Frontline nationalist and First Republic Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amechi speaks on Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Southeast governors and the Igbo question in Nigeria.
He also speaks on the Buhari administration, the new ministers, the structure of the nation, among other national issues. The nonagenarian is the only surviving member of the pre- independence Zikist Movement. Excerpts:
Question. How do you react to the beating up of former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, in Germany and the threat to attack and arrest Buhari in Japan?
Answer: I have always held the view that the government of Nigeria should not have banned IPOB. There is no evidence that IPOB was a violent organization, at least in Nigeria. They have been holding their demonstrations all right, but they have never been violent.
The Federal Government did not act wisely. They did not put the whole picture in proper focus and assessment before acting. I have also held the view that even at a low level, they should have sent a minister or someone at that level to have a talk with them. They should not have been driven by such desperation, creating the impression that it was a pre-conceived idea waiting for a ripe moment to execute. But it may have served their purpose at the time. However, their silence over time was taken for capitulation. But their recent activities overseas are a cause for concern as it doesn’t help their case.
I do not have the story of what happened in Germany between IPOB and Ekweremadu. That is why I declined to talk when some reporters tried to talk to me on the incident. I needed to be fully abreast of the situation before talking. But further probing into the matter makes it a lot clearer to me now. I watched the Channels Television interview with the Chief of Police in Nuremberg. The Chief of Police said it was about 30 people who were on demonstration and they confronted the honourable gentleman and he just jumped into his car and went away. And when the television station reporter asked him to know if the German police was investigating the incident, he said “investigate what?” He played it down and said there was nothing to investigate, adding that under their laws, people are free to demonstrate. He ruled out any criminal intent and it was beamed on our television sets. Western countries do not attach much importance to this instinct of crushing demonstrations or protests no matter the type.
They see such as part of democratic expressions. They have their own idea of what constitutes a threat to peace and not as we do here. But whatever be the case, they should not have been violent. They could have made their case without being violent and the world will listen to them. They are free to hold demonstrations without being violent. In many western countries, you see their citizens who are aggrieved holding demonstrations; protests and the governments do not ruthlessly bring them down.
We see them pelting rotten eggs, bananas, oranges at their leaders and it is not viewed as treason or terror. In Nigeria, such actions are seen as a challenge to their authority and might. We demean this issue of treason. Even criticisms of government are taken as treasonable felony and people are clamped into detention sometimes for speaking truth to power.
Some are killed in the process, often extra-judicially. That is why we have become the laughing stock of these advanced countries. But from all that I know, violence is not good and must not be deployed, no matter the level of provocation. And then, the action of the governors; the Southeast governors and Ohanaeze was not right. For them to have colluded with the Federal Government to advise them to proscribe IPOB and declare it a terrorist organization leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
It is indefensible. Secondly, how do you compare IPOB and their activities with what the Fulani herdsmen are doing? Curiously, not one of them has been charged to court in spite of the unceasing blood-letting and brigandage they have unleashed on the nation. Yes, some of them have been apprehended, but not one of them has been charged to court.
Are the herdsmen above the laws of Nigeria? Who are their godfathers? Is this government not setting a very dangerous precedence that may go awry in future? Why are they flaunting power as if they don’t know that power is transient? Is the nation prepared for the eventual repercussions of this brazen display of power in the future?
These are some of the questions the government needs to provide answers for. Those in power should have sufficient sense of history.