At 60, Nigeria has been undermined by insecurity, injustice, corruption and incompetence at all levels. The National President of Ndigbo United Forum (NUF), Chief Godson Ezenagu says that restructuring of the country can change things positively. He noted it is not injustice that the South East zone is being ignored in its quest to produce the next President of the country. “If the zone produces the next president, it will ease the growing tension in the land.” He told The Oracle Today Correspondent THEO RAYS, that restructuring will address the challenges facing every section of the country. Excerpts:
What is the scope of the NUF as an organization and what does it intend to achieve?
The NUF spreads beyond the South East region to Igbo speaking areas in Delta and Riversstates. We have branches in the United Kingdom and United States. Our objectives bother on the welfare of Ndigbo in the larger Nigeria. We want to make sure that the Igbo people arenot cheated out in the scheme of things in Nigeria.
What has NUF has achieved so far?
In the last four years old, we have dealt with one major issue of interest in Igboland and that is the issue of electricity supply. In our investigations, we found out that the power distribution company was cheating people so much and we took that up. Despite the epileptic power supply in Igboland the people are left with astronomical bills. At the Enugu Electricity Distribution Company (EEDC), we found out that the estimated bill had no bearing to the the availability of power or the consumption rate of the consumers. We staged a peaceful protest in the South East asking EEDC to address the issue. The National Electricity Regulatory Company (NERC) heard our voice and invited us for a meeting with EEDC officials. At the meeting EEDC was told to address the issues. Sadly, up till this moment nothing has changed. But we are not giving up.
Where does NUF see itself in the proliferation Igbo groups with the same objectives and do you see the chance of all of the groups coming together under one umbrella?
Let me say that Ndigbo are strongly united. The various groups doesn’t detract from the unity of the South East and Ndigbo. The proliferation of pro-Igbo groups is a reflection of a political awareness. However, it is good on one hand and bad on the other hand. It is good because the more the merrier, and bad because too many hands spoil the cook. The truth is that people are reaching out to like minds, to discuss, to plan and do something towards change. I think this is reason behind the floating of groups. Some of these groups might not stand the test of time, because it takes men of integrity and skillful leadership to build and run organizations successfully and it takes a lot money to run these organizations. In the long run we could have one or two or three outstanding groups that would make the mark in championing the cause of Ndigbo, and that is where IUF is going.
Where does NUF stand on the clamor for restructuring, quest for the Igbo man to be President in 2023 and the agitation for the restoration of Biafra?
Nigeria is over due for restructuring. When the country is restructured, every zone will go back and face its own challenges and deal with those challenges in its own way rather than relying on the decisions from Abuja. Nigeria is too large to concentrate the decision making authority in Abuja, that is what we are saying. Let us restructure the country and reduce the authority in the center to the zones so that people at the zones can take far reaching decisions on issues that affect their lives. Restructuring is non-negotiable. The average Igbo man wants to have a bigger field like Nigeria to play in and what is important to him is a sense of belonging, justice, and for him to get what he deserves based on competence not where he comes from. But Nigeria has completely failed to give Ndigbo positive attention. Right now, Ndigbo do not have a sense of belonging; no Igbo man is considered good enough to be appointed a service chief in the Armed Forces, or even head of Custom or Immigration or Prison Service. The atmosphere of business is very harsh for him. Those who are agitating to separate from Nigeria have lost hope in the country because Ndigbo have been denied their share of the national cake and what they are asking for has become part of the system. It has come to stay and Ndigbo might decide to go for it and you can’t rule it out.
The common opinion is that allowing the South East to produce the next president will go a long way to change things. Ndigbo is the second largest population in every town and in every State in Nigeria and we have competent people who can lead Nigeria as President. Nigeria may not get to the height of its development without an Igboman taking up the mantle of leadership because we are more nationalistic than any other section. During the First Republic, Nnamdi Azikiwe was talking about one Nigeria with interest of the nation at the center ahead of other interests but Obafemi Awolowo and Ahmadu Bello were talking about regional interests. So, it is good that an Igbo man is given the chance to lead Nigeria. The support right now cuts across different ethnic groups. Whichever way you look at it, Ndigbo deserve to produce the next President in 2023 and it is obvious Nigerians will be comfortable with that.
What do you make of the debate about zoning in Anambra State ahead of the 2021 governorship polls?
Zoning is a reality but unfortunately, it is not embedded in the constitution. Our constitution needs overhauling and an amendment to meet the demands of the time. In the absence of constitutional backing for zoning, it will remain a gentleman’s agreement. In Anambra it is believed that with the three zones having produced the governor, it might just be clean totake it back to the southern zone where it started. However some people are saying that the best candidate have to be chosen by competence rather than zoning. The people of Anambra seem more concerned in a candidate with the quality to solve their problems. Zoningdepends of the internal decisions of the political parties. The parties have to use their internal mechanisms to choose their candidates. The issue is in the hands of parties and until the parties present their candidates, the people cannot make their choice.
How would you access Nigeria 60 years after independence?
The combined impact of insecurity, corruption and incompetence of political leaders isundermining the progress of the country right now. At 60, we should be talking about advancing into the class first world countries, but we are still stuck in the ranks of thirdworld countries. At 60, we cannot celebrate because the things we should celebrate are threatened by insecurity and corruption. Are we celebrating the legacies of the foundingfathers that successive leaders have killed, or the ailing infrastructure, falling standard of education, epileptic power supply, unemployment or the a sick health care service? For me, it is time to make amends, do a thorough introspection.