By Anayo Okoli, ENUGU
AMIDST doubts by sections of the country over the preparedness of the South East to contest for the presidency next year, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has declared that Ndigbo is today better prepared than the North in 2015 when Presidency was given to them.
Ohanaeze however said that as much as the Igbo are ready; leaders are always instrumental to the emergence of their successors and urged President Muhammadu Buhari to play the required role expected of him as the President.
The President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. George Obiozor, in a statement yesterday, said that Igbos are prepared and ready for the 2023 Presidency, insisting that the position of things in Igbo land today is much more favourable and conducive than in 2015 and 1998 when President Buhari from the North emerged.
“Let it be known and clearly understood that Ndigbo is more prepared than the North when President Buhari was elected in 2015. By then, Boko Haram had threatened to overrun the North and the country, and the nation’s priority then was security and the issue of who will guarantee security to the country favoured Buhari, a former Head of State, a General. The only preparation in the north was having available, a man like Buhari presumed to have the capacity to confront the security challenges in the North and the rest of the country.
“In the South West, how prepared were they in 1999 when President Obasanjo was elected? Many people from the South-West did not vote for him in that election. The people of the southwest zone were deep in the crises of NADECO and displeasure over the June 12, 1993 election annulment. But notwithstanding, the Nigerian nation and the people through the two main national political parties zoned the Presidency to the South West to heal and reconcile the nation over the 1993 election crisis.
“Today, if the truth must be told, the imperative of zoning the Presidency to the South East is an idea whose time has come.
“Certainly, Ndigbo is prepared and looks forward to it as a national priority. It is also indeed reasonable and logical that before any other zone in the country goes for a second turn of occupying the office of the President, Ndigbo should at least have their first turn”, Ohanaeze said.
The apex Igbo cultural body, therefore, urged President Buhari to play his required role to ensure that a southeast person emerges the president.
“No leader in history was ever indifferent about who would succeed him and President Buhari will not be an exception. Consequently, it is expected that Mr President must have a critical role in the emergence of his successor.
“To this effect, it is important for the President not to lose sight of political developments that may be injurious to national unity and corporate existence of the country. It is the national expectation that Mr President continues his policy of national healing and reconciliation to a logical conclusion”, Obiozor noted.
Ohanaeze argued along with people who wonder how anybody who loves this country will talk of the Presidency coming to the South West in 2023, wondering why the southeast should be excluded or is southeast not part of Nigeria?
“It will be unfair, unjust, and unpatriotic as well as against the national spirit and interest to deny Ndigbo their opportunity and pretend as if they do not exist as part of the Nigerian nation.
“Ndigbo waited patiently and cooperatively for the Southern zones, South West and South-South to have their opportunities to produce the country’s Presidents. Who wants to push Ndigbo out of Nigeria by denying them a place in history, to produce the President of Nigeria?” Ohanaeze wondered.
Continuing, Ohanaeze Ndigbo cautioned leaders in Nigeria to “be mindful of those who want to pursue a politically motivated strategy that treats the South East as a hostile territory which is a grossly wrong and unacceptable definition of the situation in the southeast”.
Alluding to agitation by members of IPOB, the statement reminded Nigerians that “an overwhelming majority of Ndigbo do not believe in secession or separatism from Nigeria. An Igbo President will focus on what can be done, instead of arguing over what is impossible.
“Indeed, there is no doubt that in the history of Nigeria from Nnamdi Azikiwe to the present, Ndigbo has demonstrated the highest virtues of patriotism and genuine nationalistic propensities. By history and character, what defines Ndigbo is the friendliness and peaceful coexistence with others regardless of tribe, religion, or race. Ndigbo is market people, travellers, entrepreneurs, or businessmen.
“We know that the devil in Nigerian politics is power-sharing and an Igbo President will demonstrate to all Nigerians that power-sharing can be done peacefully, justifiably with equity and fairness to all and his willingness to take last.
“The fear of Ndigbo by other ethnic groups is equally unjustified and fiction of the imagination of those who create a distorted image of Ndigbo. We seek a solution and not a blame game”, Ohanaeze assured.
“Consequently, indeed, it is politically wise and reasonable, morally justifiable and defensible and patriotically persuasive for all the parties to zone the Presidency to the South East. For any zone in the South to aspire to hold the Presidency twice while the southeast has not had it even for once, will be politically and morally unjustifiable and a national political blunder as well as a clear and open case of discrimination.
“Above all, it smacks of reckless political adventurism to despise or ignore other people’s feelings or their fundamental rights as fellow citizens. No politician in Nigeria this time should have the illusion that Nigerians don’t know what is wrong or right; Nigerians are awake.
“In Igbo land today, we have many competent personalities that can confront and solve Nigeria’s perennial and endemic socio-political problems and guarantee peaceful coexistence for all the citizens regardless of ethnicity, religion, or race. We are ready and with an Igbo President, Nigeria and Nigerians will experience the true meaning of a Federation with justice, equity, and fairness”, Obiozor assured in the statement.