Posted by News Express | 25 January 2014 | 4,683 times
Former President General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, has declared that President Goodluck Jonathan is in a sinking boat towards actualising his second term bid in 2015, stressing that he may not count on Igbo support because of his inability to fulfill his campaign promises to the Igbo. Below are excerpts of an interview with Saturday Sun in which Dr. Ikedife (shown in photo), who is also the Chairman, Anambra Council of Elders, also commented on other burning issues of national importance, including the proposed National Dialogue.
What is your opinion of the proposed national confab?
Now, this confab is very timely and I think it should be supported. But it must be a meaningful confab with a beginning and an end, and not to be all-talks that could be derailed or tossed around and it ends up meaningless.
Obviously, there are lots of people saying that Nigeria requires restructuring; that Nigeria needs a constitution made by the people for the people. I think what was given to us was the one produced and then doctored by the military. And I think the politicians, the presidency and all Nigerians should really try, should really be requested to give the confab the best they could because the continued existence of this country depends on what happens in the next five years. And if we are able to get it right, by having a proper conference, which will distill the thinking of people of this country and then have its outcome entrenched as a constitution along due process of constitution-making; and then implement it. This is not a constitution, which will be set aside and we continue to act with impunity.
If we are able to draw the constitution, give it approval, pass it by a referendum and give it legal backing through an enactment by the National Assembly, not necessarily debating it again, editing it or adding or subtracting, then it is a good start.
And if Jonathan were able to do it at the time of his presidency, he would have written his name in gold. He would have made an impact, made a contribution no other leader had made.
Going back to the time of Richard’s Constitution, Robertson and all that, yes, they made efforts but many of the constitutions were not sufficiently palatable to the people and that was why there were agitations to change them before they were fully implemented. And I’m hoping that when all interest groups, the elders, legislators, religious leaders, captains of industries, leaders of ethnic nationalities, traditional rulers, the whole lot, when all these people would have made contributions, then we will have a constitution people will say, ‘yes’, this is our constitution and be proud of it. Otherwise, anything could be the end result. Let us hope it will end on a happy note of Nigerians having a constitution that they will be proud of.
Don’t you think some ethnic groups will call for confederation?
Well, frankly I don’t think the problem we have is with the system, whether presidential or parliamentary, because they are working in some other places. I think the problem is mainly in us rather than in the system.
You see, if you write a law from here to Jericho and impose it, people will find ways of circumventing it. But if the will is there, you can even rule a country without a written constitution. Britain started that way. And the constitution, what you may call the constitution of Britain is not clearly a legal document as such but precedents. The House of Commons, House of Lords and then the Law decide cases.
That is how some of the laws and enactments were made with the parliament passing Acts and people obeying them. It is not because it is written on Mount Sinai like the 10 Commandments Moses went to get written. Even that one, when he came down he saw that people who were waiting at the foot of the mountain had gone astray. And he broke the tablet, he broke the first constitution, first book of the 10 Commandments, the one we have I don’t know whether it is the same with the original or totally new one because the original one had been broken.
So, what I’m trying to say is that it is not the law but the operators of the law that make the difference.
So, whatever system, parliamentary or presidential we see examples of them working in other parts of the world. Let us, therefore, try hard and operate whatever we agreed to, operate it with sincerity, honesty and respect for the law itself, then we will get somewhere.
But if you are enacting a law and somebody is busy finding a way of circumventing the law, then it is an exercise in futility. We must be very careful. Even changing the constitution may not be the solution to our problems, if we don’t have the will to work together.
What is your reaction to some ethnic nationalities calling for self-determination?
It will be well advised to listen to them. You say those for Biafra, Oduduwa, Arewa and so forth? It will be well advised to take them serious, not to think that they are challenging government. Some of these people are trying to talk about their own survival within the context of Nigeria, where they feel either hated, not welcome, not given a chance or no opportunity of self –actualisation. So, all these things should be revisited.
If we can continue with Nigeria as a country where a great percentage of the people feel happy, it is better for all of us. But if the agitation, clamouring for a better deal or shouting for marginalisation continues, then we may as well with gentle craftiness and finesse see how to break the kola nut so that each part will be edible. In Igbo land we don’t eat a kola nut without breaking it. And I think time comes when you have to break the kola nut. And we should break the kola nut with God-given common sense.
Are Igbos ready to have a country of their own?
It is an insult to the Igbo to ask whether they are ready to rule themselves. I don’t know any ethnic group or ethnic nationality of any size that cannot be self-determined in this country. If you break this country into say 40 or 36 countries I’m sure all of them will survive. Because they will all start working with renewed enthusiasm, renewed patriotism, renewed dedication and determination to ensure that they succeed. So, the question is unnecessary because the answer is affirmative yes, they will all survive.
PDP members leaving in droves to join APC, what does it portend?
Yes, trials and tribulations are parts of life. Probably the cloud may have a silver lining in the sense that those who are leaving the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will leave those remaining to be more circumspective in their line of action and utterances.
You see, it calls for self examination for the PDP: Are we doing it right? If they are sincere, they should ask this question. And if they are also sincere, they should know the answer. And if they are sincere, they should know what to do.
Obviously, membership of a political party is a matter of individual desire, individual will. Long time ago I was a member of a political party. But when I saw that I wasn’t feeling comfortable, I wasn’t comfortable with the political party, I left and I have not joined any other political party till now and I’m much happier for that. So if people feel they are no longer comfortable with a particular political party, they are free to go.
Freedom of association is still fundamental in our constitution and people must be allowed to exercise it. If PDP has ear, let it hear, and should know what to do. Obviously, those people who are leaving are not happy. People accuse them of acting with impunity. Are they really doing so? People are crying about marginalization; Is it really true and what can they do about it? The party should re-examine itself, I mean the operators.
And the next question you might even ask me is, would they survive this exodus. Well, it is for them to know. But Nigerians must know that there is writing on the wall for the PDP and if they don’t take time the exodus will continue to the extent that PDP becomes party in opposition and their boast for ruling the country for 100 years would have been dashed. Not that I’m saying one party should rule this country for 50 or 100 years. No. It is not healthy for the polity.
What are President Jonathan’s chances in 2015?
Well, obviously the defection will affect his chances in the sense that if the people who support you now say, ‘I’m no more with you’, then you must know that it is a serious thing.
Jonathan should know that it is a serious issue and should be among the people in the forefront of trying to find the solution; how to halt the exodus otherwise he is in a sinking ship and it should concern him and other members of the leadership of the party. It is a complex matter. It is a mass movement.
Igbo supported Jonathan massively in 2011, will they repeat this in 2015?
Many a time they say politics is played as a matter of interest, that you don’t have permanent associates or permanent opponents but permanent interest.
The question I would like to ask you is: has Jonathan fulfilled the promises he made to the Igbo? Look at Enugu – Onitsha road, Enugu-Port Harcourt road, Second Niger Bridge, revitalization of Enugu coal corporation, internationalizing the airports in the South East, Owerri cargo international and Akanu Ibiam international airports; only one airline is landing at and taking off from Akanu Ibiam international airport, Enugu. Is that international airport enough?
What federal presence do we have in the South East? What key appointments have we gotten? You have to balance the equation. Has he by your own calculation fulfilled the promises? Some will say he has more than fulfilled, some will say give him more time he will fulfill whatever that is left. It is a matter of opinion. So, when the time comes, if he declares that he is going to run because he has not declared or has he?
To the best of my knowledge he hasn’t. We are all speculating that he might.
They say his body language, this or that. Until someone says, ‘yes’, you can’t impose one thing or the other on him. But I know he has the right to declare.
And somebody did say and I think it’s a very well respected opinion that Jonathan is probably the last president Nigeria will have. I don’t quite know the implication of that statement because I see the statement pregnant with multiple interpretations. Is it that Nigeria will fragment or that Nigeria will no more have president, I don’t know.
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