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Igboland’s leaders have warned that if the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) fail to zone their presidential tickets to the South East, the region will be forced to leave Nigeria.
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has consistently argued that the South East should be given the 2023 presidency on the basis of equity, justice, and fairness.
The region’s position was reinforced once again on Thursday when leaders of the Igbo people convened in Enugu under the umbrella of Ahamefuna, a socio-cultural organization hosted by ex-Enugu State Governor Okwesilieze Nwodo. Many prominent Igbo sons and daughters spoke on the topic and were of the same opinion. Ndigbo being denied the presidency in 2023 would demonstrate that Nigeria is not willing to embrace Ndigbo.
Ohanaeze’s President-General George Obiozor advised recently that the part of Nigeria that produces the next president would send a clear message about Ndigbo’s destiny in Nigeria to all Ndigbo worldwide. As an imperative for the nation’s future and preservation of national unity, he urged the Nigerian political elite to avoid political blinders confronting the political history of the nation.
He added that: “Nigerian politics is at a point of no return where national destiny is at stake, where patriotism and political wisdom must supersede personal ambition.” Other organisations such as the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) and World Igbo Congress have also taken up a stance addressing this issue. ADF President, Prof. Uzodimma Nwala, does not consider presidential election in 2023 a negotiation.
They made no apologies as they appealed to the conscience of other regions in Nigeria to make sure that the zone is treated fairly. The event was attended by chiefs and prominent Igbos, including Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe, Prof. Anya O. Anya, Sen. Ben Obi, Prof. Uche Azikiwe, Mrs. Beatrice Ekwueme, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo, Chief Achike Udenwa, Prof. ABC Nwosu, Chief Dubem Onyia Sen. Azụ Agboti, Prof. Cyprian Onyeji, Prof. Uzodimma Nwala, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, Chief Onyemauche Nnamani Maj. Gen. Collins Ihekire (rtd), Maj. Gen. Godwin Ugwuoke (rtd), Dr. Joe Nworgu, Igwe Julius Nnaji, and Prof Elochukwu Amucheazi.
According to Iwuanyanwu, the event’s chairman, Ndigbo are facing one of their greatest challenges at this time. He noted that the Ndigbo played an important role in forming Nigeria’s history, which merged Northern and Southern Nigeria. Champion and Independence proponents are not allowed to rule in Nigeria, Iwuanyanwu expressed regret.
He described Dr. Nnamadi Azikwe as a typical Igbo and Pan-Nigerian that unfortunately was never allowed to lead his country even after he led it to independence. He said: “All through history, we have been demanding what truly belongs to us. What else could be injustice, where then lies equity, justice, fairness when there was agreement that power should rotate between Northern and Southern Nigeria? Now that it is the turn of the Igbo people, they have started shifting grounds. We want a field where everybody could play. Nigerians should please be honest for at least once.”
According to Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, the Obi of Onitsha, what Ndigbo are asking in this regard is that they should be treated the same way other regions have been treated. “It has been said, treat a child like you treated his peers, so if we (South East) are given the same treatment like others, the country will be fine but if it is not done, the country will not be okay. And we have no apologies demanding what is our entitlement.” Just as he has none suggesting how the dream could be achieved. On this, he spoke at length: “In a plural society, we need to build bridges; we need to make alliances and we need to make deals with other people and I believe Ahaejiagamba (Iwuanyanwu) has just given us a summary of all the efforts we are making.”
“All I can say is that we don’t go to bed until we get what we want. We have to stay alert until we get what we want. All the Southern alliance, Middle Belt alliance, we have to stay with it,” he said.
Additionally, he noted: “We need to be focused and structured in our approach, the presidency project is not an end itself but a means to restoring the Igbo self-confidence and Igbo values and Igbo ethos, to make us more determined to be what God has chosen us to be, by seeing ourselves on equal level with others at the presidency level.”
The sentiments expressed by both Iwuanyanwu and Obi of Onitsha received endorsement from Gen. Ihekire (rtd) when he said: “Anybody in this country who is against rotating the presidency to the South East is very unpatriotic and does not love Nigeria, because if the presidency does not come to the South East it has dire consequences for this country. This is because it will further convince the South East about their position in the country.”
“Let’s face it, in Nigeria there’s jealousy towards Ndigbo, there is fear about Ndigbo, there is hatred towards Ndigbo and there is derision for Ndigbo. But we have no apologies, that’s how God created us and we have to continue to strive and work hard. We are known for hard work and for perseverance; we have no apologies for that. As we persevere, let’s not be proud about it, for if we do, it creates fear amongst others. And, it creates hatred and derision.”
“We need to be focused and structured in our approach, the presidency project is not an end itself but a means to restoring the Igbo self-confidence and Igbo values and Igbo ethos, to make us more determined to be what God has chosen us to be, by seeing ourselves on equal level with others at the presidency level.”
Others who also shared the same sentiments with the previous speakers were widow of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Prof. Uche Azikiwe and Gen. Ihekire (rtd).
THE EASTERN UPDATES