OHANEZE'S ENDORSEMENT OF JONATHAN IS DEATH BLOW TO SOUTH EAST DREAM
Former Minister of Health, Prof A.B.C Nwosu, has described as 'tragic, the purported endorsement of President Goodluck Jonathan for 2011 by the leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo.' Nwosu, who is the Director of Research, Planning and Strategy, IBB Campaign Organization, also said that Igbo Presidency in 2015 is a done deal and therefore, not negotiable.
He spoke more on these and other issues. Excerpts:
Igbo Political Forum (IPF) version of Igbo presidency and that of Ohaneze
There are five areas of disagreement. The first is that the meeting between the IPF and northern elders was a public meeting and the agreements widely publicized with the list of attendance. The Ohaneze argument on rotation to the South-East does not exist anywhere except in their imagination. If they reached an agreement with the Ijaw National Congress (INC), let them make it public.
The second is that the Igbo Presidency 2015 proposed by IPF is predicated on a four-year completion tenure by the North of the presidency to terminate in 2015. The northern presidential aspirants have gone public on this and IBB at his declaration said he would do only four years. Jonathan has kept silent on tenure. We would want President-General of Ohaneze to say something about tenure before he says anything on Igbo Presidency 2015 because the two are closely linked.
The third is that the South-South reached an agreement with the North on the basis of which the President Yar'Adua and then Vice President Jonathan ticket emerged. If agreement with the northern leaders was an exercise in futility, why did the South-South reach an agreement with them, even after IPF had reached an agreement with them, still sought audience with them? Even the South-South knows that the accord we reached with northern elders is strong.
The fourth is that we had reached agreements in the past, in 1959, 1979 championed by the legend, the Great Zik. These agreements worked for the benefit of Ndigbo in the setting up of the Federal Government at independence with the Great Zik as Governor General and the NPP/NPN accord. The fifth is that the leadership of Ohaneze is afraid to even talk of Igbo Presidency 2015. They talk more on the endorsement of Jonathan even before his party adopts him and yet they don't belong to any party. If they want me to take them seriously, let them start talking as IPF is doing that Igbo Presidency 2015 is not negotiable. Let them come out boldly on how this could be attained. When a people are afraid to canvass their rights and are too happy to canvass the other person's rights, then something is basically wrong.
Why Jonathan keeps mum over who succeeds him in 2015
Jonathan may as well be playing safe in order not to offend the northerners. Why is he afraid to offend the northerners if there is not a secret agenda? Why are the northerners not playing safe by coming out open with Ndigbo? The Presidency that we are seeking in 2015 is of right and not secret. The Ohaneze executives met twice with the INC on the admission of Uwechue in Enugu and Yenagoa hosted by the Bayelsa State Governor Timipre Sylva.
Alleged hostility of Ohaneze to the agreement of IPF with some northern leaders.
It completely baffles us. We regard ourselves as having secured an agreement that is of tremendous benefit to Ndigbo. It is very painful when we read President-General of Ohaneze calling us a bunch of Igbo politicians in Abuja, who masquerade as Igbo leaders. How can the calibre of Igbo, who met with northern leaders, including former Senate President, former governors, former senators, serving senators and he calls them bunch? We have decided not to be provoked. It is important to the IPF in this struggle that we shall be at peace with our Igbo brethren, but we must insist on saying what we have to say. It's about time that Ndigbo learnt how to disagree without being abusive and disagreeable.
Why the campaign camps of the northern aspirants met in Enugu
The campaign organizations of the four northern aspirants, IBB, Atiku, Gusau and Saraki, have been meeting in Abuja to harmonise their strategies towards the agreement with Northern Leaders Forum (NLF). The facilitator for the meeting is the IPF which signed the agreement with the forum. We have agreed to fine-tune our messages and activities to address our Igbo brethren and the imperative of Ahamefula which is what Igbo Presidency 2015 is all about. All of us who attended the meeting are strong believers in the zoning arrangement.
Why I did not attend the Ohaneze (Ime-obi) meeting
I had reasons to suspect that the Ime-Obi was to achieve a definite end. It was to ratify the endorsement of the president. The Ime-obi had been primed to give the present executive tenure extension. That was ridiculous. Those who criticized the third term agenda were now part of tenure extension which would favour an incumbent Ohaneze president. For these reasons, I stayed away. I will always wish Ohaneze well because it is what we have.
What is really the Igbo presidency all about?
The Igbo Presidency, to some of us has gone beyond a strong political belief to an almost religious belief. It hurts persons like us very much each time meetings of the National Council of State are held and we see pictures of former presidents and no Igbo man is there. For me, it is excruciatingly painful. What we are saying is that even after 2015, no Igbo man will stand in that exclusive club of former presidents. For our population and contributions to independence and national growth of Nigeria, it is grossly unfair that even other ethnic nationalities in Nigeria do not understand why for Ndigbo, the attainment of the presidency is a major issue of pride and self-respect.
Considering the roles we have continued to play in Nigeria, helping to bring about development everywhere we go that we are still asking for accommodation in the presidency. Zoning was canvassed as the constitutional conference of elected delegates in 1995 by Ndigbo. Its application saw the Yoruba becoming president in 1999 and 2007. The Yoruba did not find that application of zoning to be un-progressive. In 2007, the South-South reached an agreement with the North based on which President Yar'Adua and then Vice President Jonathan emerged, for them, zoning was okay at that time.
Now that zoning will come to play for Ndigbo, zoning has become a very un-progressive and retrogressive idea. It is troubling for many of us that this conspiracy against Ndigbo has continued. During the campaign, we shall operate in such a manner that this closet, hidden conspiracy against Ndigbo and the attainment of the presidency in Nigeria. The others say we lost a war, must come out into the open. We thank the northern leaders for saying only Igbo Presidency will bring the civil war to an end. We will challenge the others to reveal their true feelings about Ndigbo and the Presidency of Nigeria.
How do we trust that IBB is going for only one term?
My answer is why should I buy land from somebody who gives me a C of O, because am afraid that he would renege on the C of O within 20 years time and I go and buy land from somebody who is not even ready to give me a piece of paper that I bought the land from him, let alone the C of O? We reached an agreement with the forum chaired by Mallam Adamu Ciroma with IBB, Atiku, Ango Abdulahi, Yahaya Kwande, Audu Ogbe, Tanko Yakassai, Iyorchia Ayu and others as members. Acting on this agreement, IBB said he will serve for four years and hand over to an Igbo person. He went further to say that it is when an Igbo becomes President and Commander-in-Chief that the war would have ended.
Do you want me to trust a president who does not say when his tenure will end; who does not say who he would hand over to; who has chosen a northerner as Vice President and who has said that the presidency is not zoned?
Selling IBB to Igbo
The question of selling IBB will arise when a consensus candidate has emerged, but for me, it is an easy sale. I will not forget when we were only Imo and Anambra, two states out of 19 states. When IBB created Abia and Enugu, we became four states in one day. Since that day, only one more had been added and we have been shouting for a sixth state and we don't even get a hearing. I have a copy of his chieftaincy photograph and certificate as consoler of Ndigbo.
I keep looking at the photograph of an Igbo saint and legend, the late Dr Akanu Ibiam, who was in charge of that ceremony. All these and many would be put in a pamphlet and widely circulated in Igboland. I ask you to tell me the bad things that IBB has done to show that he is not a friend of Ndigbo and I will not join in endorsing other region's views of IBB who have an axe to grind with him. There is so much positive record of IBB towards Ndigbo for me to go by.