From Chidi Nnadi, Enugu
President Muhammadu Buhari who is billed to visit Ebonyi State on Tuesday will seize the opportunity to see if he can woo the people of the South-East to the ruling party, it has been revealed.
Apart from Imo State that is controlled by the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South East, the four other states are controlled by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
President Buhari who will arrive in Enugu on Tuesday en route Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital, will hop on a helicopter to the state, where he will stay one day before going to Anambra State on Wednesday to hold meetings with APC members ahead of the Saturday governorship election in the state before returning to Abuja.
The Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Mr Osita Okechukwu, who disclosed this in a chat with newsmen at the weekend in Enugu, said that “Buhari is on a mission to return South-East to the mainstream of Nigeria’s political landscape.”
Okechukwu, a chieftain of APC and an ardent supporter of Buhari pointed out that the election of Mr Tony Nwoye of APC in the Saturday Anambra governorship election would be the fastest way to return Ndigbo to the government at the centre.
“Let me start by saying that I didn’t discuss with President Muhammadu Buhari on the specifics of his mission to the South East. However, methinks that Mr President wants to return the South East to the mainstream of Nigeria’s political landscape. He wants to fill the void left by Ndigbo on the tripod on which Nigeria politics rest,” he explained, adding that the visit would be the first by Buhari since he assumed office as president on May 29, 2015.
Asked how this would placate the Igbo, he said: “By halting the lamentation arising from the marginalization of my people. He already has started by his elaborate plan to provide critical infrastructure – power, water, railway system and other physical and social infrastructure. He has paid in N14 billion and has additional N10 billion for Second Niger Bridge, N16.7 billion for Enugu-Onitsha and Enugu-Port Harcourt highways. Don’t forget that the revamping of Enugu Coal has left the pipeline. It will soon commence.”
He recalled that the projects mentioned were abandoned in the 16 years the PDP held sway at the centre, pointing out that Buhari had also demonstrated goodwill by paying the pension arrears of Biafra policemen, a debt, he said, was long abandoned by successive PDP regimes.
Okechukwu, therefore, advised the leadership of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, to consult as quickly as possible to present Mr President with their choice additional state for South East.
The VON DG recalled that in the penultimate week Igbo leadership had visisted the president in Aso Villa, where he “challenged Ndigbo to submit one name for him to appeal and lobby other geopolitical zones to approve additional state for the South East.
“It seems Ohanaeze Ndigbo leadership is glossing over this very crucial state matter which popped up during the meeting. To me, no harm in trail, as Buhari commands tremendous respect across all the geopolitical zones. He can lobby for South East, based on equity and justice.
“Compatriots, we must not as well gloss over the truism that the re-election of Buhari in 2019, is the surest bet for election of Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023. Going by the subsisting zoning or rotation convention, after Buhari the presidency goes to South and within the South our brothers in the South-West and South-South had a taste of the pie. Accordingly based on equity and justice we stand a good chance, especially if we support President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019.”