By Clifford Ndujihe
THREE days to the presidential primaries of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, the South East Council of Traditional Rulers, Igbo Archbishops and Bishops have called on all Nigerians, especially the delegates to vote for South-East aspirants as flag bearers for the 2023 presidential election.
In a joint statement by the Chairman, Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council, Obi Nnaemeka Achebe; and Secretary, representatives of Archbishops and Bishops, Dr Chibuzo R. Opoko, the two groups insisted that it is the turn of the South-East to produce the next president of Nigeria after President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.
They noted that all the presidential aspirants from the South-East are qualified and that each would lead in the tradition of all past presidents, as a leader for all, adding that their antecedents promise a leadership that would change the tide and reverse the dwindling fortunes of the nation.
They noted that in Nigeria’s democratic journey, the South-East region had lent its support to candidates from all other regions of Nigeria at general elections, urging that in the spirit of mutual reciprocity, other regions should support the South-East to produce Nigeria’s next president.
The statement read in part: “We call on the South West to remember the part played by the South East region in 1999 to support the emergence of the President of Nigeria from the South-West. We call on the South-South to remember how the South-East supported their bid for the Presidency in 2011. We call on the North-East and North-West to remember how the South-East also supported candidates from their regions in past elections.
“At times like this, all men and women are called to rise above their personal interests and affirm that no individual is greater than the whole. For the South-East region, the quest for the high office of the President of Nigeria is a single, indivisible quest that aligns with the Nigerian dream in which all citizens are able to reach the heights of their full potential, and all its constituent regions have an opportunity to provide leadership without overt or covert ceilings.”
The Joint Body quoted an ancient philosopher and mathematician, Archimedes, who once said: “Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand and I will move the Earth,” to drive home its point that a President from the South East region in 2023 is indeed a fair and just lever to take hold of, and that it is also the moral and ethical place to stand to move Nigeria into an ascendant future of pride, prosperity and well-being for all.
They expressed support for the alignment of South-East presidential aspirants from the two main political parties, the APC and PDP, working together towards the emergence of the next president from the zone and urged all South-East leaders to stand in open support of the process and not in opposition to a historic opportunity.
The body commended well-meaning Nigerians and lovers of justice, equity, fairness, peace, and development of Nigeria from the South West, South-South, North-Central, North-East and North-West, who have unequivocally spoken in support of the next President of Nigeria to emerge from the South-East zone.
“We acknowledge and commend this affirmation of truth in our old national anthem – though tribes and tongues may differ, in brotherhood we stand,” they added.
The groups, which held a consultative virtual meeting on May 23 with the APC and PDP aspirants respectively, said consultation with aspirants in other political parties as well as political leaders and delegates from the region would continue.
However, it told those who are de-marketing the South-East Zone and its presidential aspirants that they were undermining the aspirations of all Nigerians to demonstrate and harness inclusiveness, equity and merit through the emergence of candidates from the South-East region, as their action amounts to acting against the moment of history.”