From Fred Itua, Abuja
Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023 would only be possible if the various segments of the people of the South East region constructively and creatively engage their counterparts from other parts of the country.
Former president of the Senate, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, who made the declaration, said the engagement would engender confidence and create opportunity for making the necessary compromises to secure their support and votes.
Speaking during a lecture he titled: “Identifying the political interest of the Igbos of the South-East geopolitical zone in Nigeria and strategies for its actualisation” at the sixth World Igbo Summit held in Gregory University, Uturu, Abia State at the weekend, the former Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) reiterated that the Igbo presidential ambition can never be a gift, noting, however, that the concept of equal citizenship means that the nation, its resources and leadership belong to all Nigerians.
“The fair application of this equality of rights concept is what guarantees the cohesion of every society, particularly a multi-ethnic nation like Nigeria.
“The peace, prosperity and general progress of every country is dependent on how institutions are strengthened to ensure equality before the law. In recognition of the above, it is essential to note that no particular individual or group owns the leadership of the country and so nobody gives it.”
He added: “Many are of the view that power is not given but taken and the only way to win power in a democracy is by persuasion and through the ballot box.
“Accordingly, we note that in the exercise of the voters’ right of choice under the law, the voter is protected from coercion. And so, to persuade another to exercise his right in your favour, you must seek his cooperation and alliance.
“I recommend that in our engagement with other zones and peoples, our tone must reflect negotiation not antagonism. It must be one of friendship and not disdain or disrespect. It must show our willingness to enter into an enduring and lasting relationship for long term interest of all the parties,” he maintained.
Anyim concluded by observing that producing a president of South-East extraction demands a lot of work from every segment of the Igbo nation.
“I, therefore, use this platform to call on all and sundry to rise to the occasion. The task is achievable if approached collectively and adequately. To strengthen the capacity of the Igbo of the South East geopolitical zone to negotiate and ultimately win the presidency, there is an urgent need for civic and voter education to increase voter turnout.”
Anyim regrettably observed that “the South East is currently the zone with the least voter turnout and this should change. Institutions like the World Igbo Summit should actively promote voter education and civic engagement.”
He concluded by noting that every Igbo organisation and association should arise and promote voter education and civic engagement.
“I call on each and everyone of us to stand to be counted,” he beckoned.
Similarly, political pressure group, Global Movement for Igbo President (GLOMIP), has renewed calls for the South-East to be allowed to produce Nigeria’s president in 2023.
Dr. Nnanna Igwe, GLOMIP coordinator in the United Kingdom and Europe, said in a statement in Abuja, yesterday, the movement had resolved to use all legitimate means to achieve its desire.
He said allowing South-East to produce the president in 2023 would help address injustice and imbalance in the country.
“At independence, Nigeria stood on a tripod of Igbo, Hausa, and Yoruba, today only the Igbo nation has been denied the presidency of the country. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander.”
He said Nigeria was one of the most diverse countries in the globe with over 300 ethnic groups and more than 500 languages.
Igwe said the pre-independence agitation for Nigeria was predicated on patriotism,equity, justice, fairness, love, rule of law, democracy, peace, unity for progressive virile one Nigeria.
He added that the country was facing challenges which could be only addressed through effective governance.
“You can see the glaring imbalance and this is why the time has come to do the needful in 2023. To save Nigeria, something urgent must be done,” he said.
Igwe added that there was, however, a need to restructure the country.