Why Igbo should be president in 2023, by Ikpeazu
• Meets Buhari, says political parties must address sentiments, feelings
• Says Igbo know Nigeria better than other regions of the country
• Visit to Buhari fuels defection rumour to APC • Buhari, Jonathan meet in Aso Rock
Abia State governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, yesterday, said the Southeast should be considered for Nigeria’s presidency in 2023 because of the people’s understanding of the country’s diversity more than other regions.
Speaking with newsmen after he met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Ikpeazu noted that the Southeasterners were pan-Nigerian in nature, as they invest and strive to live wherever they find themselves in any part of the country.
This, he said, is because of the industrious and adventurous nature of the Igbo. According to him, the Sambisa forest where people may be afraid to go because of the presence of Boko Haram terrorists, the Igbo man will see the Sambisa forest as a business opportunity.
However, the governor added that the issue of Igbo presidency cannot be a matter of right but something that should be actualised through negotiations, even as he distanced himself from the race.
He, nevertheless, argued that parties in contention must consider the yearnings and aspirations of the Southeast in selecting their presidential candidates.
He said: “I’m not interested in the presidency. I’m very busy as governor and thinking about what I will become now will amount to shortchanging my people who gave me a mandate for an initial four years and renewed it for another four years, terminating in May 2023.
“We are still in 2021 and it will be self-serving for me to begin to think about what I will become instead of concentrating on serving my people for the time they elected me. Maybe after 2023, I’ll begin to think about what next I’ll do.
“Having said that, I think that the Southeasterners have a right to take a shot at the presidency of Nigeria and I dare say that our qualification starts from the fact that we understand and know Nigeria better than the other states of the country. We go everywhere, we are everywhere, we invest everywhere, we are pan-Nigerian people.
“However, the question of Nigeria’s president of Southeast extraction is a national question that requires negotiation, discussion and conversation with all parts of this country and I am least qualified to determine what will happen in 2023. I also want to spend my time supporting the incumbent president to do his time and do his best while we wait for what happens to begin to unfold.”
Responding to another question on the qualities that the 2023 presidential candidate should possess and how the political parties may choose the individual, Ikpeazu said that the person must have a pan-Nigerian mentality.
According to him, “he must be somebody who has an understanding of all the contending interests and influences in this country. He must understand that we are a country of different persuasions, traditions, cultures, religions and all of these must be put at a place where you can understand and respect them.
“That individual must also be somebody who is ready to accommodate the youths of this country, because turning it into a slogan the fact that youths are our leaders of the future have not served us correctly, because we are drifting into an age that youths understand things, which many people may not understand, those who grew up before this era.
“He must also reflect an extreme women agenda. Such a person must also be in investor-friendly, he must be an individual who understands the nuances of economics and what is the relationship between international politics and economy and the person must be strong enough to face up to the issue on the front burner, which is security.”
Ikpeazu, who described Abia as the safest state in the country, said he met President Buhari to felicitate with him on the Yuletide season, thank him for projects in the Southeast, and as well, brief him on the Enyimba Economic City, which he said would provide jobs for 625,000 Nigerians.
He said that the desire of the state government was that President Buhari would perform the groundbreaking of the Enyimba Economic City in 2022, adding that the project is a collaboration that involves the state government, the Federal Government and the private sector.
THE governor’s visit has fueled speculations that he intends to join the All Progressives Congress (APC) as some political watchers believe the visit may be connected with his rumoured intention to leave the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, had once teased Ikpeazu about joining the ruling party. “You are already a progressive at heart. You are progressive in action,” he told the governor at a recent event.
But Ikpeazu responded by saying that it is better to be a passenger in a moving train than to be the driver of a stationary bus. He affirmed that he was not going to leave the PDP.
The Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the Abia governor, Onyebuchi Ememanka, dismissed the rumours yesterday, describing it as “Nonsense.”
Asked what the mission of the governor to Aso Villa was, he said: “You will hear shortly.”
THE President also, yesterday, met with former President Goodluck Jonathan at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Jonathan, who arrived at the Villa around 3:00p.m., was received by the President into a closed-door meeting.
Although details of the meeting remain undisclosed, it is likely connected to his work as Special Envoy of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), where he is leading mediation talks even as Mali remains under military rule following the August 2020 coup that ousted President Ibrahim Keita.
Jonathan, who is also part of the West African Elders Forum, was in The Gambia three weeks ago to curtail election-related crises, as Gambians voted in the country’s December 4 presidential election.