Anyone Who Witnessed Biafra War Will Not Support IPOB – Ibeh - News and More

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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Anyone Who Witnessed Biafra War Will Not Support IPOB – Ibeh

Chief Chidi Ibeh is a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the immediate past Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Imo state. In this interview with ANOLU VINCENT, he speaks on a number of national issues including the activities of the Indigenous People Of Biafra (IPOB), alleged cracks within the APC political family. Excerpts:

Recently, the Minister of Women Affairs, Aisha Alhassan was quoted by the media as saying that she would rather support former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar to President Muhammadu Buhari for the 2019 presidential race. For a serving Minister to have made this statement against her boss, is this not an indication of a crack within the APC political family?
Not at all. In APC, we allow people to express their individual opinions and we do not gag anybody from speaking out on any national issue. In APC, you see democracy at work unlike what is obtained in other parties. Like I said, the statement by Aisha Alhassan is strictly her personal opinion and feelings. But the question is this “what is the quantum and degree of her statement and of what impact will it make on the APC”? The minister by her statement has only showcased and expressed her support to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar but the entire APC political family is not losing sleep about this. After all, she is just one member out of millions of APC members spread across the 36 states of the federation and Abuja. Can you tell me of any other high ranking member of the APC who has spoken in the same vein with Aisha Alhassan? The answer is capital No.
Some people are in government without followers. The minister should tell us the quantum of her followers. Again, I still maintain that the minister is entitled to her opinion after all, we are operating in a democratic environment but in expressing one’s opinion on any sensitive issue, one should be able to gauge or assess the impact of one’s statement so as to know whether it will have any effect or not.
If you are a president or a governor and you appoint me in your cabinet, it means that you mean well for me, for my family, my state, my tribe and my geo-political zone and it is incumbent upon me to demonstrate absolute loyalty and solidarity to you in appreciation of the honour done to me and my people instead of biting the hand that is feeding me because there are thousands and millions of people who have the same qualification with me which earned me the appointment and who can even perform better than I can do.
The statement reportedly credited to Aisha Alhassan is an abuse of privilege and a demonstration of ingratitude to her employer. I had expected her to thank Mr. President for the honour done her through her appointment as a minister and to show affection and appreciation. Her personal relationship with the former Vice President is secondary and should not have come into the government she is serving.
Nigerians are writhing in pains arising from the nation’s recession but the minister of information “Lai Mohammed was recently quoted as saying that we have come out of the economic quagmire. Do you agree with him?
I quite agree with the minister because, the indication is there that there is light at the end of the tunnel and this has begun to manifest both at the national and international levels. But the president being a seasoned administrator who is consistently taking a measured stock of the situation has said that we should not celebrate yet until there is sufficient food on the tables of the masses.
Things are gradually getting better and the more we get into social activities, the brighter will be the prospect of our economy. Economic recovery is usually a gradual process which entails adequate planning and time which will add steam to our local industries. I can assure you that in no distant time, we all will smile because the president is keen to bail the nation from its economic doldrums precipitated by the departed PDP administration.
What is your position on the clamour from some quarters to restructure the nation?
As a matter of fact, there is absolutely nothing wrong for us to come together and restructure but the question is this, “what are the factors to be tabled for discussion”?.
For us to restructure, the recommendations of the confab put in place by former president Goodluck Jonathan should be released for the consumption of all of us.
We should review the confab so that we can get copies of the resolution otherwise we cannot make any headway.
Restructuring is the responsibility of the National Assembly and it should come in form of a bill and it must fall within the provision of our 1999 constitution as amended. So we must critically look at the Constitution.
What is your take on the activities of IPOB in the South East?
We are all aware of what IPOB has been doing. The boys have completely deviated from, the usual norms and ethics which pressure groups are noted for. If you have grievances and agitations to get something, you have to apply decency, responsibility and moral etiquette to go about this. You do not take the law into your hands to realise your ambition, otherwise the state is there to call you to order.
The IPOB boys recently broke loose in some parts of Abia state as is usual of them and the Operation Python Dance of the Army was drafted to quell any form of insurrection. The Operation Python Dance in Abia was a desideratum to safeguard lives and properties and to consolidate our corporate existence as a nation. It is regrettable that the IPOB boys have shamelessly and retrogressively deviated from the path of decency, morality and rectitude, threatening the unity of the country and nobody in his right senses can tolerate this.
You know that the South East is famous for commercial activities and people from all walks of life come here to do one business or the other. So we are not expected to indulge in any act or action that can disrupt businesses in our area.
Any action to safeguard our unity, oneness and corporate existence as a nation should be of paramount concern to all of us but the way and manner the IPOB boys are going is really not the best. Anybody who witnessed the three year Civil war in the country which lasted from 1967 to January 1970 and its disastrous effects cannot indulge in any act that can provoke a repeat of those gory years and will therefore not support IPOB.
At this Point in time, the South East is supposed to be immersed and engrossed in actions and deeds that will strengthen the nation’s economy, development and growth because this will ultimately have multiplier effects on the well being of the Igbos.
I must commend the president Muhammadu Buhari for his genuine love for the South East and the presence of soldiers in respect of the recent incident in Abia state was inevitable and was not meant to regiment our people. Let me use this opportunity to advise our people to continue to go about their legitimate duties in the state without fear of molestation by anybody more especially the IPOB people because we do not have them here in Imo. The government is there to protect all of us. The IPOB boys are saying that they are no longer interested to be part of the Nigerian project but the question is this, “how many are they in number? Are they up to 25% of the entire population of the South East? Even if they are up to 25% in number, can 25% decide the fate of 75%?.
Of course, the answer is again capital no. IPOB should stop what it is doing because it will not help us.
Here in Imo, there is nothing like IPOB because his Excellency, Owelle Rochas Okorocha has remained consistent and vociferous on the need for national unity and integration and his message has been imbibed by our people.
Right now, you can only hear of IPOB outside the shores of Imo state and the few who parade themselves as IPOB members are nothing but false prophets in sheep’s clothing.
Governor Okorocha’s Rescue Mission Government which originally enjoyed credibility and popularity among the people now seem to be losing steam because of some of his perceived harsh policies such as the relocation of Ekeukwu Owerri Market. As the commissioner for commerce and industry, why did you not advise the governor to drop the idea following sharp opposition by the indigenes of the Owerri Municipality?
The decision to relocate Ekeukwu Owerri Market was arrived at 3 years ago by the state Executive Council in which I was a member. Indeed, the decision to dismantle the market was that of the Executive council and not that of Governor Rochas Okorocha. This is one thing many people did not know. His Excellency -Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha did not wake up one morning to relocate the market. Again, I want to let you know that the decision to relocate the market was in the best interest of our people. Governor, Okorocha has not relocated the market for his own personal interest. He does not own a single lock up shop in the market and is not interested in owing any there.
The relocation is in line with the urban renewal policy of the state government, meant to give all parts of the state a face lift. Owerri, the state capital has since the creation of the old Imo state grown into a big city, with a heavy population density, expansion of structures. The Owerri of the 1960’s, 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s is not the same Owerri, that you see today.
What used to be a mere hamlet before Governor Okorocha came on board 6 years ago has since been transformed into a Modern City in accordance with the global wind of western civilization and modernity. Those kicking against the relocation of Owerri main market are doing so out of selfish interest and out of ignorance, primitivity and superstition.
To be sure, we decided to remove the market because it used to be a comfortable place for criminals to coverage and to carry out their nefarious devilish operations. They sold Indian hemps, human parts, dangerous drugs, held people hostage, illicit alcohols and the market was a rendezvous for cult groups and we said no that this cannot be allowed to continue.
The opponents of the Ekeukwu Owerri relocation are really crying wolf where there is none.
Right now, the state government has installed a unified market development system and a congrant market system.
By this, I mean a unified market Development model which will add impetus to commerce and industry in the state.
Governor Okorocha has put in place a 6 month moratorium for the provision of shops in the new market at Egbeada. The first 3 months is for the traders to settle down and the other 3 months is for them to get into real business without any financials obligation on them.
There were about 4,300 shops in the former Ekeukwu Owerri market as against over 11,000 now provided in the new markets by the state government.
The South East is still crying of being marginalised by the President Buhari administration, but those of you in the APC seem not to be doing anything about this. Are you not worried now?
Let me tell you, the office of a President or state governor is such that you do not throw the appointments of personal aides anyhow. It is an issue of relationship because domestic appointments are not made based on geographical spread, state or zone but strictly on relationship.
The President has the constitutional powers to appoint anybody he likes as his aid irrespective where the person comes from and nobody should begrudge him about this.
But if you are talking of the appointment of members of the federal executive council who are ministers, the president took steps to ensure that all the 6 geopolitical zones are accommodated and so the South East should not complain of being marginalized.
Do we not have ministers of South East extraction, chairmen of boards of Federal parastatals and all that? Where then lies the noise of marginalisation.

( The Independent)

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