Arewa ultimatum is childish – Obiozor

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George Obiozor, a former Nigerian Ambassador to United States of America (USA), was one of the iconic figures of Igbo extraction at the just concluded 2014 National Conference. He was Coordinator of the South-east Delegates at the Conference, and spoke to FactNews at the Abiriba, Abia state, on the importance of the “OFO NDI IGBO” title conferred on Ebitu Ukiwe, a retired Commodore and former Chief of General Staff, amid other national issues.

 

 

Sir, we rarely see you in this sort of occasion. Does it mean this one is very important to you?

I’m here to honour a very wonderful friend of long standing, His Excellency, Commodore Okoh Ebitu Ukiwe for being given one of the most prestigious titles in Igbo land, “Aka ji ofo of Igbo land” from Nri kingdom.

 

What is the significance of the title?

First, the precedence is that it’s given to mature and proven Igbo leaders.

 

Are you then saying that Ukiwe has proven himself beyond every reasonable doubt, and that he is a respected and distinguished Igbo leader?

Definitely, especially in view of the fact that it goes back to the days of Nnamdi Azikiwe, (first President of Nigeria); M.I Okpara, (late Premier of Eastern Nigeria); and up to recently, Ikemba of Nnewi, Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu, (former Head of State of Biafra). It is a very rare title to those that have distinguished themselves.

 

A lot of people have heard of Professor and Ambassador George Obiozor, and would want to know more about him. Sir, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Well, I’m an academician first and foremost who also played a serious role in government. I was special assistant to many people, particularly with the late Chuba Okadigbo when we all returned newly from the United States of America. I’m a product of Columbia University (USA) where I got a PhD in International Relations and then I worked with Chuba during Shagari administration and from there on as an Adviser to the Foreign Minister who was General Ike Nwachukwu in those days. From there I became a special adviser to Ibrahim Babangida, the (military) president, on international affairs, and from Eastern Nigeria and then I became Ambassador to Israel, Cyprus and the United States of America from where I retired a few years back.

 

 

How do you feel about current developments in the country, especially as have to do with security?

As a matter of fact, I’m just coming directly from Abuja where I served for the four months of the National Conference as Coordinator of the South-east Delegates to the conference. The security situation in Nigeria is serious but I must confess the government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is actually doing its best to contain it and in all sincerity, it is a phase that will also end someday.

 

Many people are not aware that you were a part of the delegates to the National Conference. In your assessment, will it be wise to say that the conference was a success?

As a matter of fact, I wasn’t a delegate; I was Coordinator of the South-east Delegates. With all humility, I would tell you it’s a very important critical role to play, coordinating different opinions and collective opinion of people. As for the conference, it was a spectacular success. It was such a success that from now on, if the decisions and discussions are taken into consideration, this country will become more stable, more politically balanced and more economically wiser. As a matter of fact, the conference diffused political tensions in Nigeria and all its decisions were aimed towards ameliorating and actually diffusing all the problems or challenges that have made preponderantly the idea of national disintegration. From now on, Nigerians know what the problems are and have spoken about it courageously and boldly and reached some level of consensus on how best to build political stability, peace and even security in Nigeria. It was a great success to the extent that it diffused tension. From now on, Nigerians know what to do and how to do it. It is now left for Nigerians, the leaders to have the political will to implement them. As the problem that has been analyzed or diagnosed as medical people say, Nigeria can and is possibly going to be saved through the instrumentality and outcome and consequences, as it were, of the national conference.

 

As an Igbo elder that was part of the conference by way of Coordinating the Delegates, what is your position on the latest development whereby a Northern group, Arewa Youth Development Foundation (AYDF), told non-indigenes in the North to vacate their land in two weeks or face dire consequences? You know that Igbo in particular by nature travel widely and are mostly resident in such areas. What advise do you have to give to them in this regard?

Let me be frank with you, I heard of it this afternoon and I want to tell you, those who said it, and if it was ever said should be told that the era of empty threat is over. No part of Nigeria is more marshal and more prepared to fight than the other. All the pretences that one side or the other is in control of the destiny of Nigeria is over. In fact, that is part of the lessons of the national conference. You cannot threaten anybody recklessly now as before. People should weigh what they say for their impact.  Nigeria is a very highly integrated country. As a matter of fact, such a threat if it ever happened, if it is true, we will like those people to withdraw such a threat and rethink and know that no section of the country can be threatened. You are talking about consequences, Nigerians are everywhere. Nigerians are highly integrated. Every part of Nigeria, every section or nationality in Nigeria have other people in their midst. The person who is saying that should come to Owerri where I know of many Hausas who are married to our people who have not been to the North for the last 30 to 40 years. Those Northerners were born here. In spite of their names or religion, they are part of us Northerners are part of us and we treat them accordingly, like our brothers and sisters. So you cannot find people saying that you are warning, of course as a matter of fact it must be a small section of the Arewa people that will say such a thing, knowing that the country is beyond those kind of threats. The country’s history has passed through that before and they don’t want to rekindle it.

In other words, you are telling Nigerians to regard such threats as empty?

Completely empty and childish and nobody should react on that other than to caution such people to be mindful of their language as gentlemen and women.

 

 

Posted on July, 21 2014

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