Opinion

2023: APC-PDP ‘alliance’ on Igbo president

The election of Prof. George Obiozor as President-
General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo comes at an opportune
moment, as leaders of the South-East
attempt a united front for the presidency in 2023.

 

The choice of Obiozor, a former Nigerian ambassador
to the United States, followed a historic political
concave in Abia State centred on the zone producing a
president of Igbo extraction for Nigeria.

 

Such a meeting was unthinkable in the recent past,
given the cat and mouse relationship between members
of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP).
Not even on the issue of zoning of the presidency
would members of both parties speak with one voice,
with individual ambition overriding the collective aspiration
of the geopolitical area.

But that seems to have changed on Tuesday, January
5, 2021, when the parley, called by APC’s leader and Chief
Whip of the Senate, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, was graced by
zonal PDP chieftains.

 

Among the PDP heavyweights were former Secretary
to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator
Anyim Pius Anyim and former Deputy President of the
Senate, Prof. Ike Ekweremadu.

 

Kalu, who’sthemaincanvasserfortheelectionof Obiozor
as Ohanaeze’s head, didn’t mince words about the purposeof
thegatheringinhishomestead atIgbere, AbiaState.
Themeetingwasintendedto”unitealltheprominentpoliticiansfromthezoneandensureaunity of purpose among them
fortheemergenceof Nigeria’snextpresidentfromthezone.”

 

“It would also help to disprove critics, who believe
that we cannot meet to discuss issues affecting us, especially
our aspiration to produce Nigeria’s president in
2023,” Kalu said in opening remarks.

 

Thecommuniquéof theparleyflowsaccordingly, zeroing
inontheconsensusthatforequity, fairnessandinclusiveness,
the South-East should produce the president for Nigeria in
2023. Belowarethefinepointsof thecommuniqué:
*Recommit ourselves to the deepening of the nation’s
democracy as the surest way of fast-tracking national
development and building an egalitarian society
where no man is oppressed for reasons of his class,
ethnic, religious or political affiliation and background.

 

*Implore Nigerians across political, ethnic, religious,
and geopolitical divides and persuasions to support the
people of the South-East geopolitical zone to produce a
Nigerian President of South-East extraction, as a mark
of goodfaithandtopromotejusticeandnationalharmony.

 

*Consequently implore all the political parties to
cede their presidential tickets in the 2023 general election
to the South-East in the interest of justice, equity
and national unity.

 

*To emphasis that what we seek is a Nigerian President
of South-East extraction, one that will work to further
unite and develop every part of the country.

 

The leaders said giving the Igbo a shot at the presidency
rhymes with the dream of Nigeria’s founding
fathers, who declared that “though tribe and tongue may
differ, in brotherhood we stand.”

 

They said a president of Igbo origin “will be President
of all Nigerians, irrespective of their political, ethnic,
and religious backgrounds,” and would accord all
citizens and parts of Nigeria “a sense of belonging and
treated with utmost sense of justice.”

 

Consequently, they pledged a nationwide “block votes of
the Igbo,” and their full weight “behind any major political
party, particularly the APC and PDP, that zones its presidential
ticket to the South-East in 2023 general election.”

Critics may dub the South-East political leaders’
meeting as not encompassing – as participants comprised
past and current federal and state lawmakers
– to merit as representative of the zone.

 

The concave actually was shorn of the “real movers
and shakers” of politics in the zone, particularly incumbent
governors, who literally control the political
structures in the five states.

 

Was the meeting’s invite limited or opened to all political
leaders in the South-East? Even so, not everyone
would honour the courtesy for lack of time or adequate
consultation; the solicitation came from a source(s) they
had issues with or didn’t want to associate with.

Yet, the absence of such powerful political levers
shouldn’t rob the meeting of its significance, as the first
concrete step taken in the South-East’s tortuous journey
to the presidential seat of Nigeria.

 

The meeting was a mustard seed sowed at the nick of
time: the coming of a new executive of Ohanaeze, which
henceforth should coordinate efforts of the zone to attain
the presidency in 2023.

 

Though not at the Abia meeting, Governor Dave
Umahi of Ebonyi State crowed about the session vindicating
his position that the South-East politicians should
close ranks for the presidency.

 

Umahi decamped to the APC in November 2020, on
the premise that the PDP, which had “used and dumped
the South-East,” wasn’t prepared to cede its presidential
slot to the zone in 2023.

 

The governor’s spokesperson, Francis Nwaze, said
Umahi had been vindicated by the Igbo leaders’ communiqué
that urged all political parties to zone their 2023
presidential tickets to the South-East.

 

Nwaze said the neglect of the South-East “needed a
leader of uncommon courage and dexterity” like Governor
Umahi, “to send a signal to the nation’s power
oligarchy that the zone was no longer at ease with their
perennial marginalisation.”

 

He said Umahi, “being a staunch nationalist,” didn’t
consider his personal and family gains to dump the PDP
and offer himself as a “sacrificial lamb that the Igbo will
be liberated from the shackles of underdevelopment and
political relegation.”

 

The die is cast, and it’s left for the South-East to be
united for the common cause of the presidency, as advised
by the ruling APC through its Deputy National Publicity
Secretary, Yekini Nabena.

A timely adjunct tothe steps taken by theSouth-East politicalleaders,
whoshouldmaximisethepotentialsof Ohanaeze,
towhichtheAPChasexpresseditsreadinessto”placethezone
initsdeservedpoliticalstandinginthecountry.”

This is the clearest solemn pledge yet by the APC
worth taking to the bank, and for which the South-East
should hold the party to its fulfilment, as the zone plays
its part in ensuring that it clinches the presidency ahead
of the 2023 general election!

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