Recently, a lot of groups from the Southeast region and beyond have started pressurizing the presidency over their demand to produce the next successor for President Muhammadu Buhari, pushing harder to see the next president comes for the Igbo speaking region, which they tag as “Igbo President 2023” or calls for the ‘Restoration of Biafra.’
No doubt, Past and present leaders in Nigeria have joined forces to clamor for an Igbo Presidency, especially, the former Aviation Minister, Femi Fani-Kayode, who advised the leaders from the Southeast to reach out to their colleagues in other zones to make the quest a smooth sail.
The groups that raised the clamor for Igbo President are the Nigeria Presidential Project (NPP) and a coalition of Igbo Youth Groups and Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide.
While NPP claimed it was had started consultation with President Buhari, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and former Nigerian leaders on the issue, the coalition of Igbo Youth Groups and Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide said it had already penciled in two Igbo sons as the most qualified for the position.
NPP Chancellor, Chief Walter Orji, added during the inauguration of the Imo State chapter of the group that they were optimistic that the two major political parties in the country, All Progressives Congress(APC) and Peoples Democratic Party(PDP), would zone their presidential slots to the Southeast.
Stressing the group’s determination to actualize the project, Orji warned that any political party that failed to allow an Igbo to fly its presidential flag in 2023 would lose in the Southeast.
He said: “I have to remind you that it was Igbo that said that they want Nigeria. Without Ndigbo there will not be Nigeria. That’s why we cannot give up our entitlement to produce the next President. Any political party that refuses to zone its presidential candidate to the Southeast will lose the base in the zone.”
Orji advised the 11-member committee not to criticize anybody or allow money to distract them.
The Director, Media, and Publicity, Tony Nwachukwu told The Nation that apart from the incumbent President and Osinbajo, the group had reached out to former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan as well as erstwhile heads of state, ministers, the leadership of the National Assembly and political parties for their support.
Nwachukwu said: “We have equally reached out to the governors’ forum, Obas and Emirs. We have also appealed to Alhaji Abubakar Atiku in our mail to drop his presidential ambition.”
He added that the leaders assured the group of maximum support particularly in advising the political parties to do the needful by zoning their presidential tickets to the south.
“We have no doubt that APC and PDP will zone their presidential candidates to the Southeast,” he said.
The Coalition of Igbo Youth Groups and Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide said in a statement at the weekend it would amount to injustice if the Southeast was denied the Presidency in 2023.
Maintaining that there was no going back on its drive for the actualization of the project, the coalition said it had already thrown its weight behind Science and Technology Minister Ogbonnaya Onu and Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi as best candidates from Southeast.
The statement issued after its joint meeting in Abakiliki, the Ebonyi State capital.was endorsed by the OYC President, Okechukwu Isiguzoro; the President, World Igbo Youth Congress, Mazi Alex Okemiri; the National leader, Southeast Women Professionals, Dr. Helen Ogbonnaya and the President, Igbo Students, Chidi Ugwujo.
Noting that there are millions of prominent Igbo politicians and technocrats qualified to be Buhari’s successor in 2023, it said many of them “are handicapped either by pending corruption charges by EFCC (Economic and Finacial Crimes Commission) or there is no visible evidence of political structures to actualize their ambition or linked with incompetence in their stewardship.”
They said they zeroed in Onu and Umahi because “both are transparent in governance, with proven track records of achievements and without questionable criticism from any quarter to become President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor in 2023.”
In Awka, Anambra State, former Minister Fani-Kayode argued that the only way to compensate Ndigbo for what they suffered during the civil war and end the agitation for self-actualization by some groups was for the Southeast to produce the nation’s next President.
He said during his visit to Governor Willie Obiano at the weekend that such was not too much for the Igbo to ask for.
Fani-Kayode however advised the Southeast political leaders to ensure they liaised with people from other regions to make the project a reality.
His words “Igbo man has never led the country and it is a sad thing for some of us that no Igbo man has ever ruled the country. It is one of the things that should be done to ensure stability
“It is realizable, and it is incumbent on the people of the Southeast to ensure they win the support of people of other regions.
“A lot of work needs to be done. It is due to Igbo Presidency and will go a long way to stop agitations by groups like the Indigenous People of Biafra(IPOB) and make the Igbo feel a sense of belonging in the entity called Nigeria.
“We can ameliorate the pains of the past and make up for it. No part of Nigeria has ever lost over three million people in a crisis, so it can serve as compensation.
“If it is going to be achieved, we must ensure we win support in all parts of the country.”
But a former Commissioner for Information, Tourism and Public Utilities in Imo State, Vitalis Ajumbe, said the Southeast should forget the agitation for 2023 president.
The region, he explained, should rather pursue the Vice- Presidential slot and build from there.
“My zone has the right to aspire for the presidency in 2023 but how prepared are they? “The Igbos are not united politically. They will fight themselves,” he said during an interview at the weekend.
“The only way I think we can make it is when an Igbo man is made the Vice-President so that that Vice President will now be a rallying point. But it is something we must discuss and agree on the way it will go,” he argued.