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South East boosts agitation for 2023 presidency as North digs in

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Terhemba Daka, Sodiq Omolaoye, Matthew Ogune, Ernest Nzor (Abuja) and Oluwaseun Akingboye (Akure)
05 May 2022   |   4:04 am
Igbo Elders Consultative Forum (IECF), also known as Ime-obi Ohanaeze Ndigbo, yesterday, warned against the idea of another northerner succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari, saying it is a direct invitation to violence across the country.

Members of Concerned Nigeria Citizens during a protest at APC Secretariat to call for power shift to the South in 2023, in Abuja…yesterday.

Igbo Elders Consultative Forum (IECF), also known as Ime-obi Ohanaeze Ndigbo, yesterday, warned against the idea of another northerner succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari, saying it is a direct invitation to violence across the country.

It also warned that any attempt by All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to deny the South East region their 2023 presidential tickets would spell doom for Nigeria’s corporate existence.

IECF chairman and former Anambra State governor, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, gave the warning in Abuja, while briefing journalists on the outcome of the Forum’s meeting, where some “crucial national issues” were discussed.

He said the elders would invoke ancestors to bring calamity upon anyone from the South East promoting and supporting a northern candidate.

Ezeife said: “We maintain our unalloyed support for the demand of Southern Governors’ Forum, Southern and Middle Belt Forum, Afenifere, Niger Delta Forum, Ohanaeze World Wide, among other credible stakeholders and organisations, that all political parties in the country should zone the 2023 presidency to the South, and possibly micro-zone it to the South East for the sake of justice, equity and fairness.”

THIS came as apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, asked all presidential aspirants from the South East not to settle for the position of running mate.

The warning came amid rumour that former Anambra State governor, Peter Obi, was considering the position of running mate to Atiku Abubakar.

A statement issued in Abuja by the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide, Mazi Okwu Nnabuike, warned that Igbo youths would not take it lightly with Obi or any other presidential aspirant from the region that accepts to play second fiddle.

He said: “No Igbo man should be cajoled out of this race because we are part and parcel of this country. If it is otherwise, this is the time to let us know and we will take our fate in our hands.

“We are saying for the umpteenth time that both APC and the PDP should micro-zone their presidential tickets to the South East. Anything short of that is unacceptable.”

ALSO, protesters stormed the national headquarters of APC and PDP, yesterday, over alleged plans by both parties to zone their presidential tickets to the North.

Speaking on behalf of the protesters in Abuja, convener of ‘Concerned Nigeria Citizens for Power Shift to the South’, Femi Osabinu, told the leadership of both parties that southern Nigeria must be allowed to occupy the position of president in 2023.

He said: “The rotation of power in Nigeria goes beyond mere aspiration of political parties. It is a tool towards ensuring national unity and stability, and in this regard, candidates from southern Nigeria must be allowed to occupy the position of president in the country in 2023.

“We also wish to remind you that the established convention is that power must rotate between the North and South. Hence, a president of northern extraction follows that of southern extraction and vice versa. Any consideration outside of this is foul and may destabilise the polity.”

IN the same vein, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) condemned moves by APC and PDP to retain the 2023 presidency in the North, urging both to zone their presidential slots to the South East “for the sake of justice and fairness”.

National Coordinator of HURIWA, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, stated this at a press conference in Abuja.

BUT Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG) condemned remarks by Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, that there would be crises if APC fails to zone its presidential ticket to the South.

CNG spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, in a reaction in Abuja, yesterday, said the governor’s comment was a threat to the nation’s democracy.

He said: “This represents an entirely new twist in the zoning drama by suggesting that the controversial zoning arrangement should also be extended to the APC. APC, at no time, either expressly or impliedly, committed itself to zoning.

“This is something every responsible member of the APC should know. APC is not and cannot be bound by any agreement, which it has never been party to, to rotate power between regions.

“Whatever the case, let me repeat, here, that the North will never give in to threats or blackmail to give up its democratic and constitutional prerogative to field candidates for every national election.

“Our position remains unchanged, that the North will never respect any arrangement that tends to block northerners from contesting elections to the presidency.

“Such deliberate threats coming from southern leaders shall certainly not go unnoticed, and in the fullness of time, they will be called to account for their incitement to crisis, to achieve dubious personal political objectives.”

THIS was as women groups across the federation urged APC and PDP to jettison zoning ahead of next year’s general elections.

The women, in their thousands, yesterday, converged on Akure, the Ondo State capital, to demonstrate support for the candidacy of Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, in the forthcoming presidential election.

The event was tagged: ‘South West Mega Women Rally for Yahaya Bello’.

Defying heavy rain, they took to the streets, chanting solidarity songs and brandishing placards with inscriptions such as ‘Yahaya Bello, best man for the job’ and ‘We’re not interested in zoning. This is one Nigeria’.

Leader of South-West Market Movement for Yahaya Bello and National Vice President, Iyaloja of Nigeria, Princess Nike Aroloye, said women of Nigeria were already looking beyond the primaries of the two major parties.

Responding, Director General of the Yahaya Bello Presidential Campaign Organisation, Hafsat Abiola-Costello, said: “I am so happy that Nigerian women have decided, for once, to take their destinies in their hands by supporting that one governor that has given them so much voice and has made the world to see how women can turn stones to bread in a troubled economy. He will do the same for Nigeria.”