hate the Igbo. In 2003 and 2007, Buhari took his vice-presidential candidate twice from the South East. Is this the character of someone who hates the Igbo? The problem of the Igbo is within ourselves, not how anybody has mistreated us”.
He also insisted Igbo must put efforts to revive the alliance it had with the North during the first and second republics in Nigeria if it is committed to achieving Igbo presidency in 2023.
Ozobu, in an interview with Vanguard, stated that the Igbo had been relegated in Nigerian politics because it abandoned its traditional political allies, stressing that no zone, no matter the size of the population, ‘can do it alone’ in attaining the presidential position in Nigeria.
He urged Igbo leaders to re-examine the political history of the area and ascertain where it missed the ‘route’ and chart ways to make amends.
He said; “If we re-examine ourselves, we will discover that we lost our traditional allies in the politics of Nigeria.
“The North had been our allies in the first and second republics which were clearly the glorious days of the Igbo in the politics of Nigeria.
“We must make efforts to revive our alliance with the North because no zone, no matter its population, can make it alone to the presidency. We are asking for the presidency in 2023, how can we get it?
“Is it by just mouthing it? We must reach out and build bridges of friendship and understanding across Nigeria.
“In seven years after the war; an Igbo, Dr Alex Ekwueme, emerged vice president of Nigeria. Chief Edwin Ume Ezeoke also emerged as Speaker of the House Representatives.
“This was something we celebrated because it was not easy to achieve it, but it was made possible with our alliance with the North. It was also a demonstration of the no victor, no vanquished stand of the then Gowon led federal government.
“There is no doubt that the Igbo fared better when we aligned with our traditional allies in the North. Under the alignment, we had the Vice President, Dr Alex Ekwueme and Chief Edwin Umu-Ezeoke as Speaker and other positions.
“You can see what the Igbo lost when we abandoned our traditional allies. We must change our psyche; some of the issues about the Igbo marginalization are media creations. We talk about Igbo presidency; nobody will award it to you, it must be through negotiation and alliance.
Ozobu insisted that contrary to widely held beliefs among the Igbo, the Buhari administration does not hate the Igbo and has done much for the Igbo.
He urged Igbo not to alienate themselves from the Buhari administration, but should rather partner with Buhari to attract more development to the area.
“The federal government under Buhari has done lots of things in Igbo land; our federal highways are being rehabilitated, we have the ongoing second Niger Bridge and most of the abandoned projects are being done.
“Our youths have been brainwashed to believe that the federal government isn’t doing anything in the South-East zone, but this is untrue.
“The youths must hold our National Assembly representatives accountable for what they have done with their constituency projects. We must also partner and encourage the government rather than crying hate all the time.
“Buhari does not hate the Igbo. In 2003 and 2007, Buhari took his vice-presidential candidate twice from the South East.
“Is this the character of someone who hates the Igbo? The problem of the Igbo is within ourselves, not how anybody has mistreated us.
“Even in the area of appointment of security heads or service chiefs, there is no law that says the Igbo must be appointed.
“The federal character did not give the quantity or number to be appointed. The President didn’t do injustice to anyone by appointing those he feels are competent to do the job. Federal character didn’t state that in every employment, three or five must come to the South East or North West.
“An Igbo from Abia state was the Chief of Army Staff in the last administration. Did it improve security in that state?
“There was a time the Igbo had every position we desired in a particular administration in Nigeria, what did we do with it?
“Having your own person appointed doesn’t guarantee your benefits. What I think the Igbo should demand is infrastructural development and security. These are the kind of things that attract investments.
“When we had the problem of xenophobic attacks in South Africa, did President Buhari not come to our aid? It was the Igbo that were mostly involved in the attacks. Buhari called the South African authorities to order.
“He didn’t say because the Igbo were involved; it was the same thing in Ghana. Under Buhari, there has been a great improvement in the relationship between the North and the South East, otherwise, this propaganda and fake information about secession in the social media would have ignited attacks against the Igbo residing in the North, but it never happened this time.
“There was the issue of understanding that was shown and efforts were made not to escalate the problem as was the practice in the past.
“Let’s not be myopic in thinking because we are a global race. We must trace our history and traditional relationships. But one good thing now is that we now have experienced leadership in the country.”