Senate Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe has cautioned the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and All Progressives Congress (APC) against citing insecurity as a reason why the Southeast should not be given a chance to produce their 2023 presidential candidates.
Abaribe said at the inauguration of Igbonine, a group promoting Nigerian president of Southeast extraction in Enugu, Enugu State yesterday, that the APC and the PDP cannot pretend not to be aware that the Igbo had been pushed to the fringes in the country.
He pointed out that every Igbo believes that is a Nigerian and therefore has a legal right ”to aspire to President of Nigeria.”
His words: “ So, let no one say to us, ‘because of the insecurity in Southeast, an Igbo cannot be President of Nigeria in 2023. I have started hearing some people threatening that. Do not use a different standard for different people in the same country,
“Was there no trouble in the Northwest when (Muhammadu) Buhari (from Katsina State) was elected President? In, fact, Buhari was nominated by Boko-Haram during President Goodluck Jonathan’s Presidency as their negotiator.
”No amount of threat should stop Ndigbo from consistently demanding an equitable treatment in Nigeria and that which is our due. We’re Nigerians and should be given everything that is due to us, including Presidency.”
Abaribe also lamented that Nigeria is stifling almost every zone, insisting that only restructuring was capable of solving the problem.
He said: “If the dominant position in Nigeria today is restructuring, then the minimal demand of Ndigbo in Nigeria cannot be anything less than that of restructuring.
“We cannot be in a country where my own child will be required to score 120 percent to enter a unity school while another child from elsewhere will be required to score just two points to gain admission to the same school.”
The lawmaker maintained that all that the Igbo wanted in a united Nigeria is to be emancipated from unfair treatment in their own country.
His words: “The Igbo want emancipation. We have gone through a lot; we have gone through war and even the money we had was reduced to 20 pounds. But we rose from the ashes of that war and became the glue that holds Nigeria together today.”
“We are in every village in Nigeria and we are the largest domestic investors in Nigeria. That is why anywhere you go you must see an Igboman.
“But, some people are trying to push us out of Nigeria. We are not going to leave Nigeria for anybody.
“But, we have a government today that has manifested a sectional approach to governance as we all know that.
“It is a fact that Boko Haram has devastated some parts of the country, killing, bombing churches and institutions but the Federal Government has not designated it (Boko Haram) as a terrorist group.
“But when our boys down here were carrying flags running round the streets, it was easy for the Federal Government to get them proscribed as a terrorist organisation.
”When we challenged them, the minister of information said that Boko Haram was faceless but our boys were known.
“This unequal treatment of people is the root of all the problems in Nigeria’
The guest speaker at the event, Kingsley Moghalu, said the Igbo must continue to resist any hegemonic worldviews in Nigerian politics and assert their own political relevance through persuasion, firmness, and partnerships with other ethnic groups.
Moghalu, a former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN), added that the Igbo must insist on power rotation to the South in 2023 and present a unique argument for a President of Southeast extraction.
“But we must look beyond the APC and PDP as political party-vehicles for this purpose,’’ he said in a keynote address titled “What do we want?”
He added: ”The priority should be placed on the emergence of a competent and visionary Nigerian President from our region, from any of the recognised political parties who can move Nigeria and all its component parts and peoples forward. Restricting ourselves to APC/PDP as “mainstream” parties has effectively rendered the Igbo politically second class in Nigeria because it has prevented us from effectively advancing our strategic interests.”