Southern and Middle Belt leaders yesterday converged IN Abuja,
the nation’s capital, and again restated their call for power-shift to the South-East, saying since all the other zones
have taken their turns at the presidency, it would be unjust to deny Ndigbo a seat at the table.
This is even as one of them who is the leader of the Pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, warned former President Goodluck Jonathan, and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, that they were being deceived by President Muhammadu Buhari in their quests to become president in 2023.
The leaders spoke at ‘The Greater Nigeria Conference, GNG, with the theme “Together We Can,” held at the International Conference Centre, Abuja.
An initiative of the Igbo Think-Tank, Nzuko Umunna, the conference received total buy-in from all groups based in or linked to the South-East.
While the occasion was chaired by Dr Idu Igariwey, it had as its chief host, President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Professor George Obiozor.
The presidential aspirants from the South-East were present at the event where speakers included a leader of the Pan Niger Delta Forum, PANDEF, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark and the leader of Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo.
Others were Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, Obi of Obinigwu; the keynote speaker, Dr Bitrus Pogu, who is also President of the Middle Belt Forum, Chairman of the Conference Planning Committee, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo, Senator Victor Umeh and Senator Chris Anyanwu.
In his remarks, Pa Adebanjo said while those in charge of Nigeria’s political future know the right thing to do, they, however, do not want the South-East to lead the country.
He recalled how he told Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu not to put his trust in President Buhari as the latter would never support such ambition.
Adebanjo also chastised former President Jonathan, saying he had allowed himself to be disgraced by coming out to say he was even considering whether or not to enter the contest for 2023.
He said: “We all know the truth. They don’t want the South-East. It is not because they don’t know what is right.
“I only like to point to the fact that they are just deceiving you. All you are hearing, that they (the North) are supporting the South-West is an element of deceit to deprive you, to be able to rule you. They don’t like anybody.
“I told Tinubu himself, not in the papers, face-to-face. ‘You believe this man (Buhari) will make you President?’ He said ‘yes’. I said ‘he wants to make you President and yet he asked (Yemi) Osinbajo to contest? He asked (Kayode) Fayemi to contest, he asked Amosun (Ibikunle) to contest?’ All in the West, why? He wants to divide the West first.
“The unfortunate thing is that President Goodluck Jonathan allowed himself to be disgraced by mentioning the fact that ‘I am considering whether to be president or not. For what?
“Now that it is the turn of the South-East, they are propounding a new theory, it must be based on merit and all that. If it is the question of merit, who in the North qualifies to lead Nigeria? If it has been based on merit, the East alone would produce the President.
“I am saying all these because of the talks about ‘go and sell yourself, go and campaign, go and lobby’, it is all rigmarole. They know the truth.
“Although I don’t like all the people that came out from the East, for the fact that they are saying you have no people, I am happy you have demonstrated that you have people. But go and unite. A house divided against itself will not stand. The North doesn’t want to leave power. While the South is slugging it out, they put their candidate up”.
He added that the nation could still be a united entity “if we have a government that will give autonomy to regional governments”.
Nigeria can’t stand without Ndigbo, by Edwin Clark
In his address, titled “The Nigeria I knew”, Chief Clark said Nigeria was a country with 36 states, stating that if five of the legs were broken, then the country could not stand.