From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, has described Igbo as the most knowledgeable Nigerians, who live and invest everywhere in the country hence deserve to be considered for the 2023 presidency.
He stated this while responding to questions from journalists after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja.
“I think that south easterners have a right to take a shot at the presidency of Nigeria and I dare say that our qualification starts from the fact that we understand and know Nigeria better than the other states of Nigeria. I dare say that this is my opinion; we go everywhere, we are everywhere, we invest everywhere, we are pan-Nigerian people. Today, a lot of people, on a lighter note are afraid of Sambisa. But for an Igbo, Sambisa is a business opportunity. So, it will be preposterous of me not to add my voice to that one.”
Ikpeazu urged political parties to consider the yearnings and aspirations of the South East in selecting their presidential candidate. He said the case for Igbo presidency should not be seen as a matter of right, but something that could be achieved through negotiations and conversations.
“However, the question of Nigeria president of South East extraction is a national question that require negotiation, discussion and conversation with all parts of this country and I am least qualified to determine what happens in 2023. I also want to spend my time supporting the incumbent president to do his time and do his best while we wait for what happens to begin to unfold. So, these are my views about the presidency.”
Ikpeazu, however, distanced himself from the 2023 presidential race, saying: “I’m very busy as governor and thinking about what I will become now will amount to shortchanging my people who gave me a mandate for an initial four years and renewed it for another four years and it will terminate around May 2023. We are yet in 2021 and it will be self-serving for me to begin to think about what I will become instead of concentrating on serving my people for time they elected me. May be after 2023, I’ll begin to think about what next I’ll do.”
Ikpeazu listed the qualities that the 2023 presidential candidate must have and how political parties may choose the individual, saying: “In first place, anybody who wants to aspire to the highest post of the presidency, it doesn’t matter where you come from, must have what I regard as pan-Nigerian mentality.
“He must be somebody who has an understanding of all the contending interests and influences in this country. He must understand that we are a country of diversity with different persuasions, tradition, culture, religions and all of these must be put at a place where you can understand and respect them. That individual must also be somebody who is ready to accommodate the youths of this country. He must also reflect an extreme women agenda. Such a person must also be in investor-friendly, he must be an individual who understands the nuances of economics and what is the relationship between international politics and economy. The person must be strong enough to face up to the issue on the front burner, which is security. He must be able to create jobs, he must be a able to not deploy the kinetic device all the time, he must also be able to listen and negotiate peace.”
Addressing the role of political parties in the emergence of the desired president, Ikpeazu stated: “What the political parties need to do. Well, the political parties need to be sensitive to the feelings of the various contending forces, because politics should not be a winners take all thing. It is not at all times that you want to use your might. At times you listen even to those whom you think are weak or those whom you think may not be able to find themselves at the centre stage due to circumstances. Because if you don’t do that, you will bottle up sentiments that will implode the system going forward.
The governor, who described Abia as the safest state in the country, said he met President Buhari to felicitate with him on the Yuletide season, thank him for projects in the South East and brief him on the Enyimba Economic City, which he said would provide jobs for 625,000 Nigerians.