Former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo, and ex-National Chairman of the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Chief Victor Umeh, have insisted on a President of Igbo extraction in 2023.
They told The Guardian in separate interviews in Enugu that it would be difficult for the country to be properly united because of the alleged marginalisation of Igbo.
The duo called on President Muhammadu Buhari and political parties to support the South East’s bid to realise its ambition.
Nwodo said: “We are not at war with the Federal Government, all we want is a Federal Government that listens to the people. If they do something right, we will support them.
“They have completed the airport and that is something they have done right, we congratulate them. However, to say that this will solve the marginalisation of the South-East, this is a drop in the ocean of marginalisation of 50 years and we expect more and the final thing that will bring healing to Ndigbo and the rest of Nigeria is a President of Igbo extraction and restructuring of Nigeria. These two cannot be compromised.”
The former governor of Enugu State stated that Ndigbo had contributed to the development of the country and deserved the 2023 presidency.
He added: “We have shown that we are true patriots and voted anybody that in our view enjoys the support of the rest of the country in elections. Since we want unity that can endure, let this integral part be allowed to hold power like every other zone.”
Umeh disagreed with views that the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) should not cede its 2023 presidential slot to the South East because the party is weak in the zone.
Instead, Umeh stated that APC should take advantage of its control of Imo State to present a candidate from the region to succeed Buhari.
He said: “I have asked the people that said that the APC is weak in the South East and therefore it should not get a chance for presidency, what the strength of the PDP was in the South West in 1999 when Obasanjo became President? The PDP had no councilor in the South West.
The Alliance for Democracy (AD) had everything, but due to the exigency to accommodate the South West, Obasanjo was drafted in even though he lost in his polling unit in the local government election. In the South East today, the APC is controlling Imo State and other seats in the Senate and House of Representatives in that state, as well as having some seats in Abia State. So that argument is no longer tenable.
“Let us make it a policy that the South East should be allowed to produce a President for the unity of Nigeria. It is not as if we will die if we don’t produce a Presidency for Nigeria, but it is for the country to be truly united. We have intellectuals, technocrats and best people that can provide leadership for Nigeria. So all parts of Nigeria should support the South East to produce a President for Nigeria in 2023.
“Let there be no contest, the way they did it in 1999, where the AD, PDP and APP produced Olu Falae and Olusegun Obasanjo made it easy for the South West to be the only zone that produced those that contested the presidential election in 1999. It is not a new thing. We have antecedents and it should be done that way.”
Umeh thanked Buhari for rehabilitating the Akanu Ibiam international Airport, Enugu, as well the ongoing construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge.