The pan-Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on Monday appealed to its counterpart from the north to support the South East to produce the next president in 2023 for the interest of justice and equity.
The Secretary-General of Ohanaeze and leader of the Nigerian President of Igbo Extraction in 2023, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, made the appeal when he led a delegation of Igbos on a courtesy visit to the President of Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, Alhaji Yerima Shettima in Kaduna State.
Isiguzoro reiterated that the Igbos are in total support of a united and indivisible Nigeria contrary to the calls for secession by IPOB, describing the north as a deciding factor on who becomes President of the country next year.
“We know that the North with their population and the vast majority will always play the role of a kingmaker, being a deciding factor in 2023 presidency. We feel that the best thing to do is to migrate from the other side of the world and interphase with the real people who are holding the masses,” he said.
“What happened to the relationship between Nnamdi Azikiwe and Tafawa Balewa? What happened to the existing relationship between the North and the East? Where did we get it wrong, what transpired?
“Is it because one person somewhere decides to paint Igbos as if we are Biafrans? No, we believe in one Nigeria. The vast majority population of Igbos are residing in 19 northern states. We have about N2.3 trillion worth of investments of Igbos in Northern Nigeria.
“And by so doing, we said no. The best thing we have to do is to ensure that we reach out to the fulcrum of the society, the people’s general, Yerima Shettima to dialogue on the way forward with regards to 2023.”
He also said that Ohanaeze Ndigbo worldwide has mapped out resources to support any of the presidential candidates of Igbo extraction from the two major political parties, adding that Nigerians should have no doubt or fear to trust an Igbo man with power.
Responding, the president of Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, Yerima Shettima, described the visit as a welcome development, even as he condemned the violent approach which IPOB adopted to call for secession.
He, however, kicked against the zoning of the presidency to a particular region, pointing out that the contest should be thrown open for only the competent candidate to emerge.
“You can’t deprive people of asking for what they want and you can’t stop them from demanding for what they think, it is their right. But it is either we meet and discuss the issues and agree in principle or we will discuss it over and over,” he said.
“Whether it is going to go your way or my way, we still need each other. The most important thing is that you come and this your coming has really mended little or major aspect of what we felt in the northern part of the country.
“Politics is about negotiation, it is about meeting people to discuss and lobby. You don’t just seat down in your little enclave and make noise. Some of us that are here don’t know what sit-at-home means. We are in the northern part of the country, it does not affect us.
“It affects your economy directly or indirectly. But for us, we are comfortable because you cannot declare sit-at-home in the northern part of the country, and we have said it over time.”