The apex Igbo Socio-Cultural Organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has urged other parts of the country not to deny the South-East the presidency in 2023 because of the agitation for Biafra by the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, saying such is lame and weak.
Noting that equity, justice, and fair play support zoning the top job to the Igbo, Ohanaeze National Publicity Secretary, Chief Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, in a chat with Vanguard, yesterday, said ceding the presidency to the Igbo will douse tension and create stability in the zone and by extension the country.
Ohanaeze spoke as the 2023 presidential campaign posters of Ebonyi State Governor and Chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum, Dave Umahi, flooded the social media, with a South-East All Progressives Congress, APC, group, demanding Igbo presidency.
Also, Northern communities in the South-East geo-political zone declared that peace would remain elusive to Nigeria until an Igbo man or woman is allowed to become President.
Meanwhile, former Chairman of the APC in Enugu State, Dr. Ben Nwoye has charged Ndigbo to indicate interest in the presidency.
It’s turn of Igbo to candidates of major parties – Ohanaeze
Speaking on the issue, Ohanaeze said:-
”Our position on Nigeria president of Igbo extraction is clear. It is the turn of the Igbo to produce the presidential candidates of major political parties so that ultimately, the next president of Nigeria will be an Igbo man.
That is in response to equity, justice, fairness and also for the stability of the country. For the corporate existence of this country, we must recognise the need for that to be done. As a matter of fact, there was an agreement on that in 1998 and people have been observing that agreement.
”When some people say it is not in the constitution, whatever you find in the constitution there are two things about it: morality and legality. Morality is the unwritten or what you call the spirit of the constitution. Morals sometimes have to do with conscience.”
On comments that Igbo politicians are not aspiring, mobilising and reaching out to other parts of the country,Ogbonnia said: “They are rather saying that the Igbo aspirants are not extravagant like some others but we have people who can achieve results.”
On fears that the agitation for Biafra by the IPOB could hurt the Igbo quest to produce the president in 2023, Chief Ogbonnia said: ”Anybody who comes with that, comes with a lame and weak excuse. The Niger-Delta came with their own agitation and at a point they said to reduce the tension and agitation they zoned the vice president to the South-South, which led to the emergence of Dr Goodluck Jonathan as vice president, and he went on to become acting president and later president after President Umaru Musa Yar’ Adua’s death.
”The Arewa people and Boko Haram also came with their agitation. President Jonathan said it was better for Nigeria to remain in existence than to struggle for the victory, and he relinquished power.
”After the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by late Chief MKO Abiola, the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, and South-West mounted an unprecedented agitation never witnessed in the history of the country. And they said, let’s settle them and all the presidential candidates were pushed to Yorubaland. Why should that of the Igbo be different? As much as Ohanaeze is not saying that it is a bargaining chip, nobody should use it to deny Igbo the presidency.
”As a matter of fact, if you zone the presidency to the Igbo, it will be easier for any Igbo to tell Mazi Nnamdi Kanu (IPOB Leader), ‘hold on, don’t go on this again.’ It is the greatest palliative whatsoever.”
Nigeria won’t have peace until Igbo become president—Northern communities
Northern Communities in the South-East under the aegis of Arewa communities in Igbo land also threw their weight behind Igbo presidency.
Addressing a press conference in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, they said that Igbo should be allowed to succeed President Muhamnadu Buhari in 2023 in the spirit of equity and justice and fairness.
National President of the group, Alhaji Mohammed Nalado Umaru who spoke on behalf of the Arewa communities, said it is now time for power to shift to South-East as that will help to douse tension, engender peace and national cohesion.
“The unity of this country should be paramount in our hearts. This, we can achieve by allowing an Igbo man to emerge as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria come 2023″, they said.
They, however, advised Igbo political elites to reconcile their differences and produce a competent and popular detribalised Nigerian to contest for the 2023 presidency, assuring them of full Northern support.
Alhaji Mohammed Nalado Umaru urged other geopolitical zones not to contest for the office of the President but leave it for South-East in the spirit of brotherhood. We are sure that the North, West, South-South and others will support this noble agenda.”
Alhaji Umaru expressed concern over the lopsidedness of Nigeria’s leadership against Igbo, and called for the correction of the anomaly in 2023 for Nigeria’s continuity, adding:.
“We, the Northern people living in Igbo land are highly in support of an Igbo Executive President in 2023. We live and earn our living in Igbo land and we will continue to live together as an indivisible entity.
“Igbo are accommodating and pan-Nigerians. What will be required from them is to harmonise themselves and produce a detribalised person that will be contesting the 2023 Presidential election.
“Late Sarduana of Sokoto, Nnamdi Azikiwe, Tafawa Balewa and Obafemi Awolowo did not envisage disunity and war when they fought our colonial masters to secure our political and economic independence.
‘“Our experience today centres on tribalism, nepotism, marginalisation, religious sentiment, bribery and corruption which have eaten deep into our hearts. If we can tell ourselves the truth, the leadership in the country has been lopsided as sensitive positions are denied a particular ethnic group.
“President, Vice President, Senate President, Speaker House of Representatives, Inspector General of Police, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Director General of DSS are all occupied by an ethnic group, leaving the Igbo to feel marginalised.
“ We should not fan embers of crisis because where there is war, nothing is secure, let us give peace a chance like our founding fathers.”
Umahi’s presidential posters go viral
Meantime, the campaign posters of Governor’ of Ebonyi State and Chairman, Engr. David Nweze Umahi, yesterday appeared online to the surprise of those not following the trend in the nation’s political arena.
The presidential posters of the governor was pasted on the glass doors and windows of an establishments in the country.
It read: “2023 Engr. David Nweze Umahi for President.
The posters, which are currently making waves have in a way confirmed the governor’s interest for the position of the President in 2023.
Many who spoke with Vanguard believe that the emergence of Governor Umahi as president in 2023 will lead to the infrastructural revolution of the country, especially in the area of road construction.
According to Chief Onyekachi Nwebonyi, Commissioner for Capital City and Urban Development, Ebonyi State, “Nigeria will miss the train again and lose out in the race for economic competitiveness in the comity of nations” if Umahi is not elected in 2023″.
“In view of these reasons, it is vital that physical infrastructure needs to be as efficient and as productive as possible. That is why Governor Umahi, in his knowingness of the intricacies of the drivers of development, opted to tackle infrastructure headlong upon his assumption of office as governor of Ebonyi State.
“Talking of road infrastructure, it is axiomatic that nobody has equalled Governor Umahi since Nigeria’s Independence, be it president or governor. Upon the inception of his administration, Governor Umahi wasted no time in embarking on aggressive road construction in all the 13 local government areas of Ebonyi State.He saw rural roads as important as urban roads and highways, which made him come up with the 15 kilometres rural road per LGA policy.
“For Nigeria to leapfrog into the elite club of developed nations, which most Nigerians yearn for, Engr. Chief David Umahi needs to be the next president of the country. This is because he will invest in all elements of the infrastructure component which will restore Nigeria as the giant of Africa and project it to the status of developed nation.
“From the foregoing, it is undeniable that if Nigerians fail to elect Governor David Umahi as president in 2023, Nigeria will miss the train again and lose out in the race for economic competitiveness in the comity of nations.”
Ex-APC chairman urges Ndigbo todeclare interest for the president
In a related development, former chairman of APC in Enugu State, Dr. Ben Nwoye has charged Ndigbo to indicate interest for presidency.“Nwoye who made this call during the inauguration of State executives of the Enugu State Chapter of South East Mandate, said,
“it is not enough for Ndigbo to sit down and claim that it is their turn to produce the president.” He maintained that Nigerian president of Igbo extraction will not be built on a magical planet, hence the need for Ndigbo to indicate interest and fight for it.”
We need Ndigbo to come out and indicate interest for the position of president of South-East extraction in 2023. They should present themselves and run for the president.”You cannot be given the presidency because you are saying it is our turn. President is not given but contested.”
S-East APC group demands Igbo presidency
However, members of the Liberation People of South-East Assembly, LPSEA, a group in the APC, yesterday, called on the national leadership of the APC, to zone its presidential ticket to the South-East zone.
The National President of the group, Henry Chikodiri, in a statement issued in Owerri, said the APC ought to zone the presidential ticket to Igboland for equity and justice.
Furthermore, they revealed they would begin mobilization and uniting of South-East people to mount pressure for the actualization of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction.
According to them:-
“There is no other time better than now for the quest for the South-East to produce the next President of Nigeria. The National Leadership of APC should zone the party’s presidential ticket to the South-East for equity and justice.”