The most topical and popular issue in South East today is the actualization of a Nigerian President from the region.
Though some people believe that restructuring of the federation is what the Igbo needs at the moment, there are those clamoring for Nigerian President of Igbo extraction. To this end, the apex Igbo socio-cultural body, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has formed a non-partisan political action committee to push for the realization of the lofty dream.
Many Igbo groups and leaders, including Igbo World Assembly (IWA), Nzuko Umunna, Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL) as well as a former National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, have recently spoken in support of President of South East extraction in 2023
Announcing the setting up of the committee in Enugu on Wednesday, President General of Ohanaeze, George Obiozor, said it would deploy persuasion in reaching out to key political actors across the country as well as other critical stakeholders and leaders.
According to him, the “persuasion team would recognise those that are critical in Nigeria including our own people. They will also talk to our people here that are aspiring for the Presidency. The team is nonpartisan and non-political. We will try to reach everybody on the need for the South East to produce the next president.” He argued that the basis for any viable democracy, especially in a diverse and complex country such as Nigeria, rests on fair and even sharing of power.
He lamented that the twin-devil of power sharing and social justice has held Nigeria back and is about leading to its dismemberment. He restated that the Igbo were not secessionists or separatists, adding that they were prepared and deserved the presidency because it is politically defensible and morally justifiable.
The Ohanaeze leader declared that anybody working against the emergence of Igbo president does not wish Nigeria well because, according to him, only the Igbo can save the country at this critical period. He stated that the current series of national crisis facing the country were enough to bring it to its knees.
Saturday Sun investigation shows that Obiozor and the body he represents are not alone in this thinking. Former Governor of Enugu State, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo said that the South East has waited for close to 60 years for justice to be done in this area. He pointed out that the Igbo have supported other regions in the past and deserved all the backing and cooperation of other Nigerians.
He appeared on a national television on Thursday, to beg other Nigerians to forgive Igbo for any ‘sin’ they might have committed and give the prople a chance at the Presidency. He asked: “What has the South East actually done to merit all of these? Is it that we lack people that can rule Nigeria or is there a crime we’ve committed that this punishment is not yet over? I think our countrymen should have a conscience. And I believe that this country has a conscience.”
Alluding to the redressing of the injustice meted out to the Yorubas on the June 12 Presidential Election, he said: “Yes, there was injustice in June 12. The next opportunities that came up after Abacha suspended June 12, and when he left office, at the next election, justice was done to the people of South West. PDP nominated Olusegun Obasanjo. Even though Ogbonnaya Onu won the nomination in the opposition party, he had to yield to Olu Falae. This country has a conscience. We don’t know why that conscience takes a flight when it comes to the South East. We think that we need that conscience to wake up and we need all right-thinking people of Nigeria who want to heal the wounds of yesterday, who want us to march together in unity and develop our country, to yield this position at this time in all parties to the South East.”
Speaking similarly, Chairman of Igbo World Assembly, Dr. Nwachukwu Anakwenze noted that the Igbo have demonstrated the highest virtues of patriotism and genuine nationalistic propensities in the history of Nigeria, from Nnamdi Azikiwe to the present.
Addressing the Nigerian Inter-Ethnic Nationalities Dialogue on Presidency of Igbo extraction in 2023, he noted that by history and character, what defines Ndigbo is friendliness and peaceful coexistence with others regardless of tribe, religion or race. Ndigbo, he noted, are market people, travellers, entrepreneurs or businessmen.
He argued that all the regions of Nigeria had produced Presidents except the South East, stating that it is now the turn of the region to provide good leadership for the good of all Nigerians so as to move the country in a positive direction. He raised the alarm of plots by some presidential aspirants to thwart the aspiration of the South East by getting Vice President from the Southern part of the country. He said that the South East was poised for the position of president and nothing less, adding that any betrayal would be against the national interest.
Speaking in the same vein, South East youths vowed to move against anybody from the zone that is angling for the position of Vice President in 2023. According to President General, Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL), Goodluck Ibem, the zone will not accept the position of vice president. “We want one of our own to be elected President in 2023,” he said. “Nothing more, nothing less. Ndigbo has worked hard towards the development of Nigeria and deserves to be supported to occupy the No. 1 seat in the country.”
The group commended ohaneze ndigbo for forming political action committee chaired by its president, Obiozor with its secretary general, Amb. Okey Emuchay as secretary. He pleaded with the committee to ensure that those to be selected as members are people of high integrity, patriotism, proven track record and wide political contacts across the country. He also asked it to stand firm and work assiduously to ensure that South East geopolitical zone is supported by other zones to produce the President of Nigeria in 2023.