Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Following its earlier promise of making public the names of eligible Igbo sons and daughters for President come 2023, an Igbo, group, Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL), rising from its National Executive Council meeting in Owerri, the Imo State capital, shortlisted ten names for the position.
The group in their last meeting had set up a committee known as the Igbo Presidential Actualization Committee (IPAC) with a mandate to select worthy Igbo citizens with a view to actualising a Nigeria president of Igbo extraction.
According to a press statement released after their meeting by the the President General, Goodluck Ibem, and the Secretary General Kanice Igwe, it disclosed that IPAC, after careful deleiberations, listed the present Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, World Trade Organisation (WTO) candidate Dr Okonjo Iweala, former Governor Anambra State and current Senate Chief Whip Orji Uzor Kalu as credible candidates.
Others are: Mr Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State and vice presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2019 election; Professor Kingsley Moghalu, former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; Senator Ike Ekweremadu, former Deputy Senate President; Sullivan Chime, former Governor of Enugu State; and Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, former Governor of Abia State and present Minister for Science and Technology.
The list also include: Chief CBN Onwuasoanya, leader, Better Nigeria for Better People (BN4BP); Chile Eboe-Osuji, a judge of the International Court, Hague; Oby Ezekwesili; and Dr Kema Chikwe, former Minister of Aviation.
The group has noted that the list is not fixed and final as adjustments could be made should there is need for it.
‘Though this list is not fixed and final as adjustment(s) can be made if need be or arises, IPAC shall enter into heightened conversations with the persons here above listed as it will in love and brotherhood extend friendship hand to other regions in this regard and respect,’ the group’s statement reads.
The committee has advised the selected candidates not to fill any vice presidential candidate, saying that it may derail the dream of electing a President of Igbo origin in 2023.
‘In the meantime, no Igbo son or daughter should consider the post of a running mate to any other candidate anywhere as this could throw spanner in the work IPAC is doing halting progress of the region.
‘This is a serious warning to any sellout as this act will be considered anti-Igbo and pepertrators made to face political ostracism.
‘We wish to inform backseat drivers and any unwilling mind – within and outside the region – to desist from acts capable of derailing the object and Actualization of this project. May God, in His mercies, help Nigeria,’ the group stated.
The group has also written an open letter to former presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubabarka, and former Governor of Lagos State and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, perceived to be on the front burner to contest for President in 2023, to support the realisation of Igbo President project.
Part of the letter reads:
‘In the light of the trends and development of our beloved nation, we deem it necessary to seek your blessings and support as not just a political stakeholder but a father given your position in our nation.
‘Our intent to write you came from the general resolution of our executive committee council to reach out to men like you. We intend not to teach you history but to state a well-known political fact. Although it is mostly illogical to base or spread Nigeria according to three major regions of West, East and North, we wish to state, however, that baring the South East, all other regions or geopolitical zones have had a shot at the Presidency.
‘Quadrennially, each presidential campaign tour and team has always had to station at the South East canvassing for support. What is missing in the jigsaw is that never had a son or daughter of the region made it to the top job. This, regrettably, does not spell inclusiviseness in our polity.
‘Barring Aguiyi Ironsi, who held sway as a military Head of State, the Igbo are yet to occupy the exalted seat even decades after the civil war. There are now arguments here and there to the fact that the basis for qualification for the job shall no longer be on the principle of rotation but on the premise of competence. As beautiful as this sounds, the South East cannot be said of as lacking men worthy and competent in character.
‘What is lamentable is that the advocates of competence today were yesterday’s supporters of rotational presidency; the design, as it appears, is to justify exclusion of a group whose time and turn is next and due.
‘As a pan-Nigerian group we are given to and are committed to achieving and living in one prosperous Nigeria. It is the dream we have and nurture. We realise that a mandate and goal of this scale requires mobilization and support of and from Nigerians outside the South-East.
‘It is not for parochial reason we pursue this object but due largely to the need to create and strike a balance in our polity that gives Nigerians sense of belonging especially in these times youth and many fail to listen to the alternative voice of history not to repeat past mistakes.
‘As a way to go, we have set up the Igbo Presidential Actualization Committee, IPAC, goal and mandate of which is to draw a list of worthy Igbo sons and daughters from which the best candidate shall be chosen. We are not doing this alone nor for the region alone. Part of the legwork and advocacy is to consult outside the region, reaching out to other regions, groups and associations within the federation.
‘We feel it is time to have the Nigeria of our dreams and without the support of national leaders of your type this object may not have the kind of plurality deserving of a Nigerian project. However, we reach out to you humbly seeking that you support the endorsement of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction come 2023. This is our object for the good of our nation, well in it may God bless Nigeria,’ the letter concludes.