Ahead of 2023 general and presidential elections, former Federal Commissioner for Information and South-South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark, has said that President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor should come from the South-East geo-Political zone of the country.
Clark’s call enjoyed the backing of President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Professor George Obiozor, who restated the call for the Igbo to produce the president in 2023.
Clark, however, stressed that the Igbo should be from the South-East and urged Igbo-speaking people from Delta and Rivers states not to aspire for the exalted position but should all back the South-East to achieve it in 2023.
Speaking yesterday at his Asokoro residence, Abuja when he received the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and some South-East leaders led by the President General, Professor George Obiozor, the Elder statesman who is the national leader of the Pan-Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, said the time has come for the South-East region to produce the President of Nigeria and 2023 is the time.
The Ijaw leader, who called for synergy, and sacrifice among the people, said that the struggle may not be easy but the region must reach out to other geo- political zones of the country, woo and engage them. He also urged the South-East region must put its house in order, work in unison, and as one indivisible zone.
Clark said: “The era we have reached now is that we have agreed to work together. How do we go on, how do we move on? I think that is the stage we have reached.
“I don’t belong to any political party, but I speak my mind. The man who brought politics into Nigeria was late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. I knew him when I was I was 20 years when he visited Warri. We trekked 12 miles to go and see him. Some of the problems we are having today in Delta was as a result of the support for Azikiwe and without that, we would not have got Mid-West region that later became Bendel State and now Edo and Delta states. We are together, we are one.
“We are supporting the South-East region. Anybody from from Mid-West, anybody from Oshimili South and North, Aniocha South and North, Ika, Agbor or Ukwani, if you say I am ready to be the President of Nigeria because I am an Igbo, that is punishable because when you do something that people don’t like, it is abominable.
“I have said it, all the Igbo in Anioma, Rivers, in Delta, where ever they are, this is the time for Igbo South-East President. We have the same problem, when we went to the 2014 National Conference, we said that the South-East has five states, they should be given additional states so that everyone will have same states like in other zones. If that will stabilise Nigeria, create them.
“We want the President coming after Buhari to come from the South-East, we are together.
“Let me advise, if you must fight a war or fighting for any thing at all, we must put our house in order. What do we do with other voices that are not in tandem with our voices? We must find a way to see what can be done, they have their point but at the same time, they should also listen to us.”
Earlier in his remarks, Professor George Obiozor restated Ohanaeze position that it is the turn of the South-East zone to produce the President in 2023, insisting that equity, unity and natural justice support the clamour.
He noted that Nigeria as a country was in serious agony and pains, said that the time has come for the restoration of the dignity of man, and national healing.
The Ohaneze president-general, who warned against the use of violence and military tactics to address the problems confronting the country, said that if the they are used, the more factionalized the country would be and lead to a synchronised national crisis and if not checked, could lead to inevitable disintegration.
Obiozor noted that the time has come for the South-East and South-South to form a stronger synergy, adding that the time when South-East people were used against South-East was over.
According to Obiozor, this is not the time for people to claim that they love the South-South more than the South-East zone because people can be fooled for a while and not forever.
He continued: “Today, what we need is to synergise among ourselves, the day we will do it, history will change. We all know that we have the same kind of problems.
“Honestly, you cannot hate one of us and like the other side. For people who tell us that they will like people in the South-South more than the South-East or they will use one against the other, the time is over. You can fool people for some time, but not forever. What we are facing today is light at the end of the tunnel. I don’t know who does not believe in one course.
“The National question is the issue that requires a different kind of solution and resolution. The more you apply violence and military tactics to it, the more the country is factionlalised. The more the country is factionlalised, the more ethnic militia groups that eventually leads to what is called synchronised national crisis and the rest is history and inevitable disintegration.
“We should start doing something to address the problem. I urge the Federal Government to reconsider the use of force. I want the government to conspicuously impress the values of justice, equity and fairness so that Nigeria will face clear ease of unity. It is time for the government and the people to start the process of healing. Nigeria is in agony and pains, it is time for national healing.
The president-general of Ohanaeze was accompanied by his Majesty, the Obi of Obinugwu, Imo State, Dr. Cletus Ikechukwu Ilomuanya; Ohaneze Secretary General, Chief Okey Emuchay; Senator Ben Obi; Chief Onyema Ugochukwu; Prof. A.B.C. Nwosu; Chief Dubem Onyia; Chief Guy Ikokwu; and Chief Goddy Uwazurike.
Also present to join Chief Clark in receiving the Ohaneze leaders were former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Obong Victor Attah; former Minister of Police Affairs, Alaowei Broderick Bozimo; Senator Bassey Henshaw; and Ambassador Godknows Igali among others.
Before the visit to Chief EK Clark, the Ohanaeze leader an interactive session with some notable Igbo sons and daughters, in Abuja.
Rising from the meeting, they tasked all Igbo political actors to engage their parties to ensure that their presidential tickets are zoned to the South-East.
They also looked at the recent violent incidents in Igbo land, saying it has become a source of worry and advised Igbo youths to be “very vigilant and cautious to avoid being used as sacrificial lambs in the present Nigerian circumstances.”
According to a resolution from the session: “Igbo pledge to a Nigeria that provides a level playing ground where individual talents, irrespective of ethnic backgrounds will flourish; where equity, justice and rule of law will be paramount in public decision making.”
The resolution pledged support for the Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by Ambassador Prof. George Obiozor as the only legitimate and authentic body to speak on behalf of the Igbo.
Restating its position that it is the turn of the South-East zone to produce the president based on equity, unity and natural justice, Ohanaeze called on all the ethnic nationalities to support Ndigbo on this mission and also urged the two major political parties (APC and PDP) to help Ndigbo achieve this noble objective by zoning their tickets to the South-East.
The apex Igbo socio-cultural body also tasked all sons and daughters of Igbo land not “compromise in our quest for a President of Nigeria from the South-East.”
A statement by the Ohanaeze publicity secretary, Alex Ogbonnia said that the interactive session was attended Chief Guy Ikokwu, Chief Osita Okechukwu, Hon. Irem Iboh, Chief Goddy Uwazurike, Chief Mike Okiro, Mrs. Chika Ibeneme, Chief Afam Nwanna, Igwe C. I. Ilomuanya, Prof Onyechefunabeya, Dr. Ogbonna Onu, Prof. Chinwe Obaji, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu, Sen. Ken Nnamani, Sen. Chris Ngige, Ezeigbo Ibe Nwosu, Prof. ABC Nwosu, Chief Dubem Onyia and Sharon Ikeazor.
Other were Prince Gary Igariwey, Ambassador Eddy Onuoha, Hon. Uche Ogar, Prof. Maurice Iwu, Chief Sam Obaji, Paddy Njoku, Dr. Emeka Nwosu, Ambassador Okey Emuchay, Ichie Damian Okeke Ogene, Mrs. Beatrice Eze, Hon. Kelechi Chima, Cosmas Uzodinma, among others.