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Amaechi urges Igbos on position in national politics

The Minister of Transportation,
Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has called on Igbos to rise up to the challenge
of being in the government at the centre by upping  their politics from
regional to national.

R-L… President-General,
Ohaneze Ndi Igbo World-Wide, Chief John  Nnia Nwodo, the Obi of
Onitsha, HRM Nnaemeka Alfred Achebe, the 
Honorable Minister of
Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi  Amaechi,  the Vice 
Chancellor, Nnamdi Azikiwe University (NUA) Prof. Joseph E. Ahaneku, Head of
Service, Anambra State and Representative of the State Governor, Hon. Harry Udo
during the cutting of cake to mark the 12th Nnamdi Azikiwe University Lecture,
titled: “The Igbo in the Politics of Nigeria,” at Awka, Anambra State,
He said that could be achieved
by collaborating with other regions of the country to form a national bond of
collective development, adding that the All Progressives Congress (APC), a
party with a national base covering states in all geopolitical zones of Nigeria
could be a facilitating platform for this.
Amaechi stated this while
delivering a lecture tagged “The Igbos in the politics of Nigeria,” at the 2018
Convocation Lecture of the Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Awka, Anambra State.
Amaechi traced the Igbos
regional patriotism to the issue of Igbo identity and Igbo emotionalism, the two
main issues that according to him, may have impeded Igbo political advancement
in Nigeria.
He cited the book, The
History of The Igbo People, by  Professor Elizabeth Isichei, which stated
that “in the pre-colonial times, The Igbo people had no real sense of ‘pan-Igbo

“The villagers view of external reality was a sharp dichotomy, ‘them
and us’, with the sense of attachment to ‘us’ growing weaker as the unit grew
larger – the family, the lineage, the village, the village group. Invariably, they
[the Igbo] felt a strong local patriotism”. She makes the point that a sense of
pan-Igbo identity came only when the Igbo finds himself outside Igboland as was
the case during slave trade and “when colonial conquest and rule violently
extended the categories through which the Igbo perceived the world.”
Amaechi however noted that
“what is true of the Igbo in the past may not be true today. How people respond
to issues today maybe different from how they responded in the past. But the
one that has remained true is the issue of Igbo emotionalism. The Igbo historical
past is very important and at certain times it has been quite tragic. But we
cannot remain trapped in our past and as someone once said, we cannot wish away
the war that took place but we cannot continue to move forward with our heads
slightly inclined backwards. You will either trip or not move fast enough.
Don’t forget that you are in a race with other groups. Nigeria of the sixties
is markedly different from Nigeria of today and the Igbo nation would have to
adjust to that reality and strategize accordingly.”
He referenced King Jaja of
Opobo and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as key figures to emulate and achieve even better.
“Jaja was the Igbo born champion of the 19th century and Zik of the 20th
century. The 21st century yearns for that champion.  The theatre of
politics for the coastal and inland states of Eastern Nigeria before
colonialism, was in Bonny and for the colonial and post-colonial politics of
Nigeria, it was in Lagos. Jaja excelled in Bonny while Zik excelled in Lagos.
Why is Abuja politics so difficult for the Igbo to play? Perhaps, we are on the
wrong track and employing the wrong paradigms. The Igbo nation should engage
with others and immerse itself fully in national politics just like Jaja and
Zik did. The handshake across the Niger celebrated recently in Enugu by Ohaneze
Ndigbo and Nzuko Umunna is welcome but a handshake across the Benue is most
desirable now.
“Zik has been the only Igbo
politician, so far, to attract political and electoral support outside the
South East. After the 1979 elections, he encouraged the NPP to go into alliance
with the northern dominated National Party of Nigeria [NPN].
“Since 1999, the Igbo people
have always voted for the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP]. There is nothing
wrong with that, but the question must be asked; has the PDP justified that
support or reciprocated it in any manner? Is that support really earned? The
complaint now is that the All Progressive Congess [APC] government of President
Muhammadu Buhari abandoned the South East and is marginalizing them. Without
conceding to that, let us compare a situation where the PDP you voted for gave
you a few appointments here and there and denied you any major developmental
projects. As against the APC government of President Buhari, you did not vote
for and who even if he denied you appointments, has certainly not denied you
crucial developmental projects,” Amaechi said.
He listed some developmental
projects being embarked upon by the Buhari administration in the East, “The
Enugu – Port Harcourt dual carriageway abandoned since 1999 by the PDP is being
handled with dispatch by this government, including both sections of the Enugu
– Onitsha dual carriageway. Early works section four of the second Niger Bridge
is ongoing. Then you have the rehabilitation of the following roads: Oba –
Nnewi – Okigwe road linking Anambra state with Imo state, the Otuocha – Ibaji –
Nzam road in Anambra state, the Abakaliki – Onueke – Abomega – Afikpo road
[Ebonyi state], the Nnenwe – Uduma – Uburu road connecting Enugu state with
Ebonyi state, the Oji – Achi – Mmaku – Awgu road in Enugu state, the Ozalla –
Akpugo – Amagunze road [Enugu state] and the Ikot Ekpene – Aba – Owerri
dualization project linking Akwa Ibom, Abia and Imo states among others. Almost
all the important Igbo cities, Enugu, Owerri, Umuahia, Aba, Awka, Onitsha are
captured in the existing Calabar – Lagos railway project and the Port Harcourt
– Maiduguri standard gauge new railway projects approved by the President.”
Amechi concluded by urging
the Igbo nation to focus on solutions, not recriminations. “In what political
direction should the Igbo go? Let the quarrel with the north, real or imagined
stop. Let the recriminations stop and let us join hands as one people to chart
the way forward for a brighter future for Nigeria. We need to examine very
carefully the Igbo political trajectory and learn crucial lessons of history.
How did Jaja an Igbo slave found a multi ethnic state in Opobo and became the
King with the consent of the people? How did Zik achieve national prominence
and stature? We have an incredibly proud past, a rich political heritage forged
in the most difficult circumstances. We must therefore focus on constructing
the path to a proud future.”

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