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S/EAST, S/SOUTH ALLIANCE: COUNT US OUT, SAY IGBO LEADERS

By NBF News
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Prominent Igbo leaders under the aegis of the South-East Forum have dissociated themselves from a reported alliance forged between the South-East and the South-South geo-political zones on Dr. Goodluck Jonathan's Presidential ambition in 2011. The merger was purportedly forged during a meeting held at the Abuja home of Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark.

In a position paper signed by the group led by Chief Simon Okeke, former Chairman of the Police Service Commission (PSC), Dr. Ken Nnamani, Chief Jim Nwobodo, Senator Ben Obi, Sen Uche Chukwumerije, Dr. Sam Egwu and Dr. Udenta O. Udenta among others, the Igbo leaders denied ever attending such meeting and that at no time were they in agreement with any zone that a particular candiadte will be supported in the 2011 election.

Indeed, one of the partcipants at the meeting, Prof. Chinwe Obaji, former Minister of Education described the report of the alliance as untrue because the meeting only looked into ways of improving the relationship between the two zones and how to tackle any impediment to fostering good and smooth relationship.

She said moments after she gave the correct version of what transpired at the meeting, she had been receiving threat calls said; that 'neither threats nor undue coercion will change my stand on the fact that the South-East deserve a shot at the presidency in 2015.' The leaders of the South-East Forum said on no account would the geo-political zone's aspiration for the 2015 presidency be traded off and the report that those who met with Chief Clark to the effect that the Ndigbo had decided to work with the South-South for the emergence of President Jonathan as President in 2011 was a blantant lie.

Jolted by the report of the alliance in which their names were mentioned as participants in the meeting and signed a communiqué, the leaders of the forum, who met with Northern political leaders on August 10 in Abuja and signed an agreement to work towards the emergence of a non-Igbo President in 2011 and subsequently, the realization of an Igbo President of Nigeria in 2015, expressed dismay at the purported meeting with Chief Clark.

Reacting to the said alliance the Secretary of the South- East Forum, Chief Chyna Iwuanyanwu said, ''We wish to place on public record, that none of the above-named leaders of the South-East Forum attended the meeting. The South-East Forum was unaware of such a meeting and was not part of its deliberations and resolutions''

He added that ''we totally dissociate ourselves from the communique issued at the said meeting,' while urging the public, particularly the Ndigbo, to disregard the reported alliance.

The group also assured the generality of Ndigbo that the South-East Forum was firmly committed to the resolutions reached at the meeting with Northern political leaders Forum on Tuesday, August 10, 2010, 'that the two groups believe in zoning and rotation of power principle as the best safeguard for our democracy, peace, unity and national stability, 'That the two groups will work staunchly for the realization of a Northern President in 2011, and that both groups will also work assiduously for the realization of an Igbo President in 2015.

Professor Obaji who was visibly angry at the report said 'it was unfortunate that some of the positions we took did not go down well with notable leaders from the South-South who then telephoned me the next day threatening me.

She told Daily Sun that she attended the meeting having be permitted by the Forum leaders and that she made her point known that the regions leaders should from to time dialogue 'especially on frosty issues that tend to didvide us and make attempt to find solutions to these issues.

'I told the meeting that any discussion which does not address the genuine concerns and aspirations of the South-East zone may only be one-sided and could be shortlived. 'It will be most unfair to me for anyone to invite me to a meeting of this nature and expect me not to represent the interest of the South-East zone as I know them, such an act could be tantamount to a silent betrayal of my people.

'Neither threat nor undue coercuion will change my stand on the fact that the South East deserve a shot at the presidency come 2015. This position is just equitable, fair and irrevocable and the kind of threat I ahve received is totally ill-motivated and counter prioductive.' Others who had disclaimed the purported alliance, included Hon. Dubem Onyia, Dr. Ezekiel Izugwu, Dr. Achike Udenwa, Prof. ABC Nwosu, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo, sen. Fidelis okoro, Chief Ken Emechebe etc.