Chief John Nnia Nwodo who is the president-general of the Ohaneze Ndigbo has criticised the way the Igbo people in Nigeria are being treated and warned that Biafra may be the answer if nothing changes.
In an interview with Vanguard, the leader of the apex Igbo group said Igbo people are treated like second-class citizens by the Muhammadu Buhari administration and recalled that things were not better during the Goodluck Jonathan period.
He gave the example of when he was given an appointment by the former president but tore up the letter as he saw it as an insult.
He said: “Ever since the war ended, the state of federal roads in the South-East remains the same. The mineral resources still remain the same till today. Of recent, an Igbo was Minister of Petroleum, and for the first time in the history of Nigeria, the financial activities of NNPC were available by a click of the mouse to anyone in and out of Nigeria. You could see how much is being spent in a month. It was the first time NNPC posted profit.
He was rewarded with a demotion from minister to a directorship on NNPC’s board. I had been minister twice. All parastatals under a ministry report to the minister. Former President Goodluck Jonathan once appointed me to the governing council of a university. I tore the letter of appointment. I saw it as an insult. Not because of lack of humility but because he did not appreciate what I represented.
“It’s not me as a person, but imagine an Igbo man who has been appointed a minister twice and former presidential candidate to be reduced to the level of governing council member in a university in Igbo land. This is a man from South-South but he treated us the same way that the Buhari administration is treating us.
“I don’t desire any appointment by this administration, I have served my turn but these are clear examples of how Igbo are treated. I don’t think there are up to four Igbo commissioners of police in this administration in a place where you have not less than 40 commissioners of police. We have been found to be politically incompetent to handle security matters in Nigeria. But we have been found to be physically competent to be foot soldiers in the war front, especially the Boko Haram war where the level of mortality is high. This is not a true federation.
“In Lagos, we have Igbo who have built house approved by the government but had not been given certificate of occupancy by the government for more than 15 years. There are Igbo representatives in the Lagos State House of Assembly can’t we have at least one Igbo at the executive council?
“The Nigerian Customs charges Igbo twice the cost of clearing his goods through the sea ports. They pay at the ports and are waylaid on the roads and extorted. Our people are displeased and this has compounded anger in our youths and they have passed a vote of no confidence in us their fathers as not presenting their disgust and, so, have taken their destiny in their hands.”
Concerning the National Conferences that have been held in Nigeria, Nwodo said they have been unconstitutional which was why they have failed.
He said: “The foundation of both conferences by Obasanjo in 2005 and that of Jonathan in 2014 were undemocratic. Nobody elected those delegates to represent them. They were handpicked by the government and many saw it as selecting people you already know their point of view and who were going to produce something you want.
“Also, former President Jonathan did not show leadership in this regard. If he (Jonathan) really meant well, all Nigerians require is just a constitutional amendment. All that is required was for PDP members in the Senate to initiate it. And the PDP then had much majority to embark on it and the opposition would have agreed with them on many areas. But the political will was not there! When the report was produced what did he do with the report?
“It is like the problem of the Igbo. Why didn’t he build the second Niger Bridge? Why is the Enugu-Makurdi road the same way? Why is the Enugu-Port-Harcourt road the same way? Why is coal totally forgotten since the end of First Republic? Why are teaching hospitals in South-eastern Nigeria in comatose situation? The point is, you have to have the political will to change or initiate a constitutional conference.”