The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has called on the people of the South-east to fight for the 2023 presidency and not wait for it to be given to them.
Ngige spoke following the recent revelation by the Senate President Bukola Saraki that former Lagos State governor Bola Tinubu was scheming to be handed power by President Muhammadu Buhari after a second term in office.
The minister, who spoke to journalists weekend, said there was nothing wrong in Tinubu aspiring to become the president of Nigeria, but it behoves the people of the South-east to struggle for it, when power shifts to the south in 2023.
Ngige said: “What Saraki was saying is a non-issue as far as I’m concerned. Asiwaju has the right to aspire. He is a human being. All of us have our ambitions. He’s my friend. He has the right to aspire. After all, he aspired to the post of vice-president. You can’t kill people’s ambitions. We’re in politics to serve and if you feel you can serve in a very high office, you should aspire to go there.
“It is left for those who are politicking with you to also square up and do their own spade work if they feel it’s their turn, they should do their own spade work so that they will be more acceptable than yourself. Power is not served alacarte, you must struggle for it.
“So, on moral grounds, on basis of equity, it will be the turn of the South-east. South-east must step out to say it is our turn with enough punch and convincing reasons. Part of the reasons and the arguments will be that we are the only people that have not tasted it before and it will then touch people. But if you go into your bedrooms and stay and you are not in the party that makes the masquerade, I don’t know how you can come and say, ‘put the masquerade on me’.
“You must be there and that’s why we are saying, South-easterners must join our party in good numbers. South-easterners must vote for our party in good numbers to make Buhari president for a second term.”
Ngige said politics is a game of numbers and one must look at the configuration of the electoral strength in Nigeria. He said most of the electoral strengths was concentrated in the North-west that has seven states of Katsina, Kano, Jigawa, Kebbi, Sokoto, Zamfara and Kaduna.
“Their voting strength if anything have moved again like it was in 2015. If you remember in 2015 election, Kano alone gave two million votes and Katsina gave nearly one million. So, all I’m trying to say now is that the configuration of the election patterns in 2015 have not changed in terms of strength.
“So, in the South-east luckily, we have some voting strengths. We are in the neighbourhood of about eight to nine million voters now and if you have nine million votes within your kitchen and you deliver about 80 per cent of it to any presidential candidate, he will not forget.
“The South-west has about 12 to 13 million and the last time, they delivered 55 per cent of their votes to Buhari while Jonathan got about 50 or thereabout. So, all I’m saying in effect is that you must do political engineering, that’s the Igbos of the South-east and the step to take forward is to support a Buhari presidency for 2019 and vote for it with all their strengths.
“Because by so doing, number one, they will not be left in the power sharing that will come thereafter like was done at this period,” he said.
Ngige said if the Igbos vote for Buhari in 2019, it would be assured of strategic positions in government.
“They will also even get into the kitchen cabinet of the presidency. There is no government that doesn’t have a kitchen cabinet,” he added.