Chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Ebonyi State, Chief Abia Onyike has alleged that the North and President Muhammadu Buhari negotiated for presidency with the Northern Atlantic imperialist powers on the basis of mortgaging the Nigerian economy because they were uncomfortable with former president Goodluck Jonathan’s relationship with the China and the Far East.
Onyike who made this allegation in an interview with Obinna Ezugwu in Abakailiki, also dismissed Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade as mere sloganeering aimed at winning public support. He also spoke on the crisis rocking the PDP.
The PDP is engulfed in a seemingly unending leadership crisis. What is your interpretation of what is going on?
Well, it’s a normal process of political in-fighting that is going on. The last court ruling resolved the problem in favour of Modu Sheriff and that’s where the party is. Already, there are people who believe that they cannot accept that court pronouncement which means that there is a difference between legal victory and political victory, and that’s why many members are pushing for a political solution. And there is some truth in it, because at the end of the day, members of the party are expected to come together and work as one family. So, judicial resolution of the problem may not carry everybody along until there is a political resolution which will guarantee that unity is made to return and there would be compromises here and there. That way, the party can forge ahead.
There are those who say Sheriff was planted by APC to destabilize the party?
I don’t believe in that, Sheriff has not done anything to demonstrate that. What happened in the PDP was an internal problem; everybody should share in the blame. There were people who invited him to lead the party at a certain critical moment in the life of the party, so we should not belabour some of these issues. We should develop a more sophisticated and tolerant attitude. I don’t believe that anybody is working for the ruling party. The ruling party may have had its own calculations, but if the PDP had put its acts in order, they wouldn’t have been suffering from the mess that is playing out. So let them look inwards and resolve the problem and stop blaming external forces.
With all these crises, it seems the party is nearing its end. Do you feel it is possible for it to recover?
Yes, if the Supreme Court ruling comes up before the end of this year, it would provide a benchmark for the political resolution of the problems. Whether the Supreme Court rules in favour of Sheriff or the Makarfi group; whatever the ruling is, it would be a benchmark for the political resolution of the problem. I am of the view that the chances are still there for the PDP to bounce back in 2019, especially given the fact that the APC has not demonstrated a strong capacity to manage Nigeria effectively. The economy has dwindled terribly, the recession is biting harder. People are hungry and there are no signs yet to suggest that things will improve in the nearest future because the APC leadership is not progressive enough to bring up some reasonable developmental policy options on the table, that’s a problem.
But the APC has argued that it is actually the PDP that caused the problem through years of mismanagement?
That is a very archaic argument; that argument is worn out, and it’s already defeated. That’s exactly what they spent more than one year doing, the blame game. I don’t believe in the APC blame game, the point is, why is it that the economy started going down immediately they assumed leadership of the country in May 29, 2015? That is the fundamental question. Was the economy that bad as at May 28 of 2015? The answer is no.
Some of us have made an observation that the Buhari regime negotiated for the presidency with the Northern Atlantic imperialist powers on the basis of mortgaging the Nigerian economy through first and foremost, the devaluation of the naira and other drastic measures that have created economic poverty in the Nigerian society. You can see that the exchange rate of the naira has drastically gone down. It was between N160 and N180 to dollar for the most part of Jonathan’s administration, so who made it to go down to N480 and N500?
These are the manipulations of the international finance capitals, namely, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation. And that was the negotiation that was made for the presidency to be ceded to Buhari by Obama presidency; to mortgage the Nigerian economy, to enslave the Nigerian people. You have now seen it, the people ruling Nigeria today is the Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba oligarchy, which is the most fascist, the most right wing realignment of forces that we have seen since the end of the civil war. And they are not bothered about it.
But it has been said that naira devaluation had to do with fall in global oil price….?
It has little to do with that, I’m telling you how the world economy operates. with regards to the financial institutions; the manipulations of the imperialist powers in African economies, these things are not new. The Western powers were a bit critical of the Jonathan presidency, because his presidency had opened up trade relationship with China and the far East, and they were not comfortable with it. That was part of the reason why the neo-fascist elements, the old military dictators; the hegemony led by Buhari decided to go into this alliance.
The alliance ruling Nigeria today is a neo-facist alliance and what is happening to the Nigerian economy comes from the internal dynamics of that right wing alliance. Even on the political side, look at what is happening. Look at what is happening in the judiciary, look at what is happening with the curtailment of human rights. Look at what is happening with the usage of Fulani Herdsmen to threaten and murder the Nigerian people, look at what is happening in Southern Kaduna; look at the massacre in Godogodo, look at the massacre in parts of Benue State, all these things are a elements of a fascist political trajectory that has enveloped the entire Nigerian nation. And the Human Rights community in the Lagos-Ibadan axis are not talking about it because they themselves have joined in this alliance.
So you saying in essence that there is more to Fulani herdsmen than meets the eye?
Yes, the herdsmen are the latest invention by the neo-fascist rulers of Nigeria to continue their genocide against the Nigerian people, especially the against some selected sections of the Nigerian people, including the Igbo people, especially the Christians because the APC alliance is an alliance of Islamic fundamentalists. Even in Western Nigeria, under Tinubu, most of the governors that came to power under the Alliance for Democracy were Muslims, and under ACN, they were also Muslims and Tinubu tendentiously nurtured a political recruitment that favoured that alliance, they cannot deny it.
Won’t it be wrong to accuse the South West in this regard given that they are the ones pushing for restructuring?
Political restructuring does not mean anything. It is part of the old political rhetoric which they use to buy time. What are they actually restructuring? Who is going execute the restructuring? Is it the neo-fascist military dictatorship of Muhammadu Buhari that does not obey court orders? Under what auspices are they talking? Who will organise the political reform that would bring about the restructuring programme? Because you are dealing with a hardened ruling class, you are dealing with a hardened ruling oligarchy that is contemptuous of everything democratic.
And they have said no to it, and you have seen what they are doing all over the place and people are still talking about restructuring. It is because of this extremist posturing that has led to the emergence of self determination groups fighting for their separation from the Nigerian federation. You cannot force people to live under unjust governance that threatens their lives on a daily basis
You feel that resurgence of Biafra struggle is attributable to this fascist alliance you speak of?
It was the Buhari regime that fuelled it. His anti Igbo policy, his discriminatory policies against the Igbo people in terms of appointments. The Igbo ethnic nationality is a mega ethnic nationality and Nigeria is a nation-state made up of multi ethnic nationalities. So, when it comes to sharing of political power, a leader must be very careful and very cautious to make sure that all parts, all groups within the nation-state are incorporated in the power sharing. For Buhari to have arrogantly felt that he can discountenance the Igbo, that he can pocket and discriminate against the Igbo in his strategic appointments is the height of political parochialism, and he is the one fuelling the agitation. He cannot stop people from fighting for their rights, he lacks the power to do so.
How do you think these issues can be resolved?
They (the federal government) should engage them in discussion; they should engage them in dialogue. There must be dialogue, they must engage the Igbo leadership in dialogue and then, they must be prepared to make concessions. But the ruling oligarchy in Northern Nigeria is not ready for concession, they have never been ready for any form of concession. Right from the amalgamation, they have always been extremist; right from the coup of July 1966, which was the led by Multala Muhammed, and Buhari was his helmsman; his handbag carrier, it was the bloodiest coup in Africa, since that time, their posture has not changed.
The coming into power of Buhari in 2015 is a continuation of their anti Igbo policy; every policy is geared towards the annihilation of the Igbo, the annihilation of the Niger Delta, and yet these are the areas from where the resources of the country are gotten. Then you want to annihilate them because you want to continue Witt vicious colonial policies. The colonial policies that were entrenched by Britain and which was that since Igbo land is one of the richest part of Africa, and that Niger Delta is the richest part of Africa, the indigenous people who own those lands will continue to be mesmerized, will continue to be decimated so that they will never find their bearing. They have now handed over power to another vicious indigenous ruling class namely the the Hausa/Fulani oligarchy, it is worse than apartheid, how do you think that the indigenous people who own these resources will accept such arrangement?
With the growing number of Igbo voices calling for Kanu’s release, do you feel the IPOB by their agitation has been able to get the Igbo to speak with one voice?
Certainly, that’s actually what the IPOB has become. The political agitation by the IPOB on one hand, and Nnamdi Kanu’s incarceration on the other hand have combined to create a new radical political culture in Igbo land, because Igbo people are supportive of the agitation of IPOB because they believe that the time has come for the Nigerian federation to be properly run, so that the federating units will have the autonomy that enables it to develop at its own pace. And not the imposition of a unitary system that enables the exploitative ruling classes to depend on the oil resources of the Niger Delta, which they exploit and own oil blocs. They come from far away places, thousands of miles away, to dominate us and rule us in our own land. People are tired of that, and that’s why they are agitating.
There are concerns about this agitation leading to conflict, even war which of course the Igbo cannot afford. Do you share this concern?
It cannot be so now, there would be no such civil war because all the struggles that are going on are guerilla struggles. The Nigerian state is now facing a consultation of political forces, and these forces are not identifiable, they are hidden forces, they are secretive forces because the Hausa/Fulani and their extremist elements started it in the form of Boko Haram, and Boko Haram is an insurgency, so their identity is not known. Now, IPOB is not even armed, it as unarmed organisation that is fighting for the political and economic rights of the their people.
It is not armed, it has no ammunition, it’s not killing people, it is a pressure group for political agitation, and they are entitled to agitate, democratically speaking. So, nobody is going to wage any war like the period of the civil war. Rather, the political agitation is what the government is dealing with. After all, it is not all sections of the Igbo population are involved in that agitation, so you cannot draw a line and declare war on the entire region, nobody will have such an opportunity, and maybe that’s what they are looking for, but they will never get it.
You have criticized Buhari on many issues, but many say his anti corruption fight is yielding fruits. Won’t you at least give him credit in that regard?
I don’t believe in Buhari’s anti-corruption war. What he is doing is populist sloganeering, he is trying to be public relations man of the Nigerian ruling class and their international backers. They are just looking for something to make them credible, to continue their exploitation of the economic resources in Igbo land and the Niger Delta. The political architecture which was created by the military dictatorship in Nigeria from July of 1966, after the bloodiest military coup in Africa, has not been dismantled. Any person who says he is fighting corruption in Nigeria, but is not ready to dismantle the exploitative hegemony that was created by the Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba oligarchy in Nigeria is only a pretender.
Because that is the root of the problem, it is that hegemony that gave birth to the culture of corruption in Nigeria. And Buhari doesn’t want to address it because he is a sectarian leader, he is extremely one sided; very parochial. He has benefited from the Hausa/Fulani oligarchy, and that is the banner that raised him to the presidency. So, those who are suffering from that hegemony cannot see him as being serious. He is not fighting any corruption. The day he wants to fight corruption, he will start to work for the rewriting of the 1999 constitution, which is a military imposition. The constitution was imposed on the Nigerian people, they never participated in it. Until you address it until there is equity, justice and genuine federalism in Nigeria, you cannot say you are fighting corruption.
You cannot be taking money from the Niger Delta to go and develop Abuja, Kano, Sokoto and so on, who are contributing nothing to the National purse, then you tell me you are fighting corruption. The man is deceitful, the issue of corruption is fundamental; what created the monster of corruption is fundamental. Until you address those fundamental questions, there would never be an end to corruption. When Jerry Rawlings came to Ghana, he bought three former heads of state and shot them at the stakes. And about six others, nine prominent Ghanaians were shot. Then, he fought corruption and the Ghanaians saw it; the economy of Ghana was prostrate, but after the Rawlings revolution, all the Ghanaians who were living in Nigeria as refugees went back to their country.
Today, Rawlings is a hero. What has Buhari done? Is he ready to dismantle the Northern oligarchy? Is he ready to go to declare war against the feudal ruling class in Northern Nigeria who have prevented even their own people from having access to education? Has he confronted them? Is he a radical or a revolutionary? What has he done? He is only interested in preserving those archaic feudal ruling classes, then using them as instrument for the continued pillaging of the resources in Igbo land and the Niger Delta. Let him start fighting corruption from the North were the feudal leaders have held the people to ransom, and they live under illiteracy, very wretched, suffering from all kinds of diseases, including meningitis and polio, let him address it. Can he do it? The point is that he cannot. If he does it, he will commit political suicide, so let him shut up.
Some of these points have been raised by the Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi II…?
That is the issue, what Emir Sanusi is talking about is the reality, it is the real issue because he is an educated man. He went to Kings College, Lagos, and had fantastic education, and has worked in so many institutions. So he is quite vibrant and articulate. If Buhari is fighting corruption, let him start fighting the decadence in Northern Nigeria. But he can’t do it, so let him stop this show man business. Somebody who fights corruption is never sectarian, he has hatred for sections of the country, especially the Igbo. So, to that extent, he cannot be fighting anything that is genuine. Let him go and cure himself of that sectarian mentality, then we will take him seriously.
But there is the allegation that it is a certain cabal who are responsible for some of these things and not Buhari?
Who created the cabal? They are his appointees; he created the cabal but doesn’t know how to dismantle them? Why is he a revolutionary? Is he? Now, most of the cabal are from Katsina State, what does it mean?
You made the point about Igbo marginalisation, but some say part of the problem the Igbo face today are actually their own making?
The Igbo should not be blamed, because we always have this problem of blaming the victim in our national narrative. The Igbo are a group of people that have been subjected to a lot of pressure; they are a hunted people. They have not been allowed to develop at their pace, and the fight against the Igbo didn’t start today. It started way back around the 17th century. Right from the period of slave trade when the white man felt that the Igbo slaves were the most stubborn, and the most uncontrollable, and the most radical. It continued throughout the period of colonisation of Nigeria and beyond.
Why was Nigeria colonized in the first place? Nigeria was colonised because of the rich resources in Igbo land and the Niger Delta; that was the reason. It was not because of the Hausa/Fulani. It was after the white man discovered that the Igbo people who are the natural inhabitants of these lands with these resources were a creative people, they felt that they would not give them the honour of being the only people that would be involved in the colonisation project. They had to bring in other groups, just to create confusion, that’s why Nigeria became a no man’s land
Pressure has been mounted on Igbo people right from amalgamation. The first step was the renaming of Iguocha Port Harcourt, an Igbo heartland, you now named it Port Harcourt in order to deny the Igbo people their identity. Then you introduced a policy of de-igbonisation through political banditry