The Minister of Transportation, Hon Chibuike Amaechi, in a surprising move yesterday took the campaign for President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term to Anambra State, urging Igbo people to vote for him (Buhari) for a second term as a way of giving him the chance to serve out the term of the North.
Amaechi, who was at the Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, as a lecturer to mark its 12th convocation, spoke on the topic: ‘The Igbo in the politics of Nigeria’.
The minister who started his lecture by insisting that he is an Igbo man, and should not be denied his heritage, said the problem of the Igbo in the politics of Nigeria was self-inflicted.
“We are not here for campaign; we are here for an academic exercise. If we were here for campaign, I would not be putting on this academic gown, but we must tell ourselves the truth about what Buhari has done.
“You (Igbo) did not vote for Buhari, true or false? You voted for PDP and what did they do for you? PDP abandoned the Enugu-Onitsha expressway since 1999, but Buhari is working on it, true or false?
“Buhari is working on the second Niger Bridge, he is working on the Otuocha-Ibaji-Abuja road, he is working on the Abakaliki-Onueke road, he is working on the Oji-Achi-Naku road in Enugu State, he is also working on Ozalla-Akpugo-Amagunze road. He is working on the Aba-Ikot Ekpene road.
“Under Buhari, all major cities of the South-east are captured in the existing railway project. Name one government that has done up to this within two years. Our problem is that we are just being emotional,” he said.
The minister called on the Igbo to rather focus on the solutions to their problems in politics instead of reproaches, saying part of the solution is to move into a national party after having been disappointed by sectional parties.
He described the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as regional parties which do not hold hope for the Igbo.
Jokingly, Amaechi said: “Igbo should go for confession, seek forgiveness and move into a national party, and look for way to fight from inside. They should vote for Buhari for a second term, and then force him out and look for Igbo president. Let the quarrel with the North, real or imagined, stop now.”
The minister had earlier said he was himself a full blooded Igbo man, urging those who were surprised why he was selected to deliver the lecture not to deny him his Igbo origin.
“My friend, Senator Abaribe, was asking me why it should be me who will deliver a lecture on Igbo in Nigerian politics, but I urge you to be the judge. Chibuike and Abaribe, which one sounds more Igbo?
Amaechi and Abaribe, which one is more Igbo? Now you see that I am Igbo.”
The President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Dr. Nnia Nwodo, who was also a guest at the lecture, however, punctured some of Amaechi’s claims, saying Nigeria was not operating as a true federation, as pockets of marginalisation still abound against the Igbo.
According to him, “I am yet to see a federation in which the security apparatus is domiciled in one section of the country. Doing so has not also solved the security challenges of the country.
“Our country is in a state of war, with no one declaring it. I refuse to agree with you that people should join a federal movement as you said. If our constitution is not revisited for people to live and feel safe, then we are wasting our time.
“Honourable minister, I urge you to fight for us. We are the true Nigerians. Whether we voted left or right, our behavioural pattern has shown confidence in Nigeria.
“Help us talk to your people and make them understand that whatever views they held during the war, tell them that the war is over.”
Earlier, the Chairman of the occasion, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, stated that the Igbo people suffered greatly after the war, but have been able to recover economically, but failed to do so in the area of politics.