The apex Igbo Socio-Cultural Organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo made the submission arguing that agitation in the South East cannot be a reason to deny the region the opportunity to produce the next president in 2023.
Ohanaeze National Publicity Secretary, Chief Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia added that other Nigerians should support Ndigbo in the spirit of equity, justice, and fair play. He made this known during an interview with Vanguard, yesterday.
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.
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.”
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.”
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