Sunday, 7 June 2015

Ohanaeze Ndigbo Charges Buhari to Construct Southeast Roads

Image result for pictures of Gary Enwo-Igariwey 
President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Gary Enwo-Igariwey, in this interview speaks on his confidence in President Muhammadu Buhari to defeat Boko Haram and govern impartially, and also charge him to tackle roads in the Southeast.
The Excerpts:

What was your reaction when President Muhammadu Buhari was announced as the winner of the March 28 presidential election?
First of all, when the announcement came, it meant that Nigerians had spoken; the decision had been made and there was no stalemate. That was the excitement I had; that we were able to go through the election without issues, complaints, petitions, incitements or problems anywhere. I was excited that Nigerians had spoken and that there was no dispute.
What are some of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s successes which you would like him to be remembered for?
So many programmes were put on the ground. First of all, we had an administration that gave people the liberty to speak their minds: Freedom of speech. At least, during his administration, no person was wrongly detained or sent out of the country for making statements against him. Even when some of them were quite abusive, he acted like a gentleman. I feel Nigerians were given a gentlemanly presidential disposition for all the abuse (Jonathan received).
In the area of infrastructural development, we have had railroads, airports and roads. I remember that the Lagos-Benin Road used to be so bad. We are happy about that development. I can’t remember the last time I saw a train. I believe that area has been taken care of significantly. In the oil and power sectors, we are hoping that in a short time, we will see some improvements. As for the agricultural sector, we know that is one area that provides employment.
The (2014) National Conference was also a major one. Nigerians had been yearning for an opportunity to say how they want this country to be run. We would need to have a mission before we start talking about embarking on or developing the mission. If implemented, the recommendations will go a long way in building a nation where there would be equity and fairness; a nation where people can develop ideas. In essence, the national conference recommendations should be implemented because they would solve a lot of the problems that we have here in this country.
With these programmes on the ground, I know that in no time, we will begin to have some form of improvements. Some of the things they did cannot begin to yield results immediately but I think that if sustained by the current administration, we will start to see the benefits. There are so many other areas of strength of the previous government but those are the major elements.
Do you think there were any mistakes made by the previous government which the current one can learn from?
Every government has room for improvement as long as it is run by a human. It is true that we should learn from other people’s mistakes. However, I cannot identify any one right now. There would be areas of improvements and that is why it is good to learn from other people’s experiences. So, I hope that they (Buhari’s government) will identify by themselves those areas and improve on them.
What are the areas of interest to your region that you would like Buhari’s government to address as a matter of urgency?
Some of those areas that people have spoken about have been addressed by the national conference. In terms of equality of federating units, the South-East is the only zone that has five states in the entire federation. We don’t think that is a true representation of our population. I think that those are the key areas. In terms of infrastructural development, especially the roads, the Enugu-Onitsha road network has been ongoing for a long time and it is a major lifeline. The Enugu-Aba-Port Harcourt Road is another one that requires urgent attention; it is a major road network in the South-East. Naturally, we want to have our due in terms of infrastructural development.
Do you believe this administration will implement the recommendations made in the confab report?
It is in the interest of the government to look at those recommendations. They were done by people from all walks (of life) and it was a fair representation. Issues were addressed dispassionately; people put away tribal sentiments. They actually removed any sense of inequality and worked on those issues that would bring unity to the country. It is in the interest of the government that those issues are properly addressed and implemented. The effort was good; the recommendations were good. It is in the interest of the government at hand to look at them dispassionately and see that the recommendations are in the overall interest of this country, because when there is peace and people feel a sense of being treated equally, they will give their best.
However, Nigerians ordinarily don’t have differences along ethnic lines. They don’t argue about which is superior between Yoruba, Hausa or Igbo. What they worry about is going about their normal business unhindered. It is usually when there is election that these ethnic divides are seen and that is when they widen. That is when they are easily visible. I believe that if you decentralise some of these powers, the government can perform better. We will have education that will be less expensive and people will concern themselves more with leadership in their various units, because that is what will be of more importance to them. The centre then becomes fairly manageable and we will have more time to supervise their policies.
Your group publicly endorsed Jonathan during the campaigns preceding the March 28 presidential election, which he lost. Do you have any fears of marginalisation by Buhari’s government?
No, I don’t think so. This is not a military administration. This is a democratic system. The Igbo will get their fair share. The election is over. It was not war. It was not a fight. It was an election. They (Ohanaeze Ndigbo) were free to make a choice and they did. Some of us made their choice and that is over now. We are thinking about moving forward. We are not in the middle of elections now. I think the best thing is for them to go beyond that and look forward.
Some believe that former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, who is Igbo, did not perform well enough, given her highly influential role in Jonathan’s government. Do you agree with this sentiment?
We are certainly proud of who she is. Her records show that her post of minister is not the only office she has held. If you go through her track record, you will see that she has had several international appointments, even at the World Bank. That (Jonathan’s) administration was not the only one that hired her. The (Olusegun) Obasanjo administration also had her there and if she wasn’t good, she wouldn’t have been brought in there. Since we do not have all of the facts before us, it would be wrong for any person who is not an insider to judge her handling of the economy. I think that, given her records, we definitely had the best in that office and we are proud of who she is.
The recently concluded elections saw Igbo residents in the South-West battling for acceptance and their right to contest for elective office. What is your group doing about this issue?
My people are spread all over this country and we are vibrant. We are actually looking at building a nation where there will be no discrimination; no Yoruba or Igbo, no Itsekiri, Tiv or Hausa; a nation where we just have just Nigerians. Then, there wouldn’t be all of these issues. As a people who are (living) in other places (away from home), because we have not properly built a nation and people cannot go about without being regarded based on their tribe, there will always be the need to come together to reconsider those areas that address our basic problems. Remember that the Igbo are accommodating by nature; you can’t take that away from them. As a people who live in a place where they have a right of choice of what they want, they merely express their views. It shouldn’t really matter, if we were running a proper nation. I am praying for a Nigeria where people will de-emphasise a tribe and just see that this is a group of Nigerians. It should be free. What happened is condemnable and we hope that we will outgrow that in time.
With Buhari’s recent trips to Niger Republic and Chad, as well as his meeting with the security chiefs, are you happy with recent moves in tackling insecurity?
They are wonderful moves, because he has to get first-hand information of what the problem is before addressing them. The issue of insecurity is not only a problem for the North-East, but the whole country because when any part of the whole is sick, the entire system is sick.
Is your group planning to suggest people from your region for ministerial appointments?
We usually don’t nominate people except the request is made. We only hope that we will get our fair share just as others will, because, to some extent, these things are constitutional. Yes, we have some bright people. For as many of them that are qualified, the government should know the kind of people they want to work with. It is left to Buhari to decide who he thinks has the proper qualification and experience to work with him, because it is about achieving results. He knows a lot of these people fairly well because they have been with him. He knows their temperament and where to place them to get results. We are hoping that will guide him when it comes to our people.



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