Second Republic member of the House of Representatives, Mr Junaid Mohammed has come under attack from prominent socio-cultural groups; Afenifere and Ohanaeze over his statement that the North will present a candidate for 2023 presidential election.
National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Mr Uche Achi-Okpaga said that Mohammed was chasing shadows by his declaration that Igbo can’t have the presidency in 2023. Mohammed in an interview with Saturday Sun, today, stated that zoning and rotation of power had collapsed, and as such power must remain in the North in 2023. He also accused Ohanaeze of collect- ing millions of Naira to support Mr Atiku Abubakar during the just concluded presidential election.
Achi-Okpaga said, “Junaid is leaving substance to chase shadows. In the first place, you can recall that Obasanjo brought a debt relief for Nigeria, now Nigeria owes about 24 trillion naira and you can imagine how much this government has accumulated in debts for Nigeria. He should be talking about substance and not chasing shadows.”
“He wants to use Ohanaeze’s name to gain cheap popularity, what kind of nonsense is that? He should talk about changing the status of Nigeria, we are no longer the giant of Africa, now we are the 6th most miserable nation in the whole world and yet he is not talking about that. When the government closed the account of opposition politicians, we know how a bullion van entered one person’s compound and nobody talks about that.
“Where did Atiku get money to give Ohanaeze? It was the present executive of Ohanaeze that started the issue of restructuring in 2017 when they were sworn in. We were able to galvanise other regional bodies, Afenifere, Middle Belt Forum and Pandef. You can’t just begin to say things that are inconsequential.
“We didn’t vote for him because he is in PDP, we didn’t vote for him because he is a northerner. We voted for him because he was disposed to restructuring and that has been our standpoint from the onset. How can somebody wants to divert attention now and begin to say how Ohanaeze collected money?
“When we started, we told him that if he restructures Nigeria, the clamour for presidency would subside appreciably. If you are able to restructure Nigeria, people will find their feet and provide enabling environment for people to surge on economically and the struggle for presidency will subside, because everybody wants to go into presidency with ethnic chauvinist, with prejudiced sentiments on how to displace persons and perhaps place his region at an advantage. If the rule of law is obeyed, human right is observed, why will people begin to struggle and agitate. People will find their feet and forget that there is a government. This is what we are clamouring for; restructure this country and the agitation will subside. Movement for the Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra will stop.
“Agitations here and there even in the North will stop. Clamour by OPC will also stop; likewise restiveness in Niger Delta will come to an end. People will shift attention in getting what is legally theirs. Junaid is not serious when he begins to say that Igbo should forget 2023. Is he God? The re- sources belong to the people. People are the employers, while those in government are their employees. Politics belongs to the people; every four years people will raise an employee through voting.
“If you have a very genuine electoral process, people will choose who will lead them, but when make a caricature of the system because you are in authority, that becomes shameful. The Igbo are race you cannot just do without. When Obasanjo was in power, he assembled the cream of Igbo intelligentsia into his government and they had to put things in place. Their wealth of experience and ingenuity were brought to bear on the government, and they were able to get debt relief and the economy boomed.
“When Jonathan was there, Nigeria became the biggest economy in Africa, but today, Nigeria’s economy has nosedived; we are the poverty capital of the world and the sixth most miserable place to live. For decades that the North has been in power, what difference has it made in the lives of Northerners?
“About three days ago, Dangote lamented that over 60 per cent of northerners in the Northwest and Northeast live below poverty level. What of the educational level? If you go there, people are suffering. These are issues that Junaid should be addressing, and not this rubbish that Ohanaeze collected money from Atiku, and power remaining in the North. No matter how you see it, after the war, with 20 pounds, the Igbo man started life all over, but can anybody believe that such thing ever happened to them. We are not worst hit in this country.
“What we are clamouring for, which is restructuring that is even to the advantage of the North because of its land mass and fertile soil for agriculture.
Once you just mention restructuring, the people will think that you want to take government from them because they think that it is the only thing they have and once they leave it they are out completely. That is not true, and it is diversionary. It is just that people are clamouring to be in power without knowing what to do with the power. Until you empower people economically, your being in power for years, is meaning less.”
In the same vein, Spokesman for Afenifere, Mr Yinka Odumakin, said Mohammed’s statement is evidence that some people are power mongers.
According to him, Nigeria is in serious trouble and only restructuring of the country will bring solution.
“Juniad’s position shows that some of our countrymen are just power mongers.
In the midst of what Nigeria is passing through now, is it ceding power that should be our concern? As a matter of fact, what have they done with the power? Even Dangote was lamenting three days ago about the abject poverty in the North, when he said that over 60 per cent of people in the Northwest and Northeast live below poverty level.
“As at the end of March 2015, Nigeria’s total debt portfolio was N12 trillion and in four years of Buhari administration, it is N24 trillion now. Nigeria today is among the sixth most miserable countries in the world and we are the world headquarters of poverty. See the way our country is – kidnappers and killers are on rampage all over the country. There is no direction for the economy, and for the polity.
All they are concerned about is how to rig and hold on to power, but for what purpose? They can aspire to rule forever, but as far as it is to misrule the country, and at some point other people are bound to ask, ‘what inheritance do we have in this,’ and that will be the defining moment.
“The solution is that we have to restructure this country and allow people to run their lives, but to think that a group will continue to misrule all of us for eternity, something will give up at a point.
“They should not expect those of us who are fighting for restructuring will continue for the rest of our lives, our children will grow up and start shouting restructuring also again. Other people will rise after us and say we have had enough of it, and say to your tents. They want to control power and turn the rest of us to Almajiris.”