Nigeria

2023 Presidency: Igbos Must Love Themselves First – Eze

Oil mogul, Prince Arthur Eze in this interview speaks on the agitation by the South-east to produce Nigeria’s President in 2023. OKECHUKWU OBETA was there for LEADERSHIP.

 Ahead of 2023, Ndigbo are saying that they should be allowed to produce the president of this country. What is your position in the project?

I started politics when I was very young. My father was a member Eastern House of Chiefs during the time of Nnamdi Azikiwe and then (Chief M. I) Opara. I used to open doors for politicians whenever they come around. I was very small then. My father never opposed any leader – be him a Yoruba or a Hausa man. It is not in our blood. We preferred to live in peace with everybody. For the Igbo to be president, they must love themselves. Do you love yourselves? Look at the South-east governors, do any of them ask whether you eat or not? Dunukofia Local Government Area makes about N150 million every month. Has Governor Obiano built anything in Dunukofia? Has he brought any industry to Anambra? Tell me, where will your children go tomorrow? Go to Yoruba land,  in Ogun, you will see industries. Go to Rivers you’ll see industries. We have no war with anybody. The North (Northerners) is very kind. If you go to Northern Nigerian, you will see Christian churches everywhere. There are Christian churches in Kano, Sokoto, Kaduna, Abuja and others yet they say there is hatred. Do we love ourselves as Igbo people? Provide something for you people, your own children. Very soon we shall die. Your children, where are you going to engage them? Which industry did they build? They didn’t build anyone, even if it is one that is producing toilet tissue. That is the problem.

Are  you going to use your position to make a case for Ndigbo?

Listen, only God can make Igbo man president. We shall pray to God to find an Igbo man who has character to help people. Northern people are kind. I would prefer someone who has conscience; somebody who will remember you. I don’t care where you come from. I went to the north; they didn’t know who I was. Abubakar Rimi gave me $12 million for Kano TV in 1980. I didn’t have N1. He called Governor Solomon Lar and he gave me $12 million. It was the same thing in Katsina, Borno and Kaduna. Then, they put me in oil business. They didn’t care where I came from. Tell me any Igbo man who can do that. During the time of President Goodluck Jonathan, we had the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Pius Anyim Pius What did he do for Igbo people? He brought Julius Berger and they tarred his own road – the one leading to his house. All our roads were bad. It is President Muhammadu Buhari that is tarring our roads now. Look at Enugu – Onitsha Road, Enugu – Port Harcourt Road, Second Niger Bridge. He went and modernized Zik’s grave. Did Jonathan do that? Jonathan’s people wrote petition against him. His people said that he took their land and built a house. They copied me the petition and I showed it to him. I said look at it, they are your people. You could not even help your people. What do you want the North to do?

By next year, the people of Anambra State will be electing another governor but there is this argument on zoning. Where do you stand on the issue of zoning?

The point is, if you see a good man, no matter where he is, go and help them. Let them have the opportunity; provided that there is a good human being from that area; not a criminal that will deal with the people when he acquires power. Any man from the minority who has not gotten that power should be allowed. This is because if you don’t do that, God can change things. God can change situations anytime.

Police zone 13 was recently inaugurated in your community, there are rumours that it was sited there in order to muscle the opposition in your town, and  that the governors  in the zone shunned the event because of some misgivings.

First of all, all the governors attended the inauguration. The governor of Enugu State sent the secretary to the state government. He was there in person. Ebonyi sent a representative. Anambra later sent the security adviser. In Anambra, Dunukofia or Ukpo is in a centralized position. From here to Enugu with the new express road is 20 minutes. From here to Ebonyi is about one hour using the road Buhari built for us. Here is a centralised place. Governor Obiano wanted it to be sited in Aguleri, his hometown. Aguleri and Umueri have been fighting war for many years, killing themselves. They are not on good terms. He has never reconciled them. He was talking about where to site zone 13. The most important thing is for him to reconcile Aguleri and Umueri communities. They are still fighting up till today. This is important. If he wants to take Zone 13, let him go and take it. It does not bother me where it is sited. How many years shall I live? Five or 10 years, I will go. Where you sit does not bother me and doesn’t make sense to me.

The point is that I didn’t even fight. I didn’t have the impression that I was fighting but when I heard that Obiano wrote a petition against me, I knew that there was war. I thought that he could have been happy we brought it to the centre. From here to his place is less than seven minutes; from here to Onitsha is seven minutes. I thought that we were working together until I heard that he went to Abuja to spray money. Some people threw him away. The other man told him ‘take this bag you kept here. I don’t want to take it. I have known Prince Eze for over 30 years. I didn’t know him because of money.’ So, they are sharing your money everywhere.

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