Former Governor of Imo state and Senator representing Imo West, Senator Rochas Okorocha, has said the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) would become a northern party if it does not zone the 2023 Presidency to the South.
Okorocha stated this at an interactive session organised by the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ), FCT Council, tagged: ‘Conversation with Owelle Rochas Okorocha at 59 and Award of Icon of Service and Philanthropy, Monday, in Abuja.
The lawmaker, who said he supports the position of Southern governors that the country should be led by a Nigerian from the South in 2023, noted that: “There is no justifiable reason for APC to zone the presidency away from the South if not the South-east.”
He said though it was not written there has been an understanding, “It started with South-west and President Olusegun Obasanjo was elected then it went to the North and we had Yar’Adua. It went back to the South with Goodluck Jonathan, and now the North is having it with the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari.
“So, it is fair that this understanding should not be broken. That will be dangerous and it will polarise the party. It will sound like a Northern People’s Party.
“I know what I suffered when I joined the APC because I believed that the Igbo should be in mainstream politics and it will be unfortunate for the party to treat the region like that.”
On Igbo presidency he said the South-east region has to present a good reason why they should produce the next president.
The Igbo can say: Let’s try an Igbo man and see what it will be like and even argue that with the enterprising nature of the Igbo they can do better than.
Asked whether he would run for the presidency in 2023, he said: “I have run for presidency three times, I even ran against late Yau’Adua and I came second.
“I don’t have ambition to be president, I have a vision to be president and that is what drives me. That is why I am different from other aspirants.”
Speaking on IPOB and the continued detention of Nnamdi Kanu, during the programme aired live on Nigerian Television Authority, the former governor said it has become a tribal issue and suggested that the federal government and South-east leaders should meet and find a way out.
He said, “It is an evil wind that won’t blow anyone good. Nigerian government needs to sympathise with the youth and address their grievances. If we can dialogue we will find out that it is not worth the trouble. Let’s bring all the agitators for dialogue.According to him, “When IPOB started, they came to Imo state when I was the governor, I told the Police and other security agents not to shoot at them but to go with them during the protests. After a while they were tired and ready dialogue and I listened to them and understood their grievances.”They asked me to join them, and I told them if they can convince me why I should have another passport, Biafra passport, I will join. I could have asked my men to shoot them as they were killed in Okigwe and other states, but no. I had to listen to know what they were going through and this is what the federal government should do.”