First Republic Minister of Aviation, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, in this interview, speaks on insecurity in the South-East, especially the recent incidents in Anambra State where governorship election is scheduled to hold on November 6.
What do you make of the insecurity in the South-East, especially Anambra State?
The insecurity in the South-East is not anything to compare with the insecurity in the North, especially in Kaduna State. The insecurity in Katsina State, Niger State and Benue State is caused by herdsmen. The insecurity in Zamfara State is also caused by herdsmen. It later extended to Ondo and Ogun States which led to the formation of Amotekun. There is insecurity all over the country. It is not limited to the South-East. It is an unpleasant development. And it is not good enough. Whether it is in North, East, West, or South, it is not good.
Are you surprised that insecurity is speedily taking over the South-East?
In the South-East, those responsible for the insecurity we are witnessing are unknown. Government is of the view that it is IPoB, but IPoB has said they are not involved. IPoB said their weapon of agitation is not violence. And many believe them because they have not been involved in violence even when they are attacked. The other form of insecurity in the South-East is caused by herdsmen. They will carry guns and lead their cattle to cause devastation, kill, maim people and rape women.
They are never arrested. And the few of them that are arrested and handed over to the police following public outcry are always released. And you see them on the streets again doing the same thing. We really want to contain insecurity in the South-East. That is the main reason I have initiated a move to bring peace to the region. And I am waiting for the reaction of everybody including the federal government. I want them to react to my move and if they react to the move, we will dig it out. I am assuring stakeholders and government that if they follow my move in the South- East, there will be peace.
Some Igbo are of the view that IPOB isn’t responsible for the killings and destruction of public infrastructures. They are accusing fifth columnist. Also, Governor Obiano accused his colleagues of sponsoring insecurity in Anambra.
There was an incident in Imo State a few days ago. The police or the Army were pursuing somebody they called unknown gunman and, in the process, they killed the man and it turned out that the man was not an unknown gunman but a DSS officer. Who are the unknown gunmen? What is happening in the South-East? That could tell you that IPoB is not involved. About the claim by the governor of Anambra State against his colleagues, that is why I said that in the course of the move I have initiated, we would find out those responsible. Dialogue is part of our programme. We would see the IPoB, government and other organizations so that we can dig out the cause. It may come from one side or the other. Insecurity may come from different sources. For example, in the West, insecurity is from many sources, not just from herdsmen. There may be many factors fueling insecurity in the South- East. It can be stopped. If there is any kind of insecurity that originates from Igboland and it is confirmed that it actually originated from Igboland, I assure them that with my position and life today in Nigeria and the respect Ndigbo have for me, all things being equal and if there is at least, elementary understanding of what they are saying, it will stop.
Also, this insecurity in the South-East is constantly being linked to IPoB because of the Eastern Security Network, ESN, but IPoB keeps distancing itself from the violence. What is your take?
I do not know about the ESN in all the South-East states. It is only in Orlu, Imo State, which is near me that we had signs of ESN operatives some time ago. Apart from that, there is no other part of the Eastern Region that I have heard about ESN. And ESN was formed to protect the Igbo communities against the invasion of cattle rearers. That is all I know about ESN.
Many are of the view that Igbo elites are not doing enough on the IPoB matter. Do you agree?
I don’t know what you call Igbo elites. Are you talking of the governors? If you are talking about the governors and politicians in power, well, I will say that if the governors and the politicians do not act the way they should act, being that they are senior citizens in these states in whom the ordinary man should listen to, the ordinary Igbo man would listen to you and I. They would take us seriously more than the governors and other politicians. The ordinary man in the street in Igboland and some states.
I assure you, would listen to community leaders and people of my class. They listen to us more than they listen to the governors and politicians, who are afraid of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFFC. All the governors are afraid of EFCC because the federal government dangles EFCC as a sword of Damocles over their heads. Many are afraid of EFCC. So, they cannot even speak a word against any issue against their people.
President Buhari has been accused in some quarters of creating the current unrest in the once peaceful region with the first and second arrest of Kanu?
Nnamdi Kanu is on trial. He was illegally arrested and brought back to Nigeria the same way they tried to bring back Alhaji Umaru Dikko during Buhari’s first regime. I would not want to comment on that because Nnamdi Kanu’s issue somehow affects the security situation on his side. And it would be subjudice since the matter is in court. I can’t talk about it, but his issue is vital to the situation in Igboland today.
Do you think the marginalisation of the South-East by this administration is real?
Is it hidden? Who does not see it? Only the blind would fail to see it. Of course, marginalisation of the South- East is obvious. It is not hidden. Yes, marginalization of the South-East is a cardinal policy of this government. In what area has it not been shown? Is it in the civil service? Is it in public appointments? Is it in appointments of security personnel? Is it in political appointments? Is it in government portfolios allotted to South-East? Is it in terms of development? Don’t you travel on the South-East roads? Are there any of the roads in the South-East motorable? What is there in the South-East? What injustice are you not seeing in the South- East? Our people have managed to survive because they are self-sufficient. They are used to hardship and working themselves out of it. After the war, they gave every adult Igbo man only 20 pounds, N40, to start life again. With the N40, we have almost dominated the commercial sector, and they are scared. They do all sorts of things to bring us down, but they are not capable of achieving that aim. We don’t care about what they are doing. It is worst under the present regime.
Do you think the release of Kanu would bring peace to the region?
I think Kanu’s release will help the situation, but it is not the final solution to the problem. It would go a long way in calming the tense situation. They said 70 percent of Igbo youths and 60 percent of some elders share this view. If that is the case, the people at the helm of affairs should share the feelings of the people they rule. If that kind of percentage of Igbo youths is in support of Nnamdi Kanu, why would government not respect their views? I said Nnamdi Kanu’s issue is subjudice. We don’t want to go into it.
Do you think the agitation for Biafra is necessary?
Everybody has the right to agitate for anything. To those who are making the agitation, it is necessary, to others, it is not necessary. Therefore, in a democratic system, in a free society, the way it is done is either through a referendum or plebiscite. An example was the one they did in Scotland four years ago. Scotland wanted to pull away from Britain and its government ordered a plebiscite. Majority of the people voted no and they are there. If some are demanding a separate state of Biafra, they are entitled to their right. I am not advocating the dissolution of Nigeria because I worked for one Nigeria. I suffered for one Nigeria and I took part in creating Nigeria. In fact, I went to prison for the establishment of a free Nigeria. But that does not mean that if some want to go, they should not be given a chance to stay or leave.
To some, Anambra has become a theater of killings and vandalization of public infrastructure. And prominent indigenes have become targets of attacks.
Anambra State is not a theatre of killings and vandalization. All the people allegedly killed in Anambra State by armed robbers and herdsmen in the last 10 years are less than the number of people killed in Kaduna State in one week. Yes, even yesterday, I read that about 30 people were killed in Kaduna. Anambra State is not in any way a theatre of killings. And the claim of targeting prominent people is false.
Some believe the second Niger Bridge is a laudable gift from the present administration to Ndigbo.
Does the bridge belong only to the South East? Is it not going to serve the whole of Nigeria? Is it a bridge that is taking 10 years to build and they closed the railway from Rivers State to Kaduna, through Enugu and Benue State and throughout the whole of Igboland. They are giving you second Niger Bridge and have taken your railway lines. Have they even given you the so-called second Niger Bridge? Until it becomes a reality, I would know what to say.