…We’ll support them but there must be restructuring — Afenifere
…There must be conditions — Balarabe Musa
…We shall look at presidential candidates when they emerge and evaluate them — ACF
…Let Igbos speak with one voice — PANDEF
By Vincent Ujumadu, Dapo Akinrefon, Chioma Onuegbu & Ibrahim Hassan
Apex Igbo socio-political organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo said yesterday that it had gotten the mandate of the Igbo-speaking states to negotiate with other Nigerians for the president of Igbo extraction in 2023.
Anambra State president of Ohanaeze, Chief Damian Okeke-Ogene said during a press briefing in Awka that the mandate would be pursued with the seriousness it deserved because the South East was the only zone that had not occupied the office of president of Nigeria since the present democratic dispensation began in 1999.
However, different ethnic groups and personalities have reacted to the development with Afenifere saying it would support Igbo Preisdency but noted that there must be restructuring, Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, said it would look at presidential candidates after they had emerged to evaluate them.
According to Ohanaeze, if in 2023, Igbo do not get the president, Ohanaeze would continue with the struggle until it is achieved, recalling that it took the late Nelson Mandela several years of struggle to achieve it in South Africa.
Okeke-Ogene also spoke on the recent attempt by some people, led by a traditional ruler in Anambra State to factionalize Ohanaeze through what he described as a misguided effort to deceive the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, to register a parallel Ohanaeze.
He said: “Ohanaeze Ndigbo is an institution of credibility and repute that spans seven states and beyond and should not for any reason be subjected to ridicule because of selfish interest of self- seeking individuals.
“We want to use this opportunity to advise the said traditional ruler to focus on activities of his kingdom and desist from meddling in the affairs of Ohanaeze so as to protect the integrity of the stool he occupies. I want to assure everybody that Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by Chief Nnia Nwodo remains intact and very strong. We want to use the opportunity to apologize to other Igbo states for this dance of shame.”
He also explained that through the intervention of the elder statesman and first republic minister, Chief Mbazulike Amechi, Ohanaeze and the Indigenous People of Biafra,
IPOB, had resolved their differences and had started working together to achieve the collective agenda for the Igbo.
On the recent misunderstanding between some traditional rulers and the Anambra State government, the Ohanaeze president said: “We want to advise our revered royal fathers to emulate the conduct of the Chairman, Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council and Obi of Onitsha, lgwe Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe, the grand patron of the Council and traditional ruler of Nnewi, lgwe Kenneth Orizu, as well as the traditional ruler of Mbaukwu, Igwe Peter Anugwu, among others and avoid confrontational stance against the state government as there is need to avoid sending wrong signal to the outside world.
“It is necessary to follow laid down processes and procedures in channeling grievances to appropriate authority. We equally want to use this opportunity to urge stakeholders in the state to avoid overheating the polity and creating opportunity for few individuals to hijack the power structure and hold the entire people hostage and in bondage.”
We’ll support them but there must be restructuring — Afenifere
When contacted, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, said though it supports the South East’s agitation, the country must be restructured before the 2023 general elections.
Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yinka Odumakin said: “We will support the South East to get the Presidency in 2023 provided Nigeria is restructured.
“We have been on the same page with Ohanaeze as far as restructuring is concerned, but if Nigeria goes into any election before carrying out restructuring, it will spell doom for the country.”
There must be conditions — Balarabe Musa
However, Second Republic governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa said majority of Northeners were now in support of the emergence of a President from the Southeast come 2023, particularly of Ndigbo extraction.
According to him, “this time around, it would not be solely an Ndigbo affair, as all Nigerians would participate in selecting the most competent person among the Igbo that will fit the number one seat in Nigeria.
“He must be someone that will bring about peace, justice and equality in the country. He must be someone with the qualities of late Zik of Africa,” he said.
He reiterated that Nigerians would have to participate in choosing an Igbo person with such sterling qualities, who would be President in 2023 unlike in similar exercises.
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We shall look at presidential candidates when they emerge and evaluate them — ACF
Reacting, Spokesperson for Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, Emmanuel Yawe, in a terse statement, said: “ACF believes that it is the constitutional responsibility of political parties to produce candidates. Until they do that, the forum will not interfere in that process. We shall look at the presidential candidates when they emerge and evaluate them at that stage.”
But a chieftain of the ACF, Anthony Sani said Ndigbo has the constitutional right to field a president in 2023.
“The decision by Ohanaeze Ndigbo to field a candidate to contest for the post of president in 2023 is their constitutional right under the nation’s multiparty democracy. They should design their winning game plan and canvass support across the nation, considering the president would preside over the whole Nigeria and not president of Igbos alone.
“And as Ohanaeze canvasses support, they should note that democracy is a contest of ideas and reasons and not a bull fight in a sumo ring. That is to say, in a multi-party democracy, threats and intimidation, nor playing victim with lamentation cannot secure power. Reasoned persuasion of the voters devoid of bellicose and percussive posturing are the instruments, while social skills are the requirements. More so, there is no national consensus on rotation of the president between the North and the South that is binding on the political parties.”
Let Igbos speak with one voice — PANDEF
Also yesterday, the apex socio-cultural group of the South South geopolitical zone, Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, said it will welcome Ohanaeze just as it called on all Igbo leaders and groups to eschew any form of division and support ‘Ohanaeze’ to negotiate with other parts of the country for the 2023 presidency.
National Chairman of PANDEF, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga, who gave the advice yesterday in Uyo stressed that Ohanaeze must work together with everybody, including those in government to win the support of other parts of the country.
Nkanga said PANDEF would welcome Ohanaeze when approached because the South South had held that the next president of the country should come from the South East.
His words: “I think what Ohanaeze is trying to do is the right thing and they should have the support of everybody in the Southeast and also in Southern Nigeria. Which other organisation would have done it other than they themselves?
“If they (Igbos) have other organizations, whether women, youth groups, especially those in govermment, they should support Ohanaeze. It should not be while Ohanaeze is negotiating for Igbo presidency, other organizations are negotiating for other regions to take the position. Let the Igbos speak with one voice.For Ohanaeze to succeed, the elders and leaders must make sure they eschew any form of faction in the organization. This is not the time to talk about faction; they should close ranks because when they close ranks they should be able to convince the rest of the country.”
“Though they have not approached us yet on that, Ohaneze will not have problem if they come to us because they are a component of Southern and Middle Belt Forum. And PANDEF over time had supported the idea that we should allow the presidency to come to the South this time.
“And of course if it comes to the South the logical thing will be to allow the Southeast have it. In an open letter our Chairman Board of Trustees,Chief Edwin Clark wrote, he specifically said that the presidency should go to the Southeast”
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