By Williams Orji
Minister of State, Education, Hon Emeka Nwajiuba has appealed the South East political players and people to exercise caution in its quest or campaign for the “Igbo presidency,” adding that the other ethnic groups which produced Nigeria’s president never associated it with the name of their tribes.
Nwajiuba who made this remark while speaking to some journalists in his Abuja office on the campaign for a president from the southeast extraction, also stated that at no time had aspirants from the South East been barred in the contest for the number seat in the country.
He noted that at one time or the other, persons from the zone had vied for the presidential ticket of their parties but could not win arguing that if they had won their ticket and subsequently win the presidential contest, nobody would have denied them the position.
Nwajiuba stated that in politics, no position is ceded as a gift, noting that in 2015, the only ethnic group that did not participate in the presidential primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was the Yoruba.
“Anybody talking about Igbo presidency should be careful because there was never a time we heard about Hausa presidency. When the Yoruba were contesting, we did not hear of Yoruba presidency, why is our own different? Remember that before Obasanjo won in 1999, he contested for the ticket against Ekwueme. There was never a time we as Igbo did not contest in the primaries, the only thing was that we were not voted.
“There is no time people involved in politics will cede a position to anybody. Up to 2015, the only tribe that did not contest for the APC primaries is the Yoruba, is it not true? The North west ran, north east ran, north central vied, South East vied. If Owelle Rochas Okorocha had defeated Buhari in the 2015 APC primaries, are we going to be talking about Igbo presidency now? But what is important if the Igbo want to become president, it’s not for you to say it’s your turn.
“Anyday you bring out a aspirant that is acceptable to other Nigerians, that is the day you indeed want the position of president in Nigeria. All you need is majority. Buhari won the APC primaries with 3,886 votes. That’s what we counted, I was a returning officer in that election. Kwakwanso came second, then Atiku, Rochas , then Nda-Isaiah. I can still recall these things.
“So there was never a time it was ceded to Buhari. The people that voted for Buhari outnumbered others in that primaries. So when we bring out an acceptable aspirant, he will eventually win. That is what you are supposed to start searching for now. Even if the Igbo cry from now till thy kingdom come, if they don’t bring out a person that is acceptable to other Nigerians, nothing happens,” he said.
He also recalled that in 1998 the late Alex Ekwueme coasting home to victory in the presidential primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but for the entry of Senator Jim Nwobodo in the race who shared the Southeast votes with Ekwueme thus depriving him of the PDP ticket.
The minister said the South East knowing every of their sons and daughters should embark on an introspective search for an acceptable aspirant else it would continue to bemoan its fate in the Nigerian politics.
He however noted that even though he is young, he has more experience in politics than any other Igbo politician having contested in virtually all elections in Nigeria since 1997 when he won elections into the House of Assembly under UNDP.