By NBF News
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Following the endorsement of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan's presidential 2011 ambition by the South-west, prominent leaders of the South-east Political Forum have warned that they would ward off any attempt to undermine the interest of the geo-political zone in the ongoing political permutation leading to 2011 elections.

The Igbo leaders said no group could stampede them into any suicidal endorsement.

In what may not be palatable to President Goodluck Jonathan's camp, it was gathered at the weekend, that the Igbo political leaders were now united over their resolution to use the 2011 presidency to negotiate a president from the zone in 2015 through zoning and power rotation.

To support any candidate for the 2011 election, the leaders who have resolved to extract a commitment from any of the presidential election contestants, that it would be turn of the South-east to produce the president in 2015.

Daily Sun learnt that this was why the geo-political zone leaders had been non-concomitant in supporting any of the candidates that had so far declared their ambition of the 2011 presidency.

'We are ready to do the unthinkable as far as 2015 is concerned and we can only bargain for it now that we have the opportunity. We are waiting for all of them to come out and declare. We will go to the extent of asking them to come to Okpara Square in Enugu, to sign an agreement with Ndigbo that in 2015, it will be the turn of Ndigbo. That is the least we can demand from any of the aspirants that wants our support in the South-east,' one of the leaders confided in Daily Sun.

He explained that it was this decision that made the governors of the South-east to capitulate over their earlier position that they had given their support to President Goodluck Jonathan because they alone could not on their own take such decision that would be binding on the entire zone.

Buttressing this, Chief Ezekiel Nzogu, a prominent leader of the South-east Forum told Daily Sun in Abuja that no Igbo man would move against the position and that they were monitoring their people, warning that any move to sway anyone against the general position would be quickly nipped in the bud.

He pointed out that this was the reason the position of the zone was not made on individual basis by the group so no one person would say anything contrary, adding that the South-east won't allow any zone or candidate to stampede them.

According to him, 'Ndigbo are passionate about 2011. You cannot discuss one without the other. To realize the presidency in 2015, we must work for the sanctity of zoning and rotation of power. It will be mischief-making if anybody presumes that positions are allocated to individuals and not the zones.

'The presidency was zoned to the North in 2007 for eight years. This will elapse in 2015. Thereafter, the presidency will revert to the South and we in the South-east are working hard to ensure that it comes to us. We are passionate about zoning and passionate about the prospect of Igbo presidency in 2015.

'This is the mainstream Igbo position, the position of Igbo political leaders and the entirety of Ndigbo. I strongly believe that no right-thinking Igbo person will oppose this stance. To do so will mean diminishing our history and heritage, our identity and our contributions to the greatness of Nigeria.'

In his own comment, Chief Dubem Onyia, former minister of state for Foreign Affairs, said the way and manner the South-east had been treated since the democratic dispensation commenced was as if war was being waged against the zone as it had never featured in any presidential calculation over the last 10 years.

Said he: 'Forty years after the civil war, the question on every Igbo lip is if indeed the civil war is over. The political exclusion of the Igbo is a continuation of the civil war by other means. We call for an end to this. To truly end the civil war, an Igbo presidency becomes imperative.

'Igbo people are watching with keen interest. They believe in zoning and rotation of power. They also believe that after the presidency would have stayed in the North till 2015, it will be the turn of the Igbo to produce the next Nigerian president. When this happens they will know that the civil war is truly over.

'We support zoning because we believe that it is just, fair, inclusive and allows for equal access to opportunities by the diverse people that make up our country. Zoning and rotation of power is integral to our national unity and stability. To wish it away, under any guise or pretext or to satisfy a single individual is to court avoidable political tension and crisis. We don't believe in politics of personality. We are guided by group interest. We are working hard for a political situation that will satisfy our people, no more, no less, and there is no going back on this resolve.'

Secretary of the South-east Political Leaders Forum, Chief Chyna Iwuanyanwu, while speaking on the development said the zone was firmly committed to its earlier decision that it believed in zoning and power rotation principles as the best safeguard for the nation's democracy, peace, unity and national stability.

It was for this reason, sources revealed, that General Ibrahim Babangida, a presidential aspirant of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has made it a campaign issue that he would serve for just four years believed to be the left-over of the two-term of the late Musa Yar'Adua's presidency and quit in 2015.

Though he would explain where the power would go after four years if given the mandate to serve, observers believed the promise was to satisfy the Igbo's quest to give the presidency a shot in 2015.

The position of the Igbo leaders on the presidency for 2011 and 2015, it was gathered, was also responsible for the prompt denial by participants at a meeting at the Abuja home of the Ijaw leader, Chief Edwin Clark, to the effect that the South-east leaders had thrown their weight behind President Jonathan's 2011 presidential ambition.