Ohanaeze to lobby North, South-West for all-Igbo presidential race

The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has said the Ndigbo will after January 21, visit other zones in the country with a view to seeking their support for a president of Igbo extraction in 2023.

The Ohanaeze National Publicity Secretary, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, who disclosed this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Enugu, said during the visits,  Ndigbo would persuade other ethnic nationalities to convince all political parties to field the Igbo as presidential candidates.

Ohanaeze spokesman also allayed fear that the high number of Igbo, who were reported to be nursing presidential ambition would work against the South-East.

Currently, South-Easterners including the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi; former Abia State Governor, Orji Kalu, a former president of the Senate, Pius Anyim,  Minister for Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu and the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba  have been reported to be interested in the 2023 presidency.

We will meet and convince ethnic nationalities that all parties should field Igbo as presidential candidates – Ohanaeze

Commenting on the issue, Ogbonnia, in the interview with The PUNCH, said the more the merrier, adding that even if contenders were 100, it would be better.

The spokesman, who disclosed that a timeline had not been fixed on when the  Ndigbo would meet other ethnic nationalities, said after the January 21 meeting plans would be unveiled.

He said, “Ohanaeze Ndigbo will meet and top on the agenda is Igbo presidency and how to meet ethnic nationalities in Nigeria, to convince them that all the political parties should nominate the Igbo for president of Nigeria.

“Secondly, assuming that it works that way that all political parties nominate the Igbo, then we have no other work again or role to play because whoever will emerge finally will be an Igbo.”

According to him, if Ohanaeze notes that the high number of aspirants is affecting the chances of the Igbo, it will intervene and urge some of them to step down for the most qualified aspirant.

He stated, “That is where we play regulatory role like during the late Alex Ekwueme and Senator Jim Nwobodo, Igbo will now play a regulatory role among the aspirants contesting; to tell them that this is the person the Igbo are supporting.”

Igbo haven’t be treated fairly, decision to contest, personal to Jonathan – PANDEF

Meanwhile, the Pan Niger Delta Forum has said the organisation has sympathy for Igbo Presidency in 2023. It said such aspirations cannot be achieved by threats and disrespectful comments.

The National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF,  Ken Robinson said this during a telephone interview with one of our correspondents

Robinson was reacting to comments by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo that the spirit of the Igbo would not forgive Jonathan if he failed to support the Igbo for Presidency.

But the PANDEF spokesman pointed out that Jonathan was an individual and he had his personal decisions to make.

He stated, “The point PANDEF will want to make is that we should avoid statements like that. Igbo presidency will not be achieved through threats and those kinds of comments.

“What is needed now is dialogue, negotiations. We need to have sincere conversations with mutual respect. Nigeria is a diverse country. The regional groups, PANDEF inclusive, Ohaeneze itself, Afenifere, the middle belt forum have said power needs to shift for the purposes of equity, fairness and justice.

“Power needs to shift to Southern Nigeria. The position of PANDEF is that whether that power goes to South-East, whether it is South-South or South-West is a different matter.

“Now amongst ourselves, we need to sit and talk with respect for one another and realistically discuss this situations and come out as a single voice to speak for ourselves. We should avoid threats, we should avoid statements that indicate disrespect for anybody or taking any other person for granted,” he stated.

Robinson however explained that “There are sentiments in the South-South that we didn’t complete eight statutory years tenure in the presidency. It was truncated by messages of hatred, bitterness and acrimony.

“So, there are sentiments that we should even be allowed to complete our eight years,” he stated, noting that such sentiments cannot be ignored.

Continuing, he said, “We (PANDEF) agree that the Igbo have not been treated fairly in Nigeria and that Nigeria should consider the Igbo for the position of the presidency.

“But it is instructive to note that this desire will not be achieved through threats and unfriendly languages.

“So, we will appeal to our brothers, the leadership of Ohaeneze Ndigbo to show greater level of decorum in the quest for Igbo presidency,” he stated.

He recalled that the National leader of PANDEF, Chief Edwin Clark said during a visit by one of the sons of the Igbo extraction to him late last year supported the fact that the Igbo deserved the presidency in 2023.

“That position is commonly shared by most of us in Southern Nigeria, despite the other sentiments that exist. So it is important that we work together as a people.

“One of the greatest disadvantages that we have continued to have, which they take advantage over us is the seeming disunity and inability to speak as a unit in Southern Nigeria.

“So, Jonathan is an individual. There are insinuations that people are persuading him to run. He is a Nigerian with his fundamental human rights. If he chooses to run or not, it is a different matter altogether and when we get to that bridge, I am sure that the Pan Niger Delta Forum will take a position.

“But as we speak today, we have sympathy for Igbo presidency and on the mandate of the leadership of PANDEF, I am in Akwa for a town hall meeting on power shift and power rotation.

“The leadership of Afenifere is represented here. The President of Middle belt forum is here. Other regional organizations and all here and we are all talking and insisting that power should shift to Southern Nigeria, with preference for Igbo Presidency.

“This discussion should be continued with greater understanding and sincerity of purpose,” Robinson stated.

SOURCE: THE PUNCH

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