PDP betrayed Igbo by denying South-East presidential ticket –Elochukwu –

PDP betrayed Igbo by denying South-East presidential ticket –Elochukwu – The Sun Nigeria

By Dickson Okafor

Former President, Association of Nigeria Customs license Agent (ANLCA) and former aspirant for the House of Representatives for Nnewi North/South/Ekwusigo Federal Constituency of Anambra State, Ernest Elochukwu, has accused the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of betraying the Igbo by denying South-East its presidential ticket in their just concluded presidential primaries in Abuja.

In this interview, the Chairman Nestello Gateways Group said the failure of PDP leaders to adhere to zoning arrangement agreed on was a huge mistake which he warned may cost the party the presidency next year. citing the resignation of major stakeholders of the party in South-East as a big blow that will affect the chances of the party.

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In the just concluded presidential primaries of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and main opposition party, the PDP, the Igbo were once again denied the presidential tickets of both parties, do you think the chance for Igbo to produce next President of Nigeria is dashed?

It has now dawned on all of us that Nigeria is a funny country. Since the inception of the present political dispensation in 1999, the Igbo has been clamouring and insisting that other geo political zones should support us to produce the President. This agitation prompted the former Vice President, late Alex Ekwueme during the drafting of the present constitution to enshrine the six geo-political zones in it so that power can go round. Unfortunately, the two tribes and even the minority has produced the President, but the South-East is the only region that has not tasted the position. Due to the principle of zoning agreed on by the main opposition party, the PDP, it was agreed that in 2023, the party will zone its presidential ticket to the South-East, but few weeks ago at the party’s presidential primary, the former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar was nominated as the presidential candidate of PDP for next year’s election. So, where is the place of Igbo in PDP? Therefore, to me, the Igbo chance to produce the next president of Nigeria is not dashed. Yes, Igbo is prepared to clinch the presidency next year if the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) conduct free and transparent election. For equity and justice to reign in the country, South-East must produce the next president in 2023. Igbo has been marginalized by previous and present Federal Governments of Nigeria since after the Nigeria/Biafra civil war. However, the emergence of President of Igbo extraction in 2023 will end agitation of Biafra by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and insecurity in the South-East will be a thing of the past.

Do you have confidence in the candidate of Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi because he is the only outstanding Igbo candidate in the Presidential race? 

Remember the impact of Peter Obi when he ran as Vice President under Atiku Abubakar in 2019 Presidential election. Even though there is truth in the observation of insecurity, but if next year’s general election is free and fair, Peter Obi will emerge next President of Nigeria and it will go well with our democracy. The truth is that bandits, kidnappers and Boko Haram are giving Nigerians sleepless night, but I commend the nation’s security agents as well as the Nigeria military for living up to expectation. However, Nigerians are worried over the high rate of killings of innocent Nigerians especially in the North and in the South-East by these bandits; kidnappers, Boko Haram and unknown gunmen, but it’s unfortunate that none has been arrested  and persecuted. For example, if the level of insecurity in the northern part of the country is in the South-East, would have ended it. And that is why many people within and outside the country are concerned over inability to end insecurity in the country. These are are some of the challenges Obi is capable to handle and nip in the bud. Because Nigerians cannot continue to live on suspicion the way the is handling security situation and why it could not end the killings in the North. Come to think of it, if the number of military personnel and other security officers that were killed in the North were killed in any other part of country, are you telling me that will fold its hands and allow such killing to continue?. I’m not saying that the present is not winning the war against insecurity, but I’m saying that the administration must be headed by someone whose track record is crystal clear to Nigerians, that he can complement President Muhammadu Buhari’s effort. You will agree with me that majority of Nigerians are aggrieved irrespective of tribe and religious belief over the killings of their fellow brothers and sisters in Nigeria by bandits. Therefore, President Buhari has shown capacity and he has continued to contend bandits and kidnappers and this is the reason we need a vibrant young man with experience to succeed President Buhari because Obi has the capacity to restore security and peace in Nigeria.

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Before now, South-East used to have the highest number of presidential aspirants than other geo political zones, why is the case different this time?

They were not few this time, it’s just that the amount for nomination form is too high this time; yet a reasonable number of Igbo bought the forms. Therefore, I’m not surprised that the South-East geo political zone has turned out the highest number of presidential aspirants during previous presidential primaries. So, the more, the merrier. This goes on to show that Ndigbo are ready this time to fight for their rights and if we are denied the opportunity once again, Igbo will have to rethink or have a second thought if we are really part of Nigeria. This is what has just happened. In the case of too many presidential aspirants from the South-East, when we get to the bridge, we will know how to cross it. Unlike other elections, this time we don’t have one million aspirants, the one we have is enough. Of course, we have learnt our lesson. Come to think of it, Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi is the only Igbo that ruled Nigeria for six months before he was killed. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe who is referred to as the first President of Nigeria was a ceremonial President. The real President was the Prime Minister, Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. However, with the economic contributions of the people of South-East in every nook and crany of the country where they find themselves, yet we are treated like strangers in the place we call our country. 

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The contest will be between Peter Obi, Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar, are you saying that South-East won’t vote for APC or PDP, but Peter Obi?

That is why I said earlier that for the sake of justice and equity, South-East should be supported to produce the next President of Nigeria in the person of Peter Obi. Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu is a businessman and a strong politician who wants to reap where he sowed and I will be wrong if I blame him for his recent exploit to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari. Yes, he played great role in making Buhari President twice. Be that as it may, he should have realized that his zone has governed Nigeria from 1999 to 2007 through former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Prof. Yemi Osibanjo is the Vice President of Nigeria for 7 years. Both of them are from Southwest geo political zone and Igbo have not tasted the number one position. Also, late Ernest Shonekan was Interim Head of State and he was from Southwest as well. Therefore, it is unfair for another South westerner to become President of Nigeria in 2023. The people of South-East have been patient and our patience should not be considered as weakness. Meanwhile, South-East leaders and politicians had consulted and negotiated with our brothers and sisters in the other zones to support the emergence of President of Igbo extraction in 2023, but at their party’s presidential primaries, they betrayed Igbo. So, for them to reassure us that they did not betray us, they should vote for Peter Obi and that is the only way they can give Igbo a sense of belonging in the Nigeria project.

Their fear could be the inability of Igbo leaders to discourage the agitation for Biafra by IPOB and killings of innocent people by unknown gunmen in the South-East.  These are some of the reasons some top officials have given that made them refuse to give Igbo the presidential ticket

These reasons do not hold water because in 2015 when Buhari contested for the President, there was massive Boko Haram attack in the North and the APC gave him their presidential ticket and Nigerians voted for him against the incumbent, President Goodluck Jonathan. Why didn’t Nigerians refuse to vote for Buhari because there was insecurity in all the zones in North which Northern leaders could not stop? My brother, that is why I said those reasons are mere excuses to trick us, but that won’t fly this time because Igbo have a candidate for next year’s presidential election. You can’t beat a child and ask him not to cry. Igbo have cried enough and we can’t continue to cry for equity and justice. This same complain is what led to the agitation by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). The marginalization of Igbo is too open for all to see. And you don’t expect those who are marginalized not to protest or agitate. That is exactly why IPOB are saying they want to leave Nigeria, but we the leaders in the South-East are not in support of secession. We believe in one indivisible Nigeria where justice and equity will reign.

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Nigerians want a man that is competent to govern the country at this critical time especially one that can tackle insecurity, boost the economy and resolve several months of ASUU strike but who is the man?

There are many of them and Nigerians know the competent ones among them and one of them is Peter Obi. According to former President of Nigeria, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, he said “If Igbo man becomes Nigeria President, things will change for good”. The business enterprise of average Igbo man or woman in any part of the country is an indication of administrative prowess of people from South-East. In the area of insecurity, it requires a decisive approach and an Igbo President will douse tension and boldly tackle insecurity. So far, insecurity is handled with kid gloves; that is why it looks as if the security agents and the Nigeria military are overwhelmed by these miscreants. The nation’s economy requires capable hands to redirect our economic process in order to reduce the sufferings of the people. Obi’s transformation of Anambra State economy when he was governor is a sign that he is a good manager of resources. He will do the same thing to Nigeria’s economy if elected President next year. In Nigeria today, food items and other essential commodities are expensive. These daily needs of Nigerians are beyond the reach of average Nigerians. In terms of education, the most critical aspect is that most of our university students are sitting at home because their lecturers are on strike. If an Obi assumes duty as President of Nigeria, the financial dispute between University lecturers and will be resolved. All we need is a man who has the love of the country at heart and Obi is one of them from South-East.

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