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Sir Bob Okonyia is an intellectually-driven political commentator who was professionally trained in England. In this interview with IRETO TEMOFEH, he blames majority of Nigerian youths for their poor mindsets. But more importantly, he goes further to accuse the Igbos of failing to defend their political boundaries and insists that the South-East and South-South need to unite to achieve their purpose, by using the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as their common, consolidated political platform, among others.

Sir Bob Okonyia is an intellectually-driven political commentator who was professionally trained in England. In this interview with IRETO TEMOFEH, he blames majority of Nigerian youths for their poor mindsets. But more importantly, he goes further to accuse the Igbos of failing to defend their political boundaries and insists that the South-East and South-South need to unite to achieve their purpose, by using the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) as their common, consolidated political platform, among others.


What is your assessment of the agitation for Biafra and the release of Nnamdi Kanu from detention?
Since the agitation of Biafra and aftermath result of the release from detention of Nnamdi Kanu followed by the sit at home request by IPOB in the entire South East region, Nigeria political space is witnessing another dimension that is threatening the survival of Nigeria unity. All the youths of different ethnic groups woke up from their slumber with very unimpressive and degenerative clarion calls with conditions attached for the continuation of the existence of Nigeria's unity.
These clarion calls by different ethnic youths have put the Nigeria ruling class, political class, the elders' forums of each ethnic group and the traditional rulers under very serious threat. The traditional leaders are also in total disarray and confused with the uprising of the youths especially in their kingdoms or domains as to what to do to stop the encroaching anarchy in our democracy.
What we are now witnessing is the upturn of the different ethnic youth forum of each ethnic race in Nigeria coming into the frontline to defend their ethnic stand in the Nigeria unity space instead of the elders' forum. All the elders' forums are now withdrawn to the back stage. What is manifesting today in Nigeria governance is classical display of failure in leadership of each different elder's ethnic race forum, failure of our political leaders, failure of our traditional rulers, failure of the unified elders council and finally failure of the type of federalism adopted for our governance.
By analysis of each resolutions adopted by each different ethnic youth forum in our democratic set up portrays two things that are of importance. These are first, the unitary system of federalism has failed and cannot sustain the unity of Nigeria further.
Secondly, the elders' forum, the political class, the traditional leaders, and the ruling class have all failed in their roles in governance and are in severe threat of their sustenance of denial of the masses survival rights of living through their deceits, looting of the treasuries, corruption, nepotism, religiosity and selfishness.
Can the position of these youths, particularly the Northern youths, move Nigeria forward?
However and very unfortunately, going by the resolutions announced by each ethnic youth forum through several media houses, their exposures of knowledge and readiness to progress Nigeria further was very doubtful. They have all displayed total ignorance of Nigeria's problems. The resolutions and the exit order by Arewa youths show lack of their preparedness to drive Nigeria to its next level in economic and developmental growth.
It is very unimaginable, depressing and a total disgrace that in this 21st century era, when other nations are looking upon the youths to lead in politics, celebrating youths' contributions towards making the world a better place to live with the likes of the social network developers like Facebook Twitter etc., our Nigerian youths are having the mindset to be thinking about secession without focus, some giving very silly and totally unintelligent exit order of another ethnic group to vacate a region that they myopically thought was owned by them in this modern era.
The funniest and most stupid one was the exit order made by Arewa youths. This alone confirms their backwardness in knowledge and very shallowness of thinking.
Would it be legally and morally right for the Arewa youths to seize or forcefully take over the properties of non-indigenes/foreigners just because they are not from the North?
It is very baffling and worrisome that in this 21st century era our youths are still having the mind to usurp the hard earned wealth of somebody freely because the person comes from a different ethnic group. What a joke and highly insensitive thinking. If not for the deceitful intentions of the military dictators that created the unbalanced constitution that lacks merit, the Arewa youths should not have gotten the guts and audacity to make such an exit order freely and get away with it.
The military dictators' visionless and ethnically biased motives was to keep our country under siege by the very few. It beats the imagination to think of how they consciously denied Nigerians their birth rights as citizens to live freely in the Nigeria space no matter their state of origin. This is what has encouraged such an exit order by some group of illiterate youths. We use one passport as citizens of Nigeria but we are being denied of our rights of birthplace to live anywhere in that same country.
What lessons can Nigerians learn from the threats and exit order by the Arewa youths?
Their calls made us to accept in its entirety that our present system of governance lacks in merit to actualize our dreams as a nation and also lacks in capability of such a system to harness our unity.
Nigeria, over the years has witnessed the destruction of every foundation of economic, development and industrial growth because the political class, the elders' forums, traditional rulers and the ruling class were all unified in corruption, religiosity, ethnic mindset and selfish intentions.
However, unfortunately, they divided their subjects, followers and the governed and put them in total disarray of mindsets to embrace ethnic segregations and disunity in religiosity. They also succeeded in keeping the youths of all ethnic groups in total abject poverty by enslaving them to be their puppets to achieve their political ambitions or employed them as security thugs to protect their selfish empires.
From all these developments, do you think the youths are intellectually capable of solving Nigeria's problems?
It is clear that our youths are basically without any solution, focus and understanding of what entails in the space of the country called Nigeria. Each youth forum of different ethnic group is busy coming together to dish out resolutions that are very meaningless and of no consequential value addition to the progress and unity of
Nigeria. None of the youth forums of any ethnic group made any reference to any issue that has deflated the growth of Nigeria in terms of religiosity, corruption, ethnicity, selfishness and all other nefarious attributes that are man-made.
Each and every one of them is uttering treasonable statements laced with ethnic and tribal colorations when they are all aware of the existence of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) on one side is issuing threat of secession and giving conditions. Arewa youths followed by issuing an exit order of the Igbo nation from the entire Northern region with a deadline date; and so are the other ethnic youth forums.
Is the federal government culpable?
The elected government at the federal level could not summon courage to invoke the constitutional rights to maintain peace, unity, protection of life and property of its citizens because of their inefficiency in governance that is highly convoluted with hidden ethnic agendas that are very evidently pronounced and driven by deceitful information.
The elected Governors could not do anything because they have all compromised selfishly to corruptly enrich themselves and they know that they are the targets of these youths in their respective states. Also, the ruling class realizing that their wealth was not made genuinely are afraid to comment on the youths' demands and finally, the traditional leaders remain mute because most of them are benefactors of government loot and the ill gotten wealth of corruption.
They are afraid of the upsurge of the youths within their domains not to attack them, as they have no adequate police protection of their palaces. Every elder is living in fear of the youths' explosion because they are all aware and conscious of their denial of the rights of better living of these youths due to their individual selfishness and hunger for earthly and material acquisitions.
Is restructuring good for Nigeria?
Majority of the elders' forums, ruling class and some governors are siding the restructuring proposition but in reliance on the 2014 National Conference report whilst some are resisting such ideology. To attain a unified concept of what will be good for the country remains undecided. The government in power, although was in agreement with the restructuring as enshrined in their party manifesto but unfortunately, it appeared to be a political statement made to win votes as their political leader was never in consonance with such a concept.
However, and very disappointedly, all the agitations of restructuring of Nigeria could not have been an issue of constitutional requirement or debate because, politically, Nigeria could have been easily divided into regions. If the Igbo nation have recalled their past experiences with series of killings in Northern Nigeria due to more tilted reasons to religiosity, one expected the Igbos to be intellectually driven in the next dispensation of democratic governance that came up in 1999. The Yoruba nation was guided by their wizardly knowledge in politics.
Did the Igbos fail to defend their political boundaries?
It could have been a different scenario today even with the uprising of the singsongs of Biafra if the Igbo people from the onset of this democratic governance from inception of 1999 had unitedly supported APGA as their political platform like the Yoruba race with AD. Unfortunately for the Igbos they were guided by their belief in the Nigeria affair of unity and participated in forming a cosmopolitan party comprising of all ethnic groups.
Some could view such decision as selfishly guided and as a result of lack of political awareness. As at today, their sentimental cry for marginalization could have been easily negotiated if the entire South South and South East are in one political platform like APGA. The Yoruba race did theirs based on their ethnicity without seeking for participation of other ethnic races. They cleverly and intelligently defended their political boundaries.
The Yoruba formed AD in this democratic dispensation in 1999 and fully supported it in the first election. The entire South Western region was under the control of the Yoruba political platform. The Igbo nation failed to identify with APGA, their political party platform.
Even after the deceit of President Obasanjo in his second coming, PDP took over almost all the South Western States with the exception of Lagos State. Tinubu fought back to regain the entire South Western states with the exception of Ondo State.
How would the merger of the South East and South-South under one political party umbrella like APGA have affected the approach to the restructuring of Nigeria?
If the Igbo nation had accomplished that political feat with APGA in the South East and South South, the issue of Nigeria's restructuring would have been approached differently based on political strength. The South Western Region joining forces with South-South and South-East will definitely subdue the Northern region into roundtable discussions on restructuring because the economic power rests on the two regions. Even the South-South and South-East alone could have held Nigeria to ransom to negotiate restructuring based on their economic strength if APGA was in control of all the states. Unfortunately, the Igbo politics relies on followership.
However, it is worthy to note that the lower pyramid of the masses seem not to be aware and conscious of the fact that there is unity of existence between those on top pyramid class consisting of our past and present political leaders, the political and ruling class and the so called cabals and some powerful traditional leaders.
These sets of top class groups of people in our society that are very few in number have mastered the trick of absolute unity of deception of their outward characters towards the poor citizens to believe in them and have unalloyed trust in their trickery. By their deceit, the poor masses live in confusion. Their mindset became configured to have hatred for other different ethnic groups and they continued to fight each other on religiosity, culture difference and thuggery to protect their superior classes. This class of people at the bottom of the ladder continue to live in abject poverty, slavery and in denial of their basic life needs.
Do the youths also have a fair share of the blame for Nigeria's problems?
By these awakening calls of the different ethnic youths from their overstretched slumbering years of sleeping and serving and aligning their lives to their elders, it became evidently clear and absolutely depressing to read of their individual ethnic echoing demands, coming out in different tunes, but only to confirm that they are yet to embrace maturity of reasoning and independence from their slave elders' masters syndrome.
All they have succeeded to portray to the public through their individual separate resolutions enriched with ethnicity and religiosity, are guided utterances that have been the bedrock of our failure to harness each other as a united country.
By analogy of the successes recorded by many Nigerian youths of different ethnic diversity living in different countries abroad, it only shows that our youths living in Nigeria are beclouded in denial of their creative knowledge.
They are yet to embrace in their intellectual thoughts and reasoning that the destruction of Nigeria's economic/developmental growth through their inherent mindsets to religiosity, ethnicity, federal character, corruption, bribery, etc. drags their future opportunities negatively as compared to their peers in other developing and developed nations They are yet to understand that the strength of a nation lies on its unity of intention and purposes, its creative knowledge, hard work and dedication of their useful time to expand their intellectuality.
As would be expected, it is highly necessary that our youths through these clarion calls of disunity coming out from them at this critical moment in our country's existence over the years should reflect in their mindset the need to evaluate the importance of being a united country. These youths are intellectuals with hidden attributes that are not yet tapped because the political leaders, the ruling classes and the so-called cabals have kept them under siege.
What is your advice for Nigerian youths come 2019?
These clarion calls may have been viewed negatively but invariably, it is an awakening call by every Nigerian youth to wake up from his or her slumber and join hands together to fight the known common enemies that have kept their intellectual contributions in the governance of Nigeria. They should strive to take over the mantle of governance from the failed elders come 2019.
They should also utilize the awakening calls to change Nigeria in the following ways:
First, time has come to accept that these calls are the calls of unity of all ethnic youths of Nigeria no matter your religion, ethnic or tribe.
Second, time has come to accept that these calls are the calls of denouncing religiosity to free our mindset from hating one another as brothers and sisters of one nation with common interest.
Third, time has come for us to embrace the concept that ethnic differences will only divide us and creates weakness in our set objectives to develop our country.
Fourth, time has come to accept that these calls are the calls of eye opener to all our youths of Nigeria to say NO to federal character in our constitution.
Fifth, time has come for us to accept that these calls are the calls to checkmate corruption and introduce accountability in ownership.
Sixth, time has come for us to accept that these calls are the calls to introduce equal rights, equity and justice to all Nigeria citizens.
Seventh, time has come for these calls to awaken every youth to denounce different cut off marks for particular States and introduce uniform cut off marks for all States to encourage performance, efficiency and effectiveness in our future encounters.
Eight, time has come from these calls to awaken all youths of this country to realize the siege of these elders in politics, the ruling class, the traditional leaders with whom have been selfishly and corruptly motivated to keep us divided for their benefits.
Nine, time has come for these calls to awaken us to appreciate that we must produce realistic and honest data for birth and death, produce honest census and immediately restructure our country to position it for realistic growth.
Ten, time has come from these calls to awaken us to accept that state of origin is insignificant and inconsequential to our unity of existence as a nation with one passport and must be immediately be cancelled. Anywhere you are born is your state.
What is your take on the teaching of religion in schools?
I must add that time has come to stop all teachings of any religion in all schools and colleges of Nigeria. There must also be a ban all courts of jurisdictions that are based on religiosity. All these are the clarion calls of Nigerian youths for a better and united Nigeria.
If you believe in the unity of this country and love your country to progress like any other nation, kindly share. We must stop the destruction of our country by the very few. We are in majority. Our voices and votes count. Be a true Nigerian and nothing else.
Culled from The Oracle Newspaper

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