Ayo Adebanjo

…We‘ve sympathy for S-East but… —PANDEF

…Adebanjo stated the obvious — MBF

…Denying Igboll give credence to agitation by IPOB, MASSOB, others — Ohanaeze, LAGOS

By Anayo Okoli, Regional Editor, South-East, Dapo Akinrefon, Peter Duru & Davies Iheamnachor

Leader of Pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo weekend, warned that any attempt by a Northerner to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023 will spell doom for Nigeria.

Adebanjo’s position was supported by other groups,  such as the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, who said the Afenifere leader stated the obvious.

Adebanjo, who canvassed an Igbo Presidency in 2023, in a chat with Vanguard in Lagos, said: “All those who say the South-East cannot be President, ask them” what has the South-East done? Are they not part of Nigeria? Is the South-East not part of Southern Nigeria?

“If you want peace in Nigeria, the South-East should produce the next president of Nigeria. Olusegun Obasanjo had done it for eight years, Yemi Osinbajo would be Vice President for eight years by 2023, Goodluck Jonathan was president for six years, is the South-East not in Nigeria? And then, you want it to go back to the South-West again.

“I told Bola Tinubu: How can you say Buhari is supporting you when he is supporting the likes of Kayode Fayemi, Ibikunle Amosun and Osinbajo? And then, they threw the bait at Jonathan again.

“Jonathan disappointed me, instead of rejecting it, he said he was thinking about it. What is he thinking about? I regret ever giving him my support and this is on principle.

“Mind you, the moment you avoid principle, equity, honesty and ideology, you can’t get anywhere in this country. If you gang up against a section of the country, how do you want to get peace? Should a Northerner win the 2023 elections, it will be goodbye to Nigeria. I have said it and I want them to come and arrest me.”

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Adebanjo stated the obvious — MBF

Throwing its weight behind Adebanjo’s warning, the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, yesterday, said the warning must not be taken for granted because it was an exposure of what would happen to the country if another Northerner succeeds President Buhari in 2023.

National President of MBF, Dr Bitrus Pogu, who spoke to Vanguard in Makurdi, Benue State, said the country is in dire straits and everything possible must be done to save the country and not plunge her further into eventual disintegration.

Dr Pogu said: “What he said is the correct picture portraying the Nigerian situation. And while all these deceits and vilification of the Igbo have been going on over the years, the truth remains that marginalisation has to stop for Nigeria to move forward.

“We are insisting that the presidency has to go to the South because we want Nigeria to remain one entity. The truth is that Adebanjo has exposed what will likely happen if the North tries to continue to lead the country after President Buhari.

“That is why we are insisting that if for any reason, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which is the main opposition party decides to leave its presidential ticket open and a Northerner picks it, we are going to work against that Northerner; so that we can save Nigeria from disintegration.

“So, to save Nigeria, ab initio, just like in 1999, it was not just zoned to the South, it was micro-zoned to the South-West to save the situation. Our situation now is more challenging and dire than in 1999.

“We need to address the security problems, we need to reunite Nigerians. We must also ensure that we get the presidency to the South and then the South moving it to the South-East will be a welcome development and we are all in support of that for the unity, peace and progress of our country.”

Denying Igbo ‘ll give credence to agitations of IPOB, MASSOB, others — Ohanaeze

Also aligning with the Afenifere leader, Ohanaeze Ndigbo said an Igbo presidency remains the most unifying action to be taken by Nigerians.

National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, said: “Chief Adebanjo is an experienced Nigerian politician, an elder statesman, a visionary; in fact, any time he is talking, he is not talking for himself, he talks for the future of this country. He has seen Nigeria in and out, he knows the heartbeat of Nigeria, and he knows the consequences of whatever step Nigeria takes in 2023.

“So, what is happening now is a dilemma of either to reintegrate the Igbo after over 50 years after the civil war or not to reintegrate them. So, if the Igbo are reintegrated, that is the presidency we are talking about, but if they are not reintegrated, you are giving vent to the agitation by restive youths; it will intensify and some of us will not have any basis to plead with them. The insecurity will increase.

“The elder statesman understands the implication of denying Igbo the presidency because there is no reason on earth why it should not come to them except the dilemma of whether to reintegrate them or not reintegrate them.

So, if Nigerians conspire not to reintegrate the Igbo, it will give credence to the agitation by Indigenous Peoples Biafra, IPOB, Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB and others, and it will be difficult for us to do anything about it.

The insecurity will increase, you will see what is happening in the South-East will affect other parts of the country. The relationship between Igbo and other ethnic groups will be severed; the Igbo everywhere will be uncomfortable. So, I support the views of the elder statesman.”

We‘ve sympathy for S-East — PANDEF

On its part, PANDEF  backed the position of Adebanjo, noting that power must shift to the Southern part of the country in 2023.

National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Mr Ken Robinson, said the leaders of Southern Nigeria had met and taken a position that it is the turn of the South to take over leadership of the country.

Robinson, however, differed with the Yoruba leader on the call that power should move to the South-East, adding that Southern leaders would hold a conversation and come up with a consensus.

He said: “Chief Adebanjo is one of our fathers and leaders. When one of our leaders takes a position it is difficult to go against it.

“PANDEF is part of the Southern Leaders Forum, comprising of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and others. At one of our meetings, we had insisted that power should shift to Southern Nigeria. 

“And as the elder statesman and leader of Yoruba nation have said, for North to retain power in 2023, is a call for further disaster. It then means perhaps that we’re no longer going with one Nigeria.

“Because then it means we now have a situation where a section of the country thinks they are the only set that should rule while others should not be there. It is not acceptable.

“On that, the elder statesman is completely right. The fact that power should be zoned to Southern Nigeria to that extent is yes.

“But, specifically to the South, we completely stand for justice, equity and fairness. Of All, the parts of the country as the elder statesman has said, the South-East is the only section that has not produced a president in this president political dispensation in the South.

“We have sympathy for the South-East, but, PANDEF has also said there are sentiments in the South that the South-South did not complete the statutory eight years. We will at the appropriate, time the South-South, South-West and South-East will have a conversation and when we have a consensus from that, we will definitely make a statement.”

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