PRESIDENT of Igbo Youth Movement (IYM), an amalgam of 42 associations, Evangelist Elliot Uko, in this interview said the South-East would not support President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election in 2015 unless he fulfils his promises to the zone. Excerpt:
The IYM recently carpeted South East governors, saying they have not done the needful, can you explain further?
The South East governors forgot that the South-East has been deliberately forgotten by successive federal regimes for more than 40 years. They forgot that what is needed is an aggressive and united development agenda. It is necessary to recreate the Eastern Nigerian Development Commission of the 1950s and 1960s. The region should integrate economically for maximum results.
Our industrial base take-off must include a petrochemical plant and the business areas of Aba, Nnewi and Onitsha must be integrated to form a Dubai of West Africa, the governors must work together to address electricity challenge in the zone in order to meet energy requirements in order to explode our manufacturing dream. Without the by products of a petrochemical industry here our dreams of industrial revolution will remain a mirage.
They should as a matter of urgency develop a South East industrialization blue print and invite foreign partners to develop an economic road map for the transformation of this zone which is blessed with abundant human talents. What is lacking is the drive which only government can engineer.
Are the governors responding positively?
They have made a case for the development of the 9th Mile corner, Enugu as an industrial hub which is a good one, but they must go beyond that. They must integrate the South East as one giant industrial unit. Only the government can drive that, the private sector will only partner with government that is the way it’s done the world over. Lack of Igbo development agenda, regrettably is responsible for the decay and confusion in the South East. Latent talents are ignored. These talents should be ignited. There should be an Igbo political road map. They should develop an Igbo agenda without delay.
The IYM also said President Goodluck Jonathan has not really appreciated the massive support Ndigbo gave him in 2011. What do you mean?
We expected massive industrial and infrastructural development. We are not seeing that. We thought he would keep his promises. From the way things are going, it is clear that only the Enugu international airport could materialize before 2015. He promised us at Enugu Stadium, at Imo, Ebonyi, Abia and Anambra campaign rallies 29 months ago that we would see a functional seaport at Onitsha and Oguta, Power plant at Oji river, dry inland port at Aba, second Niger bridge, re-work on the Enugu-Onitsha road, Enugu-PH road etc.
But we suspect he wants to shift all those to his second term; that is not fair. We want him to establish a South East office in his office and review weekly the fulfillment of his promises to Ndigbo if he wants a second term. He will have problems with his second term dream if he does not fulfill all the infrastructural promises he made to Ndigbo. That is the truth. We gave him 100 per cent support in 2011; we will only repeat that, if he fulfills all his infrastructural promises to the South East. He is our man but he must not take Ndigbo for granted.
We are on ground and we know the grumbling of our people. We believe we are doing him a big favour by giving him early warning signal. Ndigbo are not happy with the delay tactics of shifting every thing to his second term. Those telling him that Ndigbo are dead meat are only deceiving him. We want him to fulfill his promises to Ndigbo. We plead with him to watch again the video of his campaign rally at Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium in March 2011 and remember all the promises he reeled out one by one. Our people are waiting expectantly.
Ndigbo paid a heavy price for supporting him. Igbo votes saw him through and gave him the needed 25 per cent in 24 states thereby averting a run-off. In anger over 800 Igbo souls were slaughtered as the results of the polls were announced, only the 10 youth corpers were compensated, nobody remembers the 800 Igbo lives lost in gruesome decapitations in Kano, Bauchi etc in April 2011. We made him President, we will do it again, if he endeavors to fulfill his promises to our people.
We also want him to hand over power to an Igboman. He should reciprocate our massive support. It is only fair he does. We also want him to protect lives and properties of Nigerians resident in the North. We note an improvement and pray that sanity eventually returns to the North. We also want him to set up a committee to work out the modalities for the convening of a National conference to restructure Nigeria along the lines of true federalism. Promises made in 2011 must be kept before talk of second term.
Northern elders led by Prof Ango Abdulahi have said that power must return to the North by 2015 and that they will keep power as long as they wish. What do you say to that?
The truth is that Nigerians including Northerners do not really care about where the president hails from; all they want is good governance. Nigerians want a government that will fight corruptions, grow the economy, create jobs, build modern infrastructure and give everybody a sense of belonging. They don’t care if the president is Yoruba, Efik, Kanuri, Igbo or Tiv. The new generation wants to see a Nigeria where thinks work. So those who want power for their region to dominate others are only living in the past. Fierce struggle for central power by respective regions portends danger to our survival as a nation.
Nobody wants to be dominated by others. Such unguarded utterances by elders are unfortunate and worrisome Nigerians want good governance not ethnic or regional president. It is clear that Prof Ango Abdulahi and company are only banking on exploiting religion and ethnicity to drive their regional agenda the very bad factors that led to the birth of Boko Haram. Nigerians have grown beyond that. Prof Abdulahi and his ilk will find out that Nigerians will not vote according to religion and ethnicity. People like him are only working towards the early destruction of Nigeria. They will not succeed.
As Nigeria prepares to mark our centenary as a Nation, do you support a loud celebration?
My brother, Nigeria is going through a very trying period in our nation’s history. Millions of unemployed youths, some of them educated, insurgency, which is man-made, fierce regional struggle for central power which is very unhealthy.
All these point to the urgent need for a National conference. The centenary should be used for quiet reflection on our nationhood and the journey so far. All the political crises here and there are all actually about regional struggle for power. Some people are bent on pushing out Jonathan in order to return power to their region; it simply means that a national conference is needful at this time.
The centenary should be an opportunity to convene a national conference to address the problems facing this great nation whose potentials are stifled by ethnicity and corruption. We should use this great opportunity to search for a workable structure and system that would douse all the tension in order to enthrone true federalism, good governance that would give every section of Nigeria a sense of belonging.
I can only add that we must as a nation stop rewarding crooks, corrupt elements, religious bigots and other divisive elements and instead honour and reward nationalists and those who sacrificed to keep Nigeria one. Those who Laboured for one Nigeria Have not been properly rewarded. People like Herbert Macauley and Nnamdi Azikwe. We have been celebrating those who have contributed to the destruction of Nigeria. It’s a shame really.