NOTABLE Igbo leaders yesterday urged all the major political parties in the country to cede their presidential tickets to the South-East geopolitical zone in 2023 in the interest of justice, equity and national unity.
Rising from a cross-party meeting of South-East leaders in Igbere, the home country of Senate Chief Whip and former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzo Kalu, the leaders said that the South-West and the South-South zones, which together with South-East make up the South had respectively produced presidents in Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
In a communique jointly signed by Kalu; former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim; Deputy Chief Whip of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon . Nkeiru Onyejeocha; Spokesman of the House of Representatives, Hon. Benjamin Kalu; and Chief Chekwas Okorie at the end of the meeting, the leaders also called on Nigerians across all geopolitical zones and ethnic nationalities to support a Nigeria’s president of Igbo extraction in 2023.
The communique read: “Political leaders of the South-East across all political persuasions met at Igbere, Abia State, on January 5, 2021 to discuss the political future of the geopolitical zone vis-à-vis the 2023 general election.
“The meeting recalled that Nigerians across political, ethnic, and religious divides fought hard, long, and collectively to enthrone the current democratic dispensation as the surest way to engender national development and guarantee a just and equitable society where every section of the country enjoys a sense of belonging.
“The meeting observed that the Presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has rotated between Northern and Southern Nigeria and among the various geopolitical zones. Thus, the South-West and South-South geopolitical zones in the southern part of the country have produced the President of Nigeria.
”Hence as power is expected to rotate to the South in 2023, the meeting noted that the South-East is the only zone in the South that is yet to produce a President of Nigeria in the current democratic dispensation.
“The meeting further observed that the people of the South-East have continued to demonstrate their commitment to the unity and development of the country. Not only has the geopolitical zone actively supported the emergence of Nigerian President of other geopolitical extractions, the people are also known to be major agents of development and heavy investors outside their zone and often the next in population after the indigenes in any state of Nigeria. Our well-pronounced presence and investments in every nook and cranny of the country represent the firmest and most practical demonstration of faith in the unity, peace, and continued corporate existence of the country, for where a man’s treasure is, there his heart lies also.”
“In view of the above and after exhaustive and incisive deliberations, South-East political leaders resolved to:
“Consequently implore all the political parties to cede their presidential tickets in the 2023 general election to the South East in the interest of justice, equity and national unity. To make good our demand and reciprocate such good faith, we have decided, as a geopolitical zone with substantial presence in every part of the country to give a block vote and throw our full weight behind any major political party, particularly the APC and PDP, that zones its presidential ticket to the South East in 2023 general election. We resolved to work for such a party irrespective of our different individual political parties.
S/East govs blast organizers
Meanwhile, South-East Governors, yesterday came hard on the initiators and conveners of the Igbere meeting and dissociated themselves from it.
The Governors argued that “if there should be such a meeting which they feel is very necessary, the governors must be seen to be informed and be part and parcel of calling such a meeting.”
Chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. David Umahi, stated this during a virtual meeting with other governors of the region.
Said Umahi: “Today 5th January, 2021, the South East Governors had their meeting and all the governors were in attendance and the meeting resolved as follows:
“There was a bi-partisan meeting called today and the initiator went ahead to use the names of governors without consulting them as part of the conveners of such a meeting.
“The Governors of South-East frown at such attitude and would want to disassociate themselves from such a meeting. If there should be such a meeting which they feel is very necessary, the governors must be seen to be informed and be part and parcel of calling such a meeting. They strongly feel that Ohanaeze is in part position to speak on such issues.
“So, they want to say that the Governors are not involved and they encouraged all their people to boycott such a meeting.”
On the issue of security, Governor Umahi said the governors are so much worried on the killings and kidnappings that are going on by our people in south east; killing our own people and then killing security agencies and the situation is being heightened by the activities of very desperate politicians.
“There are so many desperate politicians in all the political parties that are so desperate for power and they have aligned with some bandits in South-East to destabilise the nation.”
Umahi further stated that the governors of the zone would ”do everything possible to ensure that all our people are protected; the security agencies and all the people that are from other regions that are living with us.
“We have agreed that the South-East Security Committee will be expanded, we have agreed that this year we are going to have a common patrol. Our vehicles are going to be the same, the uniform will be the same and we will do this for our vigilante and we will continue to work with the people of South-East to give them greater protection.”