*Says contest will be between Atiku, Tinubu
*Insists Igbo will remain political slaves in Nigeria
By Emma Okereh and Angela Nkwo-Akpolu, (Owerri)
Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State yesterday gave a damning verdict on what to expect in the 2023 presidential contest.
Okorocha who had always posited that he was the right person with the requisite pedigree to contest the presidency from the South-East however, made a detour with a stunning claim that the contest would be between the National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Sen. Ahmed Bola Tinubu and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate in the 2019 election, Atiku Abubakar.
Since his ordeal with his political associates during the contest for the governorship ticket in the Imo State chapter of the APC, Okorocha has been crying foul insisting that those fighting him were seeking relevance in the 2023 political contests.
He maintained that the president of Nigeria in 2023 would come from either the North or the South-West, pointing out the South-East has tactically marginalized itself out of national leadership equation at the election.
Okorocha made the disclosures while addressing newsmen at a media parley at the Government House, Owerri, on Monday.
Providing more insight into what to expect at the time, Okorocha ruled himself out of contest for the number one citizen’s portfolio in 2023.
According to him, Ndigbo failed to heed his counsel to support President Muhammadu Buhari in his second term bid, noting that the ruling party has decided to relegate the South-East to the back burner in its political equation decisions.
Said he: “Very soon, Ndigbo will become political slaves in Nigeria because of our style of politics. We voted against President Buhari, and now they are treating us anyhow.
“I told them ‘let us support him, so we will get Presidency in 2023’ but everyone, including the Ohaneze Ndigbo refused.
“They said ‘let us support our son, Peter Obi’. The question is, where are we now in the political scheme of things in the country,” the Governor queried.
The Governor who reeled out his achievements since he came into office eight years ago said: ” Ndigbo failed in politics because we don’t appreciate the sacrifices that some of us have made, but I have also given my counsel on the National Assembly leadership and I hope they (APC) takes it.
“It is the manner of voting by Ndigbo that has made the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) zone all the principal offices of the National Assembly outside the zone”.
The embattled governor lamented over the state of APC in the South-East, even as he insisted that the party is in total disarray in the zone because of what he termed negative incursions in Imo State election by the national leadership of the party.
Okorocha said: “I told them that the governorship candidate, Sen. Hope Uzodinma was not popular, but they didn’t believe me. Now, APC does not have a single seat in the state House of Assembly. The APC that won is me, and my former Principal Secretary, Dr. Pascal Obi”.
Speaking on the withholding of his Certificate of Return (CoR) by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Okorocha expressed confidence that it will soon be resolved in his favour, even as he insisted that he did not assault the Returning Officer during the election, as claimed.
He stated that “my concern now is that if they don’t give me the Certificate of Return, who will they give it to; or will Orlu zone stay without a Senator?” he asked.
On the Imo governorship election, he said his son in-law, Chief Uche Nwosu, won the election but was denied victory allegedly because the State INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Prof. Chukwuemeka, allegedly connived with some people to manipulate the results.
According to him, the Governor-elect, Chief Emeka Ihedioha is enjoying phyric victory because Nwosu will reclaim his mandate at the courts, adding that Ihedioha did not secure the required two-third majority as required by law before being declared winner.