2023: Nothing can stop Igbo presidency –Chuks Ibegbu, ex-Ohanaeze spokesman | NN NEWS

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Former spokesman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chucks Ibegbu, has dismissed talks in some quarters that a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction is not possible in 2023. In an interview with LAWRENCE ENYOGHASU, he also addressed the alleged disunity among Igbo people just as he looked at how the ambition of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu could affect the Igbo interest in the Nigerian presidency.

What are the advantages of the electoral bill, especially for those agitating that the South-East should produce the president in 2023?

The advantages are numerous. Part of the misfortune of Nigeria is election rigging. We have been victims of election rigging over the years. The signing of the act is a welcome development. It will curb election rigging though it will not completely wipe it out.

Do you think parties are being ambiguous by not saying they are zoning to the South instead of a particular part of the South?

There is nothing ambition cannot cause, especially ambition that is not rooted in justice and equity. Every Nigerian knows that the South-East should produce the next president.  Ambition makes some people blind to reality. Whoever is trying to play the blind ambition should know the possible effect it will have on the country. It will kill the unity of Nigeria. It is very visible and clear that the South-East is to produce the next president. It is also necessary that the political parties should present candidates from the South-East geopolitical zone.

Do you think Igbos have what it takes to rule? And how are they going to come into agreement on who to rule?

This is democracy. In a democracy, people decide whom to lead and have ambition. When they say ‘Igbo enwe Eze’ and that they don’t speak with one voice, it is very strange because the Igbos have an institution and they respect it. Another thing is, tell me which part of Nigeria speaks with one voice. Has there been a time in a political contest that only one person came out from the North? In all the republics there were so many people from the North. The country runs on multi-party democracy. Nigerians expect Igbos to do something different. They put a high benchmark for the Igbos. We run a multi-party system so you cannot expect or tell the people that only one party should come out. It is a democracy where people have the right to vote and be voted for. The Igbos are republican and democratic in nature, which should be an advantage to the country. It should be a plus but because we are in Nigeria where the people are monarchical in their reasoning. A situation that one person will assume the mind of everybody. There has never been a time the West or North has one voice. After all, the parties have not indicated who will run for each party that you now come to have gentleman’s agreement. It is not by force but by negotiation among all the Igbo aspirants. It is then the stakeholders can come in. Don’t forget that it is Nigerians that will decide who wins and not the Igbos that will decide. It is the political parties that will produce the candidates, after then the stakeholders play their role. The decision is not by force. During Olusegun Obasanjo’s fourth republic, the north supported him and Olu Falae was supported by the West. The Yoruba voted for Olu Falae but the rest of the country voted for Obasanjo and he won. The Igbos are democratic. We can’t stop anyone from showing interest but we will ask the rest of the country to support the Igbos to fight this fight. Any Igbo man coming out is capable to rule the country. We need to correct some impressions about the Igbos. The Igbos have leaders and they respect the institution. We don’t want a monarchical system like the Yoruba and Arewa regions. We are the best democrats in the world.

Would the ambition of APC leader, Asiwaju Tinubu not affect the hope of Igbo aspirants?

I don’t understand what you mean by hope for the Igbo? Tinubu does not own Nigeria. Some people have the impression that Tinubu owns Nigeria. You think nobody could match him. It is a very false impression. I don’t dispute his prowess and the fact that he empowered many of his lieutenants. He is a dogged fighter. We should not give him qualities that he does not have. He might have helped in bringing Buhari to power; he played a major role but he is just a man. There is nothing wrong with him aspiring to be a president. He has a right to vote and be voted for. What we are saying is He should not be the whip the South-East is being flogged with. He should allow the circle to complete. The position is being shared among the six geopolitical zones and now it is the turn of the South-East. Unless you don’t want the sixth person to belong because the others have had a taste of it. The reality today is that it is the turn of the South-East. Justice, equity, and fairness demand that the South-East should rule. There is already agitation in the South-East because they are not having the feeling that they belong to the country. If our leaders want to build an inclusive nation, then they must allow the South-East, then others should quench their ambition. Tinubu has the right to contest but we are pleading with him to shift his ambition for the greater interest of Nigeria. For the purpose of peace, unity, and stability, it will not sound well if he is ruling a country and there is a piece of the country that is seeking separation.

Do you think the present leadership of Ohanaeze is helping to achieve the mandate of the Igbo presidency?

They should have started building bridges with other zones because the Igbos can’t install an a president on their own. They need to reach out to other stakeholders. They might not have been doing anything because, after the last election in Owerri that ushered in the last Ohanaeze leadership, there has been rancour within the Igbos that the leadership lacks legitimacy. They have said that the new leadership was imposed on them. The new leadership has to go the extra mile to bring the stakeholders together. The leadership has to do all that is necessary to calm all nerves. We are not united, which is not good because this is a critical time for the Igbos. This is a time we need to show strength and not weakness. Irrespective of all these things the Igbos can be the best president this country could have. Nigeria would have been the best country if everyone had reason and act like the Igbos.

Do you think Ojukwu would have united the Igbos at this time?

When he was alive, not everyone agreed with him. He was a rallying point but people still don’t take everything hook, line and sinker. The people are democrats. They have a say in everything. When Ojukwu gave himself a name there were people who disagreed with him and they never accepted the name and never called him the name. But he was a respected leader. This division is only seen and talked about in the South-East because it is propaganda. The North and West are also divided. There are many divisions in the North but the East is a tool of propaganda. The region is democratic and republican. For any nation to grow, they must have the characteristic of the Igbos.

(The Sun)

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