Traditional ruler of Egali Amalla in Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State and a Patron of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Igwe Patrick Eze has said the numerous endorsements of Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for a second term as governor by stakeholders in the state is a welcome idea, saying the governor has performed excellently so far.
In Enugu State, virtually all the relevant stakeholders including notable individuals like Deputy President of the senate, Ike Ekweremadu have endorsed Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi for a second term in office. Do you think the endorsement is worth it?
The barrage of endorsements are worthwhile because 99 percent of the electorate in Enugu are behind Governor Ugwuanyi for second tenure and I doubt if anybody from any other political party would muster the courage to challenge him at the poll next year. The traditional rulers in the state had earlier endorsed him because he has done wonderfully well in all facets of governance, most especially in construction of rural roads, ensuring adequate security.
Today we enjoy peace and stability in the state. Ugwuanyi, as a person commands intimidating popularity among the people all over the state. That is why they call him Gurugburu. So, as governor, he enhanced that popularity and acceptability with good performance by executing laudable projects all round Enugu. Not only that, he accords all relevant sectors of governance adequate attention. The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has his 100 percent attention. He gives civil servants attention like a nursing mother gives her baby, likewise the farmers, the traders and people in all sectors of the state In summary, every part of the state is directly and indirectly benefitting through the massive road construction projects, development in education, healthcare services, water supply projects and so on. The endorsement is worth it because the people have no reason to look for someone else. No part of Enugu is complaining of marginalisation or lack of government’s presence.
At the national level, President Muhammadu Buhari has declared his intention to seek a second term, thereby disregarding former President, Olusegun Obasanjo’s advice to step aside. How do you see President Buhari’s bid for a second term in office?
Personally, I wasn’t surprised that President Buhari could ignore Obasanjo’s advice not to vie for second tenure because I know that the cabals around the president won’t allow him to step aside because they want to continue to hold on to power. The issue is not about Buhari alone as President, it is about those around him. You know power intoxicates. Those cabals have been intoxicated by presidential power and they wouldn’t want to relinquish it. They don’t care about Buhari’s age and they don’t care to listen to the voices of Nigerians that the country needs a younger person to occupy the seat of power. I am of the opinion that a younger person is ideal for the exalted position.
At 70 one has fallen into the category of the weak. The situation of Nigeria today is not what a weak old man can handle. Look at the way they are killing people all over the places and no concrete measure is being put in place to stop it. The killing is not just condemnable but has to stop for the country to make meaningful progress. So we need a younger person as President and there is no doubt about it.
You are a traditional ruler and a Patron of Ohanaeze Ndigbo. How would you assess the impact of traditional rulers in particular and Ohanaeze Ndigbo in general in promoting the Igbo culture?
The Igbo are not doing enough to promote their culture. Ohanaeze is not promoting our culture with utmost zeal, passion and enthusiasm as obtained in other contemporary tribes like Fulani, Hausa and Yoruba. Everything about the heritage of the Igbo speaking tribe as regard our culture is fading away because everybody is after personal interest. Nobody is interested in discussing the dwindling fortune of Igbo culture and the attendant ills and that is where the problems of Ndigbo started.
Nobody is showing interest in championing a cause for the collective interest of Ndigbo as a tribe, using the instrumentality of our culture. The power of any given people lies in their culture. We are talking about the importance of Igbo unity but how can Ndigbo unite when they have abandoned their culture. For instance, the Igbo language is on the verge of extinction from the system because the people are no longer interested in speaking their language. Most families of Igbo extraction both at home and in the Diaspora no longer allow their children to speak Igbo language and that is most unfortunate because we cannot build a strong Igbo nation without making maximum use of our mother tongue. I can boldly say that if we don’t brace up to revive the use of Igbo language in our homes, schools, churches, markets, meetings and gatherings it will die completely in about 20 years to come. Go to other parts of the country like the north and south-west, the people use their languages effectively at home, schools, markets, meetings and gatherings to maximize their discussions. Whenever the Fulani, Hausa or Yoruba people gather for a function they strictly use their mother tongues and consequently keep their discussions intact without leaking. But when Ndigbo gathers, it is all grammar, making their discussion open to the world and achieves nothing at the end of the day.
Is it our lack of respect for elders and ignorance on issues related to tradition and customs? Elders no longer earn respect in Igbo land. The people who earn respect are mainly fraudulent rich men and politicians who rig elections to assume position of authority. Is that how to build a strong Igbo nation? You cannot build a strong nation when you abandon the good legacies of your forefathers. The Igbo have abandoned the legacies of their forefathers and that is hurting us today.
Our forefathers were great farmers but where are farmers in Igbo land today? Some healthy Igbo food and vegetables like cocoa yam, water yam, anyu and ugboguru are no more obtainable in the system. Do I have to inform us that the Igbo, most especially the younger ones have completely lost the sense of Igbo dressing? If you go to the north and South-west you simply identify them by their dressing. Everybody in the North and South-west including the young boys and girls dress according to their culture but in Igbo lands our boys and girls dress like people who don’t have home background. Some girls wear clothes that throw every part of their body in the open. Sometimes I wonder if these girls actually come from a home or from a forest. The identity of any given people is about their food, dressing and their language and from all indications the Igbo are losing these key forms of identity and it is not good for us.