•Igbo should appeal to conscience of Nigerians to give it to them —Umeadi
•Igbo stakeholders must adopt a consensus candidate and mobilise for the person —Enugu monarch
•Nigerians have phobia for Igbo presidency, but we shouldn’t give up —Diwe
•Igbo presidency is possible if we unite, support Igbo candidate —Prof. Igwe
•Igbo have put their votes in PDP, the party should respect their constitution —Osuagwu, ex-Ohanaeze chairman
By Anayo Okoli, Vincent Ujumadu, Ugochukwu Alaribe, Chinedu Adonu Chinonso Alozie & Ikechukwu Odu
THE battle for who will succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023 is gradually getting hot, with aspirants from the two major political parties, the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, crisis-crossing the country consulting and marketing themselves. Good enough, a good number of the aspirants are Igbo.
What are chances of a President of Igbo extraction emerging? Former civilian Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwiemeka Ezeife, insisted that Igbo presidency is achievable and cautioned the two major political parties, APC and PDP, against any attempt to scuttle the right of Ndigbo to ascend the presidential seat in the 2023 general election.
Ezeife said that he is aware of all the manoeuvers going on among the major political parties in the country, but they should understand that 2023 is the turn of Ndigbo to produce the presidency.
He, however, urged Ndigbo to remain prayerful and optimistic that their dream would be realized as expected, adding, “as for a president of Igbo extraction, God has already approved and we are only eagerly waiting for its manifestation.”
The former Chief Judge of Anambra State and a presidential aspirant for the 2023 general election on the platform of All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA, Justice Peter Umeadi, believes that the best and easiest way for the Igbo to produce the President of Nigeria in 2023 is for them to appeal to the conscience of Nigerians to allow the political parties nominate Igbo politicians as presidential candidates for the election.
Umeadi, currently a Professor of law at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, argued that it is only by doing so that the genuineness of stakeholders from other parts of the country, who had been speaking in favour of Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023, would be seen.
He, however, admonished all Igbo speaking states to be on the same page and continue to reach out to other Nigerians for the presidential tickets of the parties.
“Since the end of the civil war, there ought to be a wholesome integration and a new beginning for the Igbo on the one hand and the Igbo with their fellow compatriots in Nigeria on the other hand, this has not happened. That is the lacuna which the Igbo president in Nigeria of 2023 would fill.
“I have said it that a South East President in 2023 for eight years after President Muhammadu Buhari would reposition Nigeria for good.
“Since 2019, I have been appealing to the people of the South East to negotiate political power with other geopolitical zones.
“We have come to the bridge where it is morally indefensible to deny the Igbo the opportunity to occupy the highest office in the land, which is the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the general elections of 2023.
“In order to achieve our collective dreams for a functioning Nigeria, we may embark on a crucial painstaking, and inevitable changes, bordering sometimes on sacrifices according to law.
“In achieving these, I firmly and unequivocally subscribe to the fact that the sovereignty and extant corporate entity of our dear country Nigeria would not in any way be compromised or tampered with,” Justice Umeadi said.
The traditional ruler of Obimo Community in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, Igwe Spencer Ugwuoke, believes that for this to be realized, Igbo stakeholders must adopt a consensus candidate and aggressively mobilize for such person across other geo-political zones.
He said that the stakeholders would assess all the aspirants on a level playing field before declaring their support for the best among them.
“It is for the interested aspirants to declare interest to run for the position. South East is entitled to this presidential position to address this cry for marginalization in Nigeria.
“The Igbo stakeholders will assess those who declared interest and give our collective supports to the best aspirant. The traditional rulers and some prominent leaders of thought will go into the field to lobby and mobilize for the chosen aspirant.
“If the Ooni of Ife sees Obi of Onitsha, chairman of the Enugu State Council of Chiefs and other prominent rulers and stakeholders from South East mobilizing for one aspirant, he will know that we are serious.
“The delegation will visit all the traditional rulers and other stakeholders of other geopolitical zones to convince them that, given the contributions of Igbo in our national development, that an Igbo man deserves to be the president of Nigeria.
“We will canvas for their supports. I am happy that we have credible aspirants who have already declared interest to run for the position. Igbo need aggressive mobilization for whoever will be endorsed by the stakeholders to run for the president of Nigeria from South East,” the monarch said.
National President of the Association of South East Town Unions, ASETU, Chief Emeka Diwe, believes that Nigerians are afraid of Igbo presidency, but urged the Igbo not to give up but continue to explore other options to achieve political independence.
He explained that opponents of Igbo presidency think that handing over power to the Igbo man is akin to handing over power to their enemy. Diwe further stated that the fear for Igbo presidency has been heightened by Nigerians who see the Igbo presidency question from the standpoint of Nnamdi Kanu’s activities.
His words: “I have an understanding about the position of other Nigerians on Igbo presidency. The truth must be stated clearly; we must stop dancing around and painting the issues and challenges affecting the Igbo presidency matter in Nigeria.
“It is difficult for other sections of Nigeria to relinquish power to the Igbo, not with what Nnamdi Kanu is doing. They are looking at the Igbo from the stand point of Nnamdi Kanu. They think that handing power to the Igbo is akin to handing power to their enemy.
“Every day, the acrimony between the Igbo and the powers that be, keep widening. Any Igbo man who thinks that this situation will change overnight is having an illusion. They can only hand power to an Igbo man they think they can cage and manipulate like a toy.
“But another thought will tell them that an Igbo man is a stickler for justice, fair play and discipline and can’t be easily caged and manipulated. It is near impossible for them to give power to the Igbo.
“This is the thinking of the powers that be. They believe that the Igbo should be kept away from presidential power in Nigeria. If Nigeria was a country that wants to rebuild, everybody would have been queuing behind the most prominent Igbo presidential aspirant, former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi.
“We need Obi to save Nigeria from the doldrums. We have no choice than to elect Obi. If you allow Obi to handle Nigeria, it will be like a specialist medical doctor handling a patient. Obi is competent, especially in his field of specialization.
“He is the man Nigeria needs at this stage. It is Nigeria’s benefit to elect an Igbo man president. We need a president with the character and configuration of Peter Obi. With Obi as President, we can compete and develop Nigeria more than China.
“For Nigeria to work, we need Obi as president at this stage. There is need for the two biggest parties to field Igbo candidates unconditionally; Nigeria should understand the benefit of electing an Igbo man as President.
“If there is no phobia for Igbo presidency, why can’t the two biggest political parties and powers that be, zone their tickets to the South East as we had with the South West in 1999? Too much injustice has been done to the Igbo. Nigeria will never get it right unless this injustice is addressed.”
He also tasked the Igbo to unite, invest at home to achieve economic independence which is capable of producing political independence in future.
“The alternative is that the Igbo should begin to look inwards. They should unite and consider other options of developing Igbo land. There should be cohesion among Igbo people and re-emphasis on investing our wealth at home in Igbo land. I believe that economic independence can turn to political independence.
“Let them keep their oil. If the Igbo can put themselves together, our ingenuity will develop Igbo land. The Igbo ingenuity is genetic; nobody can take it away from us. This is why we have survived all the plots to keep us out of presidential power”, stated.
On his own, the former Imo state Chairman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Professor Chidi Osuagwu, urged the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to respect its zoning arrangement in their constitution and allow the Igbo to emerge as the 2023 Presidential flag bearer. He argued that for over a decade the Igbo have been supporting the PDP, as well as voting massively for the party at all levels.
“The first thing is getting independence for the Indigenous People of Nigeria which the people of Britain denied them in 1960. We are deceiving ourselves by playing any other game, particularly the Igbo who were specifically targeted. It is not the issue of secession.
“As for how things stand now, PDP has a constitution that says power should be shifted to the South. Power should not go back to the North this time. Look at the people coming out from the North the Fulani who believed that they don’t believe in any agreement because of their culture. You also see slavish people denying Igbo identity because they are getting crumbs. History will damn these people”, Osuagwu said.
On APC zoning it to the South, he said: “It may be on the understanding between the Westerners who understand it should rotate between them and their Fulani allies. I think that is the game playing on that side. For the PDP, where our people put their votes all along should respect them and all these Fulani people coming out should be ignored as a people”.
A Stakeholder of All Progressive Congress, APC, Prof. Obasi Igwe believes that Nigeria President of Igbo extraction is achievable if Ndigbo would unite and support any Igbo presidential candidate. He said the Igbo can’t succeed by working at cross purposes against the interest of the Igbo race.
“He charged all the Igbo presidential aspirants to do their home work well to present a consensus candidate, support him, seek support from other region to secure victory.
“Igbo Presidency is not possible by dividing the Igbo into bits and pieces. Even if the Fulani decide that the Igbo produce the candidates for the PDP and the APC, Igbo cannot win the position by internally dividing themselves and working at cross purposes.
“If any South East/South South Igbo politician antagonizes the other, he would miss their votes and lose.
“With power of incumbency the North may even conceal a dark horse in a little known party, abandon the big-for-nothing except corruption two parties to the South/Igbo and spring a last minute surprise voting someone else. So they must close ranks and work together,” Igwe said.