5th November, 2010
The Eze Udo Ndigbo of Ikeja Local Government of Lagos State, Eze Uche Dimgba, theÂ Okpotemba of Igbele in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State, and also aÂ business man speaks on various issues
How would you appraise the role of Ibos in governance in Lagos?
We have not got our fair share in the governance of Lagos State. When a census wasÂ conducted in Lagos State, we were told that the Ibos were 43% of the totalÂ population in the state and if you look at the 43% of Lagos State population, itÂ means we can even produce the governor in Lagos State. But if you look at it, weÂ have produced nothing except two commissioners and you can agree with me that theÂ position of commissioner is just like an errand position. He can be kicked outÂ anytime if he works against the wish of the governor.
So if you want us to be fully part and parcel of the state, then we must be allowedÂ to begin to contest in all elective positions. We have the right to produce peopleÂ in the Lagos State Assembly, House of Representatives, the Senate and even LagosÂ State governor considering our numerical strength but we have not been allowed to doÂ so. I think we have been marginalised in Lagos State. We pay our taxes here inÂ Lagos,Â we are law abiding citizens and we have invested much in Lagos.Â So I do notÂ see why we should not be allowed to produce people in government and not just toÂ dash us commissioners.
What efforts have you made to press home your demand considering the fact that youÂ have contributed much to Lagos economy?
We have made efforts but I will say our effort is not good enough. We are stillÂ consulting, we are still organising to make our demand known to the Lagos StateÂ government, so that they can give us what we deserve.Â We have not been wellÂ represented and we have not really presented our case very well to the government.Â But we are having meetings, we are getting ourselves together to present our demandÂ to the government.
Have you made any effort in making an Ibo man the deputy governor of Lagos State inÂ 2011?
That is exactly what I have just said, that we are consulting, we are having meetingÂ and we have told our people that those who are credible enough and capable shouldÂ come out, bring their curriculum vitae. We want people who will go there and workÂ and not people who will go out and embezzle Lagos State money. I mean credibleÂ people who are going there to give dividend of democracy to all the Lagos StateÂ residents.
What are the Ezes and influential individuals doing concerning the kidnapping in theÂ East?
You can see that we have been shouting about this. The kidnapping issue is beyondÂ the state government because the kind of weapons the kidnappers are using are soÂ sophisticated that the Nigeria police weapons cannot match them. It is only theÂ Nigerian Army that can subdue them and they can see, now that the Army have beenÂ drafted to the affected area are being dealt with. AÂ friend of mine called me fromÂ Aba and said that he was calling from the city and that there was no problem. IÂ think things are returning back to normalcy with the way the army is dealing withÂ the situation.Â We are going to sail through.
What have prevented the Ibo people from speaking with one voice, concerning theÂ candidacy ofÂ President Goodluck Jonathan?
The Ibos are still consulting. Anybody who says we are not speaking with one voiceÂ is lying. The same wayÂ the Hausas are consulting to know who they are supporting.Â We must know why we are supporting any candidate and not following blindly. We needÂ somebody who will be able to make Nigeria move forward.
Does that mean you are not in support of the view of your leaders back home thatÂ they are not presenting any candidate and that they are supporting wholeheartedlyÂ the candidacy of Mr. President?
This is because we know that 2015 is our time and turn, so we do not want to blowÂ our trumpet now. That they are not presenting a candidate simply means that we knowÂ it is not our turn but come 2015, it is non-negotiable. But that does not mean thatÂ we can now follow anybody who does not have us in mind. At least whoever we areÂ following must be able to assure us that come 2015 it is non negotiable.
Sir, are you saying that the Ibos are not going to present any presidentialÂ candidate come 2011?
Yes, the Ibos are not presenting any candidate for 2011 presidency. Anybody who isÂ presenting himself may be on the basis of frivolity, he has money to spend andÂ probably just to make noise.Â But he is not our candidate.Â 2015 is our time, whenÂ we shall present our candidate and let people not be having it in mind that we willÂ bring out 100 candidates. Even if we bring out 100 candidates, it shows that we haveÂ many credible and capable people who can do the job.Â But immediately the electorateÂ pick one, I can assure you that others will have no choice than to support theÂ chosen one. The last election in Anambra State is a good example.
What advice would you give to the electorate concerning 2011 considering the crisisÂ in the East?
This question, I would like to tell you, is not the problem of the state governorsÂ alone. It all started with the Federal Government as a result of the marginalisationÂ of the Ibos before it gradually went down to the grassroot level.
Of the rate and the quality of graduates that are coming out from the universities,Â the majority of them are Ibos.Â But they will not get jobs because ofÂ marginalisation and I do not think that the states have the capability of absorbingÂ all of them. So you can see that it started from the Federal level down to theÂ states where these problems are happening.
It is therefore the Federal Government that will structure the country very well,Â absorb the youths who are supposed to be gainfully employed. Although we equallyÂ know that some youths are unemployable, no matter what you give to them, they canÂ not do anything; they are very lazy. But there are some of the youths who haveÂ brains, who can be employed, who can do something if given the opportunity.
The banks are not working here the way they do in advanced countries.Â It isÂ possible for you to develop something and walk to the bank and the bank will financeÂ it in other countries. But here in Nigeria, the bank will ask you to bring yourÂ mother, your father and everything you have put together before you can receiveÂ something to start with. You cannot do anything in such situation. So it is from theÂ Federal Government that this will be restructured.Â When it is well restructured andÂ everybody believes in the government, these problems will just die a natural death.
Nobody trusts the leaders, the leaders are liars, they lie to their people withÂ impunity. We are in a situation where a leader is lying and he wants you to believeÂ him because he has power. This is the problem from the top to the bottom. By theÂ time people in government will make themselves to be trusted all these problems youÂ are seeing wouldÂ vanish.
What would you say is the importance of culture to the transformation of the Ibo manÂ as a person?
Well, it is through our culture that we know that we are together. If you come hereÂ today and you see only Igwe on the hightable, that means he has no root and that theÂ culture of the people is dead.Â But for you to come and see this prominent peopleÂ and the young ones coming to learn about their culture and how the New Yam festivalÂ is performed, it shows that we are still very strong and our culture is stillÂ recognised.