Eze, sir Steve Dike (KSJI), is the Eze Udo 1 of Igando/Ikotun Local Council Development Area (LCDA) in Alimosho, Lagos State. In this interview with INIOBONG IWOK, Eze Dike says the Igbos have been marginalised by successive administrations in Nigeria, he also assesses the Buhari administration among other issues?
How do you assess the President Muhammadu Buhari led All Progressives Congress (APC) administration, do you think the Igbo’s are being marginalised?
We can see for ourselves that he is working by what he said earlier; that those that gave him 97 percent votes would be taken care of;
while those that gave him five percent votes would be given five percent appointment, I don’t want to say he is marginalising Igbos, but it is obvious that the Igbos have been marginalised in this country since after the civil war by all successive administrations.
They are shortchanged in critical appointments; and even when they are appointed, they are teleguided. What is happening is a master servant relationship.
The military thought they did the Igbos a disservice after the civil war; all of us in the South East and South-South, we were all one until Aguiyi Ironsi created twelve states, it was met to break the Igbos, it is widely known.
And I have been to the South-South states of Akwa Ibom and Cross River and I saw a lot of the oil palms, if you look at the history of these palms; they were planted by the late Michael Opara and Akanu Ibiam.
The North was only successful in breaking the South East and South South, but the truth is we cannot make progress until we agree that we are one, that is only when we can make significant progress;
since they separated the South South from the South East what have their governments achieved? The way we are going, until we in the South agrees, we would never make progress.
What is happening is that: they would say we give you Senate President and they would go at the back and spoil it; they say we the Igbo’s are smart; but I believe we are positively smart.
The Nigerian system favours the elites, in every sector, even the electoral system, that is why it is difficult for the people to recall them.
What is happening now is that: they are busy enriching themselves, until the electoral system is credible and the people can vote for who they want;
things would continue to be bad, because it is only the few that are positioning themselves into positions. What is going on now is a master servant relationship.
But the Igbos have ruled and had their chance, Jonathan gave a lot of key appointments to Igbos?
It is not what you think, if you look at the history of the country, out of 57 years, the Igbos have only ruled for two or three years, there is little that can be done with such little time, more so when you have been teleguaided.
So I don’t believe that what you just said, gives us a chance to rule that is what we are demanding.
But one of your leaders, Orji Uzor Kalu said Buhari would get second term and also he would rule after him?
That is the view of Kalu, he is speaking for himself, he was once the governor of Abia State, let his conscience judge him, what did he do for his people? Did he perform while in office?
Igbos have a leader which is the head of Ohaneze and it is the group which can speak for the Igbos. Kalu is a politician and he is speaking the view of a politician.
What we are saying is that Buhari is not performing, the APC government came to power with promise of change, they have failed us, they have failed to deliver.
Nigerian’s are complaining, people are dying of hunger; let him go back and look at his house, a lot of his ministers are not even performing, let him do a thorough house cleaning and appoint the right people in the right places.
Are you in support of the Biafra agitation by IPOB?
When you beat a child and you say he should not cry; how is that possible; our youths are not happy with the state of affairs in the country.
A lot of them are graduates without jobs. We are being marginalized, there is no fairness and justice in doing things in Nigeria.
Look at what is happening in the federal schools entrance examination, either university or unity schools; you score certain mark and they say you cannot be admitted, while someone from a Northern state would score a low mark and be given admission.
They call it Federal character, is that fair? That is why there would be agitation in the country, because there is no justice.
Jonathan tried to establish Amajiri schools for them, yet he is not appreciated, that is the Nigeria that we are.
Do you support the call for restructuring?
It is either we restructure or we go our separate ways, is it not obvious that the present system is not working? There is too much concentration of resources at the centre; leaving the states empty.
What we need to do is to allow the state control their resources and contribute to the centre. We know this, how long are we going to continue with like this? The Jonathan confab report offers solutions to our problems, they have to go back to it.
APC said Jonathan handpicked the delegate?
There is no confab that the government would not have delegation. They were all asked to send delegations;
what happened was that people came from professional groups and ethnic nationalities, so I don’t know what they are saying. Our problem is that we put sentiment and tribe in everything we do.
Do you believe in the anti graft war?
Just forget, there is no anti graft war in the country; it is just propaganda; what is happening is just against certain people. Maina was returned, Dambazau who was accused by the previous administration, he was re-appointed, so what are you saying?
But Buhari just visited the South East?
This government have no plan for the people, the visit was all political; he cancelled the railway project without any due course, even projects executed by Jonathan,
there was no railway in the country until Jonathan came to try and execute some and this government came and cancelled them, why not look at the cost, if it is too much, you reduce it.
In developed countries you travel by rail; everybody cannot be on the road. With what Buhari is doing now, the Igbo states are neglected, imagine that, that is Buhari for you we know his history.
What is the essence of your office?
The essence of my office is to unite the lgbos here, we promote our culture, the way we dress, our language and even food. You know our children have traveled abroad, a lot of them are forgetting our tradition and culture; and we need to promote it.
We also try and settle disputes and disagreements among our people with others and within their family. When they buy property, there could be problems, that is when we come in.
What are the basic problems of Igbos here?
Our people have unemployment problem, you know Lagos being the former capital territory, a lot of people from the East come here to look for work and do business.
But naturally you know that we the Igbos are well traveled and there is no where you go in Nigeria that you would not find an Igbo man setting up business and they build houses were they reside, they even intermarry;
my wife is a Yoruba woman. There are things other tribes would not do.
But the Ebonyi State governor has endorsed Buhari for second term?
Our leaders are not the problem; what is happening is that they are telling Buhari what he wants to hear. Our people are not happy with the state of affairs in the country.
You finish school no job, with the resources God has blessed us with, we should not be in this position, and you are talking about second term for Buhari, let him go and contest if he would not lose.
If you look at the history of the country, out of 57 years, the Igbos have only ruled for two or three years, there is little that can be done with such little time, more so when you have been teleguaided. So I don’t believe that what you just said, gives us a chance to rule that is what we are demanding.
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