Prof Gregory Ibe, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and member of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, is the founder of Gregory University, Uturu, Abia State. In this interview in Awka, Anambra State capital, he spoke on Ndi Igbo agitation for the presidency, IPOB and his political ambition come 2023. Among others.
Ohaneze is sharply divided, with some of its members calling for Igbo presidency come 2023 and others agitating for secession. What is your view?
I am a subject of Ohaneze Ndi Igbo, which is the highest body that talks about the socio-cultural activities of Ndi Igbo. I submit myself to Ohaneze leadership. I have the opportunity of attending the Ime Obi meeting of Ohaneze. In my thinking, all these work together for the common good of Ndi Igbo. We are not using arms in our agitations because of our involvement in the Nigerian enterprise.
No Igbo man is ready to take up arm for anything in Nigeria today. That is why you see the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) occupying streets, roads preaching about having a nation. If the nation comes, one person must carry the roles; if it comes through referendum to determine where we should go, that is okay.
Nigeria should conduct a referendum for us to know where we belong. If that happens, it will bring everybody to a point in the politics of Nigeria. When things are done in such a way that people are telling you that you are not part of the system, such thought promotes the thinking of IPOB. Ohaneze in the Awka declaration insisted that it is joining hands to build Nigeria. The main thing that should be looked into is to allow an Igbo man to be president of Nigeria. Ndi Igbo need to offer their services to the country.
This side of Nigeria should also serve Nigeria, if it is for eight years, let it be given to us. I can assure you that if the opportunity is given, we will do justice to the nation and surpass every success recorded in the history of the country. We are part and parcel of this country and we must play roles in the development of the country by occupying the highest position of the nation. I think the country should enable an Igbo man to provide the next level of leadership for eight years and we can compare notes. Politics is not a gift but a contest. PDP seems to have zoned its presidency to the North and APC is yet to make inroads in the South East.
How do you intend to actualise your dream of producing president? Do you know what bandwagon effect is all about?
Nothing is sacrosanct in politics. PDP zoned the presidency to the North in the last election, by 2023 it can also be zoned to the South East. That is the bandwagon effect. Let the country’s elders come up and take a decision. All other tribes have ruled this country apart from the Igbo tribe. We are a part of this country and we made our efforts towards the independence of the country. Somehow, somewhere some political gladiators made some trouble, but we are back, better, stronger and united. We want to show the world how to develop Nigeria if given the chance to lead. We can assure you that everybody should go and rest after eight years. We should do appraisal and compare notes. What I am saying is that by 2023, every other political party should zone its presidency to the South East and I want the elders of this country to balance their thinking and if there is any person having different thinking about zoning, that person should better think otherwise.
Every person that comes with equity must come with clean hands and if you need equity in your family you must be fair to all, that is what we are asking, be fair to us.
Will Igbo presidency end agitation for secession?
That is what I am saying. We have tried every other tribe, let us try the Igbo man in 2023. Let me tell you, the white men felt it was time to give a black man opportunity to rule America, Obama became the president of America. The preaching by the great Martin Luther King came to pass and everybody has seen what a black man could do. Even, if the white men decided to take over their leadership, you can never say a black has not ruled America. That is why I am saying that they should give the South East the opportunity to lead the country. I believe the leadership of an Igbo man will be the major positive change we need in this country.
I was born and brought up in the North, had all the friends and youthful growing were there. An average Igbo man speaks ‘One Nigeria’ language and they are everywhere doing business. They will make sure that the country is better if given the opportunity to lead.