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By Deborah Onunka
Senator Ebenezer Chukwuemeka Ikeyina, represented Anambra Central in the third Assembly. He speaks on lack of federal presence in the South – East, the forthcoming gubernatorial election and other issues.
You once represented Anambra central at the senate and unfortunately the zone has been without a Senator for over one year. What can you say about that?
It is unfortunate that selfishness has taken an upper hand at the expense of the interest of the members of the zone. This idea has never paid off. This issue is unprecedented in this country. No voice for a whole zone in one year and nobody seems to be doing anything about it. I cannot pin down any reason because today you hear Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) say one thing and tomorrow the politicians are saying another and the political parties on their part are not helping matters at all. It is unfortunate that people have jettisoned the interest of a whole zone and are fighting for their stomachs.
Anambra gubernatorial election will take place later in the year. Who should the people vote for ?
Anambra can boast of reasonable number of people who can be trusted to paddle the ship of leadership and deliver result. I want to quickly add that the incumbent governor, Willie Obiano is doing very well. The records are there for all to see. He has done so well in the area of security. He is doing very well in agriculture. He has opened doors for investors to come into the state. The most important thing is to unite and make the state better. There is no need inviting another person or persons to come and remove a winning team. People should learn to sacrifice their personal interests for the general interest of the people. Obiano has been named Silver Bird Television man of the year. Last year The Sun Newspaper named him Governor of the year. Anambra is one State that has been used as a good example in Nigeria. The governor should be given a chance to continue with the good work he is doing. People should resist every temptation to take the state to the dark era. Peter Obi did a good job, laid a good foundation on which Obiano is building and he should be encouraged to continue.
People are of the view that if the South – East geopolitical zone has only five states that it is the fault of former political leaders especially those at the National Assembly who did nothing to correct the anomaly all these years. Do you share this view?
Well, it is something everyone in the region should be worried about. I admit there must have been some form of oversight on the part of former political leaders but the current leaders should start up the agitation for the creation of at least one additional state so that we can be like other zones and benefit from resources allocation from the centre. Now that the awareness is very strong, all hands must be on deck for the actualisation, so we can begin to get what rightfully belongs to us.
Lack of federal infrastructures in the zone, is also a major challenge, how do think it can be tackled?
I will not say it is something that cannot be done. You see, this issue of godfather in politics is making even those that should be seen as elder statesmen to begin to compromise. The Igbo should have a caucus of elderly gentlemen that should come together, speak with one voice and be able to correct younger politicians so that the mistakes that we made in the past are not repeated. These people should be elders that you cannot give garri to stop them from saying the truth. If it is properly organized there should also be some form of sanctions for erring politicians. I think this idea is worth considering. The region has suffered so much neglect. We should come together and use everything at our disposal to redeem our region from those that are ready to continue to impoverish it
Don’t you think the call by KenNnamanito Igbo to join APC is a ploy by the ruling party to make the region politically irrelevant?
I don’t think so. Ken Nnamani is someone I know very well and respect. If he thinks that being in APC will make him use his position to carve out something for the Igbo, that will be good. One thing I know is that it is very clear that this government has not bothered about the Igbo in terms of political appointments and other areas. Judging by our population and our input in the development of Nigeria, we deserve more than what we have gotten. I am not against anyone joining the party of his or her choice. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is gradually waning and APC is cashing in on the crisis in the party to absorb their members. If at the end we use the platform to get to the presidency, it will be good for us. I remember I heard Ken Nnamani clear on the television. He said that APC may not be the best party. He said that at the present circumstance he will like to go there to represent his ethnic group.
Do you think Igbo presidency is feasible?
Yes, I am totally in support but I may not say precisely that 2019 is the ideal date because we need to plan to win. We will not just go there to make an attempt and come back. So we may need time to get the right person who can represent us very well . Nigerians should be fair to the region. We need to be given a chance like other geopolitical zones to prove ourselves.
What is your position on true federalism?
I want a situation where every region should be given the opportunity to take care of their resources. The strength of our federation is too enormous. For example in the north there are 19 States and the South has 17 states and assuming the population goes in that line they will continue to want to lord it over the South in terms of control of power at the centre. When you give regions or zones the right to harness their resources and contribute to the centre, most of these pockets of agitations here and there will naturally fizzle out.