Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba has urged the South-east to exercise caution in its campaign for Igbo presidency, noting that other ethnic groups which produced Nigeria’s president never associated it with the name of their tribes.
Nwajiuba, who made this remark while speaking to some journalists in his Abuja office on the campaign for a president from the southeast extraction, also stated that at no time had aspirants from the South east been barred in the contest for the number one seat in the country.
He noted that at one time or the other, persons from the zone had vied for the presidential ticket of their parties but could not win arguing that if they had won their ticket and subsequently won the presidential contest, nobody would have denied them the position.
Nwajiuba said in politics, no position is ceded as a gift, adding that in 2015, the only ethnic group that did not participate in the presidential primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was the Yoruba race.
“Anybody talking about Igbo presidency should be careful because there was never a time we heard about Hausa presidency. When the Yoruba were contesting, we did not hear of Yoruba presidency. Why is our own different? Remember that before Obasanjo won in 1999, he contested for the ticket against Ekwueme. There was never a time we as Igbo did not contest in the primaries, the only thing was that we were not voted.
“There is no time people involved in politics will cede a position to anybody. Up to 2015, the only tribe that did not contest for the APC primaries is the Yoruba, is it not true? The North west ran, north east ran, north central vied, South East vied.
“If Owelle Rochas Okorocha had defeated Buhari in the 2015 APC primaries, are we going to be talking about Igbo presidency now? But what is important is that if the Igbo want to become president, it is not for you to say it’s your turn.
“Any day you bring out as an aspirant that is acceptable to other Nigerians, that is the day you indeed want the position of president in Nigeria. All you need is a majority.
“Buhari won the APC primaries with 3,886 votes. That’s what we counted. I was a returning officer in that election. Kwakwanso came second, then Atiku, Rochas, then Nda-Isaiah. I can still recall these things.
“So there was never a time it was ceded to Buhari. The people that voted for Buhari outnumbered others in that primary election. So when we bring an acceptable aspirant, he will eventually win. That is what you are supposed to start searching for now. Even if the Igbo cry from now till thy kingdom comes, if they don’t bring out a person that is acceptable to other Nigerians, nothing happens,” he said.
He also recalled that in 1998 the late Alex Ekwueme coasting home to victory in the presidential primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but for the entry of Senator Jim Nwobodo in the race who shared the South-east votes with Ekwueme, thus depriving him of the PDP ticket.