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Rose Ejembi, Immediate past President General of the Yoruba Community in Benue State, Asiwaju Isaac Akinkunmi has urged all Nigerians to support the Igbo nation to attain the position of the presidency come 2023. Akinkunmi who is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tito Group of Companies maintained that supporting Igbo presidency is the only way the agitation for Biafra can die a natural death in the country.
Whether we like it or not, the race for 2023 has begun and we hear that some Nigerians have started gunning for the presidency. From your own perspective, where do you think the presidency should come from this time?
Some people have talked about zoning and others have talked about competence. To me, there is no tribe or community that is deficient in competent people, so the question of competence should not even be mentioned. Is it in Kano, Zamfara, Asaba or in the Agbaragba and so on that you will not find competent people to be president in this country? There are competent people everywhere. I support zoning because Nigeria is a diverse country. I support zoning in the sense that if we leave it as it is, the most likely thing is that only one section of the country will always produce the President because of population since democracy is a game of number. We all praise democracy but you know it has a serious flaw which is that it does not necessarily produce the most competent person as president. If ten wise men vote, their votes will amount to ten. If eleven foolish men vote, their vote will amount to eleven and so, the foolish men will be the winner because of their number. The foolish will rule over the wise. That is the flaw of democracy though it has been taunted as the best system of government. If we must keep living together as one Nigeria, everybody must have equal rights. We must be able to accommodate ourselves. At this present time, there’s nothing stoping an Igbo man from being president of this country after 50 years. There are many competent Igbo that can be president. If we want Biafra agitation to die, if we want to bury the agitation for the indigenous people of Biafra, it is time that the presidency goes to an Igbo man. He cannot as president bring about Biafra anymore. And of course, we have checks and balances. We have the national Assembly, we have the Judiciary. So, to give the Igbo man a sense of belonging to Nigeria and to bring Gowon’s declaration after the war which is ‘No Victor, No Vanquished’ to pass, I think it is time that we concede the presidency to an Igbo man. I think that will unite the country more than any other thing. If America could make a black man president, something that nobody could mention about 20 years ago, if anyone mentioned it 20 years ago that a black man would become president of America, people could bet their lives that it is not possible. Now, it’s not just a possibility but it has become one of the most successful presidents America ever had. When the Presidency was zoned to the Yoruba side because of the annulment of June 12, the whole country rallied round the President and Obasanjo had a successful tenure. If the Presidency is zoned to the Igbo side and the country rallied round, it will greatly unite the country; what we need in this country is unity. But constantly deliberately excluding the Igbo man from attaining the highest office makes no sense. For how long are we going to do this.
You recently advocated that the FG should allow responsible Nigerians to own sophisticated guns to defend themselves during attacks. May we know why you said so?
When you look at the security configuration of Nigeria and juxtapose it with the present level of insecurity, you will find that we are applying the security measures of 1960s when there was relative peace to the situation that we have today. There are illegal arms everywhere in the country. I think it is high time we had legal arms in the hands of responsible people to combat the illegal arms flying around. One thing that baffles me is that we are not holding the bull by the horns. In the 60s and 70s, the security situation was not in anyway near what we have today. So, the security measures configuration at that time was okay as of that time. But at this present level of insecurity, it is a situation we have never found ourselves before and an extraordinary situation required extraordinary measures to conquer. I really don’t know why our governments and our security agencies are shying away from taking measures that will combat this insecurity. In those days, it is unheard of that there are AK47 in the hands of civilians and in the hands of criminals. It was not in anyway common. But today, illegal arms are flying everywhere and we do know that with the present situation, our police are not enough; in fact, it is practically impossible for the police to provide security for every member of the Nigerian society. And every member of the Nigerian society today is subject to attacks from kidnappers, armed robbers, bandits, Boko Haram, herdsmen and all. And he is handicapped, he cannot defend himself. Let us look at what is happening even in our villages today in Zamfara, Katsina, Kaduna, Borno, Benue, name them. Armed bandits will just come and run over a village and strong men in that village cripples simply because they don’t bear arms to face them. A situation in which we have credible people in that society also armed will serve as a kind of check and deterrent to bandits and armed robbers and kidnappers wanting to invade that village. But they know that the people they are coming to attack are unarmed and it is made worse by the public announcement that even licensed citizens should submit their arms. That is a prayer answered for kidnappers and armed robbers and bandits and so on. And it’s a prayer unanswered for responsible law abiding citizens. We should remember that every measure comes with its own disadvantage. But in this regard, the advantages of responsible people having arms outway the disadvantages. Let’s face it, it has to get worse before it gets better. At the present situation Nigeria finds herself, community policing without arming the people in the community makes no sense because what we need is community policing that can combat and not the ones that will just go around gathering information. That’s not helpful to the villagers. You can imagine the kind of people we have in IDP camps. It’s in the news that even Boko Haram members are going around recruiting people from the IDP camps. These are people displaced by Boko Haram. And going to recruit from them again is because they had no choice and so, they succumb. This is really unfortunate. I cannot see a situation where a retired Senior army or police officer cannot be allowed to bear arms. This will be controlled arms. Asking everybody not to bear arms is throwing away the baby with the bath water which shouldn’t be. I see it as insensitivity to the plight of law abiding and unarmed citizens.
The level of insecurity across the country seems to be increasing by the day. What do you think can be done to check the situation?
Everyday you open the pages of newspapers, no day passes without someone being kidnapped somewhere. No day passes without some bandits running over one settlement or the other. No day passes without armed robbers attacking banks and in most cases, they get away with it. Even if they will later be arrested, the damage is done. But what we are looking for is to prevent this from happening. What can be done is to allow responsible people in the communities to bear arms. When bandits know that there are ten people in a community with AK47, that is enough deterrent for them not to come. In international politics, you have never heard of nuclear war. America is armed, Russia is armed and these all serve as deterrent. Not that they want to use it. North Korea will never submit its nuclear arsenals because it is using it as a deterrent against America. If you do this, we will also do this. So, America will not just go to invade North Korea. Let us now bring it down to our own local situation. If in Aliade for instance, they know that 20 citizens have AK47, armed robbers and kidnappers will think thrice before they invade that community. They invade because they know that the people are unarmed. And the only way to deter them is to have credible and responsible people in the society to bear these same types of arms. And you know what? It can be controlled. These guns are issued to licensed people and they are registered. What can be done is that the police will have a unit that will go about everyday to inspect these arms and to see that they are not misused.