By Brown Chimezie
Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC) has declared that for the sake of equity and fairness, 2023 presidential ticket must be zoned to the South East.
In a communique released after an emergency meeting in Enugu by President General of OYC, Okwu Nnabuike, the association frowned at what it described as gross marginalisation of the South East and attempt to reduce the region to minority in the Nigerian project.
Nnabuike said: “We have keenly watched events both in the polity and in Igboland and this is the time to make our stand known as we continue to push for the restoration of our place in the polity. May we state clearly that the Ohanaeze Ndigbo youths worldwide, under my leadership, stand totally for the defence of the interest of Ndigbo. We will never allow anything that will go against the collective interest and unity of our people.”
On lopsided appointments, he said since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999, Igbo have borne the brunt of the ups and downs of the country.
“We have been victims of all manner of attacks, segregation and political exclusion. It became worse under the present administration where anyone from the South East is viewed not to be good enough to hold any sensitive position, aside the statutory ministerial positions.
“We have seen cases where Igbo men and women retire or complete their tenures in agencies only for the Federal Government to swiftly appoint their replacement from the northern part of the country. A recent case in point is the NECO registrar, who was gruesomely murdered only to be replaced by a northerner. We consider this an affront on Ndigbo and it has to be addressed. This is not to talk of the total absence of a South East person in the top security echelon of this country.”
On Igbo presidency, the group said: “If, indeed, we are still considered to be part of this country, the time has come for other regions to show Ndigbo some respect and proof of acceptability. 2023 is, no doubt, the turn of Ndigbo to produce the next president going by the zoning arrangement which favours the southern Nigeria. Down here in the South, apart from the South East, every other region has had a shot in that coveted position. It is, therefore, undoubtedly the turn of an Igbo man to occupy the Aso Building after President Muhammadu Buhari has completed his tenure. This is a sure way to assuage the feelings of the people of the South East. You cannot beat a child and ask him not to cry.
“Our people have been sorely beaten and brutalised and the only way to wipe their tears and heal the wound is 2023 presidency. To this end, we ask both the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party to zone their presidential ticket to the South East. Other political parties should also follow suit.”
On continuous detention of Nnamdi Kanu and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) sit at home order, OYC said: “We once more express deep concern over the detention of Kanu, the leader of IPOB. We have earlier condemned the manner with which he was brought into the country, defying all international laws and conventions. Be that as it may, we urge the Federal Government that going forward, his rights and orders given by the same court where he is standing trial must be respected. He should have access to his lawyer and family members as ordered by the court.
“We equally beg Igbo leaders not to abandon Nnamdi Kanu in his moment of trial. He may have erred in some of his strategies but this is not a time for blame games. We must save one of own, who we consider a political prisoner and only a political solution is the sure-rest way to his freedom. A delegation of the South East leaders should as quickly as possible be sent to the Federal Government to facilitate his immediate release.
“On the sit-at-home declared by the IPOB leadership starting from next Monday, we appeal that the decision be reconsidered in the interest of our people. May we not forget that most of the people we are fighting for are artisans who feed on their daily incomes and asking them to remain at home after the weekend break would impose serious economic burden on them.
“Besides, the National Examination Council, examination is also ongoing and our youths, the future of tomorrow are taking part in that examination. Our humble appeal is that we seek a political solution to this matter. We will not fail to thank the members of the IPOB for maintaining peace and resisting the temptation to protest, in the midst of provocation.
The group expressed surprise that several months after the ban on open grazing was declared by South East governors, no state in the South East has passed the anti-open grazing law.
It called on Ndigbo to take advantage of the ongoing Independent National Electoral Commission continuous voters’ registration to update their voters record.