Saturday, October 08, 2016

'Why We Blocked Autopsy On Chuba Okadigbo'

BY ABUBAKAR ADAM IBRAHIM
DAILY TRUST, OCTOBER 9, 2016


CHUBA OKADIGBO


Mr. Melville Ebo was a long-standing political associate of the late Senate president and the 2003 presidential running mate to Muhammadu Buhari on the platform of the defunct All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), Chuba Okadigbo. September 25th marked 13 years since the political icon died during a political rally in Kano. In this interview, Mr. Ebo spoke about Okadigbo’s political dreams, his alliance with President Buhari and why they blocked attempts to have an autopsy performed when Okadigbo died. He also spoke about the rumblings in the South-East since the 2015 general elections.


As a close associate of the late Senate president and vice presidential candidate of the ANPP in 2003, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, how would you say the last 13 years without him have been?


It has been a work in progress for his dream Nigeria. One of the last dreams he had was for the country to be led by an honest, hardworking, straight-shooting soldier- politician. It was a dream he crafted and was excited about and allied by choice with the general (Buhari), a man who chased him out of power in the 1983 coup. But he kept faith with that dream and moved on. Wherever he is now, Chuba will be happy that the dream he had with the general has been actualised.


Was this dream something he really nurtured, or simply an arrangement of convenience, seeing that he was a staunch member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before he was eventually forced out of the party? Was this what led him to ally with Buhari?

Let me say that Chuba wasn’t forced out of the PDP. My association with him was such that we always discussed intimate political issues. I was always involved in his public politics. It was by choice that he left the PDP. I was there from 1976 when we first met. We were in constant conversations even when I wasn’t in the country. And when he became a senator, we always talked about everything. After he had the experience as Senate president we had extensive sessions on what went wrong, soul-searching sessions. I asked why he was still in the PDP when it was obvious that the then President Obasanjo had set political booby traps for him in the Senate and in the Anambra North senatorial zone, using prominent sons and daughters of the PDP. My view was that he should leave them and seek political ambition elsewhere, taking a shot at the presidency. 

He said he wanted to do that but he didn’t have money. I said we could do that using his long-standing relationship with politicians in the North and the South-West. Money isn’t everything. And he agreed. If he had gone ahead and contested for the Senate with the obvious booby traps and failed, then I would have agreed that he was forced out. But he never gave them the chance. He said to me, “Enough of speaking English, join me let’s do this.’’ So I left Europe and joined him. The choice at the time was the All Peoples Party (APP), which was at the point of metamorphosing into the ANPP where the tall, slim General Buhari was holding sway. And he said, “That’s the man to beat.’’
We did the rounds and he excited the Nigerian people. Inevitably, the two of them (Okadigbo and Buhari) clashed. Chuba had the mastery of the political terrain, he had charisma and was eloquent. Consequently, instead of a clash of two titans, it became a marriage of minds between two great friends. I remember the evening of the ANPP convention at the Eagle Square, and when the General moved into the arena, he (Okadigbo) turned to me and said, “The masquerade has come. The gentleman remains a soldier in his carriage. I think I want to do business with him.’’ It wasn’t surprising that at the end of that evening, the General chose him to be his running mate.

So it hadn’t been pre-arranged for him to be chosen as running mate?

No, no, obviously there had been groups within and outside the party talking to the General about him (Okadigbo). I recall our political swing through the North-West and our emotional trip to Sokoto, Shagari’s village, our meeting with governors in the North and our party’s National Assembly members, and it was clear to all that a political union between Buhari at the time and Okadigbo would be a winning ticket. It remains a post-independence most celebrated, dynamic and strong union across this country. It actualised what, in Zik’s time, they called a handshake across the Niger. I don’t think we will ever see anything like that again.

As celebrated as that union was, it still didn’t deliver. What do you think went wrong?

No. The jury still remains out on that. Look at the damning reports of both national and international observers on the 2003 elections. I have reports from various international organisations that clearly indicted the electoral body at the time. That election was massively rigged. That was the electoral process on which General Buhari attended court effectively four years. Chuba kept faith with that process, but unfortunately, he moved on. I know the exit polls. I have the actual reports that showed the traditional ANPP states, the votes we got and how they were tampered with. Chuba had a robust defence on that. 

I saw a report in the Sun newspaper this weekend, featuring an interview with my friend, Buba Galadima. I don’t know the point he was trying to make when commenting on South-East’s political relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari when he said the region had a choice in 2003 when Chuba was there and they didn’t vote for Buhari. I think that is an unfortunate comment as we know there were no elections in the South-East in 2003, as Chuba had in his reports. I think Galadima was on the fringes of the 2003 presidential campaign team for him to say that the region did not support the candidacy of Chuba and Buhari. I think it was mischievous.

Don’t you think it may be as a result of the impression that the South-East wasn’t inclined to supporting a Buhari candidacy?

That’s not correct. I was involved. Yes, there were challenges. The Igbo are a business- driven people. Unfortunately, after the generation of Zik, and Chuba as the last of the political Mohicans, they lost out as a people and have been driven by mercantile politicians. It is said that goats follow the man with palm fronds because they like palm fronds. 

The PDP has ruled the South-East extensively, so if you go by that analogy, the people will follow the man that has his finger in money. So we had that challenge. There was General Buhari at the time, who was purposeful and straightforward, and there was Chuba in the same mould, same profile, but the two lacked money. Whereas Buhari had permeated the entire North and Chuba was well loved in the South-East, we had a challenge convincing people that there was life beyond money. It had nothing to do with rejecting the presidential candidate at the time because we didn’t like him but because we lacked the wherewithal to change mindsets. But now that he is the president, if he can focus on the basic things, if the roads in the East are fixed, if he can link the East and the West, particularly the rail thing, link the seaport by rail to the South-East, they will begin to connect. Just do it right this first term and they will see him as the man with the palm frond. Of course there was the fear of him being a devout Muslim. We are in the third world where fear and suspicions govern thoughts, and that played a role. I know the effort Chuba’s campaign made across the zone to make them see the man, his integrity and the promises he made to us.

Realistically speaking, do you think the union between Buhari and Okadigbo would have worked, considering that both men are seen as unyielding or strong-willed?

I will also add that they were both born in December. The union was not forced. It was a chemistry made in heaven and adopted on earth. Like I said, Buhari overran the democratic process in 1983 when Chuba was acting as an adviser to the then President Shehu Shagari. Everyone kept their own side of the politics leading to the 2002/2003 convention. I am 99 per cent certain that before then, there wasn’t any serious meeting or consultation between the two; people did all that juxtaposition and lobbying for the two to meet. And once that meeting happened, that was it. There was no looking back. I never saw any friction. Buhari was happy to come to Chuba’s house for every meeting. The two had telephone conversations when they were not in the same town. The question of clash was not there. Chuba never shared any suspicion or misgivings about the General. He always saw him as a kind and committed gentleman who had a vision for the people.

Incidentally, that union or political adventure was the last Okadigbo would participate in as he died in a rally trying to actualise this vision. And 13 years after, speculations about how he actually died still persist. What really happened?

He died in the cause of actualising and redeeming our political process. What we have was that he died at a rally in Kano. At the time, I was recalled to Europe to attend to some family matter, so I missed the rally. There were so many things said about what happened. I wasn’t there, so I wouldn’t know. I understand that there was a rude interruption by security forces who fired teargas. It was unnecessary, it was callous, it was uncalled for. I have been to Kano a couple of times, and if Buhari was visiting Kano, it was anarchic because everyone poured out to see this man, to have a piece of him, if possible. So after the general elections, which we believed he won but was massively rigged, it was a deeply emotional period. So for the security forces to fire teargas into such a mammoth crowd was callous. The government at the time should take responsibility for it. The international community should hold the then inspector-general of police and the commissioner of police at the time, as well as the presidency at the time responsible for what happened. Why didn’t anyone see the risk of throwing teargas at the place? What if there had been a stampede as a result? How would they have controlled that?

One of the theories was that Dr Okadigbo was asthmatic . . .

He wasn’t asthmatic. Those were rumours spread to diminish his capacity. But he ran the process, he walked his talk and went practically everywhere. There is no photo or video evidence of him using an inhaler. He was so public; if he were asthmatic, someone must have seen him using one or losing his breath, or collapsing. What I knew he did was that he smoked. If he had been asthmatic, why would he smoke like that?

In whose interest was it to circulate the rumour that he was asthmatic and the teargas was targeted at him?

Chuba was a fine gentleman who was committed to working for the downtrodden. If their plan was to throw teargas and hasten his demise, well, only God knows. But I believe that when your number is up, it is up. If God, in his grace, said he would drop out at that height of his political career, so be it.

You were not there when he died, but you were there immediately afterwards and there was no autopsy performed. Why was there no autopsy?

My position was that there shouldn’t be an autopsy. Chuba used to say things that seemed weird at the time. He would say if a man was healthy and was shot by the police or armed robbers, we know that it was the bullet that killed him, so why cut him up to find out that it was the bullet that killed him? If we opened him up and saw that the bullet hit his lung or his heart, would that bring him back? He was very squeamish about these things. If you talked to him about medical procedures like surgeries, his reactions were amazing. With particular respect to autopsy, he said he didn’t understand it and he kept that position until he died. So I said to his family, the man never liked it, why do an autopsy? The man was okay, went to the rally in Kano and was tear-gassed and died. Why open him up? The man is dead. Can we leave him the way he wished others be left? But the presidency took a strong position because they wanted to do an autopsy. I remember we were hauled off to the police headquarters and I got the impression that they were trying to muscle us into agreeing to do an autopsy and I said no. The family kept faith. We were let off when we agreed that we weren’t going to take the corpse elsewhere for an autopsy. We had to strike a deal that we and the government weren’t going to do an autopsy before they released the corpse to us.

Were you not curious to know precisely what killed him?

Would that bring him back to life? It won’t bring him back to life. My mother was in the medical profession, so I grew up around medical people. I have read extensively about medical reports. If you brought seven pathologists to do an autopsy, they would tell you seven different things. If they had done the autopsy, they could have used the strength of the system to say this man wasn’t killed by teargas. They could have said maybe it was stress. Or they could say, this man smoked a lot and that it was the cigarettes that killed him. They were trying to railroad people into seeing it their way, but they didn’t have the opportunity. No one could predict tomorrow; but probably, if they hadn’t tear- gassed him in Kano, he could have had a long life.

He died for a cause, which was to actualise a Buhari presidency. Now that Buhari is president, do you think he should investigate the circumstance of Okadigbo’s death?

It’s 13 years now. The president is challenged by deep-rooted national issues. Chuba was a man of peace. He was gentle. He was kind. If he were asked this question, he would tell you that what happened to him was a dot on the history of Nigerian democracy, a staining dot in the process to actualise a free and fair electoral process. He would not have advised a president so challenged to commit state resources to investigating what happened. He would ask you to focus on the Nigerian state rather than what happened in Kano.

As someone who was close to Okadigbo, and by extension, has been close to President Buhari, what would you say concerning the thinking in the South-East that the region is being sidelined? 

Consequently, we have seen increased agitations for Biafra. You see, let me say that the Biafran experiment ended 46 years ago. Nigeria has moved on. And the people of the South-East have moved on. There is no point looking back at that fight. People who push that agenda are not being fair to the Nigerian state. I know so many countries that have progressed beyond their conflicts, and we know that even immediately after the war, there were efforts to reintegrate the people of the South-East into the Nigerian state. Look at Kosovo. What has been the status of the people in that community after their crisis? 

I know there was a national policy that allotted a greater slot for people in the South-East and South-South to enrol in the army in order to give them adequate representation. The consequence of that policy is that Igbo people have been service chiefs, police chiefs, navy chiefs. If that deliberate policy wasn’t there, then you could ask: What is the problem of these people? Of course there are challenges of full reintegration, I am not saying there is none, but if you compare us to Congo, Lebanon, Kosovo, look at Was this dream something he really nurtured, or simply an arrangement of convenience, seeing that he was a staunch member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) before he was eventually forced out of the party? Was this what led him to ally with Buhari?
Let me say that Chuba wasn’t forced out of the PDP. My association with him was such that we always discussed intimate political issues. I was always involved in his public politics. It was by choice that he left the PDP. I was there from 1976 when we first met. We were in constant conversations even when I wasn’t in the country. And when he became a senator, we always talked about everything. After he had the experience as Senate president we had extensive sessions on what went wrong, soul-searching sessions. I asked why he was still in the PDP when it was obvious that the then President Obasanjo had set political booby traps for him in the Senate and in the Anambra North senatorial zone, using prominent sons and daughters of the PDP. My view was that he should leave them and seek political ambition elsewhere, taking a shot at the presidency. 
He said he wanted to do that but he didn’t have money. I said we could do that using his long-standing relationship with politicians in the North and the South-West. Money isn’t everything. And he agreed. If he had gone ahead and contested for the Senate with the obvious booby traps and failed, then I would have agreed that he was forced out. But he never gave them the chance. He said to me, “Enough of speaking English, join me let’s do this.’’ So I left Europe and joined him. The choice at the time was the All Peoples Party (APP), which was at the point of metamorphosing into the ANPP where the tall, slim General Buhari was holding sway. And he said, “That’s the man to beat.’’ 
We did the rounds and he excited the Nigerian people. Inevitably, the two of them (Okadigbo and Buhari) clashed. Chuba had the mastery of the political terrain, he had charisma and was eloquent. Consequently, instead of a clash of two titans, it became a marriage of minds between two great friends. I remember the evening of the ANPP convention at the Eagle Square, and when the General moved into the arena, he (Okadigbo) turned to me and said, “The masquerade has come. The gentleman remains a soldier in his carriage. I think I want to do business with him.’’ It wasn’t surprising that at the end of that evening, the General chose him to be his running mate.

So it hadn’t been pre-arranged for him to be chosen as running mate?

No, no, obviously there had been groups within and outside the party talking to the General about him (Okadigbo). I recall our political swing through the North-West and our emotional trip to Sokoto, Shagari’s village, our meeting with governors in the North and our party’s National Assembly members, and it was clear to all that a political union between Buhari at the time and Okadigbo would be a winning ticket. It remains a post-independence most celebrated, dynamic and strong union across this country. It actualised what, in Zik’s time, they called a handshake across the Niger. I don’t think we will ever see anything like that again.

As celebrated as that union was, it still didn’t deliver. What do you think went wrong?

No. The jury still remains out on that. Look at the damning reports of both national and international observers on the 2003 elections. I have reports from various international organisations that clearly indicted the electoral body at the time. That election was massively rigged. That was the electoral process on which General Buhari attended court effectively four years. Chuba kept faith with that process, but unfortunately, he moved on. I know the exit polls. I have the actual reports that showed the traditional ANPP states, the votes we got and how they were tampered with. Chuba had a robust defence on that. 

I saw a report in the Sun newspaper this weekend, featuring an interview with my friend, Buba Galadima. I don’t know the point he was trying to make when commenting on South-East’s political relationship with President Muhammadu Buhari when he said the region had a choice in 2003 when Chuba was there and they didn’t vote for Buhari. I think that is an unfortunate comment as we know there were no elections in the South-East in 2003, as Chuba had in his reports. I think Galadima was on the fringes of the 2003 presidential campaign team for him to say that the region did not support the candidacy of Chuba and Buhari. I think it was mischievous.

Don’t you think it may be as a result of the impression that the South-East wasn’t inclined to supporting a Buhari candidacy?

That’s not correct. I was involved. Yes, there were challenges. The Igbo are a business- driven people. Unfortunately, after the generation of Zik, and Chuba as the last of the political Mohicans, they lost out as a people and have been driven by mercantile politicians. It is said that goats follow the man with palm fronds because they like palm fronds. 

The PDP has ruled the South-East extensively, so if you go by that analogy, the people will follow the man that has his finger in money. So we had that challenge. There was General Buhari at the time, who was purposeful and straightforward, and there was Chuba in the same mould, same profile, but the two lacked money. Whereas Buhari had permeated the entire North and Chuba was well loved in the South-East, we had a challenge convincing people that there was life beyond money. It had nothing to do with rejecting the presidential candidate at the time because we didn’t like him but because we lacked the wherewithal to change mindsets. But now that he is the president, if he can focus on the basic things, if the roads in the East are fixed, if he can link the East and the West, particularly the rail thing, link the seaport by rail to the South-East, they will begin to connect. Just do it right this first term and they will see him as the man with the palm frond. Of course there was the fear of him being a devout Muslim. We are in the third world where fear and suspicions govern thoughts, and that played a role. I know the effort Chuba’s campaign made across the zone to make them see the man, his integrity and the promises he made to us.

Realistically speaking, do you think the union between Buhari and Okadigbo would have worked, considering that both men are seen as unyielding or strong-willed?

I will also add that they were both born in December. The union was not forced. It was a chemistry made in heaven and adopted on earth. Like I said, Buhari overran the democratic process in 1983 when Chuba was acting as an adviser to the then President Shehu Shagari. Everyone kept their own side of the politics leading to the 2002/2003 convention. I am 99 per cent certain that before then, there wasn’t any serious meeting or consultation between the two; people did all that juxtaposition and lobbying for the two to meet. And once that meeting happened, that was it. There was no looking back. I never saw any friction. Buhari was happy to come to Chuba’s house for every meeting. The two had telephone conversations when they were not in the same town. The question of clash was not there. Chuba never shared any suspicion or misgivings about the General. He always saw him as a kind and committed gentleman who had a vision for the people.

Incidentally, that union or political adventure was the last Okadigbo would participate in as he died in a rally trying to actualise this vision. And 13 years after, speculations about how he actually died still persist. What really happened?

He died in the cause of actualising and redeeming our political process. What we have was that he died at a rally in Kano. At the time, I was recalled to Europe to attend to some family matter, so I missed the rally. There were so many things said about what happened. I wasn’t there, so I wouldn’t know. I understand that there was a rude interruption by security forces who fired teargas. It was unnecessary, it was callous, it was uncalled for. I have been to Kano a couple of times, and if Buhari was visiting Kano, it was anarchic because everyone poured out to see this man, to have a piece of him, if possible. So after the general elections, which we believed he won but was massively rigged, it was a deeply emotional period. So for the security forces to fire teargas into such a mammoth crowd was callous. The government at the time should take responsibility for it. The international community should hold the then inspector-general of police and the commissioner of police at the time, as well as the presidency at the time responsible for what happened. Why didn’t anyone see the risk of throwing teargas at the place? What if there had been a stampede as a result? How would they have controlled that?

One of the theories was that Dr Okadigbo was asthmatic . . .

He wasn’t asthmatic. Those were rumours spread to diminish his capacity. But he ran the process, he walked his talk and went practically everywhere. There is no photo or video evidence of him using an inhaler. He was so public; if he were asthmatic, someone must have seen him using one or losing his breath, or collapsing. What I knew he did was that he smoked. If he had been asthmatic, why would he smoke like that?

In whose interest was it to circulate the rumour that he was asthmatic and the teargas was targeted at him?

Chuba was a fine gentleman who was committed to working for the downtrodden. If their plan was to throw teargas and hasten his demise, well, only God knows. But I believe that when your number is up, it is up. If God, in his grace, said he would drop out at that height of his political career, so be it.

You were not there when he died, but you were there immediately afterwards and there was no autopsy performed. Why was there no autopsy?

My position was that there shouldn’t be an autopsy. Chuba used to say things that seemed weird at the time. He would say if a man was healthy and was shot by the police or armed robbers, we know that it was the bullet that killed him, so why cut him up to find out that it was the bullet that killed him? If we opened him up and saw that the bullet hit his lung or his heart, would that bring him back? He was very squeamish about these things. If you talked to him about medical procedures like surgeries, his reactions were amazing. With particular respect to autopsy, he said he didn’t understand it and he kept that position until he died. So I said to his family, the man never liked it, why do an autopsy? The man was okay, went to the rally in Kano and was tear-gassed and died. Why open him up? The man is dead. Can we leave him the way he wished others be left? But the presidency took a strong position because they wanted to do an autopsy. I remember we were hauled off to the police headquarters and I got the impression that they were trying to muscle us into agreeing to do an autopsy and I said no. The family kept faith. We were let off when we agreed that we weren’t going to take the corpse elsewhere for an autopsy. We had to strike a deal that we and the government weren’t going to do an autopsy before they released the corpse to us.

Were you not curious to know precisely what killed him?

Would that bring him back to life? It won’t bring him back to life. My mother was in the medical profession, so I grew up around medical people. I have read extensively about medical reports. If you brought seven pathologists to do an autopsy, they would tell you seven different things. If they had done the autopsy, they could have used the strength of the system to say this man wasn’t killed by teargas. They could have said maybe it was stress. Or they could say, this man smoked a lot and that it was the cigarettes that killed him. They were trying to railroad people into seeing it their way, but they didn’t have the opportunity. No one could predict tomorrow; but probably, if they hadn’t tear- gassed him in Kano, he could have had a long life.

He died for a cause, which was to actualise a Buhari presidency. Now that Buhari is president, do you think he should investigate the circumstance of Okadigbo’s death?

It’s 13 years now. The president is challenged by deep-rooted national issues. Chuba was a man of peace. He was gentle. He was kind. If he were asked this question, he would tell you that what happened to him was a dot on the history of Nigerian democracy, a staining dot in the process to actualise a free and fair electoral process. He would not have advised a president so challenged to commit state resources to investigating what happened. He would ask you to focus on the Nigerian state rather than what happened in Kano.

As someone who was close to Okadigbo, and by extension, has been close to President Buhari, what would you say concerning the thinking in the South-East that the region is being sidelined? 

Consequently, we have seen increased agitations for Biafra. You see, let me say that the Biafran experiment ended 46 years ago. Nigeria has moved on. And the people of the South-East have moved on. There is no point looking back at that fight. People who push that agenda are not being fair to the Nigerian state. I know so many countries that have progressed beyond their conflicts, and we know that even immediately after the war, there were efforts to reintegrate the people of the South-East into the Nigerian state. Look at Kosovo. What has been the status of the people in that community after their crisis? 

I know there was a national policy that allotted a greater slot for people in the South-East and South-South to enrol in the army in order to give them adequate representation. The consequence of that policy is that Igbo people have been service chiefs, police chiefs, navy chiefs. If that deliberate policy wasn’t there, then you could ask: What is the problem of these people? Of course there are challenges of full reintegration, I am not saying there is none, but if you compare us to Congo, Lebanon, Kosovo, look at Morocco, Germany (East and West), how long did it take from the end of World War II to the fall of the Berlin Wall? 

We spend so much time deriding our capacity. Since the war, I don’t know a time, whether in civilian or military administration, when the federal government doesn’t have people of the South-East being key members of that administration. If these calls are being made as pressure group mechanism, you could say there is a strategy there, but if it is being used as a distraction to the people, then there is a problem. During the last census, the South-East lost its numbers because those pushing for Biafra asked people not to be counted. They intimidated the people, shops were closed, and as a result, the figures that came out of there were horrible. Now, if these figures are used for infrastructural development, who loses?

If you consider the recent elections, the people of the South-East decided that Jonathan was their son. I don’t know that Otuoke was part of Igbo land, but they did anyway. That government had 70 per cent of the key positions being occupied by Igbo people. And the challenges the region is facing now were there; they were created by their mismanagement of opportunities of the presidency of their ‘son’, Jonathan. Now if their ‘son’ was the president and they supported him and had 67 per cent of decision makers in his government, what happened to the roads in the South-East? Is it that Buhari became president in 2015 and overnight dug up the roads and flooded the area? Or that the educational system was dilapidated suddenly because he caused mental or spiritual problems for the Igbo? I am not speaking for the president, he can defend himself and has people who can do that, but I read recently in the papers that there is a conference coming up, to be chaired by the deputy Senate president, to call on Igbo people to come home and invest because they are not happy that a dry port is being set up in Kaduna, Lagos gets a second or third seaport while 90 per cent of our people are the ones importing. For the six years that your ‘son’ Jonathan held sway and you had 70 per cent of decision makers in that government, why didn’t Jonathan, with all of you in tow, build the Lagos-Calabar rail that would veer through the East? Under their watch, the PDP was building the East-West road that avoided the core South-East states, and everyone knows the basic economics that if a major road passes through your villages it empowers your people. This road will relegate the Lagos-Ore-Benin road to the background while the new one cuts out your community. When these documents were drawn up, why didn’t the Igbo people in the government question them? Why didn’t they say they didn’t have an airport of international standard? And their daughter was the aviation minister? The second Niger Bridge has been in deplorable condition for years, and in the six years that their ‘son’ was president, he didn’t’ take it seriously.

Germany (East and West), how long did it take from the end of World War II to the fall of the Berlin Wall? 

We spend so much time deriding our capacity. Since the war, I don’t know a time, whether in civilian or military administration, when the federal government doesn’t have people of the South-East being key members of that administration. If these calls are being made as pressure group mechanism, you could say there is a strategy there, but if it is being used as a distraction to the people, then there is a problem. During the last census, the South-East lost its numbers because those pushing for Biafra asked people not to be counted. They intimidated the people, shops were closed, and as a result, the figures that came out of there were horrible. Now, if these figures are used for infrastructural development, who loses?

If you consider the recent elections, the people of the South-East decided that Jonathan was their son. I don’t know that Otuoke was part of Igbo land, but they did anyway. That government had 70 per cent of the key positions being occupied by Igbo people. And the challenges the region is facing now were there; they were created by their mismanagement of opportunities of the presidency of their ‘son’, Jonathan. Now if their ‘son’ was the president and they supported him and had 67 per cent of decision makers in his government, what happened to the roads in the South-East? Is it that Buhari became president in 2015 and overnight dug up the roads and flooded the area? Or that the educational system was dilapidated suddenly because he caused mental or spiritual problems for the Igbo? I am not speaking for the president, he can defend himself and has people who can do that, but I read recently in the papers that there is a conference coming up, to be chaired by the deputy Senate president, to call on Igbo people to come home and invest because they are not happy that a dry port is being set up in Kaduna, Lagos gets a second or third seaport while 90 per cent of our people are the ones importing. For the six years that your ‘son’ Jonathan held sway and you had 70 per cent of decision makers in that government, why didn’t Jonathan, with all of you in tow, build the Lagos-Calabar rail that would veer through the East? Under their watch, the PDP was building the East-West road that avoided the core South-East states, and everyone knows the basic economics that if a major road passes through your villages it empowers your people. This road will relegate the Lagos-Ore-Benin road to the background while the new one cuts out your community. When these documents were drawn up, why didn’t the Igbo people in the government question them? Why didn’t they say they didn’t have an airport of international standard? And their daughter was the aviation minister? The second Niger Bridge has been in deplorable condition for years, and in the six years that their ‘son’ was president, he didn’t’ take it seriously.
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