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2011 PRESIDENCY: WHY SOUTH EAST GOVERNORS WON'T CONTEST –OHAKIM

By NBF News
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Imo State Governor, Ikedi Ohakim has said that the decision of the five governors of the South East not to contest next year's presidential election is in the best interest of the Igbo nation. He stated this at the weekend in Lagos at an interactive session with Ndigbo Lagos. Ndigbo Lagos is a socio-political association of Igbos living in Lagos.

The governor stated that since the five South East governors issued a communiqué that they would not be contesting the election as president or deputy, they had come under severe criticism.

He explained that by choosing not to contest the election, they stood in a better stead to protect the interest of the Igbos in the next political dispensation. According to him, they intended to listen and negotiate with the main candidates for the next election and choose which of them would better protect the interest of Ndigbo.

Ohakim recalled that between 1999 and 2007 all the South East governors were presidential aspirants, campaigning from one state to another and at the end of the day nothing concrete came out of it.

'Between 1999 and 2007, the whole five governors we had in Igbo land were presidential aspirants. They were not talking to themselves; they were not having meetings; none of them attracted one project from the Federal Government; they were busy campaigning from Yola to Maiduguri to Bernin Kebbi. I am not blaming them. It was the system.

'But we are working together, and we decided that the five of us irrespective of party, let us stay in one place. If one of us goes and starts contesting for the presidency, it would be difficult for Ndigbo. Others may go and contest. But the five of us will sign a memorandum of understanding that none of us would contest. The five of us will stay and be looking out for the best interest of the Igbo nation, canvassing that anybody the Igbos would support must do certain things for our people,' Ohakim stated.

He lamented that what they got from the Igbo nation for that decision was condemnation.

Speaking on the insecurity challenge in the South East, the governor said the menace of kidnapping in the zone would be a thing of the past soon. He stated that the Forum of South East Governors had decided to tackle the issue frontally and collectively.

In his words: 'I want to assure you that in no distant time, that the militants that have come in and do kidnapping assisted by some disgruntled youth, we are set for them. Because it is a technology-driven crime, we are beginning to find a technology-driven solution and very soon kidnapping will be a thing of the past.'

However, he blamed kidnapping in the area on the ostentatious living of Igbo elite, especially in the face of grinding poverty.

Ohakim said the money most persons used in buying exotic cars and building mansions, which they did not live in, was enough to provide jobs for the teeming unemployed youths. 'In Imo State, we have three senatorial zones. There are nine persons riding Rolls Royce in each of the senatorial zones. We have 27 Rolls Royce. Each Rolls Royce costs 700,000 dollars, multiply it by 27, it would give job to at least 3000 graduates and about 5000 non-graduates. We have in Imo State, 250,000 buildings that cost nothing less than N500,000. So, it is in Enugu, Ebonyi, Anambra and Abia.

He said the kidnapping problem in the South East was a passing phase and urged the Igbos not to abandon their home because of it. The governor challenged Igbo sons and daughters to invest in the region as a way of creating jobs. He reminded his audience that there was no total security anywhere in the world. 'If you wait for total security before you bring your investment home, you may never bring it, because you can never get total security.'

Besides, he said, there was need for Ndigbo to compliment government efforts in the fight against crime.