The National Publicity Secretary of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Chief Alex Ogbonnia in an interview with newsmen in Enugu disclosed that the group is set to pay a visit to other zones in the country with a view to seek their support for a president of Igbo extraction in 2023.
Ogbonnia said the Ndigbo would persuade other ethnic nationalities to convince all political parties to field the Igbo as presidential candidates.
The Ohanaeze’s spokesman also dispelled fear that the high number of Igbo, who were reported to be nursing presidential ambition would work against the South-East.
Currently, South-Easterners including the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi; former Abia State Governor, Orji Kalu, a former president of the Senate, Pius Anyim, Minister for Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu and the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba have been reported to be interested in the 2023 presidency.
We will meet and convince ethnic nationalities that all parties should field Igbo as presidential candidates – Ohanaeze
Ogbonnia further stated that the more the merrier, adding that even if contenders were 100, it would be better.
The spokesman, who disclosed that a timeline had not been fixed on when the Ndigbo would meet other ethnic nationalities, said after the January 21 meeting plans will be unveiled.
He said, “Ohanaeze Ndigbo will meet and top on the agenda is Igbo presidency and how to meet ethnic nationalities in Nigeria, to convince them that all the political parties should nominate the Igbo for president of Nigeria.
“Secondly, assuming that it works that way that all political parties nominate the Igbo, then we have no other work again or role to play because whoever will emerge finally will be an Igbo.”
According to him, if Ohanaeze notes that the high number of aspirants is affecting the chances of the Igbo, it will intervene and urge some of them to step down for the most qualified aspirant.
He stated, “That is where we play regulatory role like during the late Alex Ekwueme and Senator Jim Nwobodo, Igbo will now play a regulatory role among the aspirants contesting; to tell them that this is the person the Igbo are supporting.”
Meanwhile, the National Publicity Secretary of PANDEF, Ken Robinson in a separate interview said the organisation has sympathy for Igbo Presidency in 2023. It said such aspirations cannot be achieved by threats and disrespectful comments.
Robinson was reacting to comments by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo that the spirit of the Igbo would not forgive Jonathan if he failed to support the Igbo for Presidency.
But the PANDEF spokesman pointed out that Jonathan was an individual and he had his personal decisions to make.
He stated, “The point PANDEF will want to make is that we should avoid statements like that. Igbo presidency will not be achieved through threats and those kinds of comments.
“What is needed now is dialogue and negotiations. We need to have sincere conversations with mutual respect. Nigeria is a diverse country. The regional groups, PANDEF inclusive, Ohaeneze itself, Afenifere, the middle belt forum have said power needs to shift for the purposes of equity, fairness and justice.
“Power needs to shift to Southern Nigeria. The position of PANDEF is that whether that power goes to South-East, whether it is South-South or South-West is a different matter.
“Now amongst ourselves, we need to sit and talk with respect for one another and realistically discuss this situations and come out as a single voice to speak for ourselves. We should avoid threats, we should avoid statements that indicate disrespect for anybody or taking any other person for granted,” he stated.