From Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
A coalition of youth groups in the South East has hailed the public expression of support for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
They urged other eminent Nigerians to take similar position, in the interest of justice and fair play, stressing that a support for an Igbo president in 2019 will help strengthen the unity of the country.
Obasanjo, while hosting the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Ogun State chapter, at his Abeokuta Hilltop residence, on Tuesday, urged the Igbo to contest for the presidency in 2019.
In a joint statement signed by the National President of Igbo Youth for Good Governance, Dr. Benjamin Okeke, and the National President of Igbo Youth Initiative, Wilfred Eze, on Thursday, the associations commended Obasanjo for extending his sympathy for the Igbo cause, describing him as the new father of democracy.
The youth groups stressed that his support for Igbo presidency has given Ndigbo hope that they would find realignment and fairness within a united Nigeria.
According to the statement, an Igbo presidency would settle the differences and issues yet to be explained and reconciled within the major ethnic groups of Nigeria, especially to the inquisitive youths of Ndigbo.
“We commend former president Olusegun Obasanjo for joining the likes of former military heads of state, General Ibrahim Babangida and General Yakubu Gowon who had earlier called for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction.
“Ndigbo have credible and de-tribalised personalities who have the capacity to govern Nigeria and an Igbo presidency will boost the unity of Nigeria,” the statement read.
Meanwhile, Obasanjo’s expression for the South-East to produce the next president in 2019 has received a knock from some people from the zone including the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
Former president-general of Ohanaeze, Dr. Dozie Ikedife. told Daily Sun that Obasanjo’s comment does not need much reactions as 2019 was still a long time and anything could happen before then.
Ikedife, who asked a rhetoric question on who actually needs Igbo president, stressed that he was not sure if Igbo president was what Igbo need most now.
“I don’t know what he means; I don’t know whether that is what is most important to Ndigbo now. Who needs Igbo president, is it Nigeria or Ndigbo?
“All I can say is that we’ve heard what he said, we know he thought it through before saying it and we have noted what he said. But 2019 is very far.”
Also reacting, MASSOB leader, Uchenna Madu dismissed the former president’s wish, insisting that it was not in the interest of Ndigbo.
“For Obasanjo to solicit for Igbo president is not in Igbo interest. It is a sign of jittery because the consciousness of Biafra is working and they think they will use that to entice Igbo people. Nobody should rejoice over this because he will never do anything good for Igbo.
“Secondly, Ndigbo should not take him seriously on any politics concerning Igbo. He’s been romancing with Igbo political leaders, he’s afraid of the emergence of Atiku and he’s trying to work against the man by campaigning for Igbo presidency.
“We in MASSOB can’t take him serious. If he means to show remorse for what he did to the Igbo, he should first pay solidarity visit to Ohanaeze and Igbo traditional and religious leaders to prove his innocence and that he is ready to work with them and not to stay in Ota to make statements.