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50 years before we knew we had oil colonial powers were stealing it – Ezeife, ex-Anambra gov

Elder statesman and former governor of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, says the Yoruba and Igbo are the greatest problems of Nigeria. In this exclusive interview with Linus Aleke, he speaks on the ongoing general elections and other sundry issues.

Do you foresee an Interim National Government as earlier proposed by Aare Afe Babalola, SAN?

For three months, I have been preaching and praying against the interim government, against scuttling the election. My God answers prayers, and it is getting too late to scuttle these elections. The election is four days away now, so they have only four days within which to announce the interim national government. I believe that the God in heaven will not allow it and even those who are asking for it are split among themselves. God in heaven had held Nigeria, I submit to any thinking person that what is happening in Nigeria today is not the responsibility of Nigerians. It is not our making that Peter Obi came, it is not our making that all those who opposed him initially were knocked out. It is not our making that the bandits’ coup did not work. It is not our making that the group planning to scuttle the election did not succeed. It is not our making that all those who designed the naira and petrol crunch to get Nigeria to riot and therefore provide the basis for an interim national government did not succeed. It is not by our strength that they have failed.

Are you saying that the presidential aspiration of the Labour Party candidate, Mr. Peter Obi is divine?

I see Obi’s aspiration as totally divine, without any human touch to it. That is why it is going the way it is going. Let me tell you, Obi was in PDP, he was chosen as vice president to Atiku and I think that he developed a good relationship with Atiku. But at a point, looking at it as people say, that instead of your cow running away, you can cut the tail and use. So, it could have come to his mind that instead of losing out, let him be vice president. So, it seems to have worked that way but God forced him out of PDP. Whereas some people feel they are responsible for doing so, it was God who motivated whoever to work against him. So, that forced him out of the party and his exit from PDP got him into Labour Party (LP), without knowing all the troubles in Labour Party.

Are you confident that INEC will conduct a credible and acceptable poll?

This is a difficult question, I was believing that INEC was ready to conduct credible polls until recently when they said that there will be no election in 240 polling units, and the distribution of the 240 is biased against the south. And the stories are many, about the effort to rig. There is one thing that stands out, yes, a Muslim northern woman said we should be grateful to God for giving us Buhari. We were all looking at her, and she said that God gave us Buhari and Buhari’s performance in office has opened the eyes of everybody. Religion is no longer as important as it used to be, and tribes no longer enjoy a prime place in our political life as was the case in the past. According to her, hunger does not know tribe, and hunger has been distributed to all Nigerians. Yes, I think INEC can still do its best, we don’t have any choice but we must commend Buhari’s insistence on free fair, and credible elections. So, when this woman said we should thank God for giving us Buhari, maybe Buhari came actually to unite Nigeria, in poverty or whatever. In regrets, he has united Nigeria, in difficulty, insecurity, and poverty, and in many ways, he has united Nigeria. Now, he wants to give us a new Nigeria, by leaving office and handing over to better-quality Nigerians to run the affairs of Nigeria. That may be the role God assigned to Buhari. We are human beings, we don’t know enough to judge. God knows the end from the beginning, the reason he gave us Buhari was to open our eyes, instead of being foolish about what we do. I don’t know how you became Christian, but for me, I became Christian on arrival, I became Igbo on arrival. I didn’t know where I was going to arrive, so, my Christianity and Igbo-ness are all imposed by God. How can we go on Jihad to fight against the decisions of God? So, I think it may be God’s design that Buhari will come to run the country in the way he did to unite the country. This is the country God gave the greatest resources on earth. We are a gem of a country, and the way we go will be the way the black people go God did not create blacks inferior to whites. Those of us who went abroad to study know that. And now, whether we know that or not, if we look at the frontier of technology and development, we would find blacks dominating. Nigeria must answer the name God gave it and play the role God gave it. To shine and raise the respect and dignity of all blacks on earth.

How optimistic are you that Obi will win this election?

What I will tell you is that by May 29, this year, Mr Peter Obi will be sworn in as President of Nigeria and I will go to Aso Rock and drink palm wine. Anything can happen on the 25th of February, but what we are looking at is who will be the president of Nigeria and we know the person, the person is Peter Obi. Whatever happens after the election, he will emerge victorious. Anybody can press anything but God has decided that the person to be sworn in as president of Nigeria is Peter Obi. And with that, we will get a new Nigeria. Within two years of his administration, most of our competent boys who are inventing things abroad will begin to think of home.

Are you not bothered that the western powers may work against Obi because his presidency may not favour their neo-colonial posture in Nigeria?
Yes, you remember even the amalgamation, the Brussel conference, it was economic determinism that ruled the world. I understand that fifty years before we knew we had oil, our oil was been pumped by the British government. Fifty years, before we knew we had oil, they were stealing our oil. I don’t know how valid it is but, I have no basis to challenge its validity. But this time around, it has happened, when God is with you, nobody can be against you. You can chose to be against but it will not be of any effect, no consequence. What is happening is that God is correcting the wrongs done to Nigeria. Do you know that in Western Nigeria, Oduduwa is almost getting independent? But they should not go, they should also enjoy this large market and we the Igbo and Yoruba are the greatest problem in Nigeria. If we have integrated who can dominate us now we have the advantage, very easy advantage of integration. Let me say it to you and please report it fully. Yoruba has a candidate, Bola Tinubu, Igbo has a candidate, and Peter Obi, there are other candidates also but these are the major ones. Hausa also has candidates but it is not their turn. What stops leaders of Yoruba and leaders of Igbo from coming together and saying it is our turn, southern Nigeria, let us support one of our candidates and give it to Nigeria, by that uniting ourselves forever. That stabilising Nigeria forever, is a challenge.

Is that not the thoughts of Pa Adebanjo?

Pa Adebanjo, Afenifere agrees with this. I will not be surprised if the Ooni of Ife is asked, he will say the same thing. But you see, money and lack of conscience have been the dominant factor in Nigerian politics. The people who ruled Nigeria from 1966 ruined Nigeria. When you have no conscience left, comprehensive corruption takes over and that happened to Nigeria and God saw us suffering all these years, with no change, things getting worst, but God decided, this my children, I will forgive them all that they have done and give them a new lease of life. Let them answer their fathers’ names and become who they are supposed to be. The end is coming, may 29, 2023, and Nigeria will answer her father’s name.

What is your assessment of the CBN’s new monetary policy?

The policy is bringing suffering to Nigerians. The cash crunch is unnecessary, if well planned, with a good purpose in mind it could have been done differently. Even if it was as some people are speculating, to dissuade governors and politicians who of course have no conscience from going to buy votes, it is not the right way to go about it. There should have been a way to soften it. If I was deciding it, it would not take this form at all. As I told you earlier, there was a cabal that wanted an interim national government, the cash and fuel crunch were part of the strategies to make us riot and provide an opportunity for scuttling the election, but God in heaven prevented it from happening.

I will not let you go without asking what you think is responsible for Prof. Soludo’s persistent opposition to the Labour Party candidate, Mr Peter Obi

Anybody from the South-East who spoke against Peter Obi would be proven wrong or have been proven wrong. Governor Soludo has been promised by Atiku that he will be president after him. But Atiku has taken Okowa as his running mate and I understand Okowa financed a lot of the primary, how would he, Atiku dump Okowa and then go to pick Soludo to be the next president, I don’t understand it. Soludo has first class and his reasoning should be solid. But somebody playing God cannot be called intelligent. The worst statement by Soludo is that Peter cannot win and he knows that he cannot win. That statement does not belong to man to make, it is a major defect, and no defence against it. I had always seen Soludo as a great potential president of Nigeria. He, Prof. Soludo knows that I expected him to even run for president but what we expect does not qualify beyond what God wants. And it is now that I am even finding out that there was no contest between the qualifications of Peter Obi and mine. I will tell you why I am Harvard Ph.D., I beat the World Bank team who came to Nigeria to give us the economic blueprint. I think eight of them, in my office, I listened to them, and gradually, one by one I took the argument and demolished it to their satisfaction. That makes them look at me with great respect, notwithstanding their bias against blacks. So, how can a person who made a first class in his field not be able to think straight a bit, sorry about it and I am worried about it up till now. I made an effort to repair the damage because, whether it is known now or not it will affect his chances of the second term. Some people may even insist on driving him out of office. So I don’t know what to answer because there is no answer, we are dialectically opposed. I believe Peter Obi by the grace of God is going to be president. Let me tell you why I said even I did not qualify enough to knock out Peter. I was the first elected governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi came up long years after I had left because of military termination. One day, I went to the airport, and I found Peter there, he was carrying his bags and I said this governor is carrying his bags. Even my briefcase, I never carried it when I was the governor and I thought I was humble enough man. Man of integrity, I still retain and believe in my integrity, but I was crushed when I saw a governor carrying his bags. When I have to hire somebody to carry my own, it confirms this philosophy that public money must be used for the public good. So, it was not public good for someone to be carrying something for you and be paid for it. So, Peter Obi will change Nigeria. God gave it to him, do you know that I was boasting that not one square inch of Anambra land was given to me under my governorship or given to any Ezeife? I thought I did it and that I was the only one who had done it but I discovered that Peter had the same record. Not one inch of Anambra land is in his hand unless he bought it like I bought some of the courses before I became governor.

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