Former Minister of Health and a member of the Board of Trustees BoT of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Prof ABC Nwosu, in this interview speaks among others on the coming step for Igbo after losing out in the presidential primaries of the two major political parties, the All Revolutionaries Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Despite the agitations for Nigerian President of Igbo birth, the two major political parties, APC and PDP completely ignored the Igbo. How do you feel?
What happed at the primaries is wrong before man and God. It isn’t respectable to numerous Igbo people like me. It isn’t respectable that since independence in 1960, we’ve had chairpersons from the North, West and none from the main Igbo group. Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe was a conventional chairman.
They aren’t allowing of equity and justice but the Igbo have always allowed
of equity and justice. It wasn’t just and indifferent to ignore the South- West and it was decided that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Chief Olu Falae should dispute in 1999 and after that, it was moved to Ya’Adua and also to Jonathan and after that it went to Buhari. We expostulated that before a Fulani comes in for another term, it’s proper that the South- East should come by.
Anything that you’re talking about, is it capability that you’re talking about and the South- East isn’t there? From Zik, we have n’t had that capability? There are effects that I can not accept as a Nigerian and that’s that the people of South- East aren’t competent or less competent than people from other places. What’s it that’s wrong? If it’s because of the civil war, let everybody come out and open their mouths and say it, also we will bandy civil war and bury it. But you can not be sidelining the South- East and anticipate that all the disturbances we’re seeing in the South- East would stop. There’s so important injustice against the Igbo and that isn’t respectable.
Are you happy with what’s going on? If it does n’t make you happy, it does n’t make us happy. Peter Obi saw the conspiracy in PDP and left. You can not keep me there for completing number and keep using me to round you when indeed you do n’t feel I’m equal to you, have equal right with you, that I’ve equal citizenship right, you do n’t feel that I belong. It’s wrong. And that’s why I said it’s wrong before God and man.
Some people have expressed dissatisfaction that Peter Obi left PDP, they believe that he should n’t have left …
still, what would he be doing? Would his name still be on the ballot paper? You can not dispute when the PDP has produced a seeker through a primary, another member who queried and lost would not crop and can not put his name on the ballot paper, If Obi stayed in the PDP and was suggested out. Peter Obi saw what was going to be andleft.However, he’d have lost because everything had been decided behind him, If he’d stayed.
The other time, he was with Atiku Abubakar and numerous were allowing that as Atiku surfaced PDP presidential seeker, that Peter Obi would have been the vice presidential seeker …
Given the conditions, Atiku was to complete the term of Buhari because of the bad governance of APC under Buhari in 2019. Atiku would not have run this 2023 and the stopgap was that Peter Obi would have had experience under him for four times to dispute in 2023. So if Atiku does n’t win in 2023 and decides to run in 2027, Peter Obi won’t run until he has served under Atiku’s government? Was n’t Atiku in PDP? Did n’t he change to APC, and now back to PDP? Why should Peter Obi’s own be seen else? I’m still in PDP, I’m a member of the Board of Trustees of PDP. Everybody has his right to pursue his ambition under a party and if that party does n’t give him a chance, he has to look for a party that will give him a chance to fulfill his full citizenship rights.
How would you describe what happed at APC and PDP primaries?
We had hoped that the APC, according to what the northern governors said and according to what we were looking towards, might produce a South- East seeker. It did n’t. What each person does now would depend on that individual person. I might decide to go with the prevailing South- East opinion or decide to go with the prevailing party opinion where I’m a board of trustee member. But that would be when it reaches the time.
The general opinion has been that the politicians from the South- East are not united …
That’s a nonsense opinion. I call it nonsense opinion because the South- West did n’t bounce for Obasanjo. Were they united when they suggested in Obasanjo to come President? Was the North united when they suggested in President Ya’adua? Which place is united now? Do n’t you see the problem that the APC is working now. Are they united, indeed in the North? Why is it that whenever the South- East is mentioned, people say they aren’t united. Who’s united? The South- East deserves to be given the chance. I’ve been in the East for the once two weeks and I’m a politician and I interact with people and you say that the South- East isn’t united.
I’m soliciting you, do n’t believe this crazy opinion. Was the South- West united when Obasanjo came President? Is the South- West united now? Is the North united? Which place is united? You can not deny people their right by saying that they aren’t united to admit it. President Obasanjo in 1999 lost his polling cell, lost his original government and his state but he came President of Nigeria by popular vote. So why ca n’t it be and why should I be the person joining those transferring out this kind of opinion so as to discourage the South- East?
The release by INEC shows the South- East has the least number of registered choosers. What do you suppose about that?
We know, at a time of election, using the new electoral law, we might have surprises. When you have correct PVC, it’ll be recorded, the result will be transmitted. There may be no cultivated votes this time. So, how do you know figures? How? And it’s said that recreants die numerous times before their death. Why is it that notoriety can not say that I’ve full citizenship right in Nigeria and stand on it win or lose? As a citizen of Nigeria, I’ve the same right with every other citizen of Nigeria and stand on it, win or lose?
I was part of the civil war and I know that the same shadows are erecting up again. I can tell you, I was in final time in the university, I had to come out and join the Biafran Army and I was a Captain for three times rather of graduating. And I do n’t like what’s passing. What happed in the history was that we reached an agreement at Aburi and the people went against that agreement, and the war chants in Biafran was ‘ on Aburi we stand. ’ It wasn’t a problem or anything. We stand on the zoning and gyration agreement.
In 1995, under Abacha, Ojukwu and all the leaders, leading the South- Easteast with Ekwueme and everybody met in Abacha’s conference. They were tagged. And they went there and agreed, they drafted a constitution that would have been inked by Abacha before he failed which was that the administration shall rotate between the North and the South. I’ve the document. also the Jonathan conference, I was their member and we reaffirmed it. Why is it that some people feel that they’ve a right to change an agreement that has been reached? Why? And I ’m saying this isn’t right. This isn’t right before God and man, this is wrong. You treat each child of yours as you have treated the others. That’s a gospel that I grew up with, treat each child inversely. Let me put it else if you’re floundering for your right in your father’s emulsion, and your leg isn’t strong, and your voice isn’t strong, people should go and check your DNA. You may not be that person’s child. So, I’ve no problem again with the South- Eastinsisting.However, and your lines deprive you of it, you may be practicable to say that you’re outnumbered by your sisters, If you contend with all the muscle that you can muster. But it would be wrong for you to deny yourself that you’re your father’s child.
What the South- East is saying is that we’re also citizens ofNigeria.However, the civil war wasn’t fought because we were denying we aren’t our father’s child, If you say because the civil war was fought. The civil war was fought for a completely different reason each together and it’s left for your lines to accept that a people denied justice can not be interested in peace.
The President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo keeps saying it. Throughout history, go and tell me any people denied justice that will be interested inpeace.However, is it the peaceful family that believes I’m not my father’s son? Is that what you want me to be? That intelligence should change, If I’m saying let us be a peaceful family.
Do you suppose the Igbo still stand a chance in 2023 with what we’ve seen so far?
Did we stand a chance in the civil war? I ’m trying to say that you do n’t always do effects because you want to win. You can win and you can lose but you have made your point that you’re a full thoroughbred citizen of Nigeria. The only way you would have lost is if you’re quiet and refuse to speak. thus, let them treat you in any manner you can accept it and that’s the problem. We should be happy that some people are standing to their rights.
Abiola was denied administration and in the end what happed? numerous times after he was dead, he was reckoned with and because of it, the South- West was given a chance and the administration has had a chance of now amending it. Abiola is now a former chairman; Abiola has been given all rights andeverything.However, do you suppose these effects would have come? That’s why I told you that recreants die numerous times before their death, that’s Shakespeare, If they had said they did n’t stand a chance and kept quiet. The fact that you don’t stand a chance doesn’t give you a right to buttress and perhaps help peoplede-robe you so that they can rip you off your administration because they’ve a gun refocused to your head.
Why would you have a Nigeria where the South- West has been tagged by the rest of Nigerians, the North- West has been tagged by rest of Nigerians, the South- South has been tagged by the rest of Nigerians, the only people who can not be tagged by the rest of Nigerians are the South- East. Does it make sense? Of course if you appeal to the heart of the rest of Nigerians, they will, in the end do what’s practicable. .
Ohanaeze did say that the Igbo Presidential applicants shouldn’t accept vice presidential position. Do you agree with that?
That is what Ohanaeze still says and I support it 1000 percent. People have a proverb that says, “Rather than your cow running away completely, you cut off the tail.”
Some people are saying that it is better to play a second fiddle than not playing a fiddle at all?
Sometimes, it is best not to play any fiddle at all.
What is the problem with playing first fiddle? Everybody has played the first fiddle in Nigeria except South-East. Why is it that it is right for every other part of Nigeria to play first fiddle, except the South-East? And they are expected to be content playing second fiddle till thy kingdom come.
So in other words, if South-East cannot play the first fiddle other fiddles would go?
My opinion is, we should wait until we can play first fiddle before they think that we are too satisfied to play second fiddle, that we are not prepared to play first fiddle. Where it gets upsetting is because the problem facing Nigeria is very complex. Those who think it’s business as usual, that when they are presidents, they’ll dash away and give their friends huge contracts, it will not be the same. Now, you have to stop insecurity that is all over the country. We were in this country, I still have my passport where one thousand Nigerian pounds got you more than seven thousand dollars. Some of us went to the best schools in the world, children of illiterate mothers, children of poor fathers and palmwine tappers went to some of the best schools. I know I went to a government college in the East and I know that in my set, there was nothing called Division Three or failing. I took school certificate just a year after the present head of state. I am a 1962 WASC holder and it was WASC not WAEC. I had a class mate whose father was a palmwine tapper, his one eye was taken by cataract, he had five distinctions and the children of ministers didn’t pass. These were the leaders we produced.
In the East it was Opara, in the West it was Awo. Are we thinking of such things? It was the human capital that enabled us to grow so fast and now what do we see? Your father is not rich enough to send you to a private school, you go to a village school and then whatever you get is why nobody can make correct sentence. Where did those people study after going to local schools in Nigeria? They went to Harvard, Cambridge and people like me went to Imperial College where we distinguished ourselves. It doesn’t happen now and we are eating up the future, we are not satisfied with eating up the present. These are serious problems that would face a president, not to talk of being in a church and you can see the number that died and you see the governor is livid with anger.
There were people who did it and they are all human beings but each time we do these things, it diminishes humanity. Each time this happens and the government allows it, it diminishes that government’s legitimacy because the first rule of government is protection of life and property. How would you feel as a person alive and your wife and children went to mass that day without you and such a story emerges? For anyone who knows the Catholic Church, we know that the Mass is the highest. I am a Catholic I am passionate about this.
These things are not right, they should be able to say as individuals, as government that these actions are wrong before God and man. If we’re not able to say that, then we are not humans, we are less than humans.
That also brings us to the killings happening in the South-East, the destruction of properties, the kidnappings and killings and whenever it happens it is usually attributed to the IPOB and ESN
IPOB has been screaming at the top of its voice that it is not responsible for those things, that there are infiltrators who have been planted to give the South-East a reason for not producing the president. Nobody has investigated this, nobody has brought to book all the people responsible for all these deaths to try them. I have received some death calls and when it became intense, we wanted these death calls investigated and I had to travel out when Dr. Chike Akunyili was killed because I had death calls.