Ben Nwabueze & Atiku Abubakar

Some Igbo leaders, including politicians and chiefs, Wednesday promised to support Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar towards his desire to becoming the next Nigerian president in 2019.

They spoke in Enugu after a meeting where elder statesman Prof. Ben Nwabueze, 86, called on them to “do me the honour of achieving the success of the (Atiku/Peter Obi) ticket before I am gone”.

“We must ensure the survival of the Igbo race in Nigeria and it is only through the success of that ticket that we can get it”, he said

Nwabueze, who chaired the meeting, explained that the ticket would “ensure our survival”.

At the meeting were: Ambassador George Obiozor, Senator Ike Nwachukwu, Ohanaeze President Chief Nnia Nwodo, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Prof ABC Nwosu, Senator Chris Anyanwu, Senator Theodore Orji, Senator Ben Obi and Chief Achike Udenwa.

Also there were Prof. Uche Azikiwe, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, Chief Emeka Ugwu-Oju, Chief Garry Igariwey, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Ambassador Frank Ogbuewu, Prof Osita Ogbu, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Chief Lawrence Nwuruku, Prof Walter Ofonagoro and Archbishop Maxwell Anikwenwa.

There were also Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), Commodore James Aneke (retd), Prof Elochukwu Amucheazi, Prof Uzodinma Nwala, Senator Adolphus Wabara, Air Comdr Allison Madueke (retd), Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe, Prof. Anya O. Anya and Prof Chudi Uwazurike, among others

In a five-point resolution issued at the end of the summit, with the theme “Ndigbo 2019 and Beyond”, read by Agbakoba, the leaders said the position was based on the restructuring agenda put on the table by Atiku/Obi, which four zones of the country had agreed on.

The resolution states:

“The Igbo people of Nigeria held a one day non-partisan and inclusive summit convened by elders, traditional and religious leaders on Wednesday 14th November 2018 to consider Ndigbo’s place in the polity, especially in light of the forthcoming 2019 elections.

“The summit deliberated on the state of Ndigbo in Nigeria today, especially after years of exclusion from the centre. This country has never been so divided as it is today. We Igbos have always yearned for a level playing field with justice, equity and fairness.

“The summit recognised the nomination of His Excellency Mr. Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State, as the vice presidential candidate of the PDP and fully endorses this nomination. It was acknowledged that this nomination puts Ndigbo back in the centre of governance. It is, therefore, important that Ndigbo should rally behind the Atiku/Obi ticket.

“We identify with the Atiku/Peter Obi ticket on the restructuring agenda as has been reiterated by four zones of the country, namely: Southsouth, Southwest, Northcentral and Southeast. We believe that as long as the federating units remain weak the centre will continue to be weak. We equally move to appreciate the position of the Atiku/Obi ticket in promoting national unity.

“In conclusion, the summit reiterated that the time is now for Ndigbo to mobilise and organise effectively to realise the Atiku/Obi ticket. We are not campaigning against anybody, we are simply campaigning for our very survival. Igbo votes must count wherever Ndigbo live in Nigeria.”

But the Enugu-based Zikist-Buhari Movement described the decision to support Atiku as tackles for the Igbo in the Nigeria polity.

The pro-Buhari group, which uses the ideology of First Republic President Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe as guide, said in a statement by Acting Secretary Godwin Onwusi, that in 2015, Ohanaeze Ndigbo opted for Goodluck Jonathan and it turned out to be “a fatal decision for Ndigbo as a nation to put our eggs in one basket”.

He added that “History will not forgive Igbo leaders if we willfully put all our eggs into only Atiku basket and drop the more fruitful Buhari basket.

“In deep reflection, we asked ourselves, what option in a scenario where two Fulani Muslim brothers – Buhari and Atiku – are front liners in the 2019 presidential election, who could the great Zik choose if he were alive?

“In answering this germane question, we said two major critical issues will readily come to Zik’s mind – one, whom between the two of them has the support of the North, two, what is their programme?

“As a pragmatist, the great Zik would readily choose President Muhammadu Buhari who has uncommon cult followership in the northern belt. This choice is based on the pragmatism that for us to achieve the Igbo presidency, we need Buhari’s supporters not only in the north but nationwide. If we want additional state, Buhari stand a better chance to persuade his people.”

“On the second issue, the great Zik would be attracted by His Excellency Atiku Abubakar’s promise to restructure the country in six months in office; but as a pragmatist he will reason that it cannot be achieved by Fiat-Executive-Order. We cannot fathom why eminent Igbo leaders like Professor Ben Nwabueze fail to reason with the great Zik?”

“Whereas the Atiku restructuring mantra is appetising, the truism is that it cannot be done by Fiat-Executive Order, but by the amendment of the rigid 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. All that glitters is not gold, the sage says, for Atiku cannot restructure without the core North.”

ZMB stated that APC and, by extension President Buhari, was not against restructuring, per se, but wants an orderly restructuring; otherwise, they could not have set up the Malam El-Rufia Committee on Restructuring and its report receiving attention.

On the issue of four years, Buhari’s remaining four years after 2019 is cast on constitutional stone while Atiku’s is at best pledge. In sum, we call Ndigbo both at home and abroad, to join the ZBM to actualise this noble objective,” it stated.

The All Progressives Congress (APC) chided those who did “the purported endorsement,” which it described as “an affront on the Igbo people who were frontline victims of the 16 years of the PDP misrule.”

The ruling party’s spokesman, Lanre Issa-Onilu, said last night that “the APC considers Atiku and his PDP co-travellers as people who have lost any sense of shame.”

The statement said “It will be interesting to know what the PDP will be telling the Igbo people during the campaign.

“The South East people have three and half years of visible progress in terms of massive infrastructure and the thousands of common people who are benefiting from the social investment programmes under the APC government compared to the PDP’s 16 years of retrogression.

“We in the APC are confident that the Igbo won’t be fooled by any group, by whatever name, to sell a thoroughly discredited party like the PDP to the very discerning Igbo people.”

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