*As Northern elders task APC, PDP to pick candidates from the zone
*Cites equity, justice as core reasons
By Ezeocha Nzeh
The clamour for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023 gathered momentum at the weekend as the two key political parties, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)were tasked to pick their presidential candidates for the 2023 general elections from the South-East zone
Among a plethora of groups, a coalition of Northern Elders, which lent their voice based their support on equity and justice, insisting that the presidency should rotate to the South-East zone and not to any other.
They explained they took the position because “there is need for all component parts of the country to be fairly and equitably treated in the nation’s political affairs”.
They argued that Ndigbo have been marginalized in the scheme of things in the country, and appealed to both the , APC and the PDP to field candidates from the zone, just as they appealed to all other zones in the country to back the Igbo in their long quest to produce a Nigerian president, even as they vowed to canvass their position to all political stakeholders to achieve the goal.
The group, under the aegis of Northern Elders for Peace and Development, in a statement by its coordinator, Zana Goni, and the National Women Leader, Hajia Mario Bichi, insisted that “the Igbo of South-East should produce next president to maintain the culture of rotational presidency between the Northand South”, which they said, have “helped to douse the political tension in Nigeria”.
They maintained that since President Buhari is from the North, “the right thing would be that the next president should come from Southern Nigeria, and sinceSouth-West and South-South have occupied the office in the current dispensation, the South-East is next in line in the spirit of the rotationprinciple, fairness, equity and justice.
“Thiswill bring an end to the manifest marginalisation of the South-East. This will foster national unity, and also bring to a close the bitterness of the Nigeria-Biafra civil war, which has lingered for 50 years since the end of hostilities and engender unity.
“Ifall the major geopolitical zones in the country, and especially the major ethnic groups in the country have all been presidents, and in all fairness,justice and equity, we should be looking at the South-East to produce the president.
“There is no denying the fact that the Igbo have contributed greatly to the development of this country.
“It is time for us all to reciprocate their good gestures through mass support for the next president to emerge from the zone”.
They added: “Ata time that our national unity is so threatened, we believe that a detribalised tribe holding the presidency at this time is the surest way of restoring Nigeria’s unity.
“The Igbo, 50 years after the war, have been so marginalised. To heal that wound and to put that war behind us, we think if the country reaches out to them by supporting them produce the 2023 presidency, it will bethe masterstroke to heal the wounds.
“And if that wound is not healed and is made to cut deeper, it can only promote tribal accrimony,” the Northern elders stressed.
Theemphasised that “when it was given to the Yoruba to heal the wound ofAbiola, Obasanjo emerged in one party and Falae emerged in the other majorparty.
“It was not like they just went into the room and came out with thesepeople. They went through party primaries to emerge.
“Last time, you saw theprimary that produced Atiku, you saw the primary that produced the presidentand that two Fulanis came on board. The rules will not change.
“If you zone tothe South-East, the two parties will have to tow that route so that interestedcandidates from the south-East can slug it out.
“Wetask Ohanaeze Ndigbo (umbrella organization of Igbo worldwide), to reach outto great Igbo leaders to make contacts with leaders from other geo- politicalzones and interest groups for support for a personality from the South-East to emerge as president.”