Nigeria’s Minister of Transport, Chief Chibuike Amaechi and the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, on Wednesday, disagreed on the quickest way for the Igbo to produce president.
While Amaechi, who was the convocation lecturer for the 12th Convocation ceremony of Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka called on the Igbo to vote for President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 to serve his second term to pave way for the Igbo to produce the president after his tenure. Nwodo disagreed, saying such argument should not have a place in a true democratic system.
Speaking on the topic, “The Igbo in the politics of Nigeria,” Amaechi said Igbo had not benefited much by voting for minority parties.
He said: “We are not here for campaign; we are here for an academic exercise. If we are here for campaign, I would not be putting on academic gown, but we must tell ourselves the truth about what Buhari has done.
“Since 1999, the Igbo people have always voted for the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. There is nothing wrong with that, but the question must be asked; has the PDP justified that support or reciprocated it in any manner?
“Is that support really earned? The complaint now is that the All Progressives Congress, APC government of President Muhammadu Buhari abandoned the South East and is marginalising them.
“Without conceding to that, let us compare a situation where the PDP you voted for gave you a few appointments here and there and denied you any major developmental projects as against the APC government of President Buhari you did not vote for and who, even if he denied you appointments, has certainly not denied you crucial developmental projects.”
But the President General of Ohanaeze, Dr Nwodo, who was a guest at the lecture punctured some of Amaechi’s claims, arguing that Nigeria was not operating as a true federation, as pockets of marginalisation still abound against the Igbo.
He said: “I am yet to see a federation in which the security apparatus is domiciled in one section of the country. Doing so has not also solved the security problems of the country. “Our country is in a state of war, with no one declaring it. I refuse to agree with you that people should join a federal movement as you said before they get what is due to them. If our constitution is not revisited for people to live and feel safe, then we are wasting our time. “Honourable minister, I urge you to fight for us. We are the true Nigerians. Whether we voted left or right, our behavioral pattern has shown confidence in Nigeria.
“Help us talk to your people and make them understand that whatever views they held during the war, tell them that the war is over.”
“Then you have the rehabilitation of the following roads: Oba – Nnewi – Okigwe road linking Anambra state with Imo state, the Otuocha – Ibaji – Nzam road in Anambra state, the Abakaliki – Onueke-Abomega – Afikpo road [Ebonyi state], the Nnenwe – Uduma – Uburu road connecting Enugu state with Ebonyi state, the Oji – Achi – Mmaku – Awgu road in Enugu state, the Ozalla – Akpugo – Amagunze road [Enugu state] and the IkotEkpene – Aba -Owerridualization project linking Akwalbom, Abia and Imo states among others.
“Almost all the important Igbo cities, Enugu, Owerri, Umuahia, Aba, Awka, Onitsha, are captured in the existing Calabar – Lagos railway project and the Port Harcourt – Maiduguri standard gauge new railway projects approved by the President.
“Let me just say that the Igbo nation should focus or solutions not recriminations. In what political direction should the Igbo go? Let the quarrel with the north real or imagined stop.
“Let the recriminations stop and let us join hands as one people to chart the way forward for a brighter future for Nigeria. We need to examine very carefully the Igbo political trajectory and learn crucial lessons of history.
“How did Jaja an Igbo slave found a multi ethnic state in Opobo and become the King with the consent of the people? How did Zik achieve national prominence and stature? We have an incredibly proud past, a rich political heritage forged in the most difficult circumstances. We must therefore focus on constructing the path to a proud future.
“The Igbo nation should engage with others and immerse itself fully in national politics just like Jaja and Zik did. The handshake across the Niger celebrated recently in Enugu by Ohaneze Ndigbo and Nzuko Umunna is welcome, but a handshake across the Benue is most desirable now.”
Describing PDP and the ruling All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in Anambra State as regional parties which do not hold hope for the Igbo, Amechi urged the Igbo to rather focus on the solutions to their problems in politics instead of recriminations, saying that part of the solution was to move into a national party after having been disappointed by sectional parties.