By Rapheal Izokpu
Some Igbo youths have commended respected nonagenarian and Afenifere leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, for throwing his weight behind the emergence of a president of Igbo extraction in the next general poll.
The youths in a press release on Thursday, said Chief Adebanjo has stood steadfast in this call.
The press release said that the singular act was a demonstration of selflessness and unparalleled patriotism, which they said, should be emulated by prominent individuals across the divide, for justice, peace, order and good governance to thrive in the country.
The youths, who operate under the auspices of Coalition of Igbo Youths Vanguard Worldwide, also appreciated the support of all other men and women of good conscience, who recognise the urgent need for an Igbo presidency, as part of measures to cure the manifest injustice against the South East zone.
The South East, apart from being the only major bloc in the country that has not produced a president since after the fall of the first republic, also has the misfortune of being the only geo-political zone with five states, thereby confirming the cry of marginalisation by Ndigbo.
They appealed to other regions, to consider the fact that supporting the 2023 quest for Igbo Presidency, will be in the interest of Justices, which requires equity for national healing.
They argued that as a developing nation, Nigeria could not afford to treat any section of the country as “second class”, regretting that the South East zone, being an integral part of the “giant of Africa”, has suffered injustice for too long, with genuine agitations remaining unfulfilled.
In a statement signed by their National President, Dr. Hope Amadi,and National Secretary, Barr (Mrs) Uju Kalu respectively, Igbo youths called on prominent Ndigbo, including politicians, businessmen and women, religious leaders, traditional rulers and other stakeholders, to close ranks, appealing against any act of sabotage against the project.
While this lasts, the youth group has declared unflinching support for a united, indivisible and indissoluble nation, vowing to mobilise against anybody or group threatening to upset the apple cart, in any way whatsoever.
Against this backdrop, the worldwide youth body has slammed the separatist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and its leader, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, for foisting a baggage on the South East, owing to the perpetration of violence against Ndigbo as well as the Nigerian State.
Among other things, the future leaders have recommended the use of maximum force against the IPOB, predicating their position on the proscription of the organisation by a court of competent jurisdiction in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), sometime in 2017.
Quoting the Irish philosopher, Edmund Burke, the group said: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”.
The statement reads thus: “In times of difficulty, where many leaders fail to live up to the billing, we send our appreciation to a pan-Nigerian and chieftain of Yoruba socio-political and cultural group, Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, for his consistent support for the presidency to shift to the South East come 2023.
“We note, with the greatest respect, the fact that, apart from making a case for the Igbo to have a feel of the presidency, Pa Adebanjo has never shied away from speaking truth to power, a disposition that has earned him a special place in history.
“We also commend other well-meaning Nigerians across board, who have continued to add their voices of reason to that of our elder statesman, to bequeath a nation founded of equity and justice to the next generation.
“No doubt, the time for Igbo presidency is now, and to achieve it, all hands must be on deck, especially among Ndigbo – home and in the diaspora.
“There shall be no room for sabotage of any kind, bearing in mind the stereotypes that have defined us among people from other parts of the country.
“It is a given that we cannot achieve this dream alone, as we need the support of our brothers and sisters from other parts of the country, who are enjoined to allow reason and valued judgement assume a better part of them, rather than sentiments.
“As a people with a history of unfulfilled agitations, the Igbo must also show cause why we must be trusted with power, against the backdrop of the suffocating violent activities of the proscribed IPOB”.
Consequently, the coalition called for aggressive clampdown on members of IPOB, as well as collective action by indigenous communities from where the outlaws operate.
The statement continues: “To place the South East on a sound footing for the 2023 presidency, we recommend the denunciation of Kanu and his deviant followers by all Ndigbos , who have chosen the part of destruction.
“We reject IPOB and all they stand for, as their violent activities are not a true reflection of who Ndigbo are, and what the stand for, or profess.
“We cannot conclude without calling on Igbo sons and daughters, home and abroad, to declare total and irrevocable support for one united, indivisible and prosperous nation, where peace and justice reign”.