…2023: We’ll back IPoB to actualize Biafra, if…—Okwesilieze Nwodo
…Reiterates support for Igbo presidency
…Rotational presidency will enhance national unity—Akpulonu, Abia Minority Leader
By Ikechukwu Odu, Ugochukwu Alaribe & Chioma Onuegbu
Following the call by elder statesman, Tanko Yakassai, for Igbo presidency in 2023, the former national chairman of People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, has declared that Ndigbo would join Nnamdi Kanu to seek Biafra secession from Nigeria, if South East did not produce president of the country in 2023.
This came as an Akwa Ibom elder and pioneer National Publicity Secretary of the People’s Democratic Party PDP, Senator Anietie Okon also said that Nigeria will break up if the North refuses to concede the Presidency to the South in 2023
Nwodo, who was also the former governor of Enugu State and former national secretary of PDP, said Ndigbo have suffered grevious marginalisation in Nigeria and should be given a chance to produce a president for the sake of equity and national unity.
He said this during an exclusive interview with Vanguard on Tuesday, adding that South East geo-political zone has been persecuted for over 50 years even though the region is more patriotic than any other geo-political zone in terms of economic development of the nation.
He said: “Yakassi’s call is very fair and that is the correct thing. In the first republic, the country was led by Tafawa Balewa and in the second republic, it was led by Shehu Shagari. And then, those of us in PDP made a very strong case to move the Presidency to South East because, even the military people were all from the north, apart from Aguiyi Ironsi who presided for a very short time.
“We managed to convince them at the party and Olusegun Obasanjo and Alex Ekwueme contested. That was when Obasanjo won and after his tenure, he handed power to another northerner, late Musa Yar’Adua who unfortunately died in office and the Vice president completed the tenure. President Muhammadu Buhari will complete his eight years in office by 2023. Following equity, the presidency should come to the South East because Obasanjo was president for eight years, now Yemi Osinbajo is also the vice president and would finish his eight-year tenure by 2023.
“So, in Southern Nigeria, it would be a total disaster if we do not produce the next president because we have been terribly marginalised since the end of the civil war. For 50 years now, we have been persecuted for having fought for freedom. When will this marginalisation stop? Anybody who loves Nigeria and who wishes Nigeria well should go for Igbo Presidency in 2023 for unity, fairness, equity and for Nigeria to move forward.
“It is only an Igbo man that will not marginalise any part of Nigeria because we constitute the semen that hold the country together. We are the only tribe that you find in every nook and cranny of Nigeria, doing business and developing wherever we are as if it was our own place.
“I don’t believe that the Igbos are not united. There has never been a time when any region produced a consensus candidate. Everybody emerged through primary elections. The last election was zoned to the north and Atiku Abubakar contested with other aspirants before he emerged PDP’s candidate, so did Buhari contest with other candidates before emerging the candidate of the All Progressives Congress, APC. There is no zone that has produced a candidate by consensus. It doesn’t matter how many people are interested. They will be subjected to party primaries and the person with highest vote will win.
“I agree with Nnamdi Kanu in everything he says about the marginalisation of the Igbos. He, more than any other person, has put it on the international map. If Nigeria tells the elites from South East that they would be treated as second class citizens in Nigeria and that they can never be president, almost all of them will go with Kanu to fight for Biafra.
“Anybody who wants to be a second-class citizen can support whoever he wants. Any Igbo man who wants to bequeath secured future for himself and generation yet unborn should support this call for Igbo presidency. In the spirit of fairness and equity, Nigeria should give the presidency to the South East in 2023, otherwise, we will join him and fight for Biafra.”
Nigeria’II break up if North refuses South Presidency in 2023— Senator Okon
In his assertion, Okon who spoke in Uyo while reacting to statements by some northern elders that the presidency would be retained in the North in 2023, commended some prominent leaders and elders from the north who have come to acknowledge the fact that it is the turn of the South to produce the next president in 2023 , particularly the South East geo-political zone.
Okon said he was in supports of the opinion of other South South leaders that the South East should be given the opportunity to produce the next president in 2023 as the only zone left to lead the country.
His words: “The 2023 presidency is coming to the South. There is rotation between North and South. And since we brought in the rotational arrangement for the presidential leadership of this country, the North has had its turn more than once.
“If the north refuses, then the country will break up. So they should let the South have it in 2023 and after that, comes the micro zoning. And in the South, the only geopolitical zone left is the South East.The South West has had its turn once, also the South South has had its turn once.
“And I am completely in tune with the position of prominent and respected Leaders of the South South, like Edwin Clark, Air Commodore Idongesit Nkanga who at the moment is the national chairman of Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF that the 2023 presidency should go to the Igbos.
“ It is only the Igbos that have not had the opportunity to lead this country. And this country has been so badly led in the past years and the Igbo man maybe the salvaging agent that this country deserves.
“I think and strongly believe that is why we in the South South are unrepentant advocates for the presidency to be given to the South east. We also believe that they have enough brilliant and capable people to come forward”
Senator Okon, however, expressed disappointment over the factionalisation of ‘Ohanaeze Ndigbo’ which happens to be the most respected and generally acceptable umbrella body of the Southeast.
“As somebody who has shared a common goal and destiny with them, being part of the former Eastern region, I urge them to get their acts together and purge most rigorously and fundamentally these agents of disunity among them”, Okon stressed.
Rotational Presidency will enhance national unity — Akpulonu, Abia Majority Leader
Joining his voice in the ongoing agitation, Majority Leader of Abia State House of Assembly, Chief Solomon Akpulonu, said rotational presidency would boost national unity and give a sense of belonging to all sections of the country.
Akpulonu stated that it was a grave injustice for one or two sections of the country to hold on to the presidency in a federation of over 250 ethnic groups and treat others as second class citizens.
He explained that the injustice has led to agitation for self determination and restructuring and urged the presidency to listen to what he described as ‘voices of reason.’
In his words: “There is need for rotation of the Nigerian presidential seat. Without rotation, some parts of Nigeria will never produce the President to govern this country. And that won’t be good for the unity of the nation. We must promote such ideals that will enhance our unity in diversity. One of such is inclusiveness. You don’t beat a child and expect him not to cry. Ndigbo have been treated as second class citizens in Nigeria. There are too many injustices in Nigeria. This is why you see some of these agitations coming up daily.
“How can Mamman Daura say that they no longer want rotation but competence? He is calling for abolition of rotational presidency when his nephew, President Muhammadu Buhari was elected president through rotational presidency. Is this not double standard? Is this not a recipe for confusion?There is no zone that doesn’t have competent hands. If you zone the presidency to my constituency, Obingwa East, there over 100 competent hands that can man the Nigerian presidency efficiently. Anybody calling for the abolition of rotational presidency in a multi ethnic and religious federation like Nigeria wants to cause crisis and should be put on the watch list.
“I strongly believe that a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction is possible in 2023. Ndigbo should negotiate with other zones, it is a give and take kind of thing. Gain the trust and confidence of our brothers across the Niger. Nigeria is ripe for Igbo presidency. I have no doubt we will achieve it if we play our cards well.”
The Majority Leader who represents Obingwa State Constituency insisted there was nothing wrong with agitation for self- determination as Nnamdi Kanu and his group, IPOB, are doing.
“There is nothing wrong with self-determination as Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and his group are doing. It is an internationally recognized method of achieving independence. You don’t force people to belong to a place where they are being marginalized, where their rights are abused and where they are treated as second class citizens. They must seek freedom.
“However, my thinking is that the agitation by Nnamdi Kanu should not stop Igbo people from clamouring for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction. Ndigbo is still members and integral part of Nigeria. Igbo presidency doesn’t mean that those agitating for self-determination should stop. When we get to the bridge, we know how to cross it.”