October 26, 2021

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Real reasons Ndigbo are dumping PDP for APC — Ebonyi commissioner

Ebonyi State Commissioner of Information Hon. Uchenna Francis Orji, in this interview, explained why some state governors in the South East and others are joining the APC from PDP. He also spoke on attacks on police formations and other places in the region saying Nigerians have not learnt from the country’s civil war.

The Southern governors’ forum recently met in Asaba, Delta State and banned open grazing. Some said it was too hasty and generalised, what is your take on it?

Those concerns are inevitable in a time like this when there are rising security challenges. The stance of the southern governors on open grazing is not out of place, but my take is that the reaction we are getting is not unexpected.

What is important is not to continue the blame game but to have a meeting point or a dialogue for a consensus on the issue. And it should be admitted that the farmers/herders clashes have been contributory to insecurity and the lack of confidence we are having amongst ourselves.

What do you make of the attacks on police formations and other places in Ebonyi and other South East states?

Every man and woman of good will who believes in one Nigeria is not happy with these developments; it is extremism and not needed in these agitations. Stakeholders must rise and speak against the destruction of public and private facilities and even lives; we need to speak up. But we must appreciate what the National Assembly is doing by going to the zones to see what can be done to avert the crisis.

We don’t believe in name-calling – like calling IPOB or Fulani – but identifying the criminal elements and ensuring that they face the law. But what is most fundamental is to ensure that those agitations, fear and worries of the people are addressed.

We have to appeal to all persons to lay down arms because war is nobody’s friend. Let’s lay our arms because Nigeria belongs to all of us. We need to engage our leaders constructively. We need to come to the round table with love. The civil war would have taught us a hard lesson; unfortunately, even those that were there during the war are not telling their children the effects of the war.

We are not telling the children what happened then and its effects. Look at what is happening in Syria, look at what is happening in other war-torn countries. We need to know that; we need to be wise by not going into violence or banditry.

The National Assembly has commenced zonal public hearing on the amendment of the 1999 Constitution. What areas should be amended to end the agitations in the country?

The government of Ebonyi State has inaugurated a 19-man committee to speak on the review of the 1999 Constitution. Fortunately, I am part of the committee headed by the Speaker of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly. When they are done, they will send it to the National Assembly. It will soon start and I know that it will be the position of all Ebonyi people.

Despite the importance of opposition, is the country not heading towards a one-party state with the defection of your boss, the Cross River State governor; and there plans by the Zamfara State governor to join APC?

As a progressive who is also democratic, we should look at the need for us to mainstream with the party at the centre for us to have equal opportunities in the Southeast to make known our agitation and tap into the opportunities at the federal level. This is very good for my tribe. The fact is that every governor is taking this decision based on conviction.

I believe that the governor of Cross River State has his reason. For us in Ebonyi State, we did this to mainstream with the party at the centre. If you look at the 1960 political development, Ndigbo have always mainstreamed with the party at the centre and that was the ideology Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe bequeathed to the South East.