By Chinonso Alozie & Chinedu Adonu
A cross-section of Igbo leaders, yesterday, said the Igbo have cried enough in their quest to produce Nigeria’s President of Igbo extraction in the 2023 general elections.
The leaders spoke separately during the reception in honour of the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Professor George Obiozor, organised by Governor Hope Uzodimma, at the Government House, Owerri.
According to Uzodimma: “I am worried that while the Igbo have an unassailable case over their post-civil war treatment and plight in the Nigerian federal project, the logic of that case may be compromised by the temperamental actions of non-state actors, to the peril of everyone.
“This is why I think that the time has come for every patriotic Nigerian to rise and address the Igbo question. What cannot be taken away is that for too long, the Igbo have cried out profusely over their plight.
“This plight is comparable to the plight of the southwest over the annulment of the June 12 elections. Following that annulment, the southwest felt short-changed. They cried out for justice. While some groups did so responsibly, others resorted to violence. The instructive thing here is that at a point, the patriotic zeal of the political class in Nigeria was touched and they rose in unison to acknowledge that the Yoruba had cried enough and that it was time to wipe their tears.
“That was why the two major political parties in Nigeria fielded only Yoruba candidates for the 1999 presidential election. Of course, even a political neophyte knew that this was not accidental, but a well-planned act by a group of patriots who had placed the unity of Nigeria uppermost in their minds.
“It is now obvious from every indication that Ndigbo have also cried enough about their marginalization. It should also be clear to the political class that the time has come to wipe these historical tears of Ndigbo. What is more, most of the patriots who engineered the plan that made the southwest produce the presidential candidates for the two major political parties in 1999 are still alive and active in politics.
“That same undying love for the country that inspired them to do what they did for the southwest in 1999 should inspire them to do the same for the southeast in 2023. The West, the North, the East and the South are all important in our quest for national unity.
“This is a clarion call on the political class to do the needful. As the saying goes, E mee nwata etu emere ibe ya, obi adi ya nma” This simply means, that the only way to make a child happy is to treat him or her the same way you treated the other child,” Uzodimma said.
Other political leaders who spoke briefly were a former military governor of old Imo State, Ike Nwachukwu who said: “We know Uzodimma is loved by the Igbo people and that is why he is celebrating the president of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, George Obiozor, Obiozor.
“It is for this reason that we supported Obiozor to be the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo especially now that we are talking about the presidency of Nigeria. Let us send Obiozor to go and tell Nigerians that what we want is President of Nigeria of Igbo extraction.”
The Chairman of Elders Council of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Emmanuel Iwuayanwu said: “We want to thank Uzodimma. This is the fourth time Uzodimma called us to talk about the future of the Igbo. We came here to honour Obiozor and at the same time to know where we are going politically.
“Any group in Igboland that have agenda of how to develop Igboland should come and register with Ohanaeze. Any Igbo man that is not hungry for this Igbo presidency is a fool. I chaired a committee on this issue. South-south, South West and other regions have all agreed that the South-East should produce the presidency including the Middle Belt. We are seriously on this issue of Igbo presidency.”
Also, the Obi of Onitsha, Alfred Achebe, said: “We have said that Igbo will rule Nigeria. We have agreed to pursue it, but in doing that, we must give peace a chance in Igboland. We must stop killing our brothers and sisters. We must make peace and create opportunity for our youths. We need peace harmony and reconciliation.”
Speaking at the event,the immediate past President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, John Nnia Nwodo, warned the PDP not to ignore the call to zone the presidency to the South.
He said: “I want to say this as the PDP said they don’t respect zoning that is in their constitution. I want to tell them to forget the votes from the southeast. I want Obiozor to call a meeting of Imeobi so that the Igbo can finally decide on the Igbo presidency.”
In his remark, the First Republic Minister, Mbazuluike Amechi called on the President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, to release the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu. “I have pleaded with Buhari to hand over Nnamdi Kanu to me so we can control all these things happening in Igboland. If Buhari hands over to me Kanu, we will control all these things. I told you that God has a purpose of keeping me alive. I have the key, give me Kanu.”
Other dignitaries who attended the occasion, were two former Senate Presidents, Pius Anyim and Adolphus Wabara; former governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim; former President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Gary Igariwey; among other leaders across the South East region.
In a related development, a statesman, Richard Ozobu has urged Ndigbo to reach out to other zones for support to enable them achieve Igbo Presidency.
Ozobu also reaffirmed his unalloyed support for the realisation of Nigerian President of Igbo extraction.
Uzobu who made this while briefing pressmen at his country home in Enugu, said that Ndigbo have qualified candidates that would deliver good leadership and as well be trusted to save Nigeria from economic quagmire.
While insisting that it is the turn of Ndigbo to produce the next President of Nigeria as other zones had taken share of power, he urged for justice, equity and fairness to support South East region.
“Nigeria needs someone that has the capacity to restore the economy and give good leadership and the Igbo is the answer. We should get the right people into politics. Ndigbo have business ideas and they have done well in businesses across the world. Their business skills will help in economic recovery. Nigeria should give Ndigbo opportunity to recover the economy with their business skill.
“But no tribe in Nigeria can win election without alliance. So, South East needs alliance with other zones to win the presidency. No zone can do it alone and it has to be on trust. North was able to achieve it because of their alliance with South West,” Ozobu said.