Biafra: Nigeria is heading the wrong way –By Elliot Uko

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Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu Uko is the Founder/President, Igbo Youth Movement (IYM), and the Secretary-General, Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA). In this interview with DAILY POST, he traces the roots of major issues in Nigeria, and speaks on the way forward. EXCERPTS:

How would you describe the present state of the nation?

Well, the country is in dire straits, and everybody is pretending that all is well. All is not well. The South-East where I come from, where I reside, is tensed up. There’s a lot of tension. The leadership pretends that they are in control, but they are not in control. The masses are standing on one bank of the river, while the leadership is standing on the other bank, and the Red Sea is in between. That’s the situation in the south east today.

The just-concluded election in Anambra State was a farce. That election was boycotted by more people than those who came out to vote. If you add that to the brazen buying of votes at polling units openly, and you’ll see that Nigeria is heading the wrong way. When you add, on top of that, the false pretense, the jubilation and celebration of the election by the authorities, you begin to wonder, where are we going? The authorities are so excited that a governor was elected, in spite of the IPOB boycott, so they are willing to accept anything, including a situation where people came with bags and cartons of money and paid voters openly. Nigeria is in dire straits.

The south east is troubled. There is the peace of the graveyard. The federal government and the international community are misled by the silence. They mistake the silence of the people for acquiescence. Nobody is happy in Igboland. The problem with the south east has always been imposed leadership, either imposed directly or imposed through a manipulated electoral system, but imposed all the same. 50 years ago, 32 year old Yakubu Gowon imposed 33 year old Anthony Ukpabi Asika on Ndigbo. Olusegun Obasanjo took Ukpabi Asika to Dodan Barracks, and Gowon imposed him on Ndigbo, and he led East Central State for 9 years.

That culture of imposing leadership on Ndigbo has persisted up till date. The only difference is that, this time around, the security will vet some people, they will be allowed to run for elections, INEC will conduct elections, the money will exchange hands, and powerful influence-peddlers and carpet-baggers from other zones will impose someone here in the east, and INEC will announce him the winner. The results are written, sometimes in Government Houses, sometimes in hotel rooms, and they are announced, but they are all imposed on us. Ana-Igbo has been suffering from imposed leadership.

When they imposed Ukpabi Asika for 9 years, he was replaced by Anthony Ochefu, who was replaced, a few months later, by John Atom Kpera. And ever since then, they have been imposing leaders on Igboland. Later, they brought Datti Sadiq Abubakar for Anambra and then Sunday Adinihun for Imo, before the advent of Mbakwe and Jim Nwobodo. Soon after that, another military-imposed leadership, where young soldiers would seize government by coup, sit down in Lagos or Abuja, as the case may be, appoint military governors and military administrators, and send them as governors to the states.

They were all imposed by cabal, whether the cabal calls itself the Supreme Military Council, or Armed Forces Ruling Council, or Provisional Ruling Council, but that cabal of the military are usually of northern extraction, who would sit down in Lagos or Abuja and impose leaders on Ndigbo. So the culture of imposed leadership has been going on in Igboland for 50 years. It has destroyed our values, destroyed our future, and kept Ndigbo in prison, in political prison.

What we have now is a different kind of imposition, where the police play a role, INEC plays a role, security plays a role, political leaders play a role. Do you know that for the past 16 years, leaders in Igboland were decided in a building in Abuja called Wadata House? That Wadata House would decide who would run for Senate in Igboland, who would be governor in Igboland. No matter how popular you may be, if Wadata House does not like you, when your people organize their own primaries to vote for you, Wadata House will send representatives from INEC, they will go to one hotel, and they will elect who Wadata House has chosen.

That person will be imposed on INEC, imposed on you as a Senator, whether you like it or not. Ndigbo are a conquered people, political slaves in Nigeria. The culture of imposed leadership has brought us to where we are today, the crying baby of Nigeria. One of the most gifted people in the world cannot find their bearing politically. What we have today is an angry population. They are angry with Operation Python Dance, they are angry with the attack on Mazi Nnamdi Kanu’s residence on 14th and 15th September; they are angry with the silence of the so-called elite, they are angry with the suspected complicity of the political leadership. Our masses are angry with Nigeria.
Most importantly, everybody now reveres Nnamdi Kanu.

Why do you say so?

Wherever you go in Igboland, every market, every school, every office, at the Secretariat, at the church, at the bar, in all public places, what they are saying is, God bless Nnamdi Kanu. Since soldiers went to kill him, and he disappeared till date, nobody has seen his corpse, we don’t know his whereabouts, nobody is any longer talking about restructuring. It has died. Nnamdi Kanu remains the eternal hero of the people of the eastern region. Dead or alive, he is revered, he is respected, he is loved by all. He is deeply resented by apostles of the status quo, he is deeply resented by those who love this Nigeria as presently constituted. Nnamdi Kanu is resented by the oppressor, resented by those who have held us in bondage.

He remains the hero of 99.9 % of the people of the eastern region, dead or alive. Do you know why they love him? They love him because he has not compromised. They see it clearly. They know, if he had compromised, they would not have wanted to kill him. It is clear for all to see that the only reason why attempts have been made to kill him is because he refused to be bought over. So they love him, unlike others who pretend they are like Kanu but they are loved by the oppressor, because they are con-men. If they were genuinely committed to the freedom of their people, like Kanu, the oppressor will not love them, dine with them, eat with them.

They would have tried to kill them as they tried to kill Kanu. So everybody knows that Nnamdi Kanu is the eternal hero of the people of the eastern region. People ask me everyday, they say, why is it that the young people of the eastern region are angry with Nigeria? Well, the answer is simple. The youths of the eastern region, 99 % of them, are angry with Nigeria as presently constituted.

Who will not be angry with a country that deliberately schemes you out of things? Deliberately they keep you out. Who will not be angry with a country that denies you necessary infrastructure in your region? Who will not be angry in a country that was built at your expense, where states and local governments were deliberately created to oppress you and enslave you perpetually? Who will not be angry in a country where 90 % of young people who want to gain university admission are deliberately and effectively screened out of a university education by a system that gives them higher cut-off mark, while people from other regions will be getting admission with a very low cut-off mark? The aim is just to keep them off from going to school, and asking them to go and try kidnapping or armed robbery.

Who will not be unhappy, who will not be bitter, with a country where the structure is so unwieldy that states can’t pay salaries, and every cry to go back to the regions is resisted by the oppressor, who designed the country fully dependent on oil rent? Who will not be angry with a very, very, very inept leadership? Leaders who have spent trillions of naira, and still we don’t have power today. Leaders who steal day and night. Leaders who care only about themselves.

Who will be happy with such a country? But, most importantly, the youths of the eastern region want out because the oppressor refuses to enthrone equity and justice by restructuring Nigeria along the lines of regional autonomy.

The principal reason why millions of youths of eastern region have sworn to leave Nigeria to form a country of their own, where they can be free, is because the country, as presently structured, does not offer them any hope. They can see clearly that they will remain eternal slaves in the country the way it is structured, in the manner states and local governments are created. I stand by them. They are my people, and I stand by them. If you look at the country the way it is, you will see clearly that the only people who are happy with Nigeria are those who are benefiting directly from the ills of the country, who have access to the till, and their surrogates.

Those who are politically active enough to enjoy patronage at the expense of the larger population. Those are the people who are happy with Nigeria as presently constituted. The worst enemies of Nigeria are those who are resisting the restructuring of the country. If Nigeria is not restructured, Nigeria will die. All those opposing the restructuring of Nigeria are the worst enemies of Nigeria. So, I stand with the people of the eastern region. I stand fully with them. They are my people, and I feel their pains.”

To Be continue 

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