By Alex Enumah
A former Governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, yesterday accused sponsors of the ongoing violence in the South-east of plotting to forestall elections in 2023 with the sole aim of thwarting the clamour by the zone to produce the next president.
Ezeife, while featuring on ARISE NEWS CHANNEL, the broadcast arm of THISDAY Newspapers, however, exonerated members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and the Eastern Security Network (ESN) from the recent killings of police personnel and the torching of public institutions in the zone.
He spoke hours after the Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) expressed concern over the growing insecurity in the country and advised government at all levels to activate their structures in tackling the challenges.
Ezeife described the insurrection in the South-east as an attempt to provoke indigenes of the South-east.
He added that their findings showed that those behind the killings and destruction of public institutions such as offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) are not Igbo.
He said: “Who are the people burning INEC’s offices, who are killing the police? There is the impression that some people even within the government are guilty of organising such threat and blaming it on IPOB and ESN.
“Now we know that more than 80 per cent of the people caught by the CCTV are not from the South-east.
Was it a design to blame it on IPOB and ESN? We are learning more now that there is a design to provoke the East.”
He, however, could not identify the sponsors but suspected that some of them might be in government going by some of the findings by South-east leaders.
He stated that a South-east governor who had earlier accused IPOB and ESN of executing the attacks had since exonerated the secessionist group.
He also expressed reservation that the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, could hold the groups responsible for the violence without evidence.
He said: “IPOB does not have tradition of shedding blood or burning down things. It is not Igbo tradition to shoot police, burn down houses. During the ENDSARS protests, people attributed what was happening in Lagos to some Igbo people and it was later discovered to be untrue.
“Those who are sponsoring this destruction don’t want election; they don’t want president from South-east zone and would even want to scatter the Anambra election and go for emergency situation and appoint someone.
“Nigeria should understand what is going on and not jump into conclusion.”
While not justifying the activities of IPOB and its leader, Ezeife stated that the federal government by its alleged continued marginalisation of the South-east, is pushing Igbo out of Nigeria.
He listed some of the injustices the youths are fighting to include the absence of tangible federal government projects in the area as well as the alleged disregard for the principle of federal character in appointments, to the detriment of the Igbo.
“The federal government has been working hard pushing the Igbo out of Nigeria. The young men are reacting to what is coming from the federal government. Whether it is project location, we don’t have any in Igboland; whether it is appointment, you don’t find it but if it is retirement, we’re dominant.”
Ezeife also alleged that many Igbo businesses are being crippled by the government.
He dismissed insinuation that the Igbo cannot speak with one voice when it comes to presenting a candidate for the 2023 presidential election.
According to him, the South-east has many individuals that can govern the country and the zone is currently working hard to win the support of other zones to clinch the presidency in 2023.
On the ongoing public hearing to review the constitution, the former governor urged legislators to stop wasting their time and public resources because what the people need now is a new constitution.