From Maduabuchi Nmeribeh, Kano
For the South East to actualize the zone’s ambition of making it to the 2023 presidency , a formal negotiation must be pursued with vigour to carry the North and other parts of the country along, says foremost Northern leader and member, Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Alhaji Tanko Yakasai.
Yakassai on Sunday chided Igbo leader and former Governor of old Anambra state, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, for threatening that the Southeast will pull out of Nigeria if an Igbo man does not emerge president in 2023.
Yakasai, who is however an advocate of Igbo presidency, said he was surprised that Dr. Ezeife could speak with such “unpatriotic” tune, though his clamour for Igbo presidency was not out of place.
The Elder statesman and First Republic politician, who served the late Second Republic President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari as Laiason Officer on National Assembly Matters, however, advised Dr. Ezeife and other Southeast leaders to engage in political negotiation with politicians from other regions instead of singing songs of “war.”
According to Yakasai, disintegration of Nigeria will grossly affect the Igbo largely because of their firm control on commerce and industry across the nation.
Insisting that Igbos deserve to produce the president of Nigeria in the spirit of justice and fair play, Yakasai underscored the need for dialogue and cross-fertilization of ideas with leaders of other regions instead of brewing sentiments and violent agitations.
He reacted to Dr. Ezeife’s exclusive interview with Sunday Sun entitled “2023:Reject Southeast Presidency To Your Peril.”
Dr. Ezeife in that interview complained bitterly of the continued marginalization of the Igbos by the Nigerian government.
According to him, 2023 without a President from the Igbo extraction, “…will be Nigeria pushing the Igbo out of the country like Buhari is doing. The final push is to allow the presidency elude Southeast in 2023…”
However, in a statement he personally signed and made available to journalists in Kano, Yakasai said: “I would like to comment on the views expressed in The Sunday Sun (September 1) by some Nigerians on the issue related to the need for the emergence of the President of Nigeria from the southeast geopolitical zone.
“While I, all along, have been advocating for a President for Nigeria from the zone, I would like to advice that issuing threats as was reflected in views ascribed to my good friend, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife is, in my views, not the right approach to achieve that objective in a multi-dimensional country such as Nigeria.
“Besides, the normal way of political advocacy is done through persuasion rather than threats and blackmail.
“At his age, national standing and exposure, I am not happy to hear a person like Dr. Ezeife speaking in the same vain as Nnamdi Kalu and his likes.
“Nnamdi Kanu is only engaging in rhetoric to appeal to the sentiments of young Igbo people who are oblivious of the consequences of what they do.
“We have experienced this kind of careless mantra that led to the loss of many lives and distruction of many properties during the unfortunate civil war in our recent history.
“Dr. Ezeife, as an elder by right and a former elected Governor of the old Anambra state, the most populous state with more enlightened and advanced people in the entire southeast geopolitical zone, a retired and seasoned civil servant of note should be above this kind of rhetoric.
“Dr. Ezeife is, undoubtedly, aware that the people of the southeast are the major beneficiaries of the 200 million people market that made up of today’s Nigeria.
“No other ethnic group in the rest of our country are in competition with the southeasterners in the field of commerce and industry today, and this is likely to be the case in the foreseeable future.
“For anyone to be thinking of any situation that will lead to the pulling out of the southeast people from this huge market is without any doubt making a wrong calculation.
“I am an ardent supporter of seing the emergence of a Nigerian President from the southeast geopolitical zone. My stand is informed by my patriotic desire to see equity and justice is done to Nigerians from that area so that like their brethrens from the North and West, they too got the opportunity to have one of their own emerges as the President of Nigeria.
“But this can only be achieved in a democratic setting through persuasion rather than threats and blackmail. Politicking is about debate and exchange of ideas so that holders of different political viewpoints can win support of their rivals by advancing superior arguments an reasons.
“This is what democracy is all about. There is no other way of going about it. The sooner this is appreciated and respected the better in a civilised discourse. All Nigerians should appreciate the need to subscribe to its sustenance.”