By Chinonso Alozie, Owerri
Igbo leaders have continued to bare their minds on what they think should be the role the South-East region should play ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Some of the leaders who spoke to South-East Voice in Owerri, were divided over which political party the Igbo should support especially for the 2019 presidential election.
According to the leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSSOB, Uchenna Madu,whether Buhari wins or loses, an Igbo man would not be allowed to produce the next president of Nigeria.
He also lashed out at the Secretary to Federal Government of Nigeria, SGF, for saying that the only option for Igbo to have a shot at the presidency was to support Buhari for re-election in 2019.
On the issue, the traditional ruler of Ihim Autonomous Community in Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State, Oliver Ohanwe, disagreed with MASSOB, adding that with Buhari, the Igbo people now have the shortest road to having the next president of Nigeria.
Ohanwe also argued that Peter Obi, who is the running mate to the presidential candidate of PDP, Atiku Abubakar, has remained one of the greatest politicians in Igboland with the interest of Ndigbo at heart and that it would be wise for the Igbo to wait until 2023.
“The argument that traditional rulers should be apolitical is right. We are not partisan. Lack of constitutional role for traditional rulers is a device to shortchange us. Know it that the entire electorate belongs to us.
“The South-East zone is a well recognised ethnic group in Nigeria and Africa. Our brothers in the North and West have become presidents, including the South-South zone. What is remaining now is the South-East zone and we are part of Nigeria.
“When the military junta left, democracy was restored and it is for everybody by equity. Why I am saying this is that we have a president again from the North who has only one tenure left and the entire South-East should support this man who we can see fighting corruption.
“It is now obvious that after his one tenure, he can consider South-East zone if the zone can come up and support him in full.”
Joining in the battle of wit, the President of the Association of South-East Town Unions, Mr. Emeka Diwe, told South-East Voice that the easiest way for the Igbo people to connect to the presidency was to vote for Atiku Abubakar/Peter Obi.
He recalled that Obi, during his time as governor of Anambra State, was able to use the Town unions to entrench what he described as even development in Anambra State. He insisted that his association would support Atiku/Obi for 2019.
“You don’t need to entice us with the presidency carrot to 2023 to get our 2019 votes. If there is a better presentation based on current issues and achivements especially as it relates to the Igbo, we will look at that.
“We, the leadership of the South-East town unions came to have an in house chat with Peter Obi. It is good you know the little background of Peter Obi. He was the former governor of Anambra State. But the town union is particularly concerned. If I say this, it may be attracting some enmity but I must say that Obi is one of the governors that have done very well in repositioning town unionism and putting it in proper perspective.
“It’s Obi that brought inclusiveness in governance as far as Igbo is concerned. During his time as governor, he made it possible for the leadership of the town unions to be devoid of all ills of politics. This is an association that people come together to select their leader based on integrity and credibility. Peter Obi brought together town unions in Anambra, that is why people are observing unprecedented development in that state. For this reason, we have come together to support him. In fact, it is pay back time.
“Yes, he did it in Anambra, Anambra development is an aspect of the town union programme, whatever happens to my brother happens to me. If Obi gets to that position as the Vice-President of Nigeria, in an exclusive combination with Atiku Abubakar, there will be grassroots-driven development. This should be the primary focus of every leadership. I want to say that the Igbo people should put heads together, I want to tell you that this is not about politics.
“Peter Obi is a representative of the Igbo man in Nigerian politics. If Obi fails, the Igbo have failed. We strongly believe that he can never fail and from what Obi will do in Nigeria, the Igbo will be happy.
“My advice to Igbo people is that this is not the time to apportion blames. We should look at this whole thing from the perspective of the general interest of our people.”
In his view, the National President of Igbo National Council, INC, Chilos Godsent, said Buhari’s policies have favoured other zones and neglected the South-East zone. He claimed that Buhari’s second term would be worse.
“We do not agree with the SGF. Buhari has performed abysmally. It will not be the right thing for the Igbo to put forth a collapsing government. A government that has underdeveloped the Igbo nation.
“A government that is not sensitive to the plight of the Igbo race. A government whose political ideology is counter- productive to the Igbo nation.
“I think it will be politically right for the Igbo to vote Atiku/Obi candidature; a vote that has entered into agreement with them.
“Buhari for the past years has rejected the call for restructuring of Nigeria.” Godsent claimed that he was not happy about the attack on the Igbo race and the launch of Operation Python Dance in Igbo land. “We saw the attack on the non-violent group agitating for Biafra. The Igbo can no longer take it. It will be a political miscalculation for Igbo to vote Buhari.
“The statement is unpatriotic and biased. It is tribalistic. Obasanjo ruled this country for many years. It will be senseless and unpatriotic for the Yoruba to produce the next president.”
Baring his mind on the matter, the leader of MASSOB, Uchenna Madu, said: “The SGF should stop deceiving himself. Even if Buhari wins or loses, the Igbo man will not be president of Nigeria. Also, we condemn the visit of the South-East Governors’ Forum to Buhari,
“How can they visit Buhari and start thanking him and appreciating him for second Niger bridge? That is the only infrastructure Buhari has undertaken in the South-East zone.
“Buhari has done wonderfully well in the South-West and the North, have they visited Buhari to thank him for what he has done? This is because they believe it is their right that the president must develop their land. Why is it that our governors are making themselves so cheap?
“So, MASSOB, condemns Governor Dave Umahi, in particular. We condemn his cheap presentation. He should stop speaking for Ndigbo. Why would he say he is thanking Buhari for second Niger bridge? Rubbish!
“Has Umahi condemned the Operation Python Dance in the South-East zone? They have come again with Operation Python Dance, they are here to mesmerize and intimidate our people coming back for the Christmas.
“They are here to instil fear in our people who are coming back for Christmas. Umahi is supposed to condemn Buhari for Operation Python Dance 3 and not thanking him for second Niger bridge, what is second Niger bridge? As a matter of fact, from now to next few years, there will be no second Niger bridge.”