Without restructuring, Nigeria faces implosion – Uko
BY CLIFFORD NDUJIHE
Evangelist Elliot Uko, Igbo leader and president of the Igbo Youth Movement (IYM) is disturbed by the state of affairs in the country. In this interview, he insists that restructuring of Nigeria into true federalism is the surest way to preserve the country. He also speaks on why the South-East should produce the president after President Goodluck Jonathan among others. Excerpts:
How do you see the state of affairs in the country?
President Goodluck Jonathan is an okay but his inner circle is not solid. He needs to tighten up and keep his eye on his transformation agenda. I believe he will lift Nigeria up. I don’t want to talk about the security challenges. So much has been said already. Nigerians must face reality by understanding that our quasi-unitary structure is clearly responsible for all our problems including corruption.
We must restructure Nigeria along six federating regions. It is the only way out. It will reduce ethnic and religious tension, check sleaze and encourage diversification of the economy. However, another problem behind the present insecurity is the culture of impunity especially cold-blooded killings that have been on for decades without being addressed.
We must, as a nation, punish people who instigate violence of any sort. No country can survive in an environment of impunity because it breeds fear, suspicion and hatred and these are the termites that eat up the foundation of the nation. We must do everything to save Nigeria from collapse. Finally, if President Jonathan does not punish corrupt officials he will risk the erosion of confidence Nigerians have in him. It could spell doom for him. He must be firm in punishing persons who loot the treasury.
Former leaders, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida and Olusegun Obasanjo recently signed a joint statement where they insisted that Nigeria’s unity is non negotiable. What is your comment on this?
Even though those two gentlemen contributed directly to the problems Nigeria is facing today, but I agree with them, we should find a way to genuinely continue to live together. It is in everybody’s interest that this house must not fall. India has more problems than Nigeria. The Buddists, Muslims and Christians are jointly building a great nation that will challenge China and the West in a few decades. Our differences are not enough to destroy Nigeria.
The misguided extremistists who are trying to destroy this beautiful country will soon realize that they can’t win. Nigeria is bigger than a few misguided terrorist. Nigeria will survive. Great nations, the world over, pass through such challenges. Nigeria will overcome the present challenges but we must all support the incumbent, in spite of whatever short coming he has, to succeed.
Ndigbo are demanding that the presidency of Nigeria should come to the South-East next time round. Are Ndigbo truly ready?
Yes, Ndigbo are ready but that is a question for our politicians. Only Igbo presidency will truly heal Nigeria now. Equity enthrones stability and harmony. Ndigbo deserve the presidency. Nobody believes in or has contributed to the growth and development of Nigeria more than Ndigbo.
The IYM recently honoured Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe during your 13th annual convention. What inspired that decision?
The Great Zik is arguably (with Nelson Mandela) Africa’s greatest gift to the world. He was ahead of his time, a visionary genius, who transformed the continent and left a legacy that is yet to be equalled. He brought light and shined that light so the people could find the way.
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