The Convener of the Coalition of Northern Politicians, Academics Professionals and Businessmen, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, has dismissed what he terms sentiments shared by a former Governor of Anambra State, Chukwuemeka Ezeife that the Igbo are yet to be treated fairly under the current government. Ezeife had argued that President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointment of Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, who hails from the Igbo-speaking part of Delta State, to head the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, was not enough to satisfy the South-East. The statesman said the appointment still didn’t appease the Igbos compared to the number of appointments that the Federal Government has already made. Kachikwu is from the Igbo-speaking part of Delta State.
Ezeife said “It is not atonement for the many neglects and insults that have happened with the National Security and Civil Defence Corps, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency and other agencies. “How would a President appoint people into key positions in Nigeria, yet none of them is Igbo? What kind of thing is that? “On merit, we have the best people in Nigeria and that is not boasting. On motivation, it is the same thing. If Buhari wants to ignore federal character, we are not begging him for any appointment. “And it is good for us to know where we belong and make appropriate adjustments.
It is not a matter of whether Nigeria appreciates us or not. If they think we have done enough and we should go, there is more where what we brought to Nigeria came from. “It came from God and we are not going to throw it away. If we go away, we leave with it. We like Nigeria, but one cannot insult and treat a group as if they don’t exist.” Commenting on emergence of principal officers in the House of Representatives without a South- East representation, Ezeife said “only a very insignificant minority of the Igbo people are saying that they have packed all their eggs in one basket; voting or not voting for any person has not been of consequence to our people. “They went for elections and voted as they should and they are proud of it; they can repeat same tomorrow,” he added.
In his reaction, Mohammed criticised Ezeife, insisting that people of the Igbo nation have enjoyed favourable treatment. He asked whether what the Igbos want is to be rewarded on the basis of the Nigerian Civil War, which lasted between 1967 and 1970. Mohammed said, “If it is about Buhari making the appointments based on merit, I have no problems with it. I don’t believe Buhari or Nigeria owes any Igbo anything. I don’t care what Ezeife says; if they had seceded, there would have been no Nigeria today. As people who acted outside the interest of Nigeria as a country, to expect compensation is a very odd logic.
“If the Igbo don’t like it, they can attempt secession again. If they do, they must be prepared to live with the consequences. Nobody owes them anything and nobody is out to compensate them for anything.” The doctor-turned-politician also condemned claims that Buhari’s appointment of northerners into key positions in government was done out of ethnic sentiment. “They (critics) should tell us which ethnic groups have been favoured by Buhari in the course of making his appointments in parastatals and agencies. Those who are making those allegations, particularly the Igbo, have not told us exactly which parastatals.
“For example, an Igbo man has just been appointed as the head of the NNPC, one of the most important government agencies in Nigeria. And over 50 per cent of those appointed before him were also Igbos. So, if people decide to be mischievous, there is nothing anybody can do about it. As far as I am concerned, those appointed have been good and credible persons.”
On reports that Buhari may head the petroleum ministry for the next 18 months, the northern leader stated that there was no living Nigerian at that public level who knew as much about the ministry as Buhari. According to Mohammed, there is full justification for Buhari to be petroleum minister for as long as he desires. He added, “Moreover, the consequences of what happens in the oil ministry are so dire. When one looks at the track record of the past minister, one can see what we have to deal with as a country as a result of her being made a minister. “In fact, I encourage him to retain the defence ministry because we are in a state of war and he is a distinguished retired general who has headed every single division of the Nigerian Army during his service. If he decides to be the defence minister, I would be more than glad.”
But the Pan-Igbo cultural o ganisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Anambra branch has accused President Muhammadu Buhari of having deep hatred for the Igbo nation. Speaking on ‘Face the Press’, a programme an Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS), the President of Anambra State chapter of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Dr. Chris Eluemuno said all the actions and utterances of President Buhari pointed to the fact that he did not like the Igbo.
Eluemuno, who is also the chairman of all chairmen of Igbo-speaking states, said Buhari had no reason to discriminate against the Igbo. He frowned on the President’s appointment of five service chiefs in the country without an Igbo representation. Eluemuno called on the Igbo to brace up to the challenge posed to them by the All Progressives Congress (APC) led Federal Government, which he said, was not justified. He condemned the President’s promise to compensate those who gave him more votes saying: “There is no way the President should expect all Nigerians to vote for him in the last presidential election.”
He said the statement contradicted Buhari’s earlier stand that he belonged to everybody and belonged to nobody. Dr. Eluemuno said Buhari’s current actions justified the decision of the Igbo not to vote for him in the election. He said that Igbo played prominent roles in the development of the country and should not be discriminated against in the scheme of things. On the President’s decision to probe only former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, the Ohanaeze leader said it would amount to witch hunt if the President did so.
He advised that the probe should start from former President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration. He also urged the President not to jettison the report of the last Constitutional Conference, but study it critically and make use of it. The report of the conference, he insisted, was key to fighting corruption in Nigeria. He said it contained recommendations that could help the President succeed in his fight against corruption in the country.
-Paul Yovo writes on the running debate among prominent Nigerians over the nature and manner of appointments being made by the Federal Government