Izuogu: Kingibe Offered Me Secretary to Govt to Work Against Abiola: As reported by Chris Njoku of The Nation Online during an interview, Dr. Ezekiel Izuogu, a renowned politician, elder statesman and BoT member of the APC spoke on the journey so far and said that the unity of the nation is of paramount importance in our march to democratic rule.
In this interview, he said Nigeria has the resources to overtake Japan.
So far how would you describe our march to democratic rule?
It is not very impressive, I must tell you. I am a member of the APC Board of Trustee (BoT) and a National caucus member but they don’t invite me to meetings, because they want to monopolise decision-making in the party. This is not democracy and that’s not progressive. Progressive politics is that you have to invite all the people concerned to discuss issues affecting the party. I am over 70 years now. I have been in politics for more than 40 years; I have been the National Chairman of political parties in Nigeria. And you don’t invite me when decisions are being taken because you want to maneuver things. But maneuvering will not work. It has a hitch point.
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Who are the people you are talking about?
I am speaking to the leadership in a very polite way, they should change styles, they should seek our views on certain matters happening in the APC. For instance in Edo State, I have been in Edo State for many years. I know all their wards and everything about them. Adams Oshiomhole knows me well, they should seek for elders’ views or invite us to hear our discussion and the opinion we have over the affairs of the party.
What is your opinion about things happening in Edo State?
The Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki under democracy law worldwide, in America and other places, as a governor holding a position, is entitled to be the candidate of the party. That’s the number one decision. The governor, who is an incumbent, is entitled to be the candidate of the party in an election. He cannot be challenged. He should be allowed to contest the election for the APC in order for the party to win the election. I have only met the governor once or twice. I would advise Comrade Adams Oshiomhole not to allow a personal quarrel to affect the APC. Any personal quarrel he has with the governor, who we helped to install in 2015, should not be allowed to affect the APC as a party in the coming elections.
I want to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to intervene as the leader of the party; he should intervene and allow the incumbent governor of Edo to run for the election. That’s the only way to respect democracy. If the man was good enough to be nominated in 2015 and he ran and won against the PDP, why should you remove him now that the situation is very high? They should not do the wrong thing. I am a democrat in the party. I am not gaining anything from Obaseki; he is not my friend, I am not going for any contract, but do the right thing for the fear of God.
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How would you assess issues at the national level?
President Muhammadu Buhari should shift back to democracy. Let him run the APC as a progressive party. In the progressive party, the people hold the ace because it is the members of the APC that nominated the President for the second term. If the members had refused to nominate him, he would not have gone for the president again. So, the members of the party are powerful, all power belongs to them and they should be respected. I want to advise President Buhari to respect the members of the APC, their opinion as far as the party is concerned is final. I supported Buhari in 2015 to become the president but each time he is going around, he refused to invite me to advise him. I have told him, Mr. President I want to see you, he said okay my boy I will call you when I come from China until today he has not called me. But during the election, he regarded my opinion and I consulted with him, I advised him and he listened, but now that he is the President why is he not listening to me again? Is that democracy?
What was your relationship with MKO Abiola?
I was very close to Abiola. I discussed with Abiola right inside his bedroom. That was where I gave my advice to him and he respected democracy. It is the people in Jos that nominated him as the presidential candidate of SDP. I organised all the eastern delegates to vote for Abiola. Babagana Kingibe came to me and say please support me and I will give you Secretary to the Government. I said Kingibe you are my friend but I am committed to MKO Abiola; that’s the person we are supporting. Kingibe’s people did everything possible to get me to shift ground but I refused. I told him I cannot shift ground. Arthur Nzeribe was supporting him and I told him to let Nzeribe make you whatever he wants you to be and we went to the field and Kingibe was defeated. Kingibe is my friend until tomorrow, but I supported MKO Abiola because Abiola respected democracy. Let Buhari respect democracy.
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What is your view on the unity of this country so far?
Yes, the unity of Nigeria is very important because you cannot have a country without unity. It is the unity that makes a country formidable and a lot of things happening in Nigeria are not helping that unity. Some people cannot be arrested when they commit crimes, because they associated with a particular tribe. That’s not good for the unity of the country. No tribe should be treated specially. So, these are things the President should look into, let him balance the country; let his opinion of every Igboman, Yorubaman, Hausaman, Fulaniman, Ijawman, Tivman be normal, give them their positions based on their capability as faithful Nigerians. Don’t favour people because they are Moslems, Christians, Hausa-Fulani. No, that is not democracy. We should not degenerate to politics of religion; it is destroying the country. It is not good for the unity of the country. Let us change our opinion about it and the country will make progress.
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For 2023, people are saying that power should be shifted. Do you agree to this?
Of course, the power should go to the Southeast. You know that very well as a progressive. Anybody that wants to be the President should be patient, let an Igboman go after four years, then anybody can now take over. For now, let’s be kind-hearted towards the Igbo.
What is the way forward?
Do the right thing in Nigeria. Nigerians are good people. If you are doing good things among them, they will be very happy with you no matter the tribe they come from, they can be loyal. I have led political parties in Nigeria; Nigerians were very loyal to me. Abubakar Remi of Kano wanted to make me his running mate when he wanted to run for president; Solomon Lar was like my father, Lateef Jakande, Bola Ige, Sam Mbakwe, Jim Nwaobodo, every one of them was happy with me because I was doing the right thing. I never allowed money to influence my decision. In Lagos they wanted to compromise me even with women and money, they all failed woefully.
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