We’ve Been Marginalised In Lagos


The Eze Udo Ndigbo of Ikeja Local Government of Lagos State, Eze Uche Dimgba, the  Okpotemba of Igbele in Bende Local Government Area of Abia State, and also a  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 was  conducted in Lagos State, we were told that the Ibos were 43% of the total  population in the state and if you look at the 43% of Lagos State population, it  means we can even produce the governor in Lagos State. But if you look at it, we  have produced nothing except two commissioners and you can agree with me that the  position of commissioner is just like an errand position. He can be kicked out  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 allowed  to begin to contest in all elective positions. We have the right to produce people  in the Lagos State Assembly, House of Representatives, the Senate and even Lagos  State governor considering our numerical strength but we have not been allowed to do  so. I think we have been marginalised in Lagos State. We pay our taxes here in  Lagos,  we are law abiding citizens and we have invested much in Lagos.  So I do not  see why we should not be allowed to produce people in government and not just to  dash us commissioners.

What efforts have you made to press home your demand considering the fact that you  have contributed much to Lagos economy?
We have made efforts but I will say our effort is not good enough. We are still  consulting, we are still organising to make our demand known to the Lagos State  government, so that they can give us what we deserve.  We have not been well  represented and we have not really presented our case very well to the government.  But we are having meetings, we are getting ourselves together to present our demand  to the government.

Have you made any effort in making an Ibo man the deputy governor of Lagos State in  2011?
That is exactly what I have just said, that we are consulting, we are having meeting  and we have told our people that those who are credible enough and capable should  come out, bring their curriculum vitae. We want people who will go there and work  and not people who will go out and embezzle Lagos State money. I mean credible  people who are going there to give dividend of democracy to all the Lagos State  residents.

What are the Ezes and influential individuals doing concerning the kidnapping in the  East?
You can see that we have been shouting about this. The kidnapping issue is beyond  the state government because the kind of weapons the kidnappers are using are so  sophisticated that the Nigeria police weapons cannot match them. It is only the  Nigerian Army that can subdue them and they can see, now that the Army have been  drafted to the affected area are being dealt with. A  friend of mine called me from  Aba and said that he was calling from the city and that there was no problem. I  think things are returning back to normalcy with the way the army is dealing with  the situation.  We are going to sail through.

What have prevented the Ibo people from speaking with one voice, concerning the  candidacy of  President Goodluck Jonathan?
The Ibos are still consulting. Anybody who says we are not speaking with one voice  is lying. The same way  the Hausas are consulting to know who they are supporting.  We must know why we are supporting any candidate and not following blindly. We need  somebody who will be able to make Nigeria move forward.

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Does that mean you are not in support of the view of your leaders back home that  they are not presenting any candidate and that they are supporting wholeheartedly  the candidacy of Mr. President?
This is because we know that 2015 is our time and turn, so we do not want to blow  our trumpet now. That they are not presenting a candidate simply means that we know  it is not our turn but come 2015, it is non-negotiable. But that does not mean that  we can now follow anybody who does not have us in mind. At least whoever we are  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 presidential  candidate come 2011?
Yes, the Ibos are not presenting any candidate for 2011 presidency. Anybody who is  presenting himself may be on the basis of frivolity, he has money to spend and  probably just to make noise.  But he is not our candidate.  2015 is our time, when  we shall present our candidate and let people not be having it in mind that we will  bring out 100 candidates. Even if we bring out 100 candidates, it shows that we have  many credible and capable people who can do the job.  But immediately the electorate  pick one, I can assure you that others will have no choice than to support the  chosen one. The last election in Anambra State is a good example.

What advice would you give to the electorate concerning 2011 considering the crisis  in the East?
This question, I would like to tell you, is not the problem of the state governors  alone. It all started with the Federal Government as a result of the marginalisation  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,  the majority of them are Ibos.  But they will not get jobs because of  marginalisation and I do not think that the states have the capability of absorbing  all of them. So you can see that it started from the Federal level down to the  states where these problems are happening.
It is therefore the Federal Government that will structure the country very well,  absorb the youths who are supposed to be gainfully employed. Although we equally  know that some youths are unemployable, no matter what you give to them, they can  not do anything; they are very lazy. But there are some of the youths who have  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.  It is  possible for you to develop something and walk to the bank and the bank will finance  it in other countries. But here in Nigeria, the bank will ask you to bring your  mother, your father and everything you have put together before you can receive  something to start with. You cannot do anything in such situation. So it is from the  Federal Government that this will be restructured.  When it is well restructured and  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 with  impunity. We are in a situation where a leader is lying and he wants you to believe  him because he has power. This is the problem from the top to the bottom. By the  time people in government will make themselves to be trusted all these problems you  are seeing would  vanish.

What would you say is the importance of culture to the transformation of the Ibo man  as a person?
Well, it is through our culture that we know that we are together. If you come here  today and you see only Igwe on the hightable, that means he has no root and that the  culture of the people is dead.  But for you to come and see this prominent people  and the young ones coming to learn about their culture and how the New Yam festival  is performed, it shows that we are still very strong and our culture is still  recognised.

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