By Ikechukwu Odu
NSUKKA—-The former national chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, has said that giving the South East geopolitical zone a chance to produce the president of Nigeria in 2023 would be “the master stroke to end marginalization and all grievances” in the zone.
Nwodo, a former governor of Enugu State, also called on the leaders of thought from South East to continuously engage leaders of other zones on the need to give the Igbo a chance to produce a president of Nigeria in order to end the obvious marginalization of the zone from the scheme of things in Nigeria.
He also condemned the modus operandi of the Eastern Security Network, ESN, being floated by the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, IPoB, Nnamdi Kanu, adding that “there is no need starting a fight one is sure to lose”.
Nwodo, equally described as tragic, the blatant marginalization of the Igbos which also reflected in the recent promotion of high-ranking police officers by the Police Service Commission, PSC, adding that South East would continue to voice out the exclusion of the zone in juicy appointments since the beginning of the present All Progressives Congress, APC-led federal government.
According to Nwodo: “The leadership of the Igbo, irrespective of the party platform must come together and negotiate with the two major political parties in the country to zone the presidency to the South East. They should also negotiate with other tribes and political groupings to be sympathetic to the Igbo ambition of securing the presidential seat in 2023. Inasmuch as we believe that it is our turn to produce the next president of Nigeria which would serve as a master stroke to end our marginalization, we need the supports of other zones to achieve that.
“This is the time for diplomatic engagements, at the level of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, South East Governors Forum, South East stakeholders and continuous social mobilization on social media and what have you. We need to be more coordinated to make other tribes know that this is an agendum which the entire South East has bought into.
“Already, we have started well by informing the presidential delegation led by the Chief of Staff to the president, Prof. Ibrahim Gambari, when they visited South East, that the Igbo need the Presidency come 2023. During that visit, the South East leaders of thought, including the governors, ministers, members of the National Assembly, traditional rulers, church leaders, women and youth leaders who met at the Government House, Enugu State, told the presidential delegation that we wanted Igbo presidency in 2023.
“Part of the resolution of the Igbo leaders of thought in that meeting which was presented to the federal government was the creation of additional state from the zone and that work on the Niger Bridge be expedited. We also want more roads. So, there is a consensus among the Igbo leaders on 2023 presidency. What is most important now is how to convince the rest of the country to buy into this ambition.”
While condemning the mode of operation of ESN, he said “we must be very careful not to play into the hands of Nigeria security apparatus. A former Chief of Army Staff, Theophilus Danjuma warned that if we are waiting for the Nigeria security architecture to provide security for us, that we may as well be waiting for our deaths. If ESN is not ready to face the insurgents, the Nigerian Army, and the police, there is no need starting a fight they are sure to lose.
“Some of us have been advocating for diplomacy and strategic engagements. I believe that Amotekun that is on in the South West is living up to its mandate. We have advocated for the same thing in our meetings with Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the South East Governors, however, it is only Enugu State which seems to be serious with her Neighbourhood Watch and Forest Guards.
“To have ESN which started its operation by engaging the military in a gun duel is not sustainable. What is the crime of the innocent lives who were killed by the soldiers? We just have to be very strategic in our thinking and implementation. The modus operandi of ESN is not likely to be successful. The person who is instigating them to attack soldiers and policemen is in the comfort of his British home. The young men who are being used to perpetrate this crime should know that their leader is not in a position to bail them out should the security agencies get hold of them”.