The Ohanaeze Ndigbo has indicated its readiness to present candidates from the South-East geopolitical zone for the presidential election in 2023.
Several presidential aspirants have emerged from the zone, including former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Pius Anyim; Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi; former Governor of Abia State and Majority Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Kalu; former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Kingley Moghalu, among others.
Leader of the socio-cultural organisation, Prof George Obiozor, while speaking on Politics Today, a current affairs programme on Channels Television which our correspondent monitored from Abuja on Thursday, noted that it is only fair for power to rotate from North to South, and the South-East getting it for the first time in Nigeria’s history.
He said, “Definitely, the idea of the President of Nigeria from Igboland is an idea whose time has come. It is politically and morally justifiable. As a matter of fact, it is important that at this time in the history of Nigeria, we will take reasonable decisions in order to heal the nation; give every part of the country a sense of belonging, stop the bickering and reunite the country, and reinvigorate the spirit of nationalism.
“To be candid, we in Igboland are also ready to give you candidates and presidential aspirants that are competent, nationalistic, with the capacity to perform, with evidence of what they have done and what they can do for the rest of the country.
“Indeed, we are ready and all we are asking the nation is to obey the law of rotation in our history, which has been North and South and which created the balance – a political balance that has held our country together.”
Responding to another question on why the South-East should produce the next president, Obiozor said the statistics on presidents and creation of states and local government areas as well as National Assembly have shown that the zone deserves more.
“In order words, if you look at the Nigerian political calculations, it is designed in such a way that we are last in everything and we are also going to be last in all the zones in taking the presidency,” he said.
The retired ambassador also stated that people of the South-East are unanimous on the call for power to go to the zone after the tenure of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
“The whole idea of accusing Igbos of not being united is a gimmick and, in fact, a frivolous criticism because people who are very universal and individualistic cannot be controlled like cattle. Igbo have their strategy. When they find what they want, they unite,” Obiozor stated.
The Ohanaeze leader also called for amnesty for members of the proscribed Indegenous Peoples of Biafra and its detained leader, Nnamdi Kanu, who is being tried by the Federal Government.
Obiozor said, “We in Igboland have made it categorically clear that we prefer a political solution to it – a dialogue – and it is clear to the rest of Nigerians and we have repeatedly said it that the Igbo nation is not at war with Nigeria. Therefore, what is happening can be handled…political solution is the answer…dialogue is the answer just like in the other sections of Nigeria.
“(In) some areas of Nigeria, people who behaved like Kanu have been forgiven, given amnesty, and reintegrate into the country. So also is what we are asking, for Mr President to use the prerogative of mercy to look into the situation in the South-East. Prerogative of mercy is exclusively the right of the President. We are not talking about the use of court or use of force. Use of force is dangerous to everybody and definitely, it will not solve the problem; it will make it worse.”
Obiozor added, “There is no ambiguity at all. When Mr President visited Igboland, we made the same statement. Several times, I, as President of Ohanaeze, including last week, made a similar statement concerning Nnamdi Kanu and IPOB. And I have made the reference that you are totally aware of. You saw South-South’s (Niger Delta) Avengers, MEND and the rest, and how the matter was resolved. You saw how even the present Boko Haram: those (members) who said they are reprinting and how they are being rehabilitated.
“The problem of federalism is that the sensitivity is very much on the surface. If you don’t do to others as you have done to one, you will have problems. That is what I mean by precarious balance which must be maintained by any leadership in a country like Nigeria. It is not anything strange; it is actually an honourable demand.”