Elder Statesman and former Minister of Transport, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, has joined voice with other Nigerians predicting a better future for the country if power is zoned to the South-East in 2023.
Babatope said Igbo are qualified to rule Nigeria and should be given a chance to serve the country at the presidential level. He said Mr Peter Obi, who would have become the Vice President of Nigeria, if Alhaji Atiku Abubakar had been allowed to win, was known among Nigerians as a very sound fellow. That, according to him, is an evidence that Igbo are qualified and can be trusted to lead Nigeria and should be given a chance at the presidency.
“I don’t believe the story that the South-East cannot be trusted. If the PDP had been allowed to win the last general elections and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar had become the president, of course, his vice president, Mr Peter Obi, would have been from the South-East and we all know that he is a sound fellow”, Babatope said.
The elder statesman who had always spoken for Igbo Presidency, maintained that every well meaning Nigerian who wanted a balanced federation must give support to the South-East to produce the president. He insisted that every part of the country should be given a chance to lead if true and balanced federation is to be achieved.
“To promote justice and fair play, we must allow the South-East to take part in the leadership of the country and if it is not possible, then, let them assure us that at one time or the other, those who have not been given the opportunity of producing the president of Nigeria, will be allowed to produce the president. But the case of the South-East is very important and we must not shy away from it.
“Having said that, fair play is fair play and justice is justice, we must allow the South-East to produce the president”, he submitted.
Meanwhile, Pressure Igbo groups championing Igbo Presidency in 2023, the Igbo Peoples Congress, the Igbo Aborigenes and the Nigeria Presidential Project, NPP, among others, have declared that the fate of Ndigbo in 2023 and beyond will be determined by Nigerians.
According to Igbo Peoples Congress and Igbo Aborigenes in a statement signed by their Spokespersons, Obisike Chidi and Emeka Umeh ,”It is Nigerians that will decide if Igbos are wanted in Nigeria or if they should go their way in 2023 and beyond by the decision they (Nigerians) take in 2023.”
The groups noted that 2023 is the best time for Nigeria to pay Ndigbo the political debt they owe them.
Another pressure group, Umuigbo Forum called on Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo body to build bridges and reach the leadership in other parts of the country to realise the objective in 2023.
The spokesman of the group, Nduka Nwagbara advised Ohanaeze Ndigbo to reach out to ACF, PANDEF, Afenifere , Middle Belt Forum, Northern Elders Forum and major political parties to convince them over the issue .
Reacting to the clamour, the umbrella body of all groups championing the Nigeria Presidency of Igbo Extraction Project through its Director of Publicity and Media, Prince Uche Erondu noted that the mood of the nation today is for an Igbo to succeed President Muhammmadu Buhari but advised on bridge building, networking and reconciliatory approach rather than emotion and sentiments.
He noted that all Nigerians have accepted that its time an Igbo occupy Aso Rock but it should be done with proper and seamless negotiations.
In a related development, another pressure group championing for Igbo Presidency in 2023, the Nigeria Presidential Project, NPP, 2023, also called on the leadership of registered political parties in the country to restructure their leadership so as to provide opportunity for them to field an Igbo person as the presidential candidate at the 2023 elections.
The group said the demand has become necessary to remind the leaderships of the various political parties that rotation/zoning have constantly remained an instrument for equity and justice which ultimately ensure peace and harmonious coexistence.
According to the group, such restructuring will even help the parties have less rivalry and acrimony in choosing their presidential candidates for the 2023 elections.
In a statement by its director media/publicity, Tony Nwachukwu, NPP 2023 urged the political parties to heed the advice as it is what the mood of the nation’s beats.
“We hereby demand from the leaderships of Nigeria political parties to commence restructuring of their national operational structures, pursuant to rotating their presidential candidates’ position to the merit region, Southern Nigeria with view to zoning same position to South East geo political zone, the actual merit destination.
“Our demand to the leaderships of Nigeria’s political parties for early restructuring is preparatory to their national executive committee application/implementation of their zoning mechanism.
“Further, we wish to remind the leaderships of political parties that rotation/zoning has constantly remained an instrument for equity and justice, of distributing their presidential candidate positions in the order of the two regions of North and South, plus the six geo political zone’s of Nigeria.
“The NPP 2023 is well confident that the leaderships of the political parties will zone their presidential candidate position to the South East geo political zone, having done same in the immediate recent past within this democracy for South West geo political zone which produced former President’s Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan from South South geo political zone of southern Nigeria and the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari from Katsina State, North West geo-political zone of northern Nigeria, respectively.”
Also yesterday, the Igbo National Council, INC, said they would fully support the actualization of the 2023 Nigeria President of Igbo extraction.
INC made this declaration in a statement issued in Owerri and signed by its president, Chilos Godsent.
As part of the stand of the Igbo group, they warned President Muhammadu Buhari’s nephew, Mamman Daura, over making “reckless” political statements that could jeopardize the agreement of zoning the presidency to the South east.
The group also cautioned the leadership of Miyetti Allah to stay off from Igboland as they would not be allowed to carry out any jihadist sort of agenda in the South East states.