Founder Chairman Emeritus Daar Communications Raymond Dokpesi has said Nigerians feared a president of Igbo extraction would allow the country’s breakup.
He said the fear might not be unconnected to what he called the overwhelming influence of the founder of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu in the region.
In a statement Monday in Abuja, the media mogul stated that some stakeholders were of the opinion that a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction would lead to secession by the South-East region.
Dokpesi said Kanu and IPOB had complicated the agitation of the region to produce a Nigerian president.
He said: “On the surrender of Biafra to Nigeria, Yakubu Gowon, declared ‘no Victor, no vanquished’ but clearly, since, the regions that have determined leadership have used this against the South-East and denied Igbos the opportunity to lead, should that be used against the leaders and sons of the South-East today? Of course not!
“I have publicly come out to support and call on a Southeastern presidential candidate in the recent past, but the emergence of IPOB and its influence across the South-East has complicated and undermined the agitation for patriotic Nigerians of Igbo extraction to lead this nation as far as the 2023 election is concerned.”
Continuing, he said: “If nobody has told Ohanaeze Ndigbo before, the concern today from some other regions is that if Nnamdi Kanu plays the role of Aguiyi Ironsi in leading a militant revolt against constitutional government in the South-East under Igbo presidency, the president will be pressured by his base to facilitate the UN processes for the South-East to call for independence from Nigeria. Thus an Igbo President may be compromised in protecting the political and geographic boundaries of Nigeria whilst Nigeria remains under the threat of IPOB’s secessionist activities.”
Speaking further on the nation’s political equation, the media owner said: “Don’t shoot me, I’m just a messenger. It is unfair but neither the South-South nor the South-East nor the North-East has the votes combined to determine the presidency on their own. We have to negotiate with other regions and where prominent leaders express such concerns based on the similarities of our history and contemporary circumstances, it indicates to me that the South-East is not trusted with the Presidency in 2023. It indicates to me that the leaders of the South-East have not done enough before now in dealing with and addressing the challenge that IPOB poses to their aspirations in leading Nigeria.
“Why and what to do to change this narrative is a question for leaders and politicians from the South-East to determine, but you can see and understand why we in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) must take a realistic, pragmatic and strategic approach towards supporting the North-East zone for the presidency in 2023.
“In Atiku Abubakar, the South-East not only has a friend and a detribalised Nigerian who understands the pains, frustrations as genuine aspirations of the people of the South-East but also is a believer in the restructuring of Nigeria, which both in the short term and in the long term, is necessary and critical to the growth and development of Nigeria in general and the minority regions in particular.
“By supporting Atiku Abubakar from the North-East to victory in 2023, the rotation of power across Nigeria will have come full cycle and I believe that the agitation for a South-East presidency will be better accepted and appreciated by the incumbency and other regions in subsequent elections after 2023.
“So taken in totality I do not intend to offend the South-East or any of its eminent sons who are more than qualified to lead this nation. The South-South and South-East regions have already produced PDP presidents in the fourth republic, so we have had 14 years in the presidency, while the North has only had 2-years under PDP.”
He recalled that: “The nomination of President Goodluck Jonathan at the 2014 PDP Presidential Convention weakened our support in the North and ultimately led to the APC and President Buhari taking over government in 2015. We need to retrace our steps as a party.
“We need to consolidate our base in the South-South and South-East and we need to reach out across other regions of this country presenting a detribalised Nigerian that will be accepted and trusted to build the best ‘all-star’ Nigerian team to get us out of our present quagmire without carrying the baggage of IPOB undermining their credibility.”
‘Buhari backs Igbo on 2023’
But, Director-General Nigeria Film Corporation Dr Chidia Maduekwe has said President Buhari is supportive of his successor coming from the South-east geopolitical zone.
Maduekwe stated this during an interaction with journalists his Ohafia country home, in Ohafia local government area of Abia state.
“It is not true that the president does not want a president of Igbo extraction, rather he is supportive of the cause,” he said.
He argued that there was no way Buhari woul hate the Igbo yet repeatedly pick prominent politicians from the South-east as his running mate in previous presidential runs.
Maduekwe recalled that “then-candidate Buhari chose Chuba Okadigbo, an eminent Igbo man, as his vice-presidential candidate in 2003. In 2007, he also selected another prominent Igbo man, Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, as his running mate.”
“It is possible that either of these two Igbo personalities could have succeeded him if Buhari was elected in 2003 or 2007,” he said.
The DG further insisted that the South-east had received a fair share of the president’s political appointments and distribution of development projects in the country with many Igbo already appointed into strategic offices by the president.
He listed the Igbo beneficiaries to include Sen. Ifeanyi Ararume (Imo) as the Chairman of, Board of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) and Mr Ogbugo Ukoha (Abia) as the Executive Director, Distributions System, Storage and Retail Infrastructure in the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority.
“Why are we not celebrating these appointments of our people by the president and stop criticizing him?” he queried.