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Uzoamaka Eze
Igbo

South East Patriots push for a Nigerian president from the region

By February 9, 2022 May 9th, 2022 No Comments

The South East Patriots (SEP) held a press conference in Abuja yesterday, where they are pursuing the actualization of a Nigerian president from the South-east region in the 2023 general elections. They made a strong point that the next president shall come from any of the 5 states that make up the region.

The presidency rotates from the north to south and given that the north is finishing their turn with the Buhari administration, the south is pressing hard that it is their turn, whereas, within the south, the South-east is justifiably the region to field the president in the next election. There are postulations from different quarters where the South-west and the South-south are positioning to stake a claim including the north.

While making a case that it is the turn of the south, the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike who is from the South-south, was silent on which region in the south that will field the president. Governor Wike, who has an interest in running for president, had said that, “he does not think anyone is more qualified than him to be president in 2023.”

In 2011, with a good understanding and to show their good neigbhourliness, the South-east supported the South-south. They stood down their interests and handed over to the South-south, a huge support. In 2023, it is expected that the South-south will return the favour. From the postulations and permutations ongoing, the South-south are instead arguing that it is their turn to complete their 8-year mandate. The South-west that has been in the presidency for 16 years is also interested in fielding a candidate. For the South-west to position itself for the presidency is an act of greed.

In response to Wike’s interest to run for the president, the SEP termed it self-serving and ridiculous and told him pointedly; “do not run.”

The group believes that, “it would be insensitive to the agitation of the South-east for anyone in the South-south or the South-west to present themselves for the presidency at this time, we in the SEP will consider such aspiration as being offensive to the sensitivities of the people of South-east. We consider it a fraud.”

Read Also: Federal Character for the South-east presidential interest

The convener, Sir, Obunike Ohaegbu also recognised that, “since the end of the Nigerian {-Biafran} Civil war, and the declaration of the “No Victor No Vanquished” in 1970, the South-east zone has been alienated and totally excluded from holding senior offices in Nigeria, especially the office of President and Commander-In-Chief of Nigeria.” This has been ongoing for about 52 years.

The group went further to enumerate the state of infrastructure in the region which is in total collapse and neglected by the country and how the region has been deliberately excluded in the scheme of governance of the country.

For this neglect and exclusion, there have been agitations for an independent country by the people of the region and also a chance to be the president of the country.

Some stakeholders have been making pronouncements, justifying and making a case for equity and justice to prevail in the country.

The pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, had said “any attempt to deny the South-East the presidency in 2023 is a gang-up against the region dominated by Igbo.”

Pa Ayo Adebanjo, the leader of Afenifere also said, “There should not be any argument about that because the South-West has gotten it, the North has gotten, South-South has gotten it. You want the Igbo to remain in Nigeria but you want to discriminate against them. There should be no argument about where power should shift to, it should go to the South-East. Any other thing is gang-up.”

The gang-up against the aspirations of the people of the South-east will not favour the unity of the country. The country fought a war where it claimed to keep the country one; where the issue of the unity of the country is often presented as non-negotiable. In the same vein, the region is systemically alienated, and neglected.

Accommodating, which is the nature of the South-east people, SEP made a case for the North-east region noting that, “nobody from the North-east has led Nigeria since 1970.” Yet, the zone was in the presidency as the Vice President for 8 years from 1999-2007.

This shows that the North-east and South-east are not on the same platform when it comes to the quest to occupy the presidential seat. It remains that power should shift to the south and precisely to the South-east after which it rotates back to the north for the North-east. Zoning to the north  or North-east, will keep the South-east further away from the seat of government for nearly 60 years. At best, the North-east should join hands to secure the mandate for the South-east while power returns to it when it is the turn of the north in 2031.

Any permutation that will scheme the South-east out from fielding the president in 2023 is at best an injustice to them.

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