By Tony EdikeÂ , Enugu
THEÂ president-general of apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Ambassador Ralph Uwechue, says the organisation has not taken any stand in support or against the decision of President Goodluck Jonathan to contest next yearâ€™s presidential election just as it has not endorsed any of the northern presidential aspirants for the poll.
He also said that Ohanaeze was not favorably disposed to the issue of zoning the presidency between the north and south as Ndigbo are more interested in a zoning arrangement that would rotate the presidency among the six geopolitical zones to ensure equity for all sections of the country.
Uwechue spoke with reporters after the second Imeobi (inner caucus meeting) of Ohanaeze Ndigbo held in Enugu where the proposal for adoption of the amended constitution of Ohanaeze increasing the tenure of the executive from non_renewable two years to three years renewable second term dominated discussions. Although majority of Igbo leaders present at the meeting declared support for the implementation of theÂ constitution with effect from the current tenure of Uwechue.
He said that the civil war shattered the confidence of the Igbos in the Nigerian polity, noting therefore that the people of the area, having realised where their problems started, were more prepared to make amends than allowing themselvesÂ to be drawn into the endorsement fray so soon.
His words: â€œWe canâ€™t declare support for anybody now without consulting with Ndigbo to know where we should go collectively. As individual Igbos, we may have preferences, but, for now, we have not decided on whom to support. We are tired of our people being used and dumped at one time or the other. We want to analyse what we want from the government in the post-2011 elections, after which we shall see for the candidate that would accept our conditions.
â€œAnother important effort we are making now is to seek for the unity of the Igbos because we have realised that without it we can hardly achieve anything. We used to be strong when we had such leaders as Nnamdi Azikiwe, Osadebe, Michael Okpara, Akanu Ibiam, among others; time has come for us to reclaim that position of strength.â€Â
On the contentious issue of zoning, the Ohaneze leader said the organization would only be disposed to a zoning formula that is negotiated along the six geo-political zones of the country and not along the north/south divide as being discussed presently, adding however that for the strategy to be all embracing, the South-South and South East which, he observed, are the only zones that are yet to take the presidency must be allowed to rule the country.
But speaking during the meeting, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu said the only sure way for the Igbos to get the presidency was for them to toe the line of the PDP which, though supported the zoning principle, equally allowed Jonathan to run for the presidency.
In his submission, a former governor of Anambra State, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, dismissed media reports that some eminent elders of the south east, including himself, had endorsed a northern presidency, stating that until the Igbos decided on a candidate to support, the opinion of individual Igbos should not be mistaken to be the position of the entire people of the area.