There are calls for zoning to be jettisoned in 2023 but if this is done, what will be the fate of the South East that is clamoring for power shift to the zone?
As a matter of fact, zoning of political positions, especially that of the presidency is the doing of the political parties. So, each political party has its own arrangement on the zoning system but the constitution guarantees equitable distribution of crucial national positions even though it does not mention that of the president specifically.
It is only fair, just and equitable that in a multi-ethnic society like Nigeria we need to consider fair play. There could be majority or minority in a society but the issue of fair play, equity and treatment of all sides as one will help in bringing about confidence, in bringing about love, trust, security and cohesion. But I think that we should not over-flog the issue of zoning or no zoning so much. We are however, working internally as politicians to see how political parties we belong to will find it equitable to zone this highest office of the president to the south east as a matter of morality.
So, I think everybody especially the media should talk to all political players to ensure that the issues of equity and brotherliness, fair play, equality are not thrown to the winds because it is going to help a lot in stemming the tide of insecurity and unnecessary agitations that we are having in the country right now.
Do you think that insecurity in the south east is connected to 2023elections?
I don’t think the insecurity is connected to the 2023 election. You can only say that 2023 is going to be a defining moment-the way and manner it is played and the way and manner political parties resolve their zoning system will also help impact the security of the country. Talking about the South East, yes we have had moments of violent agitations but the major players are asking the agitators to sheathe their swords so we can have constructive dialogue on all the issues.
For me, Ebonyi State believes that Mr. President has the capacity to listen to the various agitations of the people of the south east. But the best thing is to lay down all our complaints on the table so that the president can resolve them. But let me say that in the south east the major issue being raised is marginalization and the ill-treatment of the people of the south east. For me these issues did not start with President Buhari. For the people of Ebonyi State, the president has done a lot to give the south east a sense of belonging that we never had before he came on board.
What we need to do now is to continue to pray that he should listen to the voice of the agitators to get all the political players to see a reason to cede the presidency to the south east and I believe that is one of the ways of solving the problem of insecurity.
Governor Umahi is the chairman of the south east governors’ forum. What is he doing to address the Igbo question in the Nigerian project?
Governor Umahi was elected governor in 2015 and he became the third civilian deputy governor and the third civilian governor, which is historic. The governor did not negotiate to be the governor of a minority party. He negotiated to be the governor of a majority party – the PDP. Unfortunately the PDP at the centre collapsed because of mismanagement and leadership problems.
And when he defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC) we now saw the obvious benefits of having unfettered access to the national cake in terms of finances, in terms of political and job opportunities at the federal level. We are now better for it.
Former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu recently urged the APC to postpone their national convention over fear of implosion, what is your view on that?
He is a very loyal member of the APC but it’s whatever the national leadership of the APC decides we will follow. The party knows what to do at the right time.
What has Governor Umahi done to endear the people of Ebonyi State to him?
My explanation cannot give you the kind of conviction your visit to Ebonyi State will give you but honestly we have discovered in Governor Umahi, a world class leader, a man of passion with innate abilities to lead the state at a time we are almost hopeless. In 2015 we were at the last fiddle in the economic ladder of the nation we are at the bottom. The governor lifted the state with infrastructure development such that today we are expecting industrialization to boom in Ebonyi is state because of the kind investment in infrastructure that the governor has made.
IPOB has allegedly threatened to stop President Buhari from coming to Ebonyi State to commission some of the projects that have been completed. What is your reaction to this?
Let me mention categorically that social media has been awash with fake news, with propaganda publications, most of the time, these fake news were not masterminded by the IPOB and ESN. In Ebonyi State, IPOB has got a lot of understanding about the position of our governor that it is better to jaw-jaw than to war –war. The governor has taken some very quiet steps in getting the attention of the federal government to see how the voice of the agitators can be heard on a round table and these IPOB members are appreciating that. The IPOB is not destructive in Ebonyi State because if you go to the state every Monday that they declared their sit-at-home order, people are going about their normal businesses. All these news is social media fabrications and we are telling our people to please use social media positively.
So, the so-called threat to stop the President is not coming from IPOB, I can assure you that. The President is well loved by Ebonyi people. When Ebonyi State was in PDP far back in 2016, the first state that President Buhari visited in the whole of the south was Ebonyi. It goes to show the kind of love we have for Mr. President.
Your governor, a potential presidential material, has not even declared his intentions yet. What is he waiting for?
I am not surprised that the governor has not made his intentions known. The people of Ebonyi State, leaders and elders, had issued a communiqué and resolved to tell the world that we have got a commodity that can change the narrative of this country. They are telling the world that they have a leader who, if allowed to become President of Nigeria, world powers will begin to marvel at his high performance.
If the Nigerian people will look at the performance of Governor Umahi in a small unit where there is no money, where the federal allocation is the smallest yet he has done mightily such that if you come to Ebonyi you will think you are not in Nigeria, then if given the presidency of Nigeria, he will make enormous impact in transforming Nigeria to the admiration of the world.
If Governor Umahi could within six years turn around the fortunes of the people of Ebonyi, making it a signpost of excellence in good governance, we believe that if he touches this wealthy country, there will be a change. He does not discriminate on the basis of religion, class or tribe. We have got leaders that help us forge a new history, a new narrative in the Nigerian governance system and I think that if the Nigerian people discover this personality the difference will be clear.