South East leaders

By Anayo Okoli, Vincent Ujumadu, Chidi Nkwopara, Chimaobi Nwaiwu, Peter Okutu, Nwabueze Okonkwo, Ugochukwu Alaribe, Chinedu Adonu, Chinonso Alozie, Ikechukwu Odu, Steve Oko & Emmanuel Iheaka

ENUGU—THE clamour, hope and enthusiasm from Ndigbo that the Presidency of Nigeria will come to South-East in 2023 courtesy of the two main political parties, APC and PDP, have been dashed. 

The two parties failed them in spite of their enormous contributions to build and nurture them, particularly, PDP, which though has rotation of power in its Constitution, shifted the goal post midway in the game purposely to frustrate the region. 

The two parties have simply told Ndigbo that they do not matter in Nigeria politics. Even in the face of this bias, the greatest worry and disappointment is the attitude of the political leaders from the region. They don’t trust one another, therefore can’t work together. The attitude of “me or never” is their greatest albatross and it is hunting them and Ndigbo are angry.

Prominent monarch, the paramount ruler of Abiriba ancient kingdom, Enachoken Abiriba, Eze Kalu Kalu Ogbu, expressed utter worry and disappointment over the unpatriotic attitude of the present crop of South-East political leaders, led by the governors, who he said are not after the political interest of the zone.

Eze Ogbu said the governors place their personal and party interests above regional interest, a development, he regretted, is at variance with their counterparts from other zones.

“South-East governors are not helping matters. Some of them are bent on selling everybody for a pot of porridge. It is very appalling that the governors have all disappointed us. I don’t know what they are pursuing,” the revered monarch lamented.

According to him, if the governors pursue and promote common political interests of Ndigbo above their personal and party interests, the situation in the region will change for the better even in 2023 as he urged eligible Igbo voters wherever they reside, to get their voter’s card and participate in the 2023 elections.

Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi who doubles as the chairman of South-East Governors’ Forum, a major political leader in the region, was enraged over the level of betrayal among the political leaders in the region even in the face of cry of marginalisation from them.

Umahi, whose Forum is working at cross purposes said: “Whereas other geo-political zones have six and seven states, the South-East has five states and we should be asking why. Is there any fairness and justice in this regard? Whereas other states have 40 and 30 local government areas, our own state just has 13 local governments.

“But the worst is the betrayal of our leaders  and the delegates. I worked internally and externally for our delegates and leaders. I know I had meetings with the five South-East chairmen and NWC of the South-East and I told them it is not about me but about the agitation and mood of the nation and I begged them to vote for any candidate of the South-East zone so that when our votes are counted behind all the region’s candidates, we should not have anything less than the number of our delegates. By doing that, we would have made a statement, but it became a shame that our leaders and delegates sold all our votes.

“It is a very big shame and let me say it publicly, for our people to be shouting about marginalisation and whenever they have an opportunity to make a statement, they will sell their vote. I will continue to let them know that he who sells his brother or sister, even the spouse will never have trust in him or her. It is a big shame.”

One of the PDP presidential aspirants, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa expressed disappointment over the treacherous attitude of some Igbo delegates at the PDP convention who traded off the interest of the zone in support of aspirants from other zones. He, however, noted that such saboteurs should brace up for a day of reckoning.

“Now, we have seen the true Igbo and the wolves in sheep clothing. Now we have seen those who claim to be Igbo but in actuality, they are not. Nobody is sure of their origin even though they answer Igbo names. That is why when they see money; they forget their father’s name.

“But there is a day of reckoning, and we shall take account of those who are Igbo, those who support Igbo cause, those who are mercenaries parading in the name of Igbo, those who are making money out of Igbo blood, sufferings and conditions in Nigeria.

“On the day of reckoning, everybody will be held accountable. The question will be: What did you do about the Igbo condition? When the Igbo were being excluded, what did you do? On that day, all those who are supporting Igbo will give account and those who are betraying Igbo interest will also give account.

“It is unfortunate that when the Igbo are crying  marginalisation and mistreatment, lack of equity; at a time when most Igbo agree that we should fight for this equity, some Igbo are selling their votes and others are campaigning for, and prefer other people to their fellow Igbo brothers.

“It is within their rights anyway but every action has an equal and opposite reaction. There is a consequence for every action, and I pray that when the consequences come, they should bear the consequences of their actions,” Ohuabunwa lamented.

Foremost Igbo leader and First Republic Aviation minister, Chief Mbazululike Amechi is angry over what the two big parties did to the region which he said was shocking to anybody who likes equity and fair play.

“I was taken aback by PDP nomination of its presidential candidate, but when I saw the result of the All Progressives Congress, APC, primary election, it occurred to me that they were all involved in total rejection of the Igbo; it was an open pronouncement that they don’t want Igbo. The rest of the country doesn’t want Igbo. Igbo should not go into any violent action to find a solution. Now nobody gives you freedom, nobody gives you liberty, nobody gives you political power or right to determine where you will fit in, in the country, you have to determine it yourself.

“And my advice to Ndigbo is, politically they have been rejected in Nigeria, they should go back to what God has created them to do, which is to capture the economic power in Nigeria. God has given the Igbo the gift of the brain, the gift of business acumen, the gift of hard work and therefore, they should silently give themselves some time to capture total economic control of the Nigerian economy, not only Nigerian but Africa.

“The North has taken over the oil industry and gave pittance to the South-West and the South-South, so Igbo should forget the oil, they can achieve their economic powers in other areas that have nothing to do with oil. They are gifted, they can achieve it in other areas, they are handsomely gifted. This is what will save the Igbo.”

Former civilian Governor of Anambra State, Dr.  Chukwuemeka Ezeife is still optimistic that 2023 president could come from the South- East region, saying that Peter Obi should not be wished off even as he appealed to the INEC to ensure that nobody is disenfranchised.

Ezeife urged Ohanaeze Ndigbo to collaborate with other Igbo elders and religious leaders to bring to book, for punishment, erring Igbo politicians who derailed from the Igbo president project.

“I am disappointed at some of our Igbo politicians who voted against their fellow Igbo aspirants during the recent primaries in APC and PDP but our consolation is that a reputable Igbo man emerged from Labour Party in the person of Peter Obi and we must rally round him to ensure his victory so that we can say goodbye to corrupt politicians in this country,” he said.

Former national chairman of PDP, Chief Okwesilieze Nwodo, however, did not see the opportunity of the South-East region producing the president being lost as he said Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party could be the magic man.

While expressing disappointment at the PDP, and APC for denying the aspirants from the region their tickets, he lambasted Igbo politicians who abandoned their brothers for their opponents.

“Igbo will not remain political slaves serving other geo-political zones in Nigeria. I know that politics is dynamic. This is a period of political alignment and re-alignment for the Igbo politicians so that our common interest can see the light of the day.

“For those of us who have been campaigning for South-East presidency, we are not happy that some of our leaders in PDP and APC didn’t join in this struggle. If you are talking about two PDP governors in the South-East who campaigned for a South-South aspirant, what about the Senate Majority Whip, Orji Uzor Kalu and Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodinma, who campaigned for Ahmad Lawan when we had strong aspirants from the South-East in their parties? Our Igbo political leaders didn’t do well.”

For Uzu Awka, Austin Ndigwe, equity and fair play demand that Ndigbo should be given the opportunity to have their fair share of the leadership in the country. “If truth must be told, both God and humanity know that it is the turn of Ndigbo this time around and that agreement must be obeyed.”

Legal luminary, Chief Mike Ahamba, SAN, said the only way the Igbo can clinch the presidency is by forming an alliance. Ahamba stressed the reality of the need for such an alliance for Igbo to succeed, saying threats will not earn the Igbo the presidency.

“The way forward is to face the reality and realise we can’t do it alone. We have to cooperate with other people to get to that destination. There is no way Igbo alone can clinch the presidency. There must be some alliance. It is a culture of combinations. So, what are you combining? Let those interested in it find a way to form an alliance.

Those at that level should know what to do.”

Former Minister for Finance, Kalu Idika Kalu blamed the current political predicament of the South-East on what he considered as the many political mistakes and calculations of the Igbo and admonished that instead of licking their wounds, they should use the opportunity to correct the mistakes of the past.

For the Chairman of Elders Forum of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, solution to alienating any region from power is by entrenching zoning of the presidency in the constitution.

According to the elder statesman, putting it in the constitution would reduce the intimidation, and  bitterness that always trail the agitation for zoning political offices.

“I have a lot of respect for the leadership of Afenifere in the South-West and the South-South including the Middle-Belt. They said it should be South-East this time around.  They all agreed the position should be given to the South- East but some people rebelled and squeezed it out of the hands of the South-East people.

“There are two major political parties in the country, the APC and PDP. We are expected that the two parties should have zoned the presidential ticket to the Igbo. We are not happy. We are very sad. We are going to continue to be patriotic Nigerians. We will appeal to the conscience of the leaders to restructure this country. Federal character is part of our problem.

For Prof. Obasi Igwe, a professor of political science, a third force would have been the best solution for  the South- East if Nigerians were interested in a peaceful revolution as APC and PDP refused to cede power to the region. He therefore encouraged Nigerians to consider the third force.

“Corruption has defined the Igbo political elites since the early 1990s or thereabouts; they snatch federal contracts for Eastern airports, highways, hospitals and other infrastructure and squander the monies, and the intelligentsias are too compromised to question them; they are federal ministers, state governors, all manner of officials, but all in their pockets. These corrupt Igbo elites have all along constituted a danger to both Igbo society and to Nigeria; they are ideological nihilists, believing in nothing except money and personal possessions,” Igwe said.

The President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Nsukka Local Government Area of Enugu State, Prof. Damian Opata, who urged Igbo to do critical self reflections on their political strategies in order to get incorporated into the Nigerian federation and remain relevant in the political space, regretted that “our present Igbo politicians lack the sagacity like our old politicians.”

APGA presidential flag bearer, Justice Peter Umeadi is of the view that “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, which 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.”

Notable Igbo opinion leader,  Prince  Richard Ozobu said that the Igbo can only actualise their dream of producing a Nigerian president through going into alliances with other sections of the country.

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