Blunt, vocal and determined, award winning director Dickson Iroegbu has become a leading voice in the call for power shift to south east Nigeria. In this interview with Uzor Ngoladi, he further bares his mind on the impending doom that will befall Nigeria as an entity if the clarion call is not heeded in 2023. Excerpts:
Many pressure groups are agitating for a president of south east extraction come 2023. Don’t you think is premature?
We want power to move around the six geopolitical zones of Nigeria. It is the turn of the south east to lead Nigeria. The truth of the matter is that our case is like a pregnancy. When it is due for the child to be born, the child should come out naturally. If there is anything abnormal that will make the child not to come out when it is due, the mother of the child will definitely be seen as abnormal. Nigeria as a country is abnormal today because of the level of injustices that has been meted out to the south eastern part of the country. 2023 is actually the only available opportunity for Nigeria to redeem her image as it affects the south eastern part of Nigeria. After the civil war, we said ‘no victor, no vanquished’. How has that been applied as it affects the south easterners? You will agree with me that the south easterners have not been reconciled to mainstream Nigerian political system. 2023 provides us opportunity to do that. If we miss it, then people who are holding extreme position about Nigeria will be justified. If we are denied our rightful position to preside over Nigeria in 2023, I am sorry to say that Nigeria may no longer exist. That’s about it. You can’t keep pushing people to the extreme and expect them not to react. Dr Nwodo just granted an interview about this same matter. He clearly stated that the elites of eastern part of Nigeria will have sympathy towards Nnamdi Kanu’s struggle if we are denied presidency. Nnamdi Kanu has continued to say that there is no place for us in Nigeria. But we keep telling him to give us a chance in Nigeria. 2023 is the deciding factor. Every southern will reconsider the relationship that brought us together as a country if we don’t take a shot at the presidency. Nigeria’s amalgamation happened without consultation with the Nigerian people. There is urgent need to reintegrate the south easterners into the mainstream political structure of Nigeria in 2023. If this is not done, Nigeria will come to an end. There are prominent south easterners who are being singled out to preside over this nation. We have Peter Obi on our minds because everybody knows that we require a prudent leadership to save Nigeria. Without prudent management of the resources of Nigeria, we are in a mess as a country. Nigeria needs Peter Obi right now because Buhari’s government has battered Nigeria. There is no direction. The economy is comatose. The nepotism style of governance has divided the country. The government agencies are fighting each other. We need Peter Obi who has the experience and knows what to do on arrival. Power must shift to the eastern part of Nigeria and Peter Obi is equal to the task in 2023.
Governor El Rufai has added his voice to this agitation. Do you think he is being sincere or just playing to the gallery?
El Rufai wants power to shift to the south but he did not narrow it down to the south east. He is just re-echoing what they have in their constitution in APC. For them, power should rotate between north and south. We have gone beyond that north and south approach to governance. We have six geopolitical zones in Nigeria. It was discussed during the 1995 Abacha constitutional conference. El Rufai should first of all realize that Nigeria has come of age. Those who were born in 1999 during the birth of this democracy are now adults. The information we have is that El Rufai is part of the northern voices that has continued to fan the embers of division, conflicts and violence. Look at the level of violence in his state. Look at southern Kaduna. I expect El Rufai to be specific and make it clear that power must shift to south eastern Nigeria. He should call a spade, a spade and declare that an Igbo must become president. If an Igbo man says it, it is misunderstood. There is this palpable fear when an igbo man is mentioned. He should stop playing selfish politics. If you look at it clearly, he is positioning himself to become vice president. The rumour is rife that he will be running on a joint ticket with Rotimi Amaechi. El Rufai should be truthful to himself and put Nigeria’s interest first.
Bola Tinubu is also rumoured to be nursing presidential ambition?
All Nigerians are constitutionally qualified to contest for presidency. It is the right of every Nigerian to aspire for leadership but Nigeria is a peculiar nation. We must be deliberate about how we play politics. If the likes of Bola Tinubu who everyone agrees succeeded in building a political structure in south west with which he often negotiates with powers that be, for the interest of Nigeria he should shelve his selfish ambition. The south west has had eight years of presidency. The south west is about to finish eight years of vice presidency. What does Tinubu want? What is this greed for power? Lagos is already in his pocket. Beyond the zoning formula, Tinubu is not a character that I will personally want to have as a president of Nigeria. Tinubu is a greedy man and a kleptomaniac. I sincerely think that his ambition exposes his greed for power and wealth which he already has. Tinubu is a tribalist and will be worse than Buhari as a president. By now, Tinubu is supposed to start shopping for an Igbo president in APC where he is the national leader. Ogbonnaya Onu is a member of APC. Will you say he is not qualified to lead this country? We have enough Igbos in APC that can lead Nigeria. Tinubu should not allow ambition to becloud him from good reasoning. He should learn from MKO Abiola’s experience.
How would you react to the crisis in Edo State?
Tinubu is the national leader of APC. Of course, he is directly involved in what is happening in Edo state. It is all about 2023. How can you disqualify a sitting governor that has served for four years based on allegations of certificate forgery? They just want to grab Edo state by all means. Edo is very important to them but unfortunately Edo State is not Lagos. My only advice to Edo people is that Nigerians are with them. Let the elections not be violent. Choose your leaders by yourselves not by godfathers. Godfatherism was abolished by Adams Oshiomole, Godwin Obaseki is continuing in the vision to kill godfatherism. It does not matter whether the godfather is Adams Oshiomole or Bola Tinubu. Godfatherism should be totally eradicated in Nigeria because it has not paid us. The violence we experience during elections in Nigeria is caused by godfathers. That is the truth.