[ Masterweb Reports ] - The name Bianca Ojukwu may ring a bell to many Nigerians at home, but more among some Nigerians in Austria, and other parts of Europe, especially in the kingdom of Spain where she holds the ace as the Nigerian Ambassador and has become a household name among the Nigerian community in Spain because of the spectacular jobs she has done and achievements recorded during the period she has piloted affairs. As a result of what she has done and is doing to improve the lot of Nigerians in Spain, with the application of citizen diplomacy as her priority, she is wanted all over. Other Nigerians in diaspora in various parts of Europe and the world seem to be jealous of Spain and are craving for her to become their Ambassador. While those in Spain wish her tenure should not end. Others are saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us”. Many wish to relocate to Spain if not for the economic down turn. Bianca has proved that the........ Read More.
*Photo Caption - Bianca Ojukwu
[ Masterweb Reports ] - On Thursday, January 2, Nigeria Masterweb made a surprise new year visit to Abia State House and requested an interview with Governor T. A. Orji. The interview was granted after clearance with the governor and was held at the governor’s office at 7.30 pm the same day. In this interview, His Excellency , Governor T. A. Orji responds to questions by Nigeria Masterweb, and discusses the achievements of his administration in the state. Amongst the questions he addressed was his plans for Ariaria Market and Ahia Ohuru (New Market) in Aba, the proposed Abia Airport and Abia employment index. The previous........ Read More.
*Photo Caption - Governor T. A. Orji discusses the achievements of his administration during the interview.
[ Masterweb Reports ] – Chuks Ibegbu, a well known social commentator, poet/writer, President–World Igbo Leadership, Educational And Cultural Council and President–Movement For Justice And Equity In Nigeria, in this interview by Igbo Information Network looks into various local and national issues.
Q The President recently acquiesced to the National Conference many Nigerians have been calling for. What do you say to that?
A Its a right step in the right direction. Its long overdue and I hope it will bring about the desired result.
Q Some people day that its a diversionary and escapist move by Mr President to keep Nigerians arguing among themselves why he perfects his self-succession bid as past rulers of the country did. What do you say to that?.
A Well , people have the right to their opinion but I think its still better than nothing or the present drifting to the abyss of the country. Whether Jonathan is sincere or not on the Conference , the critical thing is that Nigerians can sit down and talk to each other . The National Assembly has been talking but to themselves and their pockets. If the National Assembly as the representatives of the people have been living up to their responsibilities, there may have been no need for the Conference but all they are interested since 1999 is their pockets, constituency allowances and committees to chair. Tell me one single bill these so-called Distinguished and Honorables have passed that affected the lives of Nigerians since 1999. None, but they have squandered more than five trillion naira of state funds since 1999. So you see that what Mr President did is better than nothing.
Q What do you think the Conference should address?
A The Conference should look into our nationhood in totality. Do we really want to continue living together as a people.How can we live together in peace without the kind of violence and killings going on everywhere in the country.How can Nigerians be ruled with social justice, economic justice and political justice. How should power be distributed equitably in the country. I think these should form the bedrock of the Conference. There must be no no-go-area. Even those who think we should break up must be asked why they think so. Nobody should muzzle anybody.
Q How would the decisions of the Conference be implemented?
A The decisions should be subjected to a plebiscite or taken to the National Assembly for ratification.But ofcourse the Conference should also discuss the present system of government we are running which is the costliest in the world and the status of the National Assembly, its size , and composition.
Q Some people believe the structure of the country at present is unjust to some parts of the country?
A That is what am saying . All these issues should be discussed at the Assembly. We must discuss the present structure of Nigeria which has been deeply unjust to some sections of the country.
Q How do you see the opposition parties , the crisis in the PDP, and the rumoured ambition of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015?
A Opposition parties are necessary features of any viable democracy. The coming on board of the APC is commendable. It will make the PDP to sit up. As for the PDP internal crisis , I believe it will soon be over. Its all about who controls the lever of power in 2015.They will soon solve their 'family' problem. On the rumoured ambition of Mr President, I think Jonathan has the political right to contest in 2015 . What am still not sure is his moral right. May be if he is able to address some fundamental issues in the country he may also earn the moral right. You see we have been for long running a turn-by-turn Presidency instead of Presidency by merit. If we are to go by this policy , its even the Igbos that have a more superior and moral right to clamor for the next Presidency of Nigeria. . They have been tolerant enough, but it looks as though if Jonathan address these problems am talking about , the Igbos may support him in 2015 and thereafter succeed him. Well, lets look at how it plays out. Personally , I do not think those clamoring for power shift to the North are fair to the Igbos or the South South.
Q What do you say about the recent killings at Apo village in Abuja?
A Some years ago some Igbo traders were killed by the Police in the same Apo area and those that should have shouted kept mum may be because the victims are not from their place. Now similar thing has occured in the same area and there is the argument whether they are BOKO HARAM or innocent people. I am not in the position to state whom they were but my position is that the culture of impunity is much in this country. Security agents kill innocent Nigerians at random and those that should do something keep quiet. Mr President has the constitutional duty to protect all Nigerians. I think there must be a thorough investigation into that killing. We must ascertain whom those victims were.You see what happened at EZU RIVER in Anambra state. Has Mr President and the authorities gotten to the root of that matter. Has it not been swept under carpet. You see, as long as we fail to address the culture of impunity in this country , the more this kind of horror will continue to happen. Our security agents must stop extra-judicial killing going on all over the country.
Q Chief Fani-Kayode made other claim against the Igbos insisting that they should be grateful to the Yorubas for giving them a base in Lagos over the years which the Igbos have not reciprocated?
A Again it shows how his petty mind works. Lagos owes its status tody to the Igbo industry and energy and the oil from the East. Igboss are explorers and developers. Lagos and the west should thank their God that the Igbos have spent their fortune to develop Lagos. Now let me tell you , nobody can lay claim to Lagos anymore. It may be in the west but its a Nigerians commercial centre developed by the effort of all Nigerians.Lagos status can only be contested if Nigeria breaks up but nobody wishes that unless the Fani Kayodes think so so that they will reap where they did not sow.
Q What do you advise the Igbos and the Yorubas who pitched themselves against each other following the deportation saga and Fani-Kayode's outburst?
A The Yorubas and the Igbos are intelligent people that have lived together and peacefully for decades. These two great races should not allow rabid racists like Fani -Kayode to pitch them against each other. He is a frustrated mind and trouble maker. He deserves pity and does not have the monopoly of overzealousness or dirty writing. I advice Yoruba leaders to call him to order. He should stop inciting the public and recently he shifted his tirade to the Minister of Aviation, a woman that is now healing the wound Kayode left in the Ministry.Kayode is a very confused mind and we have not forgotten his virulent activities when he was an aide of President Obasanjo. He should pray to God to forgive him or declaring his support for the unfortunate pogrom in the 60s . It clearly shows the beast in him and I believe he is not a true son of Oduduwa, a people noted for discipline , respect and diplomatic tact.
Q How do you see the apology from Governor Fashola?
A Its medicine after death and done because of Ngige gubernatorial activities in Anambra. However his apology is encouraging but I advise him to compensate the victims of the obnoxious act. I also want to advice other state governments to do enough to stop their people drifting to lagos or abuja in search of white collar jobs.
Q What do you have to say about the ASUU strike?
A I think the spate of ASUU strike is becoming embarassing. The only reason why I sympatise with ASUU, if that word is even proper is because our politicians are alloting much money to themselves for doing little or nothing. If a senator that may not have seen the forewalls of any school is given more then forty million naira every month, why would a Professor be happy. So you see, though I believe ASUU is over-reacting on this issue, they also have a reason to demand their own part of our national cake which is being shared with reckless abandon by the politicians.That goes the same to our doctors . Every body is now looking for his own share of the national cake which politicians are presently sharing among themselves. Nobody is talking about baking the cake anymore. Nobody is interestd in research in our schools tool Students are now gunea pig and are half baked. You see, the greed of the political class has spawned interminable and insatiable demand by all sectors of the society. Believe me, we are in trouble, big trouble due to the inordinate greed by our elites and political class. I have always been asking why we should have five hundred legislators at the centre and more than two thousand at the state levels. Our democracy is the costliest in the world.
Q How do you assess the BOKO HARAM WAR in the North?
A I have said and written a lot aabout BOKO HARAM. Boko Haram was a product of the past misrule in the country. Remember that this group was harmless earlier but the politicians in Borno state began to arm them against their opponents. Later, they could not control them and they went haywire. Ali Modu Sheriff of Borno then was using and funding them until they began to fight him. He quickly masterminded the death of their leader Muhammed Yusuf. Soon they got help from discredited politicians and foreign insurgents. They sent hundreds of misled Youths for training by the AL QAEDA groups in the middle East and North Africa and are today unleashing mayhem on innocent Nigerians including students. Its indeed a calamity that will continue to haunt us in years to come though the present regime is doing its best to checkmate them. Our young men in the Armed forces should be praised for the challenges they are facing in the affected areas.
Q How do you think the situation on BOKO HARAM can be solved?
A I dont know frankly speaking. Ask those that engendered them.Iam only weeping for our young men and women in uniform dying daily for a cause they can hardly explain . Am weeping for the students and innocent persons in the hot zones, the xtains, in the north, moderate moslems, security agents and other Nigerians facing this challenges in the North everyday.Never has since the end of the war has our nation witnessed this kind of security breach in the North.
Q Now lets go to the foreign scene. How do you see the war in Syria and the trial of the Kenyan President and his Vice by the international criminal court at the Hague?
A I condenm the potracted war in Syria. I believe that Assad used chemical weapons on his people and he must pay for that.But again those fighting him are no less innocent. I do want a radical islamic group to take over Syria but at the same time Assad has lost the moral right to continue ruling Syria. He must quit the scene so that Syria can be rebuilt.On the trial of Kenya's President and his Vice by ICC , its not a bad idea. Forget about the outburst of the AU. The AU is encouraging dictactorship and violence in Africa. I am disappointed in their tirades. How has the AU helped to facilitiate transparent leadership in Africa. The trial will send a signal to African bloodthirsty dictators and human right abusers that one day they will pay for their misdeeds. The world is a global village, dont forget. Those attacking the ICC are the ones that have poor human right records in their countries.
Q What is your message to Nigerians as the 2015 elections approaches?
A Nigerians should shun the antics or those who do not wish this country well. They should ensure that our democratic journey is not hijacked by unpatriotic elements. They should guard our democracy very well. The national conference that President Goodluck Jonathan has initiated is a good opportunity for them to ventilate their view.
Q The issue of oil theft has become embarrassing to the government. Ifs affecting national budget. What do you say to that?
A The government should stop shouting. The thieves are in high and low places. The government has the machinery to apprehend them and stop giving excuses.
Q A christain gal was alleged to have been abducted by an emir in Niger state recently and its generating furore in the country . What do you think about that?
A If the gal was abducted against her will , its despicable and unconstitutional. The judiciary and security agents are expected to rescue and protect her. We must never condone such acts no matter the status of the culprits. The Niger state government must take steps to get to the root of that matter.
Q Some time ago there was a shocking discovery of more than 50 corpses of some young men in the EZU RIVER in Anambra state. Up to now nothing has been heard about that and there is the recent killings at Apo in Abuja. What is your say on that?
A There is extra-judicial killings by security agents all over the country and none of the puzzle is solved. It is the duty of Mr President to direct appropriate authorities to solve all such puzzles. Mr President cannot just keep quiete in the face of all these extra judicial killings. We want to know whom the EZU RIVER VICTIMS were and who klled them. We want to know whom the Apo victims were and who killed them . Unless these killings are unravelled , more ot such cases will happen in the future.
Q In your last interview you stated that Biafra was never defeated and that the war may have continued till date if not for the intervention of some world leaders that spirited Gen Ojukwu away from Biafra?
A Yes, but for the diplomatic tact of some world leaders who negotiated Ojukwu's removal from the scene, the war would have continued to the last man.
Q The last man?
A Yes,the last man. Despite the sufferings in Biafra, her gallant troops were ready to continue the war to the last man.
Q At what point did it become obvious that Biafra would collapse?
A I have told you earlier that Biafra did not collapse. There was only a cessation of hostilities after Gen Effiong whom Ojukwu handed over directed so. There were a lot of behind-the -scene events which a lot of people do not know that led to the end of that war. Biafra did not capitulate neither did it loose the war. As a matter of fact Ojukwu directed Biafran troops to hold existing ground until he returned from Ivory Coast and he was shocked to hear that hostility had ceased. But no one should ofcourse blame Gen Effiong for directing the cessation of hostilities. The situation was becoming foggy and even the enemy was becoming tired of the war. All Gowon's directed for 'final' pushed did not materialize so both sides were fagged out.
Q Some people till date still argue that Ojukwu did not exhaust all avenues for peaceful settlement before he declared Biafra?
A But that is not true. Ojukwu exhusted all options, but the intransigence of Gen Gowon and the cabal around him in Lagos then made all such options unviable. Remember how Gowon and his super-permanent secretaries doctored the Aburi accord. Remember the threats against the East. Remember the killings and humiliation of Easterners. Let me tell you , if Ojukwu had failed to declare Biafra, Easterners would have killed him.
Q It is believed the minorities in the East did not support secession and did not participate fully in the war?
A That again is not true. When the pogrom in the North was taking place , there was no discrimination between the Igbo., Efik, Ijaw, Ogoni, Ekoi etc They were all considered Easterners which ofcourse they were and the same treatment was meted to them. It was a mere and tactical fast move by Gowon to give the Eastern minorities two states and cut them off from their Igbo brothers in the state creation excercise of 27th May, 1967.He capitalised on the prewar agitation of the Eastern minorities for states of their own, which ofcourse also prevailed in other regions of the country. Naturally when Gowon gave them the states, some hawks in the minority area who were looking for positions to occupy accepted the Greek gift and switched to the federal side. But the bulk of the Eastern minority people stood with Biafra till the end. They had some of the best and loyal Biafran officers and men. Let me tell you what you may not know. Some of the minority elements that switched over to the enemy did so for self survival. You know when the enemy entered any Biafran town, they carried out scotched earth policy to intimidate the inhabitants so that was why the Ikwerres, Agbors and other Igbo minorities denied their Igboness at that perilous time simply to survive. If you were in their shoe you will do the same.Do you know there is an Igbo town in Edo state today called Igbanke. This town where Brigadier Osaigbovo Ogbemudia hails from had to change their name from Igbo-Akiri to Igbanke just to survive Murtala Mohammed's onslaught in his hazardous march to Asaba.
The Ikwerres had to put R in the names of their villages to appear as if they were not Igbos . Today you have Rumuola instead of Umuola, etc. They still think the war is on and that is my annoyance with Ikwerre elders. They should tell their children today what happened and why they had to do what they did and then reverse back to their Igbo names. Let them assert their Igboness once more.We are no longer at war. Do you know that Gen Alabi Isama who wrote a controversial civil war book recently is an Igbo man from Ndokwa. Do you even know that Col Adekunle of the 3rd marine commando had Igbo blood in him. Its the bizarre thing about that war. Some Biafran officers were Yoruba men. Gen Ike Nwachukwu and Gen Pat Aziza were Igbo men that fought against Biafra. Its really bizarre.
Q Why did the major super -powers then support Nigeria?
A It very simple. In those days nation building was in vogue. The world frowned at seperatism at that time no matter the justness of one's cause. Nation states were emerging and the world view that time was against secessionism. If it were now, it would have been a different pot of kettle.Today, self determination is in vogue.
Q Whom do you consider as Biafra's most operational commanders?
A There were many redoubtable Biafran officers. All complemented each other and discharged themselves well at the battle. I admired Col Archibong of the Ikot-Ekpene front, Col Tim Onwuatuegwu, Col Joe Achuzia , the Hannibal of Biafra and Col Simon Uwakwe of the Special Force in Arochukwu who survived the enemy siege in that town.
Q What of the Nigerian side?
A Well I think Col Adekunle was scientific , though barbarous,Col Utuk who survived Biafran siege in Owerri, Gen Babangida who was wounded at Uzuakoli, and few other Nigerian Officers did well at the battle field.
Q What were the major battles of the war?
A There were several major battles of that war. These included the Abagana ambush in which a Biafran company routed the 3rd Division of the Nigerian army,. The federals were also routed at Onne, Oguta, Azumini, Uzuakoli, and Owerri. Dont forget the midwest invasion in which a region collapsed. Murtala Muhammed tried three times to cross the Niger into Onitsha and he was mercilessly beaten the three times. The Nigerian side recorded some successes at Calabar, Portharcourt and Uyo. They also scored some goals in Aba and Umuahia at great cost in men and material. Their main achievements however was the bombing of markets, hospitals and civilians . They did this as Ozu Abam, Aba , Umuohiagu, Otuocha , Awka and many Biafran towns.
Q Do you suggest the trial of those who committed war crimes in that war?
A Well in the spirit of the new Nigeria we are trying to build , we may forgive and forget. But there is nothing wrong if the International Criminal Court decides in its own wisdom to try war criminals especially those that massacred innocent people at Asaba and other Biafran towns, after all war criminals of the second world war and that of Rwanda are still under trial. Such trials is a deterrence to future occurrence.
Q How did Col Timothy Onwuatuegwu die after the war had ended?
A Col Onwuatuegwu was killed at Abakiliki by some sadistic Nigerian soldiers after the war had ended. He was trying to cross over to Cameroun when a trap was set for him at Abakiliki. That was how they also killed Prof Kalu Ezera, and Col Ukpai shortly after the war. They like the 16years boy Mayrock of Newyork who burnt himself in support of the Biafrans were among the heroes of the Biafran war
Q How do you assess the recent civil war book by Brigadier Alabi Isama?
A Alabi's book is rich in pictures and commentaries but he exaggerated some of his claims. .The only area I agree with him was where he stated that Gen Obasanjo was always trying to take credit for other peoples achievement during the war. In his hasty bid to claim the glory for the end of the war , Obasanjo sent many enemy troops to their early grave between Owerri and Ihiala.. Isama was one of the few Igbo Officers that fought for the enemy side.
Q Who fired the first shot of the war?
A It was the Nigerian side that did that at Garkem around 6am on July, 7th 1967. Biafra fought a defensive war throughout that war.
Igbo Information Network: Thank you for finding time to grant us this interview.
Ibegbu: You are welcome.
*Photo Caption – Hon. Chuks Ibegbu. He can be reached by email at email@example.com and by phone at +234 8035410176.
[ Masterweb Reports ] - As we approach fifty-three years of Independence this October from colonial rule, many Nigerians like us continue to reflect on our nation a region of great potential, given the phenomenal talent, material wealth, being blessed to be part of the great African continent. There is always a commentary on our national deficiencies, be it tribalism, the endemic corruption, failure of the public health system, the weakness of civil societies, and in recent years, the carnage wreaked by the Boko Haram. As a nation Nigeria has been facing many challenges and its unity is being threatened. What can be done to remedy it? Is there a way out? Certainly there is a way out, says Dr Kusum Gopal, who has technical expertise on east/west Africa, the MENA region, the countries of the Indian Subcontinent and Denmark. She has worked on conflict resolution, refugee rehabilitation, social development, public health, gender mainstreaming, and, related humanitarian matters. Q: There are many concerns. Let us begin first with tribalism. Can we overcome this at all? Answer: We cannot seek to........ Read More
*Photo Caption - Map of Nigeria.
[ Masterweb Reports ] – Chuks Ibegbu, President, World Igbo Leadership, Educational And Cultural Council (WILECC) was on July 23 interviewed on many issues on the Biafran War (Nigerian Civil War) by Igbo Information Network; below is transcript of the encounter.
Q. You said that the Biafran war was the third world war and that Gen Gowon and the North were rebels?
A. Yes, Gen Gowon is respected by me but he was a rebel. He led the rebellion against the government of Gen Aguiyi Ironsi. He used T Y Danjuma, Martin Adamu and Murtala Mohammed as decoy. He was the greatest beneficiary of the Northern rebellion. Again the Biafran war was more or less the third world war in the sense that the whole world was involved in the war. Every super-power was involved. Unfortunately the major super powers supplied Nigeria with weapons. Biafra was feebly supported by France, Portugal and China.
Q. Why did Biafra lose the war?
A. Who told you that Biafra lost the war. They never did. Let me tell you , if not because some world leaders through President Houphet Boigny of Ivory Coast diplomatically removed General Ojukwu from the scene, the war would have continued till date. Biafra would have gone into guerrilla warfare. Some people do not know that several Biafran units were unaware that the war had ended and were itching to engage the enemy at different fronts even though the situation was getting confusing. Do you know that some gallant Biafran officers refused to end hostilities until General Effiong pleaded with them on air because of the suffering of civilians. Biafrans were ready to go into guerrilla war but would that have been good for Nigeria today? The war would have been on today as in Sudan which just came out of thirty years of civil war with independence for Southern Sudan. Biafra was never defeated, but there was cessation of hostilities. That is all and that was why Gen Gowon declared NO VICTOR , NO VANQUISH.
Q. Recently Col Usman Farouk in the book titled THE VICTOR AND THE VANQUISH claimed that Biafra lost the war?
A. It is not true. Where was Farouk when the war was going on. He was a mere military administrator in the then Northwest Nigeria. He did not know what was happening at the war front. In any case he appears to be a vindictive writer unlike Isama.
Q. You claimed that Gen Gowon and the North rebelled against Nigeria?
A. Yes, my highly respected Gen was a rebel leader . It was this rebellion and the killing of Gen Aguiyi Ironsi that largely led to the war. Even after that rebellion, they still went ahead to insist that the North must secede(Araba). So they were the actual rebels. If not for the British that told them to hang on, they would have moved to Kaduna to establish themselves and their Arewa Repblic.
Q. What was the miracle behind Biafra's resistance for three years?
A. Well, the ingenuity of Biafran scientists and the indomitable spirit of the Biafrans coupled with their genuine cause were the factors behind that. But of course , they had many obstacles that weighed against them. Do you know that Banjo's treachery at Ore cost Biafra its much expected victory that would have come in mid August 1967. Ojukwu's aim was for the gallant Biafrans to have their breakfast in the morning of 11th August , 1967 and of course Gowon was preparing to flee Lagos to Kaduna then. Banjo's treachery saved him. He may have been captured live by the Biafrans if they had entered Lagos , though he may have run away. Anyway it is all history today.
Q. How do you think such experience will not happen again in Nigeria?
A. Justice, equity, honest leadership and respect for the views of others will prevent such tragedy from reoccurring but I am afraid the way our politicians are going about it is disturbing. They are only looting and misruling the people. These were factors that led to the crisis of the 60s in Nigeria. May God help us.
Thank you Mr. Ibegbu for finding time to grant us this interview.
[ Hon. Chuks Ibegbu can be reached by phone at 08035410176 ]
*Photo Caption – Hon. Chuks Ibegbu
[ Masterweb Reports ] – Nkechi Anayo-Iloputaife is the presiding Bishop of the Victory Christian Centre. She discusses her 18 years journey after her husband, Bishop Anayo Iloputaife, was murdered at his home on February 4, 1995 unknown armed assassins.
Q. What has kept you going years after the demise of your husband?
A. I have seen the goodness of God all these years. His incomparable character is clearly seen in my life. I say to people, if you want to see God, just look at me.
Q. What do you miss most about him?
A. His leadership, friendship, love for God’s glory, dogged commitment to the word of God, excellence and personal integrity in the ministry.
Q. What were the initial challenges when he passed on and you had to take over the church administration?
A. The challenges were not different from the general challenges of leadership which included betrayals, abandonment, rejection and disloyalty. Opposition came from every angle but I had faith in God’s power. Through His word, mercy and grace, I was able to cope.
Q. How did you meet him?
A. We met in Lagos. He had just returned from North America where he started his ministry, but according to him, God had told him to come back to Nigeria. By divine connection, we met at a church gathering.
Q. Is there no space in your heart for another man?
A. No and yes. No, because I don’t have a desire. Yes, because if it is God’s will for me and this ministry, I will accept it.
Q. Are you afraid that another man may take advantage of everything your late husband worked for?
A. That is not my thinking. When he passed on, I believe that his ministry on earth had ended and the living will have to go on. I am more concerned about the quality of the person, but it doesn’t have to be a husband. He can just be a male figure that can take charge. What makes a ministry distinct is that it takes on the character of the founder. The character is more important than any other thing.
Q. You talked about betrayals earlier, can you expatiate more on this?
A. First of all, there is this cultural bias against female leadership. A glass ceiling in the minds of even civilised people today makes them see women as people who cannot do certain things, but God is not saying that. I am an example of God’s placement. If He did not choose me, I would not be doing what I am doing at the moment. Secure and accomplished men respect women who have the integrity and are focused on what they do.
Q. Who is Nkechi Iloputaife?
A. I think I am an excellent person, I pay attention to details but a lot of people don’t see the simplicity because in the discharge of my duties, I sometimes take decisions that are really tough. I am simple-hearted, kind and take pleasure in helping people be the best they can be.
Q. What do you wish to be remembered for?
A. I wish to be remembered for fearing God, my rugged commitment to His word and my benevolence. I am always going out of my way to help people, my heart bleeds when I see people who seem to be written off. I try to make a statement that no human being created by God can be written off. I like to visit the prisons before my birthday; I have a monthly fellowship with widows. Being a widow, I can feel their pain, even though our circumstances may not be the same. I can relate to their predicament and I know, because of the peculiar circumstances, some of them have problem obtaining a good meal. I have a programme where they come out every month and we all eat together. We also do medical outreach and spiritual therapy for them. We work with prisons and orphanages.
Q. What kind of upbringing did you have?
A. I had a difficult childhood but God used it to shape my adulthood. Everything about that childhood is what God used to make me what I am today.
Q. How do you relax?
A. I am learning to rest, I am somebody who works all the time and somebody has to remind me to rest and have fun. I read, watch television and go to the spa. I also visit the gym.
Q. What about your diet?
A. Over the years it has changed. I no longer eat what I used to eat when I was younger. I told myself I was going to have a lifestyle change at a certain point in my life and this would include the way I eat.
Q. What does style mean to you?
A. I have always been a stylish person. At one time, I was very dramatic but now the two words that best describe my style are simplicity and elegance. I can be dressed up in a pair of jeans or whatever suits my temperament, but I just found out that the older you get, the less complicated you would want your style to be. I will never lose my elegance, especially how I put my stuff together. My name, Nkechi Anayo, means style and elegance. I had an opportunity to preach in a very traditional church. When the man of God introduced me with excitement, his congregation just stared at me. When I took over the microphone, I said to them, ‘Nobody should put any breaks on me, your pastor put me on this pulpit and he knew me very well before he invited me here, so if you can just remove your mind from the way I look, which may not match your theology, we can all get something good from the word of God.’ Then, everybody laughed and allowed the spirit of God to take over. I think there are things that are personal to us and style is personal to me. God does not mind my style because He wired me that way. As far as style is concerned, I like to stay with who I am. Everybody does not have to approve of the way I look. I have my own platform and I have people who would rather listen to me than somebody else. I just like being me and God allows me to be me. My fashion must be matched with comfort. I like bowler hats a lot. It is very convenient for me. Several years ago, I just decided to stick to my bowler hat.
Q. What will be your advice to women?
A. Regardless of their pursuit, they should fear God and keep His commandments. Also, they should believe in themselves because nobody is going to believe in them. On the road to success, you meet a lot of obstacles and if you don’t believe in yourself, you will lose your faith. Choose your friends on purpose because that will determine whether you achieve your dreams. They should be people who will propel you forward, not the ones who will pull you back.
*Photo Caption – Nkechi Anayo-Iloputaife
[ Masterweb Reports ] – Mazi Chuks Ibegbu, an Ohaneze chieftain, President of World Igbo Leadership, Educational And Cultural Council (WILECC) and Movement For Justice And Equity in Nigeria (MEJIN) in this interview bares his mind on several local and national issues.
QUESTION- The federal government recently declared a state of emergency in the three Northern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. Several Nigerians have been commenting on that . What’s your own view?
ANSWER- My view is that it is a welcome development. The insecurity and killings in the North have become unbearable. No responsible government will allow such brazen waste of lives to continue. It cannot just continue that way. So we welcome the measure.
QUESTION - But do you think the federal government handled the BOKO HARAM challenges well in the first place . Could there have been better ways to address the issue at the early stage before it degenerated to this level?
ANSWER- Well nobody knew it would degenerate to this level. Really the political class in the North East did not handle the matter well at the early stages. Ex Governor Bunu Sheriff of Borno state did not handle the issue well. He hobnobbed with the group at the early stages until they went haywire and he abandoned them . The federal authorities then did not equally handle the matter well at the early stages. Perhaps if the issue was handled well at that initial stage it would not have degenerated to the level we are seeing it today. It is the usual impunity and outright self-deceit of the Nigerian elites and ruling class that exacerbated the BOKO HARAM imbroglio. Its unfortunate that several innocent Nigerians have lost their lives in this insurrection.
QUESTION- What can you say about the Amnesty proposed for the BOKO HARAM?
ANSWER- My concern is more for the victims of the insurgency than for the so-called Amnesty. What has the government at the centre and the concerned states done for the victims of this insurgency You cannot concentrate on Amnesty for the murderers whereas nothing tangible is said or done about their innocent victims.
In as much as I accept any move to end the insurgency and perhaps grant Amnesty to the repentant ones among them, I think that such Amnesty should be extended to other agitative groups that are ready to lay down their arms too and those that have been non violent like the MASSOB. We must not give the impression that unless a group is violent nothing will be done for it . Its a very dangerous precedence that we are setting in Nigeria . People are holding this country to a ransom under different guise and we are talking about ransom. Well I wish them well. It may be worth trying.
QUESTION- There is a decision by the federal authorities that the political leadership in the affected states should have limited access to their state funds in view of the enormous cost of the STATE OF EMERGENCY IN THEIR STATES.Do you share that view?
ANSWER- Absolutely I do. States that allow insurgents to overwhelm them should bear the cost of routing out the insurgency. You cant expect anything less than that. It will make the political leadership in those states to sit up and account for the huge SECURITY VOTES they pocket without doing anything to secure their states.
QUESTION- Recently Mr President flagged off the construction of an International Airport at Enugu. How do you see that?
ANSWER- Its a welcome development. It long overdue for a people that are largely business inclined. How can you have international Airports in areas that have less business potentials and none in the business inclined Igboland. Its an abberation that has been tolerated for a long time due to the iniquities of past rulers of this country.Jonathan has done well on that . We expect him to accelerate work on the second Niger Bridge at Onitsha and the EAST /WEST RAIL LINK, Let me tell you if the East / West Rail link from Lagos to Calabar passing through Onitsha , Nnewi and Aba to Calabar is put in place the South of Nigeria will witness a kind of growth never witnessed in the annals of this country. There should be spurs to Yenegoa, Ughelli and Warri joining the main line in Benin City. And you know what, the kind of money our politicians and elites waste is enough to put this necessity in place. Let me tell you one thing however. The Federal government budgeted thirteen billion naira for that airport project and the whole politicians in the SOUTH EAST were dancing and clapping. Even that day Sullivan Chime naively closed down Enugu and tormented the people. But the federal government recently sited a dam worth one hundred and thirty billion naira in Zungeru and Aliyu Babangida and the elites in the North did not gyrate or torment their people when Jonathan came calling. Infact Jonathan was pleading with them to accept that goodwill and yet they did not even clap for him.. Get me right, I like that project as it would leapfrog power generation in the country. What am implying is that Igbo political leaders should not be so cheap and naive. What will be wrong if Jonathan site a project worth 500 billion naira in Igboland. We need it. We deserve it. I still congratulate Jonathn for that initiative and hope International flight will start landing in Enugu very very soon.
QUESTION- The recent Nigerian Governors Forum election has come and gone with a lot of uproar , claims , counterclaims and even factions. What do you make out of that?
ANSWER-Well, the NGF is not a constitutional body just like the office of the first lady and other quasi strange entities in Nigeria are not.It cannot be a parallel government . Its only an NGO at best. Be that as it may , they group must respect its constitution if it has any. I find it hard to believe that people that claimed to have won elections in their various states cannot respect the laws that guide them. It means almost all of them are usurpers. How did they become Governors in the first place. I think Nigerians should as relevant questions and stop clapping for the factions or siding any of them. What is happening is too bad and nauseating. They must .sop overheating the polity as there are other numerous challenges facing this nation.
QUESTION- Recently a group under the auspices of Southern Solidarity Forum endorsed President Goodluck Jonathna. for a second term in office. What do you say to that?
ANSWER- Well anybody has the right to excercise his democratic views but WILECC believes its the turn of the South East to produce the next President of Nigeria. All other zones of the country have produced the President except the South East and if democracy is all about equity and justice , it is the turn of the South East to do so.So after Jonathan's Presidency, it is the South East turn in an unbroken succession.
QUESTION- IS THAT IN 2015?
ANSWER- Why not. Has Jonathan told you that he is contesting in 2015. He has not told me nor the Igbos. Even if he tells me or us it does not determine our or my political leaning. But I advice him to restore Ndigbo back to the pre-civil war status before coming to tell us if he wants to contest or not. Are you getting me.
QUESTION- But some Igbos are rooting for Jonathan in 2015. People like Arthur Eze, Ekwueme and even some South East Governors are already for him?.
ANSWER- Who is Arthur Eze, a mere money bag who has no idea about how to reposition his people.I respect Dr Ekwueme and some others that have already taken a stand on that , but they are not Igbo messiahs. You see some of you always make the mistake of couching peoples selfish interest as the interest of a whole Igbo race. Well, when we get to the bridge, we shall cross it. I have nothing against Jonathan but my own is my own and our own is our own. He is our own but what of my own. If you like read between the lines. You see there are many political jobbers these days and what they say or do has no effect on Ndigbo . Do you get me. Igbos are wiser today. Jonathan must prove to Ndigbo that is he is actually one of us, not by answering Azikiwe or Ebele but by turning the fortunes of Ndigbo. Are you with me.
QUESTION- That brings me to the question of state and local government creation. As it is now Ndigbo have the least number of states and local governments in Nigeria and it appears the Nigerian state is not yet committed to addressing the issue?
ANSWER- That is what am telling you. Jonathan can start the process of correcting this structural injustice that is skewed against Ndigbo since 1970. The 2005 NATIONAL CONFAB agreed that for justice and equity , Ndigbo should have one extra state to atleast put them at par with other geo-political zones of the country, but the decision was stymied by the Obasanjo third term saga. People like Orji Uzor Kalu and Chukwumerije joined some Northern Politicians to scuttle the third term saga without influencing the same Northern establishment to support the sixth state for Ndigbo. That is self-defeatism and myopism par excellence. You help them achieve their aim but they will not help you achieve yours. And today somebody like Kwankwaso of Kano state will tell us that Ndigbo should even be happy they have five states and they do not have the population to demand for more states. Can you imagine that. These are the type of people at the saddle of power. These are the kind of entities telling their people to reject the polio vaccine and creating the situation that led to the death of some female health workers in Kano. I think the National Assembly have the moral duty to equalise the states in the six zones of the country. Or let the regions be the federating units and then they can create any number of states and local governments they wish to create. That is my stand and I think the stand of majority of Ndigbo.
QUESTION- The federal government recently proscribed the BOKO HARAM. Do you think its a solution?
ANSWER- Ofcourse there is nothing wrong in proscribing the group. It does not stop the government from still dialoguing with them . The Emergency in the North is not a war against the North as Buhari was quoted to have said. I respect Buhari a lot and would advice him to be careful with his utterances. They should have empathy for thousands of innocent souls these murderers have killed. Ofcourse , we cannot absolve Jonathan and the PDP from also creating the political condition that convoluted the BOKO HARAM insurgency. This is the time to call a spade a spade no matter whose ox is gored.
QUESTION-WHAT is the solution to the terrible Youth Unemployment in the country?
ANSWER- The solution is for the President, Governors and Chairmen of local governments to create jobs for the masses. The huge money our political class allot to themselves should be used to develop our infrastructures , and build industries. These politicians should stop building hotels where they misuse our girls and build industries to employ our Youths. They should re-channel the security votes to something useful to the society. The money spent in buying patrol vehicles to the security agents if channelled to the building of industries will even make the job of policing a lot easier as there would be less criminals for them to them to engage.
QUESTION- Recently the AU lambasted the international court at the Hague for harassing African leaders. What do you make our of that?
ANSWER- Its a pity that the AU took that stand. There are many dictators and myopic rulers in Africa and if not for the action of the ICC at the HAGUE , many African rulers would have wiped off their people. Instead of the AU to condemn the barbarity of these African dictators and encourage the ICC for helping to check African dictators, they are passing such useless resolutions. It shows that the AU encourages dictatorship in Africa. Africans say no to that. Imagine what would have happened if the ICC was not there to try Charles Taylor. Will the weak AU have brought him to justice for his crime against humanity. Look at James Ibori. He was an untouchable here in Nigeria but the just British judiciary convicted him. Africans and their leaders must at least have respect for human dignity and rule of law.
QUESTION- Do you think the BAKASSI PENNINSULAR issue should be re-visited?
ANSWER- Ofcourse. Till date , I stand to condemn the unwholesome act of Obasanjo and others in the Bakkasi saga. They betrayed Nigerians by that action. The Bakassi territory belongs to Nigeria and even in the future the matter will crop up.No responsible leadership would have traded off their people the way Obasanjo did. Gowon started it. That decision will continue to haunt generations unborn. Cameroun should not go about rejoicing as the issue is still not closed.Jonathan did not also prove to the equal to the task . I expected him to repudiate that decision but he was pussy footed.
QUESTION- So you support the call of a Sovereign National Conference in Nigeria?
ANSWER- Ofcourse,. The National Assembly lacks what it takes to redefine and reorder Nigeria to the path of equity and justice. Its only a national conference that can do that and until that is done we are going nowhere. We shall just be circumnavigating.
QUESTION-What is your group's view on MASSOB?
ANSWER-MASSOB was a product of the injustice in Nigeria. But ofcourse Uwazuruike who pioneered it with others later derailed and became a money monger and merchant. He completely derailed and is now a business man that owns fleet of cars, houses and I understand even oil wells.I think the issues MASSOB have been agitating for need to be looked into but I do not subscribe to secession. Let me tell you one thing. Do you know that it was the North that pioneered Secession in Nigeria. Throughout the period Nigeria's independence was being negotiated for it was the North that was always ready to secede. Even after the July 1966 rebellion by some Northern Army officers they still insisted on seceding until the cunny British people urged them to stay on having forced themselves into power. So when some people call Ojukwu a rebel or Igbos secessionists , I laugh. Do you know that the No 1 rebel was Gowon . All those that fought against Biafra were the real rebels because they overthrew the legitimate Government led by Gen Ironsi.Coming back to MASSOB, , I think what they should be shouting more now is for level playing ground for all Nigerians. We shall not allow anybody to break up Nigeria which our forebears fought for and got from the cunny British colonialists.Why should we leave Nigeria for strangers that came from the Fouta-djalon area or who. Do you know that in reality Igbos own Nigeria because they are the only nationality that are wholly and entirely found in Nigeria. You find the fulani , Hausa and Yoruba in other African countries not as emmigrants but part of those places.
I think MASSOB may need to change its name and orientation. I am happy a group has now emerged as MOVEMENT FOR THE SURVIVAL OF IGBO PEOPLE. Nobody will tell you not to survive but this secession thing , we are not for it. We are Nationalists but there must be a level playing ground for all Nigerians. Do you get me.
QUESTION-The other day they (MASSOB) ordered Igbos to sit-at-home. What do you say to that?
ANSWER- Uwazuruike has no authority to make such declaration. You see Uwazuruike is stretching his luck farther than necessary. How can he do so. Do you know that most of him members have abandoned him because of what they have come to realise of him. There are now more than twenty factions of the group. You see anything not built on honesty and sincerity will flop. He capitalised on the nolstagia of Ndigbo for Biafra to feast on them . Today he is a billionaire. Do you know how many innocent Igbo Youths that have died in a struggle they did not know the bearer had other things in mind. Ndigbo and Igbo leaders must call the man to order now or he will create greater problem for them in the future. I mean it. Look at how he messed up in the census sage of 2006. Doyou no the effect of that on Ndigbo.
QUESTION- Now lets look at other issues. What do you think of the ongoing constitutional review , immunity clause, security vote, social security, state creation etc?
ANSWER- Let me tell you our politicians are not yet ready to lead this great county aright. Why should you have immunity for the President or Governors. Its this immunity that make them to loot this country. Why should there be security vote. Why should the office of the first lady be maintained with tax payers money. Why should we have full time legislators. You see the cost of governance in Nigeria is the highest in the world and these politicians are not interested in changing the status quo. Its only National Conference that can do it. Let me tell you there should be Social security and compulsory military training for all Nigerians to halt insecurity in the country. Every Nigerian is entitled to compulsory military training.
QUESTION- How do you rate Igbo political actors?
ANSWER- Well some of them are doing well while others are onlookers and just there to make money.
QUESTION --What do you have to say on the baby factory syndrome in the South East?
ANSWER- My brother its a terrible thing. Its kidnapping before and now its baby factory. WILECC will synergize with Ohanaeze Ndigbo to halt this trend. The South East Governors Forum should also launch a war against this cankerworm.
QUESTION- What do you have to say about the INDIGENE VERSUS NON- INDIGENE SYNDOME IN IGBOLAND?
ANSWER- My brother its terrible. How can Ndigbo that have suffered a lot in Nigeria do that to themselves too. Why must an Abian not work in the Enugu Public service and vice versa. Enugu state started it and later other states in the south East copied from them . My mother was a victim of it in Enugu . Abia state later did it and you can see hundreds of innocent Igbo workers now answering non-indigenes in their mother land. Its a shame, a very big shame. WILECC will soon drag all the states that implemented it to court and also use traditional Igbo sanction on them . It cannot continue in Igboland. We shall fight it to standstill.
QUESTION - HOW do you hope to revive Igbo language and culture?
ANSWER- Good. If you go by the name of the World Igbo leadership , Educational and Cultural Council, you can see that we are poised to revive Igbo language and culture through workshops, seminars and SCHOOL-TO -SCHOOL ORIENTATION. We shall work with OHANAEZE NDIGBO and other Igbo organisations within and outside the country. We are proactive.
QUESTION-What message do you have for Ndigbo and Nigerians?
ANSWER- Ndigbo should continue to work for a united Nigeria as they have always done. They should continue to demand for equity and level playing ground in Nigeria. Nigerians must come together to build a prosperous and Godfearing nation. Why should we be killing ourselves on the basis of oriental and middle east religions. Why Nigeria blessed this country but the major actors since independence have not been fair to this nation.
QUESTION-THANK YOU MR IBEGBU FOR FINDING TIME TO GRANT US THIS INTERVIEW?
ANSWER-YOU ARE WELCOME.
*Photo Caption - Mazi Chuks Ibegbu
[ Masterweb Reports ] - Prince Tonye Princewill was the governorship candidate of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the 2011 governorship election in Rivers State. He is now a chieftain of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP). He spoke to journalists in Port Harcourt about his governorship ambition for 2015, the political feud between President Jonathan and Governor Rotimi Amaechi, and the impact of god-fatherism in Nigerian politics. Amaka Agbu represented Daily Newswatch at the occasion.
Are you still interested in becoming the governor of Rivers State?
I have been eyeing this position of governor of Rivers State since 2006. I have been heavily involved in consultations to the point that I have conducted researches across the state to find out what the people want, what they need, their perspective on governance coupled with many other issues that are dear to them. So, I have gone very far and very wide. A commitment like this is not a commitment you make overnight and there are a whole lot of people that are part and parcel of that decision. I am still in the process of my consultations and have just received a report from my field consultants who have helped me conduct this study.
I am currently digesting it with other members of my team. I have shared it with the governor and other stakeholders including the President and Atiku. At the appropriate time, my decision will be made public. If you take a decision like this, it is not a decision you take alone. Because once you are in, you cannot come out. You take it all the way to the end. If my experience in 2007 is anything to go by, many people will expect me never to turn back.
That is the insurance that I will be giving everybody. Otherwise, my political career will be over before it even starts. There will be no going back once I decide to run. There will be no turning back. People still walk up to me and chastise me for withdrawing my case from the tribunal and supporting Amaechi. I made public my governorship ambition since 2006 and if I decide to run in 2015, people will see something they have never seen before.
So what informed your decision to get involved in active politics?
To me, politics is a duty and not a privilege. I don’t think you should go into politics because of what you can get or what you can gain. I joined politics because I want to give. But like I have consistently said in previous interviews, I am tired of taking all this responsibility to myself. I want government to live up to its own responsibilities too. As private individuals, we provide our own light, water, education, health and security.
That might be okay for me and you, but what about the less privileged? Those who are better off and in a better position should start to ask themselves what they give back so that the less privileged can also have those benefits? Until we can do that, then there should be no peace for any of us. So, I want peace and I want peace of mind. That is why I am going into politics. I have come to the conclusion that unless you have equality, justice and fairness, there won’t be peace for any of us. That, to me, is a non-negotiable position.
Can we achieve perfection?
No. But we can do far better than we are doing now. Politics is too important to be left to politicians. I want the less privileged to have a wider representative voice.
What are your plans for Rivers State?
Well, everybody comes into politics with their different perspectives. So, don’t let us start talking about my manifesto before I make a declaration. There is no doubt that Ameachi has done very well in a variety of areas. Though even he would admit that knowing what he knows now, there are many things he would have done differently.
But I always remind everybody when they complain about Amaechi or they complain about Jonathan or whoever they complain about that leadership is not an easy task. Even the best of us can make a mistake. That is why pencils have erasers. So, what we need to do is to encourage the leadership through constructive criticisms and that is what I am trying to do. I am trying to encourage Amaechim, so he can do better.
The same applies even to Jonathan. In spite of the fact that I did not support him by the time he was contesting in the primaries. I supported Atiku. But I came to the conclusion that he won the primaries against all odds and Nigerians voted for him en masse. So, whatever we can do to encourage them and give them healthy advice that is what we will do. That is why my report on my survey that I conducted across the state was made available to my governor so that he can see what his people are craving for.
I am tired of this taxi-driver approach where somebody will say I arrived at the airport and I jumped into a taxi and I asked the driver what he thought and the person told me that Fashola is doing well, Amaechi is doing well, and Jonathan is doing well. To me, that is not a good way to run a government. If you want to know whether you are doing well, then a proper survey should be carried out to know what the people think. Feedback is important.
What use is there in running a government of the people by the people for the people, if the people’s true thoughts are not a key part of it? Same applies to you the media. Can we not have more fact and less opinion? Sycophancy is a major problem in Nigeria!
What have you done to empower your people?
I don’t think there is any need to blow my trumpet. So many people in Nigeria not just Rivers know some of the projects I have been involved in. I have been accused variously that I am doing these projects because of political reasons, and I am glad that you said that it is when election is coming that politicians start doing things in their constituencies. But I have been doing them for a very long time and I will continue to do them.
I have been doing them because if you want to touch people’s lives, you don’t need to contest or win an election to do so. To me, I have always said that in Nigeria the kind of politics we play doesn’t care enough about people. It only cares about godfathers because it is the godfathers that put people in office so that ultimately those in office come back to repay them the favour of putting them there in the first place.
So, the style of politics that I have been playing out is not the style that wins elections. I have been interested in the people and sometimes it is at the expense of the godfathers. So, it is not the kind of politics you play if you want to win an election or if you want to contest for governor, but like I said I am not doing it for political reasons. I am doing it because I feel the people genuinely need help. They need help now not in 2014 or 2015.
I tried to spread what I am doing not just in my community, not just my state but across the whole country. When my Princewill’s Trust came out for flood relief, did we stop in Rivers State? No. We went to Bayelsa State as well to help our brothers and sisters there. My reality show with orphans was conducted round the whole country. The winning prize of N10million went to an orphanage in Kogi State. Another orphanage from Imo State took the third prize of N3million. A total of eight orphanages from all over the country contested, only one from Rivers State. Will they vote for me? Do orphaned children vote?
The bickering between Jonathan an Amaechi as regards the 2015 Presidential election calls for concern, what is your own view about this?
Coming back to your question, the bickering is not necessarily because of the 2015 presidential election. I think as much as 2015 may have a role to play in it, I think it is deeper than that. Some of us have been privileged to spend time with the parties involved and we know better. I know Jonathan’s thinking on the matter, and I also know Amaechi’s thinking on the matter, and I believe that at the fundamental root of it is a gross misunderstanding between the two. Who supported Jonathan most when he was Vice President? And who gave Amaechi free rope in 2011 when many asked him to clip his wings based on the perceived leanings in Rivers State? Jonathan does not hate Amaechi and Amaechi does not hate Jonathan.
In fact, secretly if they are honest, they both like each other, but I think they have been surrounded by events that have led to this gross misunderstanding and in the end the same Amaechi and Jonathan will surprise us all and settle. Some of us had checked the cause of this misunderstanding, when Amaechi became the Chairman of the Governors Forum, he was already suspected of harbouring an anti-Ijaw sentiment at the back of his mind. Remember he was part of the old Rivers State were the Ijaws dominated.
So, anybody who saw the arrogance we exhibited back then knows we created our own enemies. Combine that with the suspicion that Rivers State was leaning towards Atiku during the 2011 primaries and you will know that an Amaechi Governor’s forum gave the Jonathan camp goose bumps. Some of us advised him that this is going to bring issues between him and the President. He refused to listen to us because he genuinely believed that there is no reason why he was going to bring about conflict between him and the President, his boss and the leader of his party. Now, we can see who was wrong.
You see Jonathan is presiding over a system and that system was a system he inherited. The negativity in that system is what Amaechi is protesting against, not Jonathan. But there is no way Amaechi will not have conflict with Jonathan because Jonathan is the current custodian of that system and that system is there for a reason, to keep the enemies out. If our leaders like me had all decided to work together for the good of the people, there would be no need to keep this system.
If they had decided to work with Jonathan to move the country forward and he in turn was ready to trust them with no reservations, the system would be more open, more transparent and more productive for Nigerians. Eventually Amaechi will find out that many people that are behind him are supporting him against the President, just because of 2015 and not because they want a change in the system.
Many people are looking at the Governor’s Forum election which is coming up very soon. Are you expecting any surprises?
If I want to make a prediction, I predict that Amaechi will scale through by the skin of his teeth but if he does not, don’t let us forget that when a dog bites a man, it is not news. What is news is when a man decides to bite a dog. Tambuwal’s emergence as Speaker was news. Amaechi surviving will be news. Therefore, I don’t think Jonathan wins either way in the short term. But in the long term, Jonathan is most likely to emerge.
For those of us in the South-South, we do not want any problem in our region because there is no need for that. I think for someone like me who is a potential governorship candidate, I will probably be the beneficiary if two of them fight, because I do not think I will be the first choice candidate of either of them.
So, it is not necessarily a bad thing for me if there is a quarrel between them. But I am not looking at my own personal ambition. I am looking at the benefit to my state and it will take a very strong man to convince me that the fight between Jonathan and Amaechi is not going to have a massive and negative impact on my state.
I have done a lot to bring the two of them together, even though I have not succeeded till this point. I think at some point in spite of any interventions by third parties, two of them will realise that they and they alone need to settle this matter. I notice that there is no mature discussion going on between the North and the South or the East and West and that leads me to conclude that they the regions are not interested in collaboration first and interests second. This means that power play will be in full effect come 2015 and many will be victims of it.
Is a National Sovereign Conference imperative at this period?
Without a national conference of sorts, a progressive Nigeria will never emerge. At best, we will have a Nigeria of old, continually limping and never living up to its true potential. At worst, we will have a crisis. I hope I am wrong but mark my words.
What is your take on the outcry on the presidential pardon granted Diepreye Alamieyesiegha?
Before I say what I want to say, let me start by saying I am against corruption and believe that we need to do even more to fight it. I don’t want my comments misconstrued into suggesting anything otherwise. Having got that out of the way, I must say that I think Nigerians sometimes baffle me. Sometimes, I just wonder if we enjoy deceiving ourselves deliberately. First of all Alams’ conviction was purely political.
I challenge anybody to say it was contrary. To his left and to his right, there were governors that were stealing but today they are walking the streets of Nigeria freely. How about going and getting disgusted about that? Even people who championed his conviction were CEOs in corruption. Are we so easily fooled? I am not saying he was innocent. That is why he received a pardon. What I am saying is why him?
The reason Alams was convicted is because he opposed Obasanjo’s third term bid and presented a credible threat to the political class who called the shots. So, for me, let us put that on the table.
Is this true or not? If it is true and it was political. Why had Jonathan not pardoned him since? What was he waiting for? Who more than anyone benefitted from the death of the third term? Some people have quite amusingly said that this shows the government is not serious about corruption. Please can somebody tell me when this or any of the past governments was serious about corruption?
*Photo Caption - Prince Tonye Princewill
[ Masterweb Reports ] - People’s Servant (Chief) Charles O. Okereke, Masterweb Founder/CEO spoke on BBC London on Sunday, March 31, 2013 on issues on the desirability and criteria for Black British and African anthems. It was a challenging encounter because Chief Okereke did not have preknowledge of the questions for the interview. His astonishing performance in the interview was based on his complete........Click to Listen to Clip of The Interview & Read More
*Photo Caption - People's Servant (Chief) Charles O. Okereke in a press conference in the 90s.
[ Masterweb Reports ] - Barr. Vincent Ezenwajiaku is a pharmacist and a lawyer as well as a politician. He was a foundation member of the All Progressives Grand Alliance and had contested for the Federal House and Senate under the party. He is presently the Hon. Commissioner for Special Duties in the Obi Government. Since the crisis in APGA started, he has remained vocal. He fielded questions from some journalists in Awka.
May we meet you Sir?
I am a Nigerian from Anambra State. I am currently serving as a Commissioner in Governor Peter Obi’s administration. I am a pharmacist and a Barrister by profession. I ventured into politics because I believe it offers me wider spectrum to contribute to the advancement of humanity.
Would you call yourself a professional politician?
In fact, some of us who are professionals are against people seeing politics as a profession, it is not. I often get angry when some people introduce themselves as politicians. The reason for this obsession with politics is people’s view and belief that it is a shorter route to wealth and renown. We have a trend in the country today of people who soon after their National Youth Service plunge into politics without attempt to practice their profession. For such people, whenever you ask them about their profession, they will say “I am a politician.” The consequence of this is that if they contest any post and fail, rather than go back to their trade, they will be running around the corridors of power and are ever ready to become sweepers of the offices of people in power for them to be seen to belong. This is not good and has not augured well for Nigeria, because it is the direct cause of people trying to cling to power at all costs.
As a Commissioner in Gov. Obi’s Govt, how would you rate his performance?
I am part of that Government and would hurt objectivity if I try to judge it. I think the judgement is better left for “outsiders” to do. Whatever I say would be followed by people saying Ah, as a Government official, what do you expect him to say? I therefore leave it to you to do the assessment as you all are in the State and are witnesses to what is going on. Even as umpires, you can go out and seek the views of those who are in a position to tell you the brutal truth.
Sir, we can get your views and then balance it with the views of others, especially…
(Cuts in) Giving you my views is very easy; all I am saying is that thoseviews cannot stand even for balancing. People comment about the Government of Peter Obi daily that my own is not, in my view, important. Let me even help you out. As the Governor of Anambra State, one thing we cannot take away from the Governor is abundance of energy that I do not know how many people can meet up with his pace. These days, if you read papers, you would have discovered that due to his policy about education that saw him returning schools back to their owners, he is much in contact with Church leaders, I mean credible Church leaders that do not have any reason to dissimulate facts.
I read in the papers how Archbishop Valerian Okeke of the CatholicArchdiocese of Onitsha reviewed what he is doing across all sectors and rated him as the best Governor Anambra State has had. He talked about how Obi is building a future for the State through overhaul of the education sector, building of roads across the State, attracting foreign investors, rebuilding the health sector, prompt payment of salaries and pensions after clearing the arrears owed for years, among others. He ended up by saying in Igbo, Odi ka Obi akona anyi, may we not lack a person like Obi.
I can go on and on. The other day I followed His Excellency to a function attended by the Catholic Bishop of Awka, Most Rev. Paulinus Ezeokafor. The bishop echoed his brother by saying that Obi was God’s gift toAnambra State. Having come down from Ihiala to Awka that day from Dr. Obinna Uzor’s function, the bishop said it took him about 30 minutesto make the trip whereas in the past the journey would have lasted 3 hours because of bad road. What does that show you? The bishop asked God inprayers to give the State a person as good as Obi if he could not give us a person better than him.
Of course you need to listen to Archbishop Efobi of the AnglicanCommunion. Talking about Obi, he quoted the Bible: “When the righteous are on the throne, the people rejoice.”
I can tell you that in Anambra today, everybody knows that Obi has done excellently. Some people who do not have character may want to prevaricate for one reason or the other. What I am saying is that politicians can see A and call it B because they have not been given money. I was at an occasion where somebody told the Governor that he was criticizing him because, even though he, the Governor, had tarred roads, that he had not tarred tongues and that it is with the same mouth with which the headmaster pronounces passes that he also pronounces failure.
Take the case of Chief Victor Umeh. He was among the number one supporters of Gov. Obi, he always glorified what the Governor was doing in the State, but when the Gov., for one reason or the other stopped tarring his tongue, he made a 360 degrees turn and started feeding falsehoods to the people.
Whatever way we look at it, Obi remains the best Governor Anambra has had. We are in the State and will be glad to see somebody break his records.
Where do we start? He has tarred over 700 Kilometers of roads and we are still counting. Almost everyday he flags-off road projects and work is going on all of them. He constructed roads in the most difficult part of the State where nobody thought about until he came on board. In health, he has built a teaching hospital from the scratch, rehabilitated general hospitals, built new hospitals and health centres, bought hospitalequipment, and got accreditation for the health institutions. As we speak, he is building, in partnership with the MDG, about 25 structures in missionary hospitals.
It was Obi who built the first secretariat in the state; the first and second massive business park, bought vehicles for ranking government officials in the executive, judiciary and legislature.
He is equally superlative in the intangible part of governance. He cleared the arrears of salaries and pension of close to 10 Billion Naira.
He has attracted multi national companies to Anambra State. At the last count we have about four of them, some have built facilities others are coming on board. Under him Anambra became an oil producing State after he invested billions in Orient Petroleum.
In the area of education still, even after the return of primary schools to the Church, he has given them support to the tune of about 6 Billion naira in cash to rehabilitate the schools.
One can go on and on, but the most amazing part of it is that he has not borrowed money from any financial institution nor raised bond as many states are doing in Nigeria.
The president was so excited with his relationship with the Church, that he said the center he wants to help his Otuoke community build through friends would be handed over to the Church to manage. Obi has equally attracted the attention of the World Bank that had sent people to Anambra to study his revolution in education with the aim of using it as a model for other African countries and developing world to emulate. Paul Collier, a notable Oxford professor was so excited about this that he has beenpropagating it to other African leaders.
You mentioned Chief Victor Umeh, but the Chief tells us that he fell out with the Governor due to his failure to conduct Local Government election.
Though I have stopped reading his falsehoods, but I can tell you that 99% Percent of what that man says is falsehood. Until he started fighting the Governor, he single handedly brought the names of those who were appointed into transition Committees. What then is the logic of saying that he opposed it? I have noticed that in Nigeria, what professional politicians do is to employ the instrument of blackmail against the person they are not supporting and Chief Victor Umeh has it in abundance. He doesllaneged until Mike Udah exposed him on Channels television. The exposure has just begun. He was the one who, through his one man show business in the form of chairmanship of APGA prevented the party from growing. If not because of this crisis would you have imagined that APGA was receiving 20 million naira every month and one man was pocketing it, using it to build houses all over the country and buy houses overseas? Ithink the recent judgment of an Enugu High Court was providential. It will now give opportunity to those who have the interest of the party at heart to restructure the party.
Are you saying that Victor Umeh has not contributed towards the building of APGA?
If you are in partnership business with somebody, how do you measure your gain? It is simply by balancing gains vis-à-vis efforts. In the case of Umeh, the ration of efforts to gain is about 5% to 90%. He put in 5%efforts and has reaped 90% gains. Would you say that such a person has suffered for the party? APGA was largely financed by Peter Obi. It was even his house at Abuja that initially served as APGA office. Umeh is always for what will be of personal gain to him. Even when the President asked APGA to get some names for appointment in the spirit of building a national government, Victor brought names of riffraffs that he would control, one estate manager that does not know his right hand from his left and one jobless Campbell whose work now is to send text messages daily on behalf of Victor. Of course the names were not considered for lack of qualification.
How do you mean?
I am a foundation member of APGA. In the beginning, Umeh who now brags about what he is not was the Personal Assistant to an Anambrapolitician, Chief Okonkwo (ofiadiulu) . The man is still in active politics.Somehow he became the treasurer of APGA. When APGA removed Chief Chekwas Okorie, we were having the meeting of Anambra party members, and Obi said that from the experience of betrayals he has had, that he would prefer Victor Umeh to be appointed the Ag Chairman. Apparently, Umeh had gone to beg him. That was how he became the Ag Chairman. But today, surprisingly and incredibly, I hear him say that he made the Governor. The man is an interesting study in human nature.
He may think he is a smooth talker who can confuse and confound, but by the time he will realise the harm he is doing to himself it will be too late. Today he is regarded as a rsik factor. He is the type of man that gathers documents and dossier on persons he deals with and releases them to the public as a professional blackmailer. If Obi was dubious, he would have had tonnes of documents about him. I am sure nobody will like to deal with him in Nigeria. I read that even Owelle Rochas Okorocha warned his Commissioners and aides to be careful about him and not allow him get close to any Government document.
But he contributed 4 Million naira to Obi’s tribunal case
Who said so?
He said it in an interview he granted to Vanguard
This is the reason why I told you that I do not read what the man says anylonger. How can anybody believe this? We know where we are coming from. Before Obi became the Governor, he was on the Board of about 7 quoted companies, including about 4 financial institutions by the virtue of his investment.
The man who said he donated 4 Million to Obi’s tribunal case at that time was living in a two room apartment at Anam St, a ghetto in Enugu. At that time, Obi was the one who procured an international passport for him alongside other party members as well as sponsored his first trip overseas.It was also Obi who bought Umeh his first V-boot Mercedes car as he did not have even a bicycle and yet he has the boldness to say he contributed 4 million naira to tribunal efforts. Can’t you read between the lines?
I agree with a writer who said that sudden wealth has entered Umeh’shead and he now sees himself as a little god. In Umeh’s estimation, MikeUdah is not sufficiently big to talk with him. Can’t you see arrogance verging on delusion of grandeur here?
Today from 2 room apartment at Anam Street, he is now living at a palatial home, one of the best in Enugu. He has many of them in Enugu. The one in his home town is under construction with almost 90 airconditioners amidst other facilities to meet his Epicurean taste, but the speed has reduced now he is having problems in APGA. He now has fleet of vehicles. When such a man tells you that he suffered for APGA, such statement among those who knew what he used to be and what he has amassed now elicit laughter.
I recall that before Obi became Governor, the first real money Victormade was from buying of a house for a Lagos business man Obi introduced him to, Emma Bishop Okonkwo for your verification. After the sale, he made more than 50 Million naira and even asked the Governor to keep 70% of the proceeds and the Governor refused by insisting that he was not in the business of Estate management. If he really donated money to Obi’s campaign, it must be from the proceeds. You can ask Okey Ezeibe about this, he knows the details among other. In fact Okey was the one the Gov. asked to introduce Victor to their friends in Lagos. These people supported him because he was from Mr. Peter Obi, but in his characteristic manner, today he will tell you that he was the one who introduced Peter Obi to those people.
But for Prof. Nwosu to ask the Gov to meet Umeh if he hoped to become Governor, do you not think that the man has some clout?
From what I have said about him, you believe him to your own detriment. Let us see it this way, Obi and Nwosu met and Nwosu asked him to go and meet Umeh. For Umeh who was not at the meeting to tell what transpired between Obi and Nwosu means that he must be a spirit. Can’tyou read into lies?
Since Umeh started talking, don’t you think it is ripe for the Governor to speak at this point and set the records straight?
I thought you people love the Governor?
That is why we need him to speak in the first person
It will be infradignitatum for the Governor to start bandying words with Umeh. Who is he? Is it because he stole the Chairmanship of APGA? If you are in Anambra you would have noticed that Obi is the busiest Governor. As I speak, he is away to Rome as part of the Federal Government delegation for the installation of the new Pope. No week passes without his having meeting at Abuja. He belongs to more than 10 Federal Committees, besides being the Financial Adviser to the President. He is also the Chairman of South-East Governors Forum as well as the Vice Chairman of Nigerian Governors’ Forum. For a person saddled with all these responsibilities to have time for idle people like Umeh will be lunacy.
At the end of his tenue, he will not be judged by exchanges with Umeh, but by what he achieved in Anambra State. So we thank the Governor for not replying to Umeh’s lies and hope he will not because it will diminish him. It is even with difficulty that I am commenting on him because he does not worth my time for I am equally busy. The people that are placed in the position to reply him, if there is need are the Chief Press Secretary, Mike Udah and the Senior Speciall Assistant on Media, Val Obienyem. I am happy Udah has done that very well.
But he says that Udah is too small for him?
That tells you how deluded he is. Apart from making so much money and wangling his way to become Chairman of APGA who is he? Udah has more pedigree than he has. Udah is better educated; Udah has edited a national newspaper, among others. That shows you how he will enjoy mytalking about him. Oh, why have you journalists led me to this?
Sir you talked about Victor making a lot of money. Could you explain more?
Just consider by which magic a Personal Assistant to Ofiadiulu rose to head-turning fame in 7 years? Did he build a factory? This is where I blame Peter Obi. He created the Frankenstein monster that has now turned round to harass everybody. If the money remitted to the party monthly went through the normal party structures we will not have come this far. I am aware of many contracts awarded to those he brought. I am aware, the former Cjhairman of ASUBEB, Barr. Chuma Mbonu can confirm that, that he almost singlehandedly shared ASUBEB jobs to his cronies under the guise of party people. I am aware that even after award of contracts, contractors complained that he still insisted on bringing those to do the sub contract works as low as fetching water. He had his hands in many pies.
He grew so rich that he lost control. Do you know that when his mother died, he budgeted about 100 Million for her burial. The Governor gave him 5 Million naira and plenty of drinks and he rejected it on the ground that it was small. You can find out from Architect Callistus Ilozumba for he was the one who went to his house with some people to persuade him that funeral support is not rejected in Igboland before he accepted. Theytold him that the Governor did not spend as much in burying his own father and that the money was the Governor’s personal support as he would not use Government money to support burials. This tells you more about the man.
Let me tell you another story. When Ojukwu was alive, I sometimes wentto meet him with the Governor and he will always tell him to beware of the little Tiger (Victor Umeh) he, Obi, was feeding with milk and know when it grows teeth and stop the milk. He has now grown those teeth. Ojukwu spoke in tongues to Obi, but the Governor took him into confidence. That is why I said he created the monster.
This account is contatry to what Umeh says is Ojukwu’s opinion about him
You believe him at your own risk. Ojukwu was thoroughly not comfortable with him. Ojukwu’s wife can attest to this. Once we had a meeting in Ojukwu’s house and Victor said that Gov. Obi should buy houses in Abuja for Ojukwu and himself as main APGA people. Ojukwu said it was ok because when he grew annoyed that was one of his reactions, to say yes to everything you said. In extreme cases he would stop talking. When the meeting ended and we were leaving, he called Obi on phone to come back that he had forgotten something. By then Victor and his group had left. Ojukwu told Obi that all he wanted was service to Igbo people and that he should not listen to those that wanted houses and planes. This was how it was resolved.
Look let me take this opportunity to proclaim that Victor does not even read situations. In the past he was used to issuing threats and because the Governor is essentially pacifist in nature, he will be pacified. The lastconflagration that consumed him was started by him, somehow the Governor said enough from this little groaning Tiger. He decided to ignore him. At a point he started sending emissaries seeking peace but the problem he created had gone beyond the Governor. If you notice, he was sending Alhaji Sani Shinkafi to insult the wife of our leader, HE, Bianca Ojukwu. He himself was insulting everybody including the revered Dr TimMenakaya. He said Obi bought him by offering appointment to his son.But it was Umeh who brought about 5 Commissioners in Obi’s firstCabinet, including his nephews and nieces.
If he is wise he should have realized that his blackmails are not having any effect on Obi’s reputation, which has gone far beyond him and his short sightedness.
How true is it as Victor Umeh said, that other parties that endorsed President Jonathan were given money except APGA?
How was the monthly money given to APGA and the millions realizedfrom the sale of forms spent for him to refer us to money given to other parties for endorsement? This shows you that as far as he was concerned everything is about money. When the Governors of the South –East decided to support Jonathan, they made it clear it was not for individualbenefits but based on his commitment to do projects in the East. If he gave money to other political parties, it means he owes no obligation to them, but if APGA did not collect money, he owes obligation to Igbo people. This may explain why he is working on erosion, has made Enugu Airport an international Airport, is set to start work on a second Niger Bridge , among others.
Politics as played by people like Victor Umeh is injurious to the Igbos. It is dangerous to reduce everything to cash value. I am aware that when Jonathan was discussing with APGA, Gov. Obi raised the appropriatenessof his meeting APGA leadership. Obi asked Umeh to come with principalofficers of the party, but he came alone and rather than discuss what support of APGA for Jonathan would fetch the SouthEast, started discussing his personal interest. Of course that was the first time he met with the president.
He would always tell you that the Governor did not support other APGA candidates but it is not true. When Obi was campaigning for his second tenure, no South –East Governor campaigned against him. Even a Governor that came for his party’s campaign, explained to him that it was to fulfill all righteousness, but did not go to the campaign field him simply because they relate as brothers. When election came, Umeh now wanted Obi to go to their states and probably call them thieves. Of course he did not go, but he gave then financial support. Because the money he gave in the past through third parties did not get to them, he did it directly. Some people complaining had actually planned how to appropriate the money if channeled through them. They have every right to complain. It is human, it is normal.
The love of money,the saying goes, is the root of all evils. I can assure you that part of what Umeh is doing today stem from his relationship with a money bag, whom he is irrevocably committed to dash APGA gubernatorial ticket in the State.
May we know the person now politics is heating up
You will at the appropriate time.
With Umeh against APGA merger like your own faction, don’t you think the possibility of reconciliation with him…?
He is no longer the Chairman of APGA, but he is not expelled from the party. If he wants to join us in the restructuring of the party he is free. But let me tell you one thing. The moment the merger was announced, all genuine APGA members condemned it. How come it took the usual garrulous Umeh weeks to come up with denial. The original plan was that he would be made the Chairman of the new party or he would become its Senatorial candidate, but when the interim chairmanship was discussed without mention of his name and he realized that he may be fooled in the end, he backed out.
How would you compare the Interim Chairman of APGA, Maxi Okwu and Victor Umeh?
It is like asking me to compare light and darkness. There is no basis for comparison. Maxi Ukwu is a through-bred party man who believes in consensus. Just few days as the Chairman, the fortunes of the party havestarted to change. He calls meetings and allows everybody to contributeunlike Umeh who saw the party as personal property. Today, I always read releases from our Publicity Secretary, Bernard Akomas and he is quite efficient, but under Umeh, he was in charge of everything. Under him, you would not know APGA had a Publicity Secretary, because he wanted to do the PR and make money. Under Umeh, Gov. Obi was never invited to a meeting because he would find out that the money for the party did not get to them, now it is different. Igbo people say that from the smell of fartwe know how sweet the defecate will be. From what Maxi has done so far, we all in APGA have confidence that APGA has entered its glorious moment.
Away fro politics Sir, what is your Government postion on the Ezu River corpse dumping?
Well, we are satisfied with what the Governor has done. Remember he cut his trip short and returned to the State the moment the sad incident was discovered. Since then he has visited the place four times, personally supervised the removal of the bodies from the river and commissioned an autopsy on the bodies. He also got the entire town fumigated, sent supplies to them and provided the only borehole that is working. I say this because some people pretended they were digging boreholes but nothing has happened. If you go there today, the only boreholes working in the town are the two provided by the Governor.
Sir has the autopsy revealed how the bodies were killed?
We are all waiting for the report.
Sir why has Anambra Internally Generated Revenue remained low?
Anambra was the most notorious state in Nigeria until Obi restored sanity to the State. Before him nothing worked as gangsters took over the place.Today things are changing. We have completely got some things right, but because the Internally generated revenue was a mess the rate of getting it right appears long, but the Governor is working assiduously to get it right for good.
Sir, with politics approaching, will you be interested in elective posts?
By the grace of God and confidence in me by the Governor, I am a Commissioner. My present preoccupation is assisting the Governor to turn Anambra State around. When we get to the bridge, we shall cross it.
Any message for the people of the State?
They should all continue to pray and support the Governor to remain focused in his work as he has continued to do.
*Photo Caption - Barr. Vincent Ezenwajiaku