2023: Only South-West, South-East Disagreement Can Keep Power In North – Ahamba - |Ads4naira Blog|

2023: Only South-West, South-East Disagreement Can Keep Power In North – Ahamba

Wilfred Eya
Elder statesman and Senior Advocate of
Nigeria (SAN), Chief Mike Ahamba, has
cautioned that the deteriorating security
situation in the country could force
Nigerians to employing private armies to
protect themselves. In this interview, he
spoke on several national issues.
There is no contention that the greatest
challenge facing every Nigerian today is
that of security to his life and property. At
the moment, no state is free from the
deteriorating security situation. How do you
feel as a Nigerian today?
It is very worrisome and everywhere you
see two people sitting together, all you hear
them talk about is the deteriorating security
situation in Nigeria. It looks like the
government has lost grip on security and
they have to do something about it. If it
means changing the service chiefs, let them
be changed and let others try. The situation
is horrible. Today ( Friday 23), I went to
Port Harcourt and we were delayed a long
time by armed robbers in the Owerri/Port
Harcourt road. The officers of the Nigerian
Customs Service came and the people ran
away. And between Owerri and Port
Harcourt, they have more than 20
checkpoints but the armed robbers took
over one of the checkpoints and mounted
their operation in that place. I do not want
us to get to the stage of South America at
a particular time when people had to have
private armies in order to survive. May God
not allow us get to that level! Insecurity is
everywhere and it is terrible. Wherever you
see two responsible Nigerians sitting now,
what they are certainly discussing is the
insecurity situation.
From your vantage position, do you think it
is the failure of government to properly
address it or there is more to the ugly
development. All manner of conspiracy
theories have been used to interpret the
situation but do you think, it is the
government that should be blamed for not
doing its job?
I do not think the government has done all
it can do. They have to consider the
personnel who are in charge of the different
sectors whether they will be sacked or
retained. That is how governance is done. I
do not believe that anybody is perpetrating
the insecurity from outside the country.
What is happening in Nigeria is local.
People who are into kidnapping do that
because of the bad state of the economy
and it is dangerous. The government in
charge should take care of the situation.
Aside the issue of security, how do you feel
about the atmosphere of hopelessness and
despondency among the people in the
country?
The problem is the economy. There are
many people who ought to be comfortable
today but they are not. There is an Igbo
proverb that says that all lizards are lying
with their belly on the ground and you do
not know the one that has bellyache. There
are many prominent people in Nigeria today
who like the lizards are lying down with
their belly on the ground and you do not
know among them who have bellyache. So,
when the people who can help the poorer
ones are in trouble, you know that there is
calamity coming. The problem should be
addressed as a serious issue. It should not
be politicized or ethnicised at all.
Are you comfortable with the slow pace of
government considering that most sectors
need quick and urgent action? I ask this
question because of the length it took the
government to constitute the new cabinet.
And looking at the cabinet, how do you
feel?
I think that is what the president wants. He
has the discretion to choose who he wants,
so let us see how it works.
The divide between the North and South
seems to be widening by the day; what is
the problem and when are we going to
achieve real unity in the country? It depends
on what you mean by the North. Already,
the Middle Belt people have said they are
not part of the North. So, the configuration
has changed a lot in the country but the
conflict between the northernmost North
and the rest of the country, something
should be done about it because creating
dichotomy is not good at all. Everybody
must be realistic and objective, otherwise,
the calamity will overtake all of us. People
are complaining everywhere and nobody
should pray for an armed conflict in this
country. It will be devastating. I have said it
that if it happens again in Nigeria, what
happened in Rwanda will be a joke
considering the depth of anger in the
country now. May God not allow it to
happen and government should be
conscious of it.
What are your projections ahead of 2023
especially with regards to the position of
some prominent Northerners that power
should remain in the North after President
Buhari’s second term?
It is unfortunate if they insist that it should
remain in the North. I think there is a
gentleman agreement among the parties on
this issue that power should alternate
between the North and South even though
there is no such thing in our constitution. If
the people you are talking about insist that
it must remain in the North, it means they
do not believe in the unity of this country.
And if the Southerners accept it, that is their
own business. They cannot enforce it if the
South says no. The problem is that if the
East and West start fighting over the whole
thing, the North should take it. Fairness
demands that the North should relinquish
power in 2023 to the South, and this time,
the East should have it. This is my humble
opinion about the matter.
Do you think politicians in the East are
prepared enough to take the opportunity
when it calls? The question comes against
the backdrop of the disagreements that
usually characterize politics in that zone. A
recent case in point was the deluge of
criticisms that trailed the emergence of
Peter Obi as vice to Atiku Abubakar in the
last presidential election.
Where has there been a consensus on that
in Nigeria? There have always been
disagreements and eventually an
agreement. Many people will come out; you
do not expect that one person will shoot
out from somewhere and be acceptable to
everyone. A lot of interested parties will
come and what we are saying is that when
that time comes, from the nature of the
popularity of that person, acceptability
should I say from other parts of the country,
one person will emerge from there. The last
time, we left power to the North. In PDP,
people challenged Atiku but in the APC,
nobody challenged Buhari. In 2011, he was
challenged. So, this question of the Igbo not
speaking with one voice, where is it that
people always speak with one voice? I do
not know why this thing is associated with
the Igbo and unless somebody shoots out
from somewhere and he is accepted by all,
then the Igbo cannot speak with one voice.
There are many people who would consider
themselves qualified but only one would
emerge and that is democracy. I do not see
where it is stated as a rule that the Igbo do
not agree on anything. We agree on things
in democratic circumstances but we are
republican in nature.
The recent assigning of portfolios is
currently generating controversy following
what appeared like the lopsided nature of it.
What is your take on that?
Your paper just published my interview
about not obeying the geographical spread
that is in our constitution. All I can say is
that in the National Assembly, you do not
have only people from the North West
alone. The composition of the people in the
legislature is more important than the
person sitting in the executive position.
Members of the National Assembly should
begin to know when infractions begin to
arise and know how to go about it. So, if
the National Assembly allows such a thing
to occur, Mike Ahamba as an individual
cannot do anything about it.
With the mood of hopelessness and
uncertainty in the country, do you agree
with those who suggest that Nigerians
should organize another dialogue again
when several of such efforts in the past did
not yield any fruits? The conference we had
in 1977/78 yielded results and we had the
1979 constitution. What we should do now
is for the National Assembly to sit down
and enact an act that would provide for a
Constituent Assembly or a national
conference. That body when it makes a
proposed constitution, it can then be sent
for a plebiscite as provided in the
Constituent assembly act and we may take
it from there. But if we just go for jaw
jawing as we did last time, it will end there
and everyone goes on. If the purpose of the
National conference was to send an
amendment to the constitution or to do a
new one, and an act enacted to back up
that responsibility, I do not think the waste
of time people are talking about would have
happened. So, before we go jaw jawing
again, there must be an act backing up that
situation. Without an act, it is another
waste of time and that act must make
provision that whatever decision there, as
properly made, must be subjected to a
plebiscite.
Some people believe that only the rotational
presidency arrangement can stabilize the
nation. Do you subscribe to that position?
I have never agreed with rotation but it
appears that most Nigerians think that it is
the only way out. We are only looking for an
easy way out and not a comprehensive way
out. Now, when you restate it, it appears
that whoever comes out from that
arrangement, you are bound to accept him
whether he is competent or not. I do not
know whether people realize that point but
we now have a mental rotation in this
country; if the fact that power should
alternate between the North and South has
been mentally agreed by Nigerians, why
don’t we go that way. Now, it has been to
the South and the South West and South
South have had their chance. It has also
been to the North and the North West has
had its chance, and if it comes back to the
South, it is only natural that the South East
should take their chance. If only we agree
that we are brothers and should be our
brother’s keeper, it is only fair that the
South East should take their chance when
power comes back to the South. It is just
that people who are interested in positions
want it the way it would favour them for
their own personal interests. Nobody is
thinking about our children and
grandchildren. It is unfortunate but my view
is this, let us for now leave it as it is
because we cannot go and make a special
law, saying it should rotate. That will be a
major constitutional amendment. I will
continue to say it. So, what we do is, it has
gone to the North and after President
Buhari, it should come to the South and the
East should have it. Even though candidates
of other zones could come out but the
voters should vote them out for fairness and
justice. When you know that if you go
against the people’s wish, people will vote
against you, the effort to do that in future
will diminish. In Nigeria, we apply quick
solutions to create new problems.
As an elder statesman from the South East,
how do you feel with the attack on
Ekweremadu by those alleged to be IPOB
members in Germany?
I feel very bad about it. We must accept
that out there, assaulting politicians publicly
is nothing new. What I am bothered about
is the threat that any political leader who
traveled out should be attacked. As far as I
am concerned, that is a terrorist statement
and IPOB members should take care that
they do not embarrass those who have
been defending them. Two, if they think they
are talking about the interest of the Igbo, I
think it is anti-Igbo to go and attack a man
who came to associate with you on
invitation. Did you invite him there to have
him killed? Three is that the leaders should
now warn themselves that all that glitters is
not gold. Did Ekweremadu not go to pay
courtesy call on Nnamdi Kanu when he
came back from detention? We have to be
circumspect when we take positions if we
know that we are political leaders; but in
all, I think it was most unfortunate. It was
anti Nigeria and anti Igbo and a disgrace to
our national image abroad. With the threat
that nobody should come, I know that a well
organized intelligence agency in the West
would take care of the situation.
People would not stop asking questions on
the anti corruption war of President Buhari’s
administration. Do you expect an
intensification of the war in this second
term of Buhari?
Let us hope there would be an
intensification of the war against corruption
but when you make people who are
standing trials ministers, what do you
expect people to say? So, let us hope for
the best. Some people may have been
accused falsely; even, I have been accused
falsely and anybody could be accused
falsely and that should not be the
disqualifying factor. Until you get the person
convicted, you cannot stop him. I believe
that there should be improvement and
across the board fight against corruption. It
should not be a fight against only PDP
members and other parties to the exclusion
of the APC.
What significant difference do you expect
President Buhari to make in this second
term? Anybody without expectation or hope
for the better is dead and I am not dead. I
can only expect that tomorrow will be better
than today.
The economy is not looking good at all and
Nigeria has not been able to achieve the
much talked about diversification of her
economy. What is your view on the state of
the economy especially against fears that
the nation may still go back to recession
again if care is not taken?
I tell you that so long as we depend on one
aspect of our economy for survival, we
continue to run the risk of poverty. I said it
before that those days we used to produce
groundnut and hides and skin in the North;
in the South West, we had cocoa which led
to the tarring of roads, free education and
all that, and in the East, palm oil led to
industrialization. But when oil came, people
abandoned all those areas. It will take one
or two governors going back to the
mentality of Okpara and Awolowo to solve
these problems. It is not an issue of
national debate. Anambra State is already
doing that; thanks to a man like Peter Obi
who laid the foundation when he was the
governor of the state. If others do it, all
these things would end. It is not a question
of debate; it is deciding what to do and
doing it. That starts by electing the right
persons.
You are one of the foremost lawyers in this
country; what do you think are the major
challenges facing the judiciary in this
country?
First of all, we must have a better way of
selecting the people who enter it in the first
place. You know that when you appoint a
High Court judge, you have appointed a
potential Supreme Court Justice. Therefore,
the search for confidence must start from
there. So, we must not just look at the 10
years experience but how the person spent
the 10 years. So long as we make mistakes
in the appointment, some would bring bad
image to the majority. In my book that will
soon come out, I discussed these things. I
made it a point of campaign when I was
running for the presidency of the bar. We
have to look at the source of our problems
before looking at the solutions; we treat
effects and not cause. That is one major
problem that we have in Nigeria.
What is your view on the killing of Nigerians
in several parts of the world particularly in
South Africa? Do you think we are doing
enough as a nation to discourage this ugly
development?
It is very unfortunate. First of all, I want
you to think about the statement of a higher
security official in South Africa. He said that
most of the killings of Nigerians were done
by Nigerians. That is a very serious point
we must not ignore. Remember that
recently, somewhere in Anambra State, a
quarrel or disagreement in South Africa was
taken to a church and resulting in many
deaths. We also have to ask ourselves,
what type of businesses are our people
engaged in? We must find out how we are
carrying out our businesses in that place
and whether we are doing it under
internationally accepted standards. Why are
we rushing to South Africa and coming back
with large wealth? That wealth belongs to
some people who are being deprived of their
resources and in such a case, some people
may take revenge. That is the possibility of
what could happen.
What are your greatest fears for this
country?
My greatest fears are that people do not
appreciate the consequences of their
actions and the consequences of their
actions may not be what they anticipate.
And when such a thing happens, everybody
would be a victim. Anarchy is nobody’s
friend. Our people say that you do not
throw a pebble into the market because you
do not know who it would hit. It could be
your mother even. That statement came
when the average community was just a
village. We can expand it to mean the whole
country. What you do today, you may not
know whether it would be against you
tomorrow. I think that the solution to our
problems in Nigeria is to be less parochial
and more patriotic. Once we do that, I can
assure you that 80 per cent of our problems
in this country would disappear. These
things happen as a consequence of human
nature and disagreements. What makes a
nation is how they handle the problems that
confront them. So, for every incumbent
administration, when there is a problem,
they should confront it no matter who is
involved even if he is your father or brother.
That is the only way out, otherwise, the
country would not move forward.
As President Buhari settles down for a
second term, what is your advice to him?
Let him find out what he did wrong in his
first tenure and correct them. Let him not
repeat what he did that was wrong. First of
all, he must have to take care of the
massacring of human beings in villages in
some parts of the country including the
North. It does not speak well of an
administration. An administration that
cannot protect the lives of its citizenry is
not a good one. Security is the main issue
and he must do something about it and
everybody should support him to do
something about it.

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