If majority of Ndigbo want plebiscite to form their own country, it is their right – Mbazuluike Amaechi
Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, popularly known as ‘The boy is good’ is the only surviving minister of the First Republic and member of the pre-colonial movement called ‘Zikist Movement.’ He was born in Ukpor in the present day Nnewi South Local Government Area of Anambra State on June 16, 1929. As a young boy, he developed passion and desire for liberating his people. In this interview with the Orient Daily team of SIMON NJOKU, Associate Editor; Dr. AZUBUIKE NKALA, Member, Editorial Board; LAWRENCE NWIMO, Reporter and IJEOMA OCHEBIRI, Marketing Officer, the nonagenarian goes down memory lane, juxtaposing past events with the present to show where the nation went amiss while beaming the light on the pathway to the country’s glorious future. Today, we run Part 3, the conclusion of the Mbazuluike interview which started on Monday. Excerpts
If Igbo are given a choice for an 8-year term of Igbo presidency and the Republic of Biafra, which one do you think they should go for and why?
fought for a united Nigeria and for a great country. I would prefer the great country to restore the right of any component of the country. There is no possibility of me being elected at 92 years. Sovereign State of Biafra is what I have always said should be considered when we have no other alternative. But if there is a true federation called Nigeria, where there will be equity, fairness, justice and balance, we should belong to a big nation. There is nothing good like being part of a big family. Buhari has already told us that we are a dot in a circle, that they are holding the south south because they do not want us to have access to the sea. What else are you saying? Gowon conceded Bakassi to Cameroon because Bakassi was the only part of Igbo through which the Biafrans had contact with the world. So, Gowon promised the Camerounians the Bakassi Peninsula, if they could block Biafra. Today, Nigeria wants to have Bakassi back with all the oil there but they can’t have it again. I would advise Nigerian governments not to be sentimental in situations. Again, if we create the kind of Biafra we want now, in
the next 20 years or so, we will be surrounded by hostile countries east, west and north. When we will be surrounded by hostility, how can we succeed? Our sons abroad are not ready to return from where there are good atmospheres to where there is scorching sun. I still believe that the treatment being meted on Kanu and his men is wrong. When people agitate for freedom, give majority a chance to decide whether they want it or not. If the majority of Ndigbo want to go to purgatory, hell or heaven, let them decide by voting. But these people in Abuja do not think and if I were in government now, I would say, Igbos, go and do plebiscite.
How do you see the infiltration of Fulani youths into the southern parts of Nigeria?
What have we got to do with the Fulani? Look at what is happening in the north now. The Fulani bandits have gone beyond killing of Christians in the north. Imagine that an Emir was kidnapped recently with 13 members of his family. There is what they call Almajiris in the north. Almajiri are children who are just born; they know their mother but do not know their father. When they are born, their mothers do not usually keep them due to difficulty of maintaining them hence, they are pushed to the streets where some people pick them and deny them education. They only allow them to read Q’uran and the Arabic language, everyday they go out to beg on the streets and give account to the Sheik. Two years ago, or last year precisely, the governors of the north decided to return all the beggars to their states. But when they are brought back to their states without education and training, some of them do anything to make ends meet. They are subsequently found, mobilized and armed by Sheiks to go and kidnap for ransom part of which they are settled with because they have never earned money in their lives. The man who recently regained freedom in Zamfara state said he paid the kidnappers N800m. So, kidnapping has turned to a lucrative business for the former Almajiris in the north and it will be very difficult to stop them now. So, the South should be ready for them.
How do you see the forthcoming 2023 election whereby the President has overwhelming control over all the apparatuses of governance…?
There are two types of elections in Nigeria; election by the voters and election by the courts.
What is the expectation of anybody going into this election knowing already that the outcome must have been decided?
Those who will win will do that either by the votes or through the courts. What else do you want me to say?
The votes of the people or through the courts.
What about the electronic voting being discussed now, how can this restore confidence in the electoral process?
They may have agreed on electronic voting but are yet to agree on
electronic transmission. They do not want to transmit electronically.
What does that portend?
It shows you the kind of results to expect.
With six northern governors supporting Southern presidency, what message does that send to the Igbo with respect to their 2023 presidential aspiration?
That is if the nomination is on the platform of one of the two major parties. If any party, whether PDP or APC, nominates an Igbo candidate, some states in the north, even far north, will support them. The other parties are too small and don’t even have the branches talk more of nominating polling agents in all the states.
Nyesom Wike predicted that there will be a mass defection to a new party which is being promoted by former President, Olusegun Obasanjo and others; how do you see such party posing a formidable challenge to the ruling APC?
Obasanjo has never mentioned that to me. We were together when he came to unveil my status built by Ukpo town. He presided over the launching of my book and the celebration of my 90th birthday at Owerri. All this while, he has never mentioned creation of a new party to my hearing.
Why did you decide to celebrate your birthday in Owerri instead of Anambra or was Anambra government not interested in celebrating you?
I told you if there is a governor at Awka, I do not know. It was Ihedioha that celebrated my birthday before he was removed by court. Until his removal by court, he had invited me to a heart to heart talk but the governor we have here in Anambra doesn’t care who people are and what they are talking about. When my wife died, all the governors came and those that couldn’t come sent representatives, but Obiano never extended a word to me nor sent someone to do that. My 56-year-old senior lawyer and first son died of cancer, Obiano did not care. The road being constructed by him stopped some meters to my house because he did not want road to pass through my gate. For three years now, I have been denied electricity. He came and removed the transformer in my house using Emeka Ofor and EEDC as cover. Maybe he thinks he was punishing me. But here I am and let’s hope he attains my age.
What message do you have for Anambrarians ahead of the forthcoming election in Anambra state?
Let Anambra people register for the election, vote and defend t votes at every polling unit because one may win majority and they will refuse to announce it. The election should be a peaceful affair.
Finally, United Nations Charter guarantees people’s right to selfdetermination, what is your take on the argument that Nigeria should remain an indivisible state irrespective of current agitations by some ethnic nationalities for secession?
People are known to speak grammar whether it makes sense or not. People in power can talk anything that will defend their position. You can’t say this entity cannot be dissolved. Look at Britain, four years ago, Scotland said they wanted to go out of Great Britain and British government said okay, go and hold plebiscite. They held the plebiscite and majority said no to the secession and so was it. Britain said they wanted to pull out of European Union, and they have pulled out. Wales is now agitating to pull out of Britain and the British government has said if they are serious to go, let them go.
So, your take is that Nigerian government should consider plebiscite for those areas that want to pull of Nigeria?
Yes. If the majority of Ndigbo say in a true vote they want to go and form their own country, it is their right. The same thing is applicable for agitators for Oduduwa Republic and the rest.
I can’t say I’m advising the federal government because you don’t whisper to a deaf man.
Thank you, sir.