From Magnus Eze, Enugu and Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has told the United Kingdom to persuade Nigeria to cede the 2023 Presidency to the South East for the interest of equity, justice and fair-play.
President General of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Prof. George Obiozor, who stated this when he led a delegation of eminent Igbo leaders to a meeting with the British High Commissioner, Catriona Laing, in Abuja, reiterated that the 2023 presidential election was a defining moment for the Igbo in Nigeria.
This is as elder statesman and Chairman, Elders’ Council of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, disclosed to Saturday Sun that the group would soon decide on a consensus presidential candidate for the zone ahead the primaries of the political parties.
The Ohanaeze delegation consisting of its Secretary General, Okey Emuchay, former Anambra State Governor, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, former Ohanaeze President General, Chief Gary Igariwey, and former Chairman, Police Service Commission, Chief Simeon Okeke, were there on the invitation of the High Commissioner for clarifications on Igbo agitations.
Others on the delegation were National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Dr. Alex Ogbonnia and Professor Charles Nwekeaku.
Obiozor in his presentation stated that the Igbo were committed to the unity of the country, perhaps more than any other ethnic group in Nigeria, citing that they are the next in population to the host community in all parts of Nigeria.
Thanking the High Commissioner for clarifying the UK position on the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, he stated that the Igbo aspiration for leadership in Nigeria started long before the Nigerian Independence and that over 50 years after the Nigerian civil war, they had yet to be given an opportunity.
According to the Igbo leader, it was self-evident that there is an existing rotation of power and zoning principles, aimed at ensuring equity and sense of belonging to the six geo-political zones in Nigeria.
He noted that the British were aware that it was the turn of the South East to produce a president for Nigeria, yet, a group of people was plotting to change the goal post at the middle of the game. “The time has come for us to know what Nigeria wants to do with the Igbo,” Obiozor said.
Ohanaeze also said that it was paradoxical for the British to be silent on the implosive unitary structure of Nigeria while they were liberalizing structures of governance in the UK.
Earlier, the High Commissioner welcomed the Ohanaeze Ndigbo delegation, stating that the essence of her invitation to Igbo organization was to seek clarifications on the agitations in the South East, clamour for a president of Nigeria from the South East, the IPOB leader’s saga and general wellbeing of Nigeria.
She debunked the news that the United Kingdom had designated the IPOB as a terrorist organization adding that the activities of the separatist group in Nigeria did not meet the UK specifications for a terrorist organisation.
The High Commissioner commended the Igbo for their spirit of enterprise all over the world, stressing that the UK were interested in the peace and unity of the country. She assured the delegation that the High Commission will do everything within their ambits to promote justice, equity and peace in Nigeria.
Meanwhile, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has indicated that the Igbo may vote against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in next year’s general elections.
Reacting to the resolution of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party throwing its presidential ticket open, Ohanaeze noted that the mood of the nation favoured power shift to the South, especially the South East.
Ogbonnia told Saturday Sun that the PDP had a choice to make by either giving the ticket to the South East or nominating a Northerner, fail woefully and be buried.
Chairman Elders Council of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu has attributed the problem of Ndigbo to the strong support the zone has accorded the party in the past.
“It’s embarrassing that the party the Igbo have supported for a very long time is the same party that will deny us of our dream; we have supported PDP all through during the time of Obasanjo till date. Now that it’s time for them to reciprocate, they abandoned us, Ohanaeze will meet soon,” Iwuanyanwu said.
An Igbo leader, Ozodi Onyenwe said those against the zoning to the South were not only mischievous but selfish, adding that their argument was not logical and intelligent.
The Igbo National Council (INC) advised all Igbo aspirants seeking presidential position to review their position and possibly congregate in another political party.
National President of INC, Chilos Godsent accused the leadership of the two major political parties; the All Progressives Congress (APC) and PDP of not being sensitive to the plight and longtime suffering of the South East in Nigeria.
Regardless, former Military Administrator of Delta State, Air Commodore Luke Ochulor (rtd) said the introduction of multiple parties by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was a leeway for the realisation of the Igbo project.
He argued that the Igbo could speak with one voice and present a consensus candidate, urging that the South East should unite and fight the injustice done to the zone.