As Ndigbo all over the world prepare to elect a new executive of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the issue of Nigerian President of South East extraction has continued to reecho in the length and fabrics, nooks and crannies of Nigeria, majority acknowledging the fact that it is high time south easterners were allowed to produced the next President of Nigeria.
On Monday, January 11, 2021, the Igbo cultural organization will elect its President-General, a Secretary-General and other keys officers which have already been zoned to states where Ndigbo inhabit in majority. This time, Imo state is to produce the organisation’s President-General as Abia State received the mandate to produce the Secretary-General.
Our Reporter at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri Imo State where the election is to be held, said the venue is aesthetically decorated as it beams and radiates with beauty; even as cultural artifacts and lyrics of Ndigbo were emblazoned in walls and trees leading to the international stadium.
The 40-man organizing committee is working tirelessly to ensure a smooth exercise and has indeed gone through the length and breadth of Igbo land which include: Abia, Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Rivers, trying to make exercise a historic one. However, there are clamour that Igbos in Akwa Ibom, Edo, Bayelsa and Kogi should be included in the list of states to produce delegates and added in the executive of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
Maybe, said the one delegate to our Reporter on ground, the new executive that will roll off the ground from Monday, January 11, 2021 will look into that, stressing that the challenging project before all Ndigbo, both at home and in the Diaspora, is the issue of Nigerian President of South East extraction. But Chief Chuks Ibegbu an aspirant to the seat of Secretary-General says if elected he will ensure that the project is placed in the front burner. Ibegbu, a former spokesman of the body, is one of the front runners.
Prof George Obiozor, a former diplomat is being positioned as the likely President-General to succeed the outgoing, President-General. Chief John Nnia Nwodo, even as aspirants like former Secretary-General, Dr Joe Nworgu, Chief Asoluka and others are asking to be given a chance to lead the umbrella Igbo organisation from Monday.
However, former Secretary-General of the organization, Chief Uche Okwukwu reportedly plans to hold a parallel pan Igbo conference where another executive will be elected. But former governor of Imo State, Chief Ikedi Ihakim, fuming, threatened to drag him to court if ever does so.
Meanwhile, Igbos at home and in the Diaspora are asking the leadership of the Igbo cultural organization to be elected next week to reach out to other ethnic groups, political zones, religious bodies, market men and women, women and youth bodies, leaders of thought and opinion moulders etc across the nation to inform them the need for a south easterner to be given a chance to lead the country from 2023.
Interestingly, prominent politicians from the South-East on Tuesday met and resolved to unite across party lines to work for the emergence of Nigeria’s president of Igbo extraction in 2023. The gathering was under the auspices of South-East Political Leaders. It was held at Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu’s Camp Neya country home in Igbere, Bende Local Government Area of Abia and attracted the crème de la crème of the Igbo society.
In a five-point communiqué issued at the end of the meeting, they implored “all the political parties to cede their presidential tickets for the 2023 election to the southeast zone”, pointing out that such gesture would be “in the interest of justice, equity and national unity.”
They said “the zone, with substantial presence in every part of the country”, would give bloc vote and full support to any of the two major political parties that nominated their presidential candidates from the zone”.
The communiqué, which was read to newsmen by the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Sen. Pius Anyim, stated that a President from the zone “will work to unite and develop every part of the country. Such a President will be president of all Nigerians, irrespective of their political, ethnic and religious backgrounds”.
It also promised that such a President would ensure “that all citizens and every part of the country is given a sense of belonging and treated with utmost sense of justice”, adding “such was the dream of the founding fathers of this great nation, wherefore they declared that ‘though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand’.
“For the same reason, they also committed to building a just nation, where no man is oppressed so that Nigeria may be blessed with peace, plenty and prosperity.”
The group therefore urged Nigerians across political, ethnic, religious and geopolitical divides to support the zone’s aspiration in 2023 “as a mark of good faith and to promote justice and national harmony”; even as it described such a support as vital “in giving every part of the country a sense of belonging and in promoting national unity and solidarity.
“It is the loudest reassurance of equality of all parts and that the country indeed belongs to all members of the Nigerian commonwealth”, the communiqué further stated, even as the political leaders restated their commitment to “the deepening of the nation’s democracy as the surest way to fast-track national development and building an egalitarian society, where no man is oppressed for reasons of class, ethnic, religious or political affiliation”.
Aside from Kalu and Anyim, other eminent Igbo politicians at the meeting included former Deputy Senate President, Sen. Ike Ekwerenmadu, Rep. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, Rep. Toby Okechukwu, Deputy Chief Whip and Deputy Minority Leader of the House of Representatives.
Others were Sen. Michael Nnachi from Ebonyi, one-time Minister of State for Environment, Housing and Urban Development, Mr Chuka Odom, former Speakers of Abia House of Assembly, Chief Stanley Ohajuruka and Mr Chikwendu Kalu, and National Chairman of the United Progressives Party, Chief Chekwas Okorie, amongst others.
In an opening remark, the convener of the meeting, Kalu, said the gathering was intended to unite all the prominent politicians from the zone and ensure the unity of purpose among them for the emergence of Nigeria’s next president from the zone.
He said that the meeting would help to disprove critics, “who believe that we cannot meet to discuss issues affecting us, especially our aspiration to produce Nigeria’s president in 2023”.
Others who spoke at the event and also harped on the need to elect a souteasterner as President of Nigeria in 2023 included Ekwerenmadu, Anyim, Onyejeocha, Okorie and Odom.
According to them, the nation’s presidency had rotated between the northern and southern Nigeria and that the South-West and South-South have taken their turns for southern Nigeria.
Their word, “the southeast is the only zone in the south that has yet to produce a president in the current democratic dispensation and should therefore be given a chance in 2023”.
Witness calls on the incoming leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo to vigorously lead the path for the realisation of Nigerian President from the South East without compromise. kudos should be given to Chief Nnia Nwodo for his dogged fight on this project.
Uche Nwosu is a two time Shell Petroleum PLC award winner in the year 2000;
He won the Shell Award on Investigative Journalism and Environmental Cleanliness.