Home Politics Prof. Anya O. Anya – Igbo Need Paradigm Shift, Not Presidency

Prof. Anya O. Anya – Igbo Need Paradigm Shift, Not Presidency


81 years old Anya O. Anya, a professor of Zoology knows Nigeria inside out.  He has served in various advisory capacities to the federal government as the Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Economic Summit Group and President of Nigerian Academy of Science. At a time the clamour for Igbo to produce the president of Nigeria is loudest, he says the Igbo need paradigm shift not the presidency as offices don’t matter. He also said the country will not progress unless Nigerians face the reality that the system is flawed and work towards correcting same. He spoke on other national issues.

What is your assessment of the state of things in Nigeria today?

I don’t think anybody can pretend any longer that things are alright in Nigeria and I don’t think anybody can also pretend that those in charge of things today have done all they could have done and that they have done it the way it should be done.  I was just looking through some collected papers of mine, and I was going through the lecture I gave, the advice I gave to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015. There were two lectures that I gave, one was the Eni Njoku Lecture at the University of Lagos, Akoka and the other was the Emeka Anyaoku  Lecture at Port Harcourt. These two lectures addressed President Muhammadu Buhari directly.

I told him that the challenge before him was that of national integration and I told him what the priorities have to be in order to get us where we should be, but the contrary has happened. The country has never been as divided as we are right now, to the point that two former Heads of State, former President, Olusegun Obasanjo and retired Gen. Ibrahim Babangida have written letters telling the President he has not done well, so there is no point pretending they were saying something else. The country is in a very bad shape.

 Some time ago, Prof Ben Nwabueze alluded to the fact that Nigeria was heading towards a failed state, what do you think?

The primary purpose of government is to protect lives and property and that is the core of security.  Just look at the last few months the flood of blood in Benue State and just recently in Zamfara State and when you hear a large number of people killed, it is mindless murder.  People just got up and started killing. When that happens in a country, it means that security has broken down and when security breaks down it means there is no government. To that extent Prof Nwabueze is correct. But let me also say that there are different criteria for measuring a failed state. There are those who will say that Nigeria has been a failed state for over the last two years or more because the various parameters to judge with are not good enough.

So what are the standard parameters to determine whether Nigeria is a failed state…

(Cuts in) No you see it is a very technical issue and I don’t want to go into it now, but the important thing is that no Nigerian is feeling comfortable right now, so that is one measure. In a functional state, everybody will be happy to go about their business. Usually, when I travel to the east, I go by road. But today, even with the fact that I go with escort, I’m still uncertain because you don’t know what you can meet anywhere and I say anywhere in Nigeria, there is nowhere that is a safe haven. Look at even Lagos State, the other time we were talking about Badoo Cult and it is the same mindless killings.

 In the short and long term, how do you suggest Nigeria address these problems?

The important thing will be to embrace reality that is for President Buhari and the government to realize that and accept that things are very bad to the point that something has to be done urgently. We are in an emergency security wise and the present bunch whether you are talking about the minister of Defence or the Inspector General of Police, their disposition, the things that have come out of their mouth in the last weeks suggest that they are not capable of handling the situation and that it is time to start looking for other people for the job, people who can face the reality that things are not normal and are prepared not to pay lip-service but do something about it. That is where to start in the short term.

In the long term, I think the 2014 national conference, to which I was a delegate, and to that extent I could say I’m partisan on it, but no other team in Nigeria has looked at the problems of Nigeria as thoroughly as that national conference, which is why even now that it is belated the All Progressives Congress (APC) that initially said it has nothing to do with it has now made a 360 degrees turn and accepted some of the things they said they will not touch. That is a beginning, build a national consensus and start from there, start implementing it because it is what will give confidence and bring us together because that conference was agreed to by all Nigerians. The only people that were not there were the two delegates from the APC but all the APC governors sent their representatives and all the other formations dealing with the APC also sent representatives. So all these we were not there is just a little minority within the APC, the greater majority of the APC were there. This greater majority will flow with the national conference, so we can start from there.

 Part of the recommendations of that conference was state police which is now gaining support, but the fear of abuse by state governors is still there. How can that be sorted out?

There are things people can do because they are allowed to do it and there are also things they cannot do. The state governors are politicians in a democracy. Look at the national conference, why are people turning around to embrace it? It is because the reality has set in that there are things you can no longer do and get away with. So even the state governors know there are things they can no longer do. The days of impunity are gone and that is why you have so much violence because people are fed up to the point that they are ready to take the laws into their own hands and any governor that steps beyond a reasonable distance will have problems. It is not enough to say the state governors will abuse it. People are very short-fused they react to anything and state governors who try to manipulate it by doing things that are unpopular will be endangering their own lives. Nigeria is that turbulent.

How do you think the Igbo have fared under the Buhari-led APC administration?

You can only talk about how you have fared when you have been given attention. Has the government given any attention to the Igbo? President Buhari came in with a deliberate policy of either ignoring the Igbo or doing something in the hope they will react. But the Igbo have been very wise, uncharacteristically wise and have endured it. The way the administration is running is an insult to Nigeria to which the Igbo have contributed a lot. I don’t think the Igbo have been given any attention not to talk about how they have fared. There are of course prominent Igbo sons in the APC and in the government, I sympathize with them. In the jobs they are, they have to do the best they can but I don’t know anyone of them that is happy. Whether it is the minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, whether it is Okechukwu Emelemah or Ogbonnaya Onu, they will not tell you the truth about their feelings. I have interacted with all these people over the years and know them very well. They are reasonable and responsible people but the situation they found themselves in they cannot do much.

 Why is it that despite the marginalization of the Igbo…

 (Cuts in) I don’t like that word.

 I mean despite the feeling of being shut out some Igbo feel the best chance for the region to produce the president in 2023 is to support a Buhari second term?

What are you doing with Igbo president? Let’s be real, it is when things are done the way they should be that we start looking at the future. The way Nigeria is now are we even sure of 2019? As we speak can anybody tell you confidently that he knows what will happen in 2019? So why don’t we face reality by asking what do we do to improve the situation of things before we start talking about 2019 that we don’t know whether it will arrive.

 I am of the opinion that the Igbo need a paradigm shift in their thinking. Preoccupation with office whether it is a minister or whatever has not helped the Igbo and will not. The only people who benefit from it are the office holders who see to their personal accomplishments. The Igbo never gained anything as a group.  My paradigm shift is that whatever government that is coming, ignore whatever offices they are offering and draw a list of things Ndigbo need to be done in Igbo land for the benefit of the people, whether it is good roads or railway and negotiate on that basis because people will look after themselves when these things are in place, in which case you will not need government offices. It is the private sector that runs the governments in serious places and their time will come in Nigeria. So let Ndigbo build capacity. Let’s stop all that nonsense about Igbo president. When God bless his soul, the late Alex Ekwueme was Vice President, can we point to anything that Ndigbo benefited?  Even in the recent past, when Senator Pius Anyim was Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) and Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-iweala was Coordinating Minister of the Economy and Minister of Finance, two powerful positions that you could literally say this was the Secretary and the other was the Prime Minister of Nigeria, what did Ndigbo get?  That was the time we got the least. So let’s stop pretending that office’s matter in Nigeria because they don’t.

Why is it that Ndigbo has not benefited from Nigeria?

I will not entirely say we have not benefited. The thing is that we have always created our own environment and the benefits we got were the ones we created. When you go to Anambra State today and see the many young millionaires don’t forget that it was grown from the 20 pounds that were given to every Igbo man after the civil war and it was done without government help. Government’s position is really to create an environment where businesses can thrive. I will give a personal example, I have been near enough to the government but I have never been in government, I have never held any major office, but it is for Nigerians to judge whether I have done more than those that served in government or less.

IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu has been missing for months now. Is it not time for Igbo leaders to demand his whereabouts from the federal government? 

What is there to demand? When Operation Python Dance went to Abia State and did what they did, it was in the public space. So why do you need to hold anybody responsible again? Government naturally is responsible because when they go and attack a village and some people go missing they should be held accountable. The army has to tell us the story of that particular operation. It is when we know the story of that particular operation that we will find out what happened.

Source: The Sun


  1. You all have understood the prof incorrectly and it all points to an act of hypocrisy which is our basic problem. You all condemned promotion of tribalism and ethnicity but all your responses to the prof’s comment seems to be influenced by ethnic sentiments. I advise that you all drop sentiments aside and read the prof’s comments again with understanding.
    But for those of you who scarcely understand when they read; The professor is simply saying that office directly benefits its occupier but policies affects all and that Igbos should be concern about how to enthrone equitable standard which would influence policy formulation void of bias and nepotism like what we current have under Buhari

  2. I don’t think the Prof. has said he expected Igbo sons and daughters in government offices to use their positions to favour only the Igbos, he is of the opinion that what the Igbos need now is a paradigm shift and not just position of authority in government ie. becoming the next president of Nigeria, he only mentioned the names of able Igbo sons and daughters who have served in the past to buttress his point that we need a shift in paradigm for now more than being in positions.
    please note that Iam not holding brief for the prof. as I lack the capacity to do so, just my personal understanding of the issue at stake.

  3. Come to think of it, if every ethnic group is to speak about marginalization, we all have a tale to tell. What bothers me, however, is just the ethnicity and cultural differences that seems to be dividing us, but the fact that Nigeria, though a Federal state, has failed to successfully distribute its powers to other tiers. Why should the Minister of Finance be responsible for the bad roads in your village? Why should she be responsible for the poorly funded schools? Don’t you have a local government chairman or governor in your state. Nigeria needs to really consider restructuring at this time.

  4. Mind you Ngozi okonjo Iweala did what she has to do for the benefit of the entire nation, she wasn’t sentiment at all, so making allegations about the maginalisation of Igbos is not in line with unity and integration . And mind you, you also benefit from it

  5. What matter most was that when Okonjo Iweala was the finance minister, she focused on all tribes and all religion, she has the opportunity of taking care of only the Igbos, but she didn’t misuse her power. She is indeed a woman of integrity.

  6. What I see in this article is that the prof. is trying to be sentiment, and am sure if he was in Okonjo Iweala’s shoes, he will use all the finances for his own benefits, he won’t even be able to account for it, he will use the money to develop his own state rather than the entire Nation.

  7. We must abolish all acts that prioritize our tribal differences over and above the fact that we are all Nigerians. This is why I want to advise our lawmakers that the only restructuring they can assist us with is to make a law that would abolish tribal identity and that anyone who identifies himself or herself as coming any tribe should be punished.

    • I like this. The problem is not about the tribal identity, but when it becomes the basis of judgment. For the Prof, Okonjo Iweala’s performance should be rated low because she was not tribalistic. Just imagine that. This is wrong judgment obviously. We should regard people without bias.

  8. We do need more of your view Prof., but please let it be balanced and wholistic, that way you wouldn’t have taken us back to the stone age of the 50s and 60s, that eventually led to the first coup, the civil war, the military interventions and where we have found ourselves today.

  9. It’s sad but true. It just shows the workings of the mind of an Average Nigerian. If we need a paradigm shift, then we need to be more nationalistic and pragmatic in our views and summations

  10. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, has helped the country’s economy, the largest in Africa, grow an average of 6% (Per annum) over three years, she is credited with developing reform programs that helped improved governmental transparency and stabilizing the country. She did what is right, and mind you she’s not the minister in her state but the minister of finance for Nigeria as a whole. She was the first woman to be that finance minister and foreign minister of the West African country with a GDP of $502 billion.

  11. You can’t begrudge the contribution of a distinguished Nigerian like Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. With her humanitarian efforts and partnership, children of the Igbo race are not the only beneficiaries, but people from across Africa and the world. We should always look at the bigger picture, not been selfish with our outlook

  12. I will really like to know Prof Anya’s contribution to his local government and environs, maybe that will drive home some of his point.

  13. If we are to go by Prof’s statement, Ben Akabueze of Igbo extraction, who was a former commissioner in Lagos State, should have been serving the Igbo cause while in the Lagos State cabinet, or now that he is the DG of the budget office in Abuja. I’m sure he wouldn’t have been considered for the national role if he was biased during his time in Lagos state. Prof expectation from Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and the rest really leaves too much to be desired.

  14. The major paradigm shift we need now is to depart from sectionalizing and seeking to heal our nation right from the grassroot. Ensuring each region grows according to its ability. The north-east region has had its fair share of people at the corridor of power, but as at today it’s the most unsafe and poorest region of Nigeria.

    • Now you tell me…is it fair.my dear things are not working …and with that you need to see why the prof have to sound this way.abeg let us all say the truth.No face for the Igbo’s …we should also be in the big picture and not seen as country divider

  15. Its high time we rose above pettiness and destructive nature of tribalism and nepotism, and look beyond ourselves, I’m sure this contraption called Nigeria would be better for it. Virtually every state of the federation is largely under-developed, even with the redoubled effort of successive administrations in Lagos State, it is still far from what obtains in other cosmopolitan cities across the globe. So, it is not just the Igbos alone, it is a Nigerian dilemma.

  16. The Prof asked: what did the Igbo get? Well they got Federal allocations to each state, Internally Generated Revenue, Bail-out funds from the FG, external and internal borrowings by the various state governors etc. To the best of my knowledge, the Igbo states have been administered by men from that region, maybe we should start asking them critical questions and leave out those called to national service.

  17. One of the question the Prof should have raised is: what has the Governors that have occupied offices in the Igbo states, since return of democracy in 1999 done to bring development and alleviate the sufferings of the people within the eastern states? How well have they utilized the resources gotten from the federal purse till date? How many constituency projects has the various Igbo sons and daughters representing the region in the 2 legislative houses accomplished in the region? You are right my friend, Prof. Anya sadly failed to note the difference between representing a section of a country, to carrying the burden of the nation, not minding your actual state of origin.

  18. What we are meant to focus on is how leaders would serve the country and not a particular tribe when they were in the office.

  19. I don’t understand why a particular tribe feels the need to get special treatment from people in the governance. I don’t understand it and I don’t think it is necessary at all.

    • U wld never understand it, until the Nation drowns in its own failure….Just knw Igbos was never part of Nigeria failure…We all knw the two tribes dat has been failing us since independence.

  20. When Okonjo Iweala was the finance minister, she concentrated on all NIGERIANS, Igbo inclusive, which is what I think matters most.

  21. First and foremost, was Dr. Okonjo-Iweala appointed to serve the Igbo people or the generality of the country?

  22. In case anyone is in doubt of her achievements, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala was the one who established the Excess Crude Account that has saved Nigeria many times whenever there is an economic crisis. That’s an achievement that has benefited the entire country.

  23. President Buhari’s parochialism should not be a reason to judge others who discharged their duties with public-spirited heart.

  24. As long as we continue to see ourselves as Yorubas and Igbos before Nigerians, this experimentation called Nigeria will continue to remain so…divided.

    • If we must be one and live as one, we must lay aside nepotism and accept one another without preference for religion, culture or ethnicity. This is the way to move the nation forward.

  25. Prof Anya is on point with his analysis of the country as a failed state. I also agree that the national conference should be revisited but toeing the line of tribalistic sentiments is a no-no.

  26. Prof. Anya spoilt a great analytic piece on the way forward for the nation with his tribalistic sentiments. He comes across as encouraging nepotism, ethnic partiality and unbalanced distribution of national resources by appointees with his statement. Meanwhile, he’s advocating for Pres. Buhari to make national integration a priority, isn’t this an irony?

  27. I personally respect the views of Prof. Anya. He is an astute observer of national issues. However, this statement about Dr. Okonjo-Iweala not doing anything for her people smirks of parochialism.

  28. what Prof. Anya is saying in essence is that, if he had been in Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s shoes, he would divert National resources to his region alone, right? This is Prof Anya that was the head of the National Economic Summit?! You think if NOI hasn’t transcended the average myopic tribalistic tendencies she would have the kind of international repute she commands now? We truly deserve the type of leaders we get.

  29. Just as Prof Anya had noted to Buhari, national integration and the need to renegotiate our union should take the centre stage in the present government. However, making allegations about the marginalisation of Igbo is not in line with the unity and integration which Prof Anya is preaching here. Talks like this without conspicuous evidence will only create more strives and discord with other ethnic groups in the country.

    • By Prof. Anya’s logic, President Buhari was right and should be applauded when, after the 2015 elections, he said we shouldn’t expect him to give the same attention to regions that gave him only 5% of votes to the regions that gave him 95% of votes. Every right thinking Nigerian that has transcended tribal bigotry will know that national assignments are exactly what they are: NATIONAL. Pray, does Prof Anya expect someone with integrity like Dr, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to stoop so low and start using her position for nepotism and sycophancy?

    • At this stage of our national cohabitation, should we still be making references to our son and daughter is in government or should we be advocating a blind approach to developing the nation regardless of tongue, religion and class?

  30. I agree with you Prof Anya over some of the things you mentioned as it affects the state of the nation. You are right to say that no Nigeria is comfortable right now, and it’s indeed a sign of a falling state. Also, the security challenge in the country has gripped us all in the jugular. It is so overwhelming. And just in the midst of these, the president and governors in their regal flew to Kano for a wedding party. It’s so pathetic the kind of leaders we have around.

    • Dr. Okonjo-Iweala did what she had to do for the benefit of the entire nation; she was the minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not the commissioner of her state.

      • It’s so funny that from one end she is blamed to have employed Igbos in top positions, but this is another Igbo claiming they got nothing from her. So, who then is right? Nevertheless, her labour of love for the nation still resounds everywhere, which is why they won’t stop talking about her.

        • Martina April 17,2018 1055
          The problem with the Igbo states are getting more complex everyday because of what I personally will refer to as poor understanding of the word Marginalization. We have been given states just like others, we have LGAs just like others, as well as Constituencies, which we our selves determine by ourselves who represents us. Every Government allocation given to Northern and Western states also come to us. The problem gets complex because every Igbo Leader past and present have chosen to be complacent on the plite of the common man . Every of the Igbo Leader past and present chose to ignor the power of Collective responsibility. Working together in one accord for the purpose of developing their states will make alot of difference.we have the same cultural background,religious ,political and what have you .Yet their arrogance to one another has kept their citizens far away from exploiting the various policies ,economic ,social and political placed by the Federal structure.
          When you continue to cry of Marginalization from the fed ,you send wrong signal to the growing population .The past and Present leaders should point to us the impact of their state policies in relation to Federal and how were thes policies interpreted so as to benefit the rural dweller. I appreciate Profs analysis but dislike his mentioning DR. Ngozi Okonjo Iwuala. This is a woman who took time to study,analyse the Nigerian problem via economy and put up
          a lasting effect for the entire nation without being tribalistic. If during her time in Government the likes of Pro come down to the grassroot to mentor the youths as well as the mates who were not privileged to be high , thing will definitely be different. We are in a changing world. the world has so changed and is on the fast lane but Nigerians especially the Igbos are not meeting up with the required speed because we have lost focus.Instead of focussing ong more on the required knowlegde, we focus more on bread and butter leadership.


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