2019 Elections: APC Dangles Contentious Carrots For 2023 Presidency

Yemi Osinbajo told his Yoruba kinsmen to vote for President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 to guarantee the return of presidency to the Southwest in 2023. 

 The determination of the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) to return the incumbent president Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 by all means may be responsible for the divisive and bitter carrots being dangled by Vice president Yemi Osinbajo and secretary to the government of the federation, Boss Mustapha and Minister of Works, Housing and power, Babatunde Fashola on the 2023 presidency. The development has set the people of South East and South West on what analysts regard as confusion, even as quiet animosity is creeping in gradually with the two zones laying claims, based on the promises from the three top government and party officials. Specifically, last week, Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo told his Yoruba kinsmen to vote for President Muhammadu Buhari in 2019 to guarantee the return of presidency to the Southwest in 2023. Osinbajo who spoke when he visited the Alaafin of Oyo, Lamidi Adeyemi III warned that if Buhari did not return in 2019, then it would take a long time for a Yoruba man to occupy the presidency again. Earlier in the year, Fashola had urged his kinsmen to vote for the reelection of Buhari for the assurance of clinching the presidency in 2023. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, the last Yorubaman who was President, held power from 1999 to 2007. Before Osinbajo and Fashola rekindled the controversy over which zone should produce the President after President Buhari in 2023, the South East was already positioning itself for presidency in 2023, based on what the proponents allude to the principle of equity. Although the South East had been clamouring for a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction even from the inception of this democracy in 1999, the Secretary to the Federal Government, Boss Mustafa raised the hope of the zone in April this year when he said South East would have a brighter chance if its votes for President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023. The SGF made this commitment at a pro-Buhari rally organised by Imo State Governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, which held at Owerri, the state capital. Since then, some APC leaders in the South-East had been leveraging on the statement of SGF to ask Ndigbo to vote for Buhari until last week when Osinbajo reechoed the South West permutation into 2019 presidency politics. Reacting in an interaction with journalists on Christmas Eve, Ike Ekweremadu, Deputy Senate President and highest political office holder from the South East, said the issue was not about making promises but fulfilling them. On the promise of the ruling APC to give Ndigbo presidency in 2023, if they vote for Buhari, Ekweremadu said, “This is the nature of politics. So, promises will be made. So, we just hope that those who make promises will be able to keep their promises.” But, Ohanaeze flayed Osinbajo over his comment that Yoruba should vote for Buhari in 2019 to guarantee 2023 presidency Speaking through Chuks Ibegbu, Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Ohanaeze described as unfortunate comments credited to Vice President Osinbajo that the presidency would go to the Southwest in 2023. Ibegbu, warned of the consequences of taking Ndigbo as fools in the Nigerian project. Disclosing that it would meet in January to review the country’s political situation and adopt a position against the coming elections, Ohanaeze said that the Igbo remained an integral part of Project Nigeria and as such should be treated with respect. Goddy Uwarurike,Former President of Aka Ikenga says Presidency coming to Igbo is not a favour and it should not be a campaign issue, insisting that “anybody canvassing that is arrant nonsense and anybody canvassing such a bill is a charlatan, it is not a true son of Igbo land, he is just a merchant. Presidency coming to Igbo is not a favour and we are not looking for any favour. They should bury that taught we will get it as a right and not as a faovur.” Monday Ubani, legal practitioner says” I think the Igbos must be a little more organised. Any ethnic group that is hoping to take presidential seat in 2023 without taking into consideration the Igbos must be all “joking, selfish and highly insensitive of the unity of the country. This is because the Yoruba have taken presidential seat for 8 years and currently a Yoruba man is the vice president, and it will be a great insensitivity on the part of the Yoruba again to be canvassing for another 2023 when the Igbo have not been given that opportunity.” A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain, Sir Chris Obikwelu beleived that Igbo have toiled for Nigeria and, therefore, deserve the presidency. Obikwelu said: “The South East has laboured enough to occupy the Presidency of this country. We fought for independence. Some people will say the Igbo have occupied the seat through the great Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, but let me tell you, Zik was a ceremonial president which was virtually not active”. Also, the Zonal Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Igboeli Arinze Napoleon felt that after President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term in office, power would come to the Southeast irrespective of what any one wants to believe. According to Arinze, “The talk that power would go to the Southwest in 2023 by Igbo leaders rooting for Atiku Abubakar as self-defeatist.“By 2023, all the major ethnic groups in Nigeria except the Igbo who are the single largest ethnic group in Nigeria would have produced an occupant for the highest office in the land.” However, some politicians are not enthusiastic about the Igbo clinching the Presidency in 2023. Anambra State chairman of PDP, Chief Ndubisi Nwobu is one of them. Nwobu said that hoping on APC to make Igbo presidency a reality in, 2023 is an illusion. His reason: “You heard Mr. Babatunde Fashola say that by 2023, the Presidency will go to the West. So, anybody talking about that is talking nonsense. You have heard the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo say it too. The Igbo in APC are not even near the corridor of power. They don’t go near where the matter is discussed, talk less of getting close. But, Osita Okechukwu, Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON) described the development as a wake-up-call for Ndigbo. According to Okechukwu, it is a wake-up-call for Ndigbo in the true sense of the word that equity, natural justice, and good conscience, are the advantages on their side. He noted that the South East is the only geopolitical zone in the Southern Belt that has not presided over Nigeria since 1999 that the rotation of president convention took off. “President of Nigeria of Igbo extraction in 2023 is a Win-Win-Scenario, and golden opportunity for Ndigbo to end the vexatious issue of marginalisation and create a sense of belonging in the Nigerian family. On the issue of 4 years, he said Buhari’s remaining 4 years post 2019 was cast in constitutional stone, while His Excellency Atiku Abubakar’s own could at best, be seen as a pledge. “Atiku’s manifesto is six year plan. Therefore Buhari’s option is the quickest and surest route to Nigeria president of Igbo extraction,” Okechukwu said. But Senator Ben Obi, a member of the PDP Presidential Council and Director of the Campaign’s CUPP/Inter-party Directorate, said the comment by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on 2023 elections was insensitive and height of mischief. Obi berated Osinbajo for asserting that the presidency would revert to the South West after Buhari in 2023. “Apart from the fact that the PDP will win the 2019 presidential election in which case Osinbajo’s reckless and morally outrageous scenario will never come to pass, the mere thought of making that insensitive declaration after Obasanjo’s 8-year presidential tenure and Osinbajo’s 4-year vice presidency, in the context in which power is yet to rotate to the South East, is the height of political intolerance and mischief-making,” he said. Nonetheless, the South East zone of Nigeria appear to be divided for now over who to support between Buhari of APC and former Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of PDP.. While a summit of Igbo leaders chaired by Professor Ben Nwabueze endorsed Atiku alongside his running mate, Peter Obi, the Igboezue Cultural Advancement Initiative led by Chief Chekwas Okorie threw the weight behind President Muhammadu Buhari In a communiqué read after the first session of the summit by Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), the Igbo leaders threw their weight behind the candidature of Obi/Atiku, acknowledging that it puts Ndigbo back at the centre of governance. The communiqué read in part: “We identify with the Atiku/Obi ticket on the restructuring agenda as has been reiterated by four zones of the country, namely, South-South, South-West, North Central and South-East.“We believe that as long as the federating units remain weak, the centre will continue to be weak. We equally move to appreciate the position of Atiku/Obi ticket in promoting national unity. The summit reiterated that the time is now for Ndigbo to mobilize and organize effectively to realize the Ati/Obi ticket. “We are not campaigning against anybody. We are simply campaigning for our very survival. Igbo votes must count wherever Ndigbo live in Nigeria,” it stated But, the Igboezue Cultural Advancement Initiative led by Chief Chekwas Okorie rejected the decision of the Nwabueze group to support Obi/Atiku ticket, saying it was taken without consultation. Rather, Igbozue adopted President Muhammadu Buhari of APC as its candidate for 2019 presidential election. Okorie, the National Leader of Igboezue, made their position known at a press briefing in Enugu last Thursday. According to Okorie, their decision to adopt Buhari was taken after an extensive consultation and liaison with extant Igbo Associations, institutions and stakeholders on the state of the Nigerian nation. The Igboezue leader who doubles as National Chairman of United Progressives Party (UPP), said four more years for President Muhammadu Buhari would be by far, better and more bearable than the possible eight years of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, which would bring back sad memories of PDP emasculation of Ndigbo. “We are conscious of the truth that the PDP has not made any form of commitment to the restructuring of Nigeria or the much desired Igbo president of Nigeria any time in the future. Anything that PDP says now will definitely be an afterthought. Ndigbo be wise,” Okorie said. Okorie said it was the conviction of Igboezue that the relevance of the Igbo as critical stakeholder and factor in Nigeria’s power equation can no longer be left solely in the hands of political leaders who purport to represent the Igbo people in their public pronouncements without consultation of any kind with stakeholders. “We find it too compromising and unacceptable. In this regard, Igboezue has taken time to establish an effective network that has linked up all identified Igbo organizations, associations and professional bodies to what we refer to as the Igbo National Grid.“It is our confirmed observation that after the great and legendary Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe led our people on the platform of the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC) to form a coalition Government with the Northern People’s Congress (NPC) with the active collaboration of defunct Igbo State Union and a similar political alliance in the Second Republic in which the Late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe led the Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) to enter into an accord to form a Joint Government with the National Party of Nigeria. Igbo political leaders have failed since then to provide selfless leadership that will chart the path for the continued political relevance of Ndigbo in Nigeria,” Okorie stated. Source: Independent

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