Posted by News Express | 14 October 2017 | 3,381 times
Hon. Uche Onyeagocha is a journalist’s delight any time, any day. The former House of Representatives member was engaged by some journalists in Aba during the recent 57th Town Hall Meeting organised by the Igbo Presidency Organisation of Nigeria (IPON).
Question: How do you react to the issue of marginalisation of Ndi Igbo?
Hon. Uche Onyeagocha: I completely agree with that. We have not got what our due should be. We have made more contributions to hold Nigeria as a country more than any other ethnic group. And, I think for that, we deserve more than what we've gotten.
How do we go about it?
There are so many ways to go about it; and I think that every other way we’ve gone about it is good. It’s just left for Nigeria to understand us properly and appreciate us for whom we are. There is every need for us as a country to sit down and discuss a way forward, and that is not being done. We've been shortchanged during the military; and we are being shortchanged severally under this civilian government. So, it’s high time we discussed this by putting all things from various perspectives.
IPOB has been proscribed, and the Federal Government is not responding to the clamour for restructuring and devolution of powers. So, what’s the way forward?
I personally have nothing against the agitation of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). That agitation is within the laws of the federation. It is actually provided for under the African Charter of Peoples and Human Rights that every group has right for self-determination, where they are not satisfied. I think the agitation by IPOB, Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) – or any other group otherwise regarded by other persons as secession – is within the parameters of the law of this country, as long as they do not introduce violence. That’s why I say that the governors of south-eastern states do not have powers to proscribe IPOB, as they have said. What they’ve done is illegal; it was reckless and it’s unacceptable. They have no business saying what they’ve said because; they have no legislative powers. That’s why I’m also saying that the Attorney-General of the Federation failed in his so-called application to court and the order which he got to proscribe IPOB. He can’t do that, it’s wrong and illegal. What the governors of the South-east should do – even if Nnamdi Kanu refused to go to them – they have an obligation to go to him. When you’re elected, you’re a servant. If the person invited refused to come, what stops us from going to meet him and discuss with him. They should have been able to drive down from Enugu to Umuahia and Aba, to meet with the soldiers leading the Operation Python Dance II, or whatever you may call it. From Enugu to Umuahia was less than two hours. If they go down there, they should have discussed with the people rather than stay in Independence Layout and issuing very stupid statements, in my own opinion, which is calling for IPOB’s proscription. I also believe that anybody who is agitating for something must be listened to.
Whether you like it or not, as long as you’re elected as a leader, you must humble yourself and call them to roundtable for discussion. President Muhammadu Buhari, must or should call them to discussion table. And, I must use this opportunity to say that on behalf of the silent members of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from Igboland, President Buhari should appoint an Igbo man as the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF); reason being that Igbo are seriously marginalised by the APC government at the centre. I do appreciate that President Buhari is not happy about the poor votes he got from South-East, but you're not going to punish your supporters, your members – the few who have voted for you - by refusing them their rights. I’m an APC member and I am not happy with the lopsided appointments of President Buhari. As an APC member and leader, I’m calling on him to remind him that most of us, including myself, campaigned for him. Maybe, he didn’t get much vote here. Now that the position of the SGF is vacant, I’m insisting and demanding that – as part of the discussion for peace – an Igbo man should be appointed as SGF, and that we should also be appointed as part of the security chiefs of the federation. That’s how our people feel. And, I believe President Buhari should realise that in his first time as head of state, there was no Igbo man in the Supreme Military Council. So, this is no longer an oversight on his part. He must find a way to correct it. Our people are not happy with him. And, as a leader President, he must find a way to accommodate us.
On clamour for Owerri zone to produce the next governor of Imo State in 2019, what’s your take?
We are working hard and we are discussing with Governor Rochas Okorocha, who is trying to smuggle in his son in-law, as next governor. It is unacceptable. I think everybody must understand that it's about equity, Ofor na Ogu, justice and fairness. And I’m certain that come 2019, an Owerri man will emerge as governor of Imo State, in the interest of equity.
Do you agree it’s not yet time for Igbo president, come 2019?
Let us correct something: we are not talking about Igbo president, but Nigerian president of Igbo extraction. I believe it’s our turn to produce the president, but it’s something we all have to sit down and carry other people along. That is, other ethnic groups, other states and other regions. We must carry them along. If we do our home work very well, I’m sure that it will be guaranteed.
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