Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has said that the much-needed peace in Nigeria will remain elusive in the face of injustice against certain sections of the country.
The Governor who featured in an exclusive interview, “Nigeria now with Dickson Iroegbu,” in Abuja, noted that the agitation for self determination being championed by the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, was as a result of glaring injustice being perpetrated against the South-East by the Nigerian Government.
According to him, “It is difficult to find peace wherever injustice pesters. Nnamdi Kanu is saying that if we are not wanted, could we go?
“There are three options available to every man: integrate me, let me be part of it and the other one, endure untill you die or exit but the system is saying: endure untill you are annihilated. The leadership of the nation is not engaging.”
Gov. Ikpeazu denied any notice before the September 17, 2017, military invasion of Afaraukwu Ibeku country home of the IPOB Leader.
He rather explained that the Army Commander at that time, came to his office to inform him that he had orders to arrest Nnamdi Kanu.
“I was not told that anything like that (invasion) was going to happen. I only saw the GOC who was at Enugu that time, he showed up in my office and told me that he will arrest Nnamdi Kanu.
“I asked him why? He said he had orders to arrest him. I told him to give me few hours and he obliged. I called the traditional rulers and asked them to talk to Nnamdi’s father who was a traditional ruler to persuade Nnamdi to come and have a word with the GOC, but Nnamdi Kanu refused, saying he was under seige already in his house. I didn’t know that the soldiers were already everywhere.”
Speaking further, the governor said that “what is happening in the South-East now is as a result of total disregard of the interest of the South-East people by the Government at the centre.”
“What has happened in the South-East is a combination of all manner of things. One is the total disregard of the interest of the South-East by the center and flagrant and provocative comments from both Government and various elements and characters.”
He said he was among those who first supported the clamour for the Nigeria President of Igbo extraction, but he decided to support Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers State after observing a high conspiracy against the Igbo.
“My argument and my support was for a President of Igbo extraction. First of all , the conversation of how a person can become a President in a country like Nigeria that is multi- dimensional, multi-lingual, multi-cultural requires that you engage and you talk about it.
“You would want to convince people, and in doing that, you must be strategic on how to play the politics of emergence. I said the first thing to do as a Governor is to first of all begin to say that the Presidency must come to the South and we met in Lagos.
“For us, my strategy was for us to get it in the South so that we can begin to micro zone. I discovered that the conspiracy against the Igbo man is palpable. You can feel it, you can touch it.
“My support for a South-Easterner is not necessarily that we haven’t taken a shot at the presidency, but because the Igbo man believes in Nigeria than any other tribe.
“The Igbo man is not even prepared to abandon Sambisa for any terrorist or any bandit. We can trade in Sambisa. For that, we have demonstrated our Nigerianess. If there is a people who believes in one Nigeria, it is an Igbo man.
“For instance, Presidency is important, but of greater important to an Igbo man is whatever that can facilitate Trade and Commerce.”
Ikpeazu explained that he opted for Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State because he was a man that had the courage and has the capacity to call a spade a spade.
The Governor, however said that despite the way the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, treated the South-East, the zone would stick to PDP than dump the party.
“The people of the South-East can only treat people bad if they have a better option: fire is not better than frying pan, there is no point comparing an elephant with an ant, PDP understands and manages our mechanisms better.”
Gov. Ikpeazu disagreed with the opinion by many that the senate is a retirement place for ex-Governors, arguing that the red chamber is rather a place for higher responsibility.
Ikpeazu who is the PDP senatorial flag bearer for Abia South said that if given the mandate, he would use it to connect the state to the national Government.
“My people in Abia South need somebody that can plug them to the center and see how we can leverage on policies at the Federal level and complement policies at the State level.”