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The problem with Igbo presidency Ė Nzeribe

Posted by By VAL OKARA, Owerri on 2006/11/13 | Views: 1005 |

The problem with Igbo presidency Ė Nzeribe

The division among the Igbo of the South-East may cost them the much-prized presidency in 2007, maverick politician, Senator Arthur Nzeribe, has warned.

The division among the Igbo of the South-East may cost them the much-prized presidency in 2007, maverick politician, Senator Arthur Nzeribe, has warned.

The controversial lawmaker says the lack of consensus and inability of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the pan-Igbo socio-cultural group, to command total allegiance from the people are the greatest obstacles to the emergence of a president of Igbo extraction next year.

His words: "For instance, in 1999, Ohanaeze was urging Igbo to vote for Chief Olu Falae Ė the call was ignored. The Ohanaeze doesnít have enough argument or power to enforce its wish in Igboland and so long as that persists, I donít think the dream of president of Igbo extraction will be realised with the amount of division we have now.

"And most important of all, and I say this with all due respect, I have not seen that giant that will come to the scene and everybody else will subsume himself under that giant. It is not there and that is what is causing the problem we have. The people desiring the job are all on the same level, on the same platform. It is difficult for you to make judgment in favour of one or the other. It is unfortunate and I hope it will change."
Nzeribe, who spoke in an interview with Daily Sun shares his views on other national issues.


EFCC and its operations
I donít subscribe to the idle talks that EFCC is being used to hunt anybody. I believe EFCC was necessary in the circumstance the country was in terms of corruption . The EFCC is doing a good job and I believe in what they are doing. I say that the commission needs more assistance to enable them to perfect what they are doing. There is no doubt that the advent of EFCC into our body polity is a good development .

Impeachment saga in some states
If somebody in the executive arm of government deserves to be impeached, then impeach him. Impeachment should have nothing to do with time, all because you are going to leave office in six months time then you say donít impeach, condone corruption and pretend you donít see it because time is over.

Political zoning system in Imo State
To the best of my knowledge and I have been around for a long time, I do not know of any negotiated or arranged zoning system. As long as I have joined politics here, this talk about zoning has always been there but it has never been respected by anybody because it has not been pre-arranged. But I do listen attentively to people who are arguing moral issues not a political issue. They are arguing that Orlu zone hadnít been continuous for eight years.

It will not be moral to have Orlu man coming for another eight years because anybody who wins for the first term will like to go for the second term, which means that if an Orlu person wins in 2007, they would have been in office for 16 years. It is a delicate thing to pursue because if you see it politically Orlu people will say nothing has been negotiated and every time we had won, you have challenged us, why do we give it to you now on a platter of gold but somebody may come and argue intelligently that it is not a political matter, it is a moral issue. There is a song in Igboland that says "Manu akara di uto, onye rara ibeya arara." The thing will ease out by the time we finish the primaries.

Threats by OPCA and your future political aspiration
Who are the people called Orlu Consultative Peoples Assembly? I donít know them, they donít exist . Are you saying that each time a bunch of rascals come together and make a claim you should listen to them? In whose mandate are they speaking? I have not spoken to them and I will not speak to them. If they feel that they want to support a candidate, they are free to do that all in the name of democracy but I wouldnít succumb to their blackmail. It is not even intimidation because they donít have the courage to intimidate somebody. They are just blackmailers.

You have picked PDP form for Senate, making fifth time if you win in 2007. Why donít you allow younger politicians go for Orlu zone?
The constitution allows me to run for 100 times. There is no limitation to how many terms a legislator could run in terms of the constitution . As to the matter of stepping down, it is a matter only I can decide but I feel that even at 68 years I still have some senatorial fire to move on . And, so long as I have that, I donít want to be dishonest with my people by letting them lose the disadvantages of my experience . As you know the Senate is the highest chamber of lawmaking in Nigeria and it requires some qualities in certain people. It requires some experience and in-depth knowledge about the society we are operating and if I donít run now, the experience I have gained would have been lost. So why are you in a hurry? If you feel that you donít need me anymore, you have a way of expressing it. Go to the poll and donít vote for me but so long as the people are assessing me and voting for me and most important I have the health and the stamina to go through it for another four years, I should oblige them.

Why did you support third term?
Because my opinion and the requirement of what you called third term was justifiable. It is not third term for the purpose of third term and I think we should take it along as a package with regards to the constitutional changes we are aiming at Ė that is, the amendments. We wanted to make it as a whole. And, unfortunately for different political reasons some sections of the country did not want any amendment to the constitution but then, the frontal bullet they were shooting was against third term. The third term was the convenient way for saying that we donít want constitutional changes, that was exactly what happened.
I supported third term, and I still support it. I have no regret. If the issue starts again tomorrow I will vote the same way because it is desired. The constitution we have now is very lopsided and there is nothing wrong in amending the constitution as time goes on.

Few months into the life of this current Obasanjo-led government, you raised some impeachment moves against the president, what is your position now?
President Olusegun Obasanjo has done very well in the last seven and half years he had piloted the affairs of this country.

Advice for politicians now that elections are drawing near?
You know something , apparently I believe that I am the best politician Nigeria has ever produced. I donít just claim it . I believe it, so if you ask me what is good politics in Nigeria, I will tell you emulate Senator Arthur Nzeribe, realistic, simple, pragmatic and straight forward. It is as simple as that, give the voters a choice and make them feel it should be Arthur not Uche.

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