Film maker and presidential aspirant, Mazi Dickson Iroegbu takes a swipe at President Muhammadu Buhari for making what many considers as genocidal comments against the Igbos in Nigeria. He bares his mind on the political solution to Nigeria’s myriad of problems to Dr Uzor Ngoladi in this interview. Excerpts:
What is your reaction to Buhari’s tweet which has been described as genocidal?
It was not a tweet, they only transcribed what Buhari said at the villa when the INEC team paid him a visit. INEC came to brief Buhari about the arson they have been facing in the South East. Rather than proffer a solution to the problem, Buhari expressed his underbelly view about the Igbo people of South East Nigeria. It is not a tweet because the video is in the public domain already. It is even on National television. The damage done on the psyche of the Igbo man cannot be repaired by deleting the tweet or video. It is a clear expression of hate by the leader of Nigeria against citizens of Nigeria from the South East which is very unnecessary and unprovoked. The worst has not happened in the South East. The worst has happened in Katsina where Buhari comes from and nobody has seen him make genocidal statements about the carnage in his home state and the entire northern Nigeria. It is not as if anything unusual happened in the South East. Buhari simply hates the Igbos. As an Igbo man, we don’t hate. Igbo people don’t hate Buhari, we just hate what he represents. Igbo loves prosperity, peace and life. If we perceive that any leader is coming with policies that will deny us of prosperity or progress, we will resist him. Igbos are mobile mentally and otherwise. We are talented, gifted and blessed people. All we need is an enabling environment. Our resistance of Buhari in 2015 election clearly is because of Buhari’s hatred for the Igbos. Buhari has always hated the Igbos. The coup that brought Buhari to power in 1983 is to prevent Dr Alex Ekwueme from succeeding Alhaji Shehu Shagari. 2015 is our affirmation of the belief that Buhari does not represent our Chi. Our Chi is a prosperous God. He says we should come into the world and have dominion and replenish the earth. Not to destroy the earth. Igbos are not destructive; we value God’s creation and anything that has the breath of God. We rejected Buhari at the polls and we don’t regret it because he has not proved us wrong. But he still has the chance at redemption. The best he can do is to create an enabling environment for an Igbo man to succeed him in 2023. We don’t hate Buhari. We only hate his policies which are anti-progressive.
The call for the suspension Buhari’s Twitter handle, was it necessary?
It was very necessary. In fact, that sent the right signal to the international community that has been silent. The genocide of 1967 to 1970 is still fresh in our memory. Nigeria and the global community owe the Igbo people an apology. This may just be the beginning. Nnamdi Kanu that is now being compared with Buhari was never elected. It is an insult to compare the president of Nigeria with Nnamdi Kanu. Whatever Kanu represents, cannot be compared to the president of Nigeria. Whatever is Kanu’s ideology does not concern the average Nigerian. We did not vote Nnamdi Kanu as president. Nnamdi Kanu is a creation of Buhari. The antecedents of Buhari since he came to power in 2015 is what gave birth to Nnamdi Kanu’s struggle. Buhari is an unrepentant ethnic bigot. Nnamdi Kanu simply cashed in on it. If there is anybody to be blamed for the chaos in eastern Nigeria, it is president Muhammadu Buhari. IPOB was a peaceful organization. They were killed all over the eastern Nigeria while involved in peaceful protest. They were provoked to retaliate but they did not. The army and police killed them via the command of Buhari who then classified IPOB as a terrorist organization. This happened while herdsmen were ravaging the nation, raping, maiming and killing citizens. Buhari has never uttered a word to condemn the activities of Fulani herdsmen. Who gave Buhari power to make such declaration? Is it not a United Nations affair to declare a group of people as terrorist? South East is the most peaceful part of Nigeria until Buhari declared IPOB as a terrorist group. We must hold him responsible. We must commence the process of saving Nigeria. Nigeria can be sacrificed for the life of one Nigerian. Every life is sacred. People are dying like flies and the president is still threatening genocide. It is very disgusting. What will Nigerians remember Buhari for?
Lai Mohammed believes that Twitter is being very partial as regards Buhari? Do you align with that thought?
It is very sad. To imagine that Lai Mohammed is a lawyer is very unfortunate. I pray that Twitter goes further to yank off Lai Mohammed from their platform so that he will realize that the action was carried out to save lives. What is the purpose of government? The primary duty of any government is to protect lives and properties. Lai Mohammed’s position has proved that most of them in Buhari’s government reason like cows. Look at the people that surround Buhari. The president hardly knows his left from his right.
Ohaneze Ndigbo has called for an apology from Buhari…
Buhari’s apology is worthless to me if he does not show genuine repentance. Without genuine repentance there can’t be forgiveness. Genuine repentance here is that Buhari should save himself from destruction and stop the hatred against the Igbos. The Igbo does not hate Buhari. He must change his policies for the good of the Nigerian people. Buhari’s re-election is a clear reinforcement of failure that is why Nigeria is facing this level of carnage. Under his watch nobody is safe. Those children abducted in Niger State, what is Buhari’s reaction? Over 3.5 million Igbos were killed during the civil war from 1967 to 1970, most of them women and children and you are still threatening war? Most of them were starved of salt and food by that civil war.
The south east governors were expected to issue a statement as regards Buhari’s comments but we are yet to hear from them?
We have conquered governors in the south east. They are conquered. They are lily-livered men. We also have weak army generals from the south east. How can your fellow retired general be threatening to exterminate your people and you are quiet about it?
But the Igbo generals are not in power?
They don’t need to be in power. They can speak. They have their mouth. They can talk to their fellow general. Both our elected officials and retired service men are not engaging the people. Do they want a repeat of 1967? Buhari is talking down at us and trying to intimidate the south east. But we have men who are speaking up. The likes of Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe are talking. We thank God for him.
There is another argument that Buhari was quoted out of context that he was just against people who were burning down INEC offices in the south east?
You can’t take away native intelligence from the Igbo man. We are no fools. The attorney general told us Buhari’s mind ahead of time by comparing herdsmen with spare parts dealers. Watch the video. It is clear. It was vintage Buhari as usual. I have never seen Buhari speak so eloquently. He was never quoted out of context.
Finally, do you really believe in South East secession?
The south easterners are not really asking for secession. The few agitators have taken it to another level. They believe that Nigeria is treating them as second-class citizens. You are not treating me right and I am complaining and you are not listening to me? Sorry I cannot be a second-class citizen in my own country. If you will not give me my rightful place, allow me to leave. Let’s do it via referendum and find out how many Igbo people who want to leave Nigeria. There is nothing wrong with such agitation. That is the reason why we have democracy. Government of the people, by the people for the people. If the people are aggrieved, you must listen to them. The Nigerian people have left Nigeria a long time ago for Buhari and his herdsmen. Patriotism is dead in the hearts of most Nigerians. How can you be patriotic to a country that killed harmless protesters at the Lekki Tollgate who were waving the flag and chanting the National Anthem. We deserve better as Nigerians. Nigerians have left Nigeria for Buhari, not only the Igbo people. All we are asking for is equity, justice and fairness. The problem of Nigeria requires political solution. That means let everybody have a sense of belonging. Every Nigerian should support a south easterner to lead Nigeria as president in 2023. That is political equity and justice. That way, we can come back to the negotiating table. We may now adopt restructuring. A south east presidency will guarantee restructuring, development, peace, justice, equity and economic growth. That is the nature of the Igbo man. We are republicans by nature. We understand the true meaning of democracy. The Igbo man presidency will guarantee everything Nigeria has been missing which is leadership. In fact, the south east presidency will declare the entire nation a major construction site. For the good of Nigeria, let us adopt a political solution which is legitimate. Power should shift from the north to the south. When power comes to the south, you check south west geopolitical zone that have had 8 years presidency and 8 years as vice president. South south has had 5 years presidency and 2 years as vice president. The south east has not had it for even a day! That will be political justice that will douse the tension in Nigeria and by then we will have exited the plaque that is Buhari’s government. We will all realize that not all Fulani is evil. It is actually Buhari that is our problem, not the Fulani ethnic group.