Former Governor of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, weekend, said that the elderly people in South East may embrace the Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), if the other parts of Nigeria conspire and deny the zone Presidency in 2023.
The elder statesman also said that the agitation and crusade being carried out by Mazi Kanu and his group where they are demanding for a referendum was forced on Ndigbo by the country.
Speaking exclusively to Vanguard in Abuja, the former governor said that even if entire Nigeria rejects Ndigbo, the people would not reject themselves.
Commending the non-violent approach by the IPOB leader and his group, Dr Ezeife said some of the elite in the South East had distanced themselves from the Mazi Kanu’s approach because they believed that there should be more mature ways of addressing the marginalization in the zone.
He accused the Nigerian government of making deliberate efforts towards pushing the Igbos out of the country by denying them occupying sensitive positions including leading any of the security agencies.
Asked whether agitation by the IPOB was genuine, he said, “Yes, you can’t beat a person and say don’t cry. What Nnamdi Kanu and co are doing is crying because they are beaten and they are doing it in a way that is non-violent.
“Therefore, Nigerians should appreciate their method. I am happy the rest of the world, Europe, European Union, they met with Nnamdi Kanu and they saw point with what he was saying.
“The (United Nations) UN also met with Nnamdi Kanu in Switzerland, I don’t know whether they have changed their mind they invited him to the United Nations General Assembly, but now having met with him in Switzerland, they may not meet him again in New York.
“So, I think Nnamdi Kanu is doing what is forced on us (Ndigbo) because some of us believe that we should find out more mature ways of going about it.
“But the ideal is very lawful, they are crying for a referendum, that is a democracy. I think if Igbo people are denied the Presidency in 2023, then, no matter how unpopular IPOB may be among the older people everybody may rush it.”
On the 2023 Presidency and the agitation by the South West and the North to go for the plum position, he said,” If you want to deny them (Ndigbo) 2023 Presidency, then deny them citizenship of Nigeria.
“I am feeling that it is because of rejection that other Nigerians reject Igbo Presidency that (Mallam Nasir) el-Rufai wants to be President, that (Asiwaju Bola) Tinubu wants to be President and it will favour them. If that happens, the real meaning is that the Igbos should cease being citizens of Nigeria.
“That there is no point belonging where you are rejected. One rejected does not reject himself. Among those who reject you, you don’t want to force yourself to belong.
“So, there is this talk about Biafra. IPOB is promoting Biafra because of various problems and punishments against Ndigbo. Because of many problems cause the Igbos in Nigeria, they are trying to leave. But the Federal Government of Nigeria has been very busy pushing the Igbos out of Nigeria.
“We are traders, we import like containers etc, but when our people import things, the things are seized and auctioned. Ibeto was one of the strongest people in cement, after some time, he was crippled. Instead of going up, he was going back to give advantage to Non-Igbo.
“Look at this man who is building cars, (Innocent Chukwuma) Innoson… he was taken like a tout in the paint from his house to Abuja. Emzor Pharmaceutical was closed down for days because they say that boys and girls or youths were inhaling something that was produced and had been in the market for decades, some people discovered that they can inhale it.
“When the National Security Council of Nigeria is to meet, you don’t find one Igbo man there, what kind of National Council is it? You come to employment, if there is a new list of people employed by the Federal Government, you will see that Igbo is non-existent in the list.
“27 Judges were appointed recently, mostly northerners. There were two from the West, two from the South-South, non from the Southeast. But if it were people disengaged like they are removing military (officers) from South mostly, if it were disengagement, you will see a dominance of Igbo names in the list of people being removed.
“There is something Nigerians should learn if you want to be one country and grow, it is a quotation I will take from Russian women. They say, they too have mothers. There was a misunderstanding between Chechnya and Russia and the news is all over the place on how many Chechnyan men are being killed every day, slaughtered because of course, the Russians are bigger.
“After some time, the Russian women said, please stop killing all those Chechnyan men, they too have mothers. That is the kind of feelings that make for rapport and cooperation and development. They too have mothers. You have put yourself in the place of the other person, that is how Progressives think.
“So, only Edwin Clark and recently Adebanjo and Balarabe Musa have thought about they too have mothers. They too are Nigerians, Igbos too are Nigerians.”
Reminded that zoning and rotational Presidency are not in Nigeria’s Constitution, he said, “We have been going about it as a matter of agreement. Not everything done is in the Constitution.
“Do you know that one of the justifications for Buhari to come back was to complete Northern rotation. The point is that not everything done in government is in the Constitution.
“One of the main problems of Nigeria is the constitution because it is never accepted as genuine, it is not accepted as the will of the people. So, even if it is not there, it doesn’t matter.”