Olawale Ajimotokan in Abuja
Former governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, has said President Muhammadu Buhari was responsible for the political tension that had set up demands by self-determination groups led by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to agitate for the secession of the South-east geo-political zone from the rest of the country.
Ezeife echoed the views when he spoke to reporters on Thursday night at the public presentation of three books on the revival of Igbo culture by the founder of a non-governmental organisation, Save Our Heritage Initiative (SOHI), Dame May Ikokwu.
The elder statesman also pointedly assured that the Igbo will remain in the Nigerian federation in spite of the charged political atmosphere and worsening insecurity in the zone.
He made the remarks a few hours after the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, was arraigned in Federal High Court, Abuja, to face trial for terrorism and treasonable felony.
Ezeife blamed some elements, who he said were pretending to be members of IPOB and were inflicting hardship on the people of the zone through the imposition of the stay-at-home order, which has also been condemned by Kanu.
“We must be careful with ourselves, we Igbo people. If somebody is targeting to kill us, should we go and kill ourselves. Let us tell our people the truth: we are not leaving Nigeria tomorrow and those who know don’t even want to leave.
“Are we leaving because of one man-Buhari? Before Buhari, were we being pushed out of Nigeria? I said Buhari has been pushing us out of Nigeria. Should we obey him?” Ezeife declared.
Speaking on the prospect of the emergence of an Igbo president in 2023, the one-time governor, who will attain 83 years next month, asserted that the Igbo deserve to produce the next president because of their commitment to the unity of the country through integration and residency in all parts of the country.
He said an Igbo president would promote egalitarianism and ensure the exponential economic growth of the country.
“It (2023) depends on us and as far as I know, our God has accepted the idea of a South-easterner as the president of Nigeria.
“That is why he is bringing about a new Nigeria because a Nigeria of old which we have today is no longer going to stay. The country won’t break up and Anambra election will also come and it will be peaceful with the right person emerging the winner.”
He said the country would change for the better when an Igboman becomes president, assuring that social inequalities like Almajiri and Talakawa will be things of the past.
“Egalitarianism which is Igbo culture will spread. Who makes Nigeria look like a country today? Tell me? It is only Igbo people you will find in every part of Nigeria and they develop it and they don’t do it in hiding.
“An Igbo man does not go into hiding to trade and therefore he goes to spread that economic knowledge. An Igbo president will make Nigeria grow exponentially, economically.
“We are not there for vengeance. No way. In fact, an Igbo man fights an Igbo man more than he fights a non-Igbo, therefore Nigeria is facing a new life. The conscience that is dead in Nigeria will resurrect,” Ezeife said.
He said Ikoku’s books, Akuko Ifo Si Nalaigbo, Nke Mbu; Folktales From Igboland, Vol One and Ilu Na Gwa m Gwa m Gwa M Ka Ha Di Nfe, Nke Mbu will deepen Igbo culture and sustain Igbo language by the adoption of words from other languages.
The launch was attended by the Obi of Onitsha, Nnaemeka Achebe, who represented. Other dignitaries included former Minister of Power Bert Nnaji and Group Managing Director Multimesh Communications, Sir Godfrey Ohuabunwa. The books were reviewed by Adaoha Okwuosa.