By Biodun Busari

The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has called on the Nigerian youths of Igbo extraction to desist from tribalistic politicking as the country prepares for the 2023 general election.

Ohanaeze warned Igbo youths to participate in politics and support any political candidates of their choice without infringing on the rights of others who do not share their political ideas in the South-East or other regions.

The supreme Igbo group said this in a statement to mark the International Youth Day by the National Publicity Secretary, Chiedozie Alex. Ogbonnia,

It titled the statement ‘Ohanaeze charges Igbo youths to eschew ethnic chauvinism’ stating that it was in reaction to a statement by the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL) which warned Igbo youths not to support or vote for the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu.

The statement reads, “The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide led by Ambassador Professor George Obiozor urges the youths in the South East of Nigeria to eschew ethnic chauvinism as the 2023 general election draws nearer. The Ohanaeze admonition is in reaction to a statement issued by Igbo youths under the auspices of the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL).

“The group as quoted by the Guardian Newspaper of August 10, 2022, “warned groups and individuals promoting the presidential ambition of Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu to stay clear of the zone”. The group described as “unfortunate how certain persons from Igbo land would allow themselves to be used to promote the ambition of a man who is outdated in all ramifications in the scheme of things to be voted as a Nigerian president come 2023.’”

Ohanaeze said that since Nigerian youths from other regions are also supporting Igbo candidates, Igbo youths are free to support their own preferred non-Igbo candidates.

It called on the youths from the South-East region not to subvert the democratic process or invite hostility through their actions.

It continues, “Ohanaeze Ndigbo acknowledges the inalienable rights of individuals and groups to express their views on national issues but advises that such rights should not infringe on the rights of other Nigerian citizens. Clarification is made that each of the presidential candidates has every right to campaign and canvass for votes in all parts of the country.

“In other words, since the presidential candidates of the South East or Igbo extraction enjoy untrammelled access and mass followership in other geopolitical zones of the country, it is a political self-immolation and indeed highly unreflective for COSEYL to embark on a misstep that may diminish the Igbo patina for inter-ethnic friendliness.

“Emphasis is further drawn that the statement by the COSEYL is at variance with the Igbo character of liberality, hospitality, frontier spirit and accommodation of diverse interests. The South East constituency has sufficient political awareness or enlightenment to assess the presidential candidates as they visit the South East to market their manifestoes and canvass for votes.”

“As we celebrate the International Youth Day with the theme- generational solidarity; it is necessary that as leaders of tomorrow, instead of an archaic and implacable adherence to prosaic ethnic indulgences, it is much better to develop an inter-ethnic solidarity with an encompassing national ideology into which the productive energies of the youths from diverse parts of the country will coalesce. This is the ideal.

“For further clarifications, it is a subversion of democratic process and indeed a potent source of national crises for candidates to perceive threats or hostility from groups within the country. While we share in the passion and grievances of the Igbo youth, maturity is still needed in our political activism to eschew ultra-ethnic chauvinism.”


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