Nobody’s ambition is required to validate my Nigerian citizenship ~ by Obunike Ohaegbu
Without sounding immodest, I consider myself a community and political leader in Nigeria from the Igbo extraction.
I have been privileged to travel to most States of the Federation including Ogun, Bayelsa and even Katsina. These three States have the privilege to have produced one of their sons as the Nigerian President since 1999. In my travels, I did not see any difference between them and the other States of the Federation.
The insecurity and high cost of living were as pronounced in those States as in other States of the Federation. The infrastructure deficit is equally the same in all the States of the Federation including the States that have produced the President. The home of HE Goodluck Jonathan was not spared by the recent floods in Nigeria.
A few months ago, as a member of the Atiku Technical Committee Team (TEECOM), led by High Chief Engr Raymond Dokpesi, PhD EZOMO, I was privileged to travel round the country by road. The experience is the same in all parts of the country irrespective of the dominant tribe/religion in the area.
After the Atiku birthday celebration in Bauchi, we travelled from Bauchi to Jos. Slept over in Jos after some consultations. We travelled from Jos to Lafia. We moved from Lafia to Makurdi from where we also moved to Lokoja. After our meetings in Lokoja, we drove down to Ilorin from where we connected to Minna before returning to Abuja.
In all those States in the entire North Central, the stories of insecurity and almost non existent road in fractures were exactly the same.
Again, we flew into Sokoto and drove down to Birnin Kebbi. Spent a night there and drove to Tambuwal to commiserate with the family of the Governor of Sokoto who was bereaved as at that time.
From Tambuwal we drove to Gusau down to Funtua before driving down to Zaria and stopped over in Kaduna for two hours before we continued our journey down Awka through Kaduna-Lokoja-Nsukka .We spent over 25 hours on road.
We spent two nights in Awka before we drove to Umuahia through Enugu by the Enugu-Port Harcourt road. We slept in Umuahia and the next day, we drove down to Owerri and spent a night there before moving down to Abakiliki. From Abakiliki, we also drove back to Onitsha for a meeting before going back to Abuja through the Asaba Airport. These were on personal sacrifices and I laugh whenever some people make insinuations of our getting paid for it.
This same movement was repeated in all the Geopolitical Zones in Nigeria.
As we speak today, Atiku Abubakar is the only one on the ticket for the Presidency that fully understands the enormity of the challenges we have in Nigeria as a Country. As we were on the road, he was on the phone with us and at every State we stopped, he spoke directly with the stakeholders.
When we stopped over in Anambra, the team went to Ukpor and met with Late Mbazulike Amechi who just passed on to glory three days ago. I know the issues they discussed. Whenever Atiku says he has built bridges across the entire States of the Federation, I can attest to that. There is no state we visited that we do not have someone that testified that Atiku had once stepped foot in his house as a personal friend and on a private visit. No State of the Federation.
I speak from the point of information and knowledge. I have been involved and discovered that we honestly need someone who understands the problems and who has the institutional memory required to solve our problems and who understands our individual differences both socially and religiously.
As a Country, we need a man that understands that the major challenge we have now is the STRUCTURE of this Country. The 1999 Constitution created an overburdened Presidency.
We need someone that understands that powers should be devolved among the Federating Units. A lot of issues in the Exclusive Legislative List need to be removed so that the States could be empowered to develop.
After spending almost 8 years, Fashola has not been able to deliver in full the Ibadan-Lagos express road. Most of the Federal roads in the South West are death traps. I drove from Abuja to Lagos in August with my family and the roads are crying for attention.
Buhari is from the North West but driving from Abuja to Kaduna is hell. From Zaria to Funtua is a dead zone. Stories coming even from Daura are not palatable.
So, even if we bring from my village a President that will not change his clothes/watch or even travels by BRT in Lagos, those problems will not be solved.
We all know that Obj/Atiku saved money for Nigeria, paid all our local and foreign debts, but few years down the line, we have a king who did not know Joseph from the tribe of APC and things have gone South.
Again, in Anambra State where claims of saving N75b were made, the same people who made the claims also cry that the savings have been squandered by even the handpicked immediate successor who came on the continuity mantra. These things should be taken into serious consideration when we try to decide on what we need as a people.
The major achievement we need now is to restructure this country. Nothing would be achieved with this country in her present state.
I always feel insulted when some of my younger brothers on social media speak as if the Igbos need someone’s presidency to validate their citizenship in Nigeria. That is the most irresponsible stand to take.
I am a Nigerian and do not need anyone to validate my citizenship with his personal ambition. We have over 400 ethnic groups in Nigeria and so we need to produce over 400 Presidents for everyone to feel that his/her citizenship has been VALIDATED? Why are people insulting themselves in the name of campaigns?
As of today, Atiku Abubakar of the PDP is the only Candidate that speaks to the real issues. As an Igbo man, for me, the restructuring takes precedent over and above anyone’s personal ambition.
We need the ports, police, power, etc. removed from the Exclusive Legislative List of the 1999 Constitution.
The States and LGAs should have the powers to establish Police but we will still retain the Federal Police as it is obtainable even in the USA. The people in Ijebu Ode, Ukpor, Abaji, Gusau etc cannot all at the same time be waiting for man in Edet House in Abuja to give approval before major security measures should be taken. A man cannot be posted from Daura to be the DPO in Orsumoghu where he will not even understand the local language. What manner of intelligence would he gather in an area he does not understand the language?
Also, we need the other Ports in the South like the ones in Port Harcourt, Warri, Ogwuta, Bakkasi, etc. to be very functional. We need the River Niger dredged up to Lokoja and even Makurdi for small vessels to take goods down to the North without putting pressures on our roads that are not designed to carry such loads.
The current Federal government cannot do that. Private investors can do that and recoup their investments while the Federal Government focuses on maintaining the standards as security. A friend of mine was involved in getting Citi Bank to invest in the South East ports but the federal bureaucracy frustrated everything.
NIMASA has reported that over 60% containers arriving Lagos ports end up in Onitsha and Aba in the South East. So, why would the importers not have the option of picking their goods in Onitsha or Ogwuta/Ogbaru?
That will even help in decongesting Lagos and also reduce the pressures on our roads. Customs can put billions of the officers on the roads but we need to reduce the human obstacles in doing business in Nigeria.
Geometrics have been struggling to distribute Power in Aba and other cities in the South East for yeras without success. As a child in Okongwu Memorial Grammar School, Nnewi, I knew that most families in Nnewi produced oil seals and little components of vehicle spare parts in their homes.
Some of my classmates, at the time, did some work and distributed before coming to school. We had Cento, John white (power rope, fan belts) and other factories involved in the production of spare parts in Nnewi. Most of those factories have shut down because of power.
Today, diesel is almost N1k per liter and many companies, including hotels, are shutting down. So, why would I remain myopic in whom to support for the next election when I know that nothing would be achieved with the current situation?
I have been abused and insulted by kids who have never attended any political meetings in their life. Most of them have privileged backgrounds and went to private schools and are now working with blue chip companies. They can afford data to share the same social media platforms with me on social media and roll out insults.
They have been made to believe that they need a candidate from their tribe to validate their Nigerian citizenship without knowing that they insult themselves by doing so. I do not need anyone to be President to be a Nigerian. The level of bigotry is unbelievable. We cannot divide the country along ethnic line just to win elections.
In view of the Constitutional requirements, restructuring this country will require the involvement of all the States and tribes of the Federation.
The honest truth is that the greatest opposition to the restructuring will come from the North. However, today, we have as a major candidate from the North with the capacity and experience to convince his brothers that the restructuring is for the prosperity of everyone.
He needs our support to do that. Why would I not give him the support because he is from my tribe? Atiku Abubakar has the history with the promotion of a restructured Nigeria. As far back as 2002, he wrote a book on that even as a sitting Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Many people do not know that during the Abacha Constitutional Conference in 1995, that despite Anambra State having big wigs like Odumegwu Ojukwu and Alex Ekwueme (both of blessed memory) the involvement of a then young Atiku Abubakar was needed to broker the compromise reached between the North and the South at the conference.
How do I explain that to these young brothers and sisters who suddenly found their voices and the only thing they know how to do is shun out insults?
I am unapologetically supporting Atiku Abubakar to be the next President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria because of his proven track records of achievements and experience. Bigotry pays no one.
Please, let’s join hands to make it happen. It is in the interest of our children that Atiku Abubakar wins the 2023 Elections. As one, we can make it happen. Read more.
Nnewi South LGA, Anambra State