Ejike Metu, a seasoned politician, is a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, former House of Assembly candidate in Lagos. In this interview with EJIKEME OMENAZU, he spoke on crucial national issues including insecurity, the quest for Igbo presidency, the 9th National Assembly, among others. Excerpt:
Do you think that South East can produce the nation’s president in 2023 when it is believed that politicians from the zone don’t speak in one voice?
Which region speaks with one voice? If there is any region that has talked with one voice, it is the South East. Go and check their voting pattern, they have been consistent. What more do you need from them? They have been consistent, not minding what is happening today. There is a saying in my place that you may be hungry and you reject an offer of food. I want to tell you that I am one of those who do not like it when people talk down on the South East. Their unity of purpose is unassailable. They have been able to say with their votes, this is what we believe in consistently. They have made their votes count. It does not matter whether they are holding any office or not.
One thing I want you to know is that in politics, there is dissenting voice. Go to other regions, does it mean they don’t have dissenting voices? There is no way people will naturally agree on an issue. For me, the Igbos are so united and in harmony. The Igbos have always spoken through their votes. Politically speaking, the issue of presidency is not even something we are too ready for now.
I am not so in a hurry about Igbo president because of what is happening now. There are certain parameters that need to be on ground for it to be actualised. The experience of President Goodluck Jonathan is an eye opener. In as much as I want an Igbo man to be president, I am looking at a Nigerian president who will turn things around and remove the hardship in the land. I am not talking about an Igbo President or Yoruba President or an Hausa President. I am talking about a Nigerian President that will make me sleep with my two eyes closed; that will make me wake up in the morning and go to work; that will make me not worry about where the next meal will come from. I am looking at a President that will make me feel proud of being a Nigerian. That is what I am looking for this time. Igbo presidency is a question of time.
Several people from South East have been clamouring that 2023 is their turn to produce the nation’s president. How do you see the development?
Political leadership is a struggle. It is not given to you. Nobody will give it to you. Of course, you have to get up and seek for it. If there will be a president of Igbo extraction, how are the Igbo people uniting in the quest? The presidency is a ministry. I don’t know if they have Permanent Secretaries. I am not saying the Permanent Secretary must be an Igbo person. But, today if you walk into the Presidency, how many Igbo people would you see in the hierarchy of authority there, from the lowest to the highest, before you get to the president?
Do you see the Imo State governor, Emeka Ihedioha, taking the state to the next level?
When was Ihedioha sworn in? May 29. It is barely three months. I will not talk about the Ihedioha’s government. God has so ordained it that he should be the governor of Imo State. I am not from Imo State. But, I am praying for him. Fortunately, he is a member of PDP. Ihedioha does not know me but I am praying that he succeeds. He should do away with sycophants around him.
Are you satisfied with the new leadership of National Assembly, which a cross section of Nigerians feels will be a rubber stamp to the executive?
The National Assembly having been proclaimed and the officers elected, I will hold them responsible for anything that happens. We have not learnt from history. We read history and history will always have some lessons for us. When we do what we do as human beings, we think we know it all. There is this notion that ‘I want this person to be this or that because they will serve the purposes for which I am sending him and the person gets in there’. If he does not serve the purpose because he wants to be himself, it becomes an issue. As far as he doesn’t satisfy those purposes, he becomes a bad person and it affects the polity.
It heats up the polity. To that extent, I have tried to talk to some of them and say, ‘Allow somebody who you have put into position of authority to drive the powers that have been given to him. Don’t discourage the person.’ Now, people will say, they want to do this or that, fine. The language being used is Mr. President wants to go for second term. It is too early. You want to have a ten-year programme when your tenure is four years. It sends a lot of wrong signal. I am not bothered about what anybody wants to arrogate to himself. I believe members of the National Assembly are human beings who have something upstairs. They are going there to make history. Whichever way anybody wants to manipulate them, we are sitting and we are watching. Let us remember history. To the extent you have helped them to be there, allow them, there is separation of powers of the three arms of government.
Do you see President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, bringing a solution to the rising wave of insecurity in the land?
I don’t know. In the cause of politicking in 2015, one of selling points was that Buhari was a General in the Army and therefore, the issue of security is nothing to him. But four years and more down the line, I have my doubts and fears in view of what is happening in Nigeria today. The security situation has not gotten better. We don’t sleep with our eyes closed. The sordid things that happen make one to think that those who wrote that ‘Life is brutish” might have had Nigeria in mind. Nobody is secure in Nigeria again. The earlier something is done about it, the better for all of us.
We have no premium on life today. The essence of government and governance is security of life, which is the fundamental human right of every citizen. But today, I don’t know how much the life of a Nigerian worth. I don’t even know if the government thinks a Nigerian has right to his life. I am afraid because that is supposed to be the primary concern of government, to ensure that every Nigerian, as much as possible, is made to understand that his life counts.
Would you subscribe to the call for state police to solve the problem of insecurity in the nation?
The need for state police has been there. The governors are said to be Chief Security Officers of their states. But, they are just Chief Security Officers by mouth. What is happening is comical, as a Chief Security Officer of a state cannot order the Police Commissioner in the state to do anything. The Commissioner of Police will have to wait for an order from above. The issue of state and local government police is something we need to look into. The security architecture in Nigeria needs to be holistically reshuffled.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) recently revealed that over 200 associations are awaiting registration as political parties given the fact that Nigeria has about 63 political parties, which was said to have created problem during the 2019 general elections. What’s your take on that?
It is laughable because for now, I don’t think that should be the focus of INEC. I was thinking they should be more interested in the conduct of positive elections. They should be thinking how elections would be free and fair. Registering more political parties will create more confusion during elections. Then you will have Akara and Bread Party, Akara and Akamu Party, Corn and Pear Party. If we have 200 parties, how will you arrange them in the ballot paper? It is laughable.