From Okwe Obi, Abuja
Pan-Arewa socio-political group, Northern Elders Forum (NEF), has cautioned Ohanaeze Ndigbo, to desist from issuing threats in a quest for the South East region to produce the next president in the 2023 general poll.
NEF’s Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Dr Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, accused the Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Mazi Okechukwu Isuguzoro, of threatening that Nigeria would not be secured and united unless an Igbo President emerges.
Baba-Ahmed, in a statement yesterday, said the threat was unwarranted, adding that people should be circumspect and disciplined in the manner they interact with the electoral process.
He described Isiguzoro’s remarks as ‘juvenile utterances’ that should be condemned in the harshest terms.
According to him, Isiguzoro only succeeded in de-marketing the South East region with his uncouth remarks.
“Northern Elders Forum is shocked at the statement released by Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Mazi Okechukwu Isuguzoro, in a language that is both irresponsible and damaging to its own interests.
“At a time when wise counsel dictates that Nigerians should be circumspect and disciplined in the manner they interact with the electoral process, the juvenile utterances of Mr Isiguzoro must be condemned in the harshest terms.
“Mazi Isiguzoro singles out the North as the bastion of ethnic and religious politics while he unashamedly campaigns for Igbo presidency, complete with the threat that Nigeria will not be secure and united unless an Igbo President emerges.
“This damaging de-marketing of the prospects of an Igbo President will be hard to surpass.
“Nigerians, and Northerners in particular, will not be impressed or blackmailed into making choices that are not informed by their own interests.
“On the contrary, they will notice that the apex Igbo organization is virtually subverting one of its own, and blaming the rest of the country for the postures of political candidates.
“For the purposes of clarity, it should be emphasized that Northern voters will not be stampeded or threatened by Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
“The North can identify ethnic and religious politics, and will see it clearly in this reckless statement coming from Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
“Northern Elders Forum appeals to leaders and elders to show maturity and leadership as we embark on campaigns that are, in themselves, fraught with threats and dangers.
“The Forum advises Nigerians that the democratic system does not operate on the basis of threats and blackmail, and we should be prepared to support and vote for any candidates of our choices next year,” he said.