Apex Igbo Social-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has berated Northern Elders Forum (NEF) for kicking against zoning for the 2023 presidential election.

A statement issued by the spokesman of Ohanaeze, Dr. Alex Ogbonnia, said the elders made their position known in a communique signed by the former vice-chancellor of the Plateau State University, Prof Doknan Danjuma Shenni.

He further disclosed that NEF had, among other issues, stated that the “2023 presidential contest should be left open to every region of the country for the best candidate to emerge.”

But Ohanaeze’s national publicity secretary expressed surprise that the leadership of the Northern Elders Forum, mostly elders, would collectively act as the “fifth Roman emperor, Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus who fiddled while Rome was on fire.”

Ogbonnia stated that it was very strange that the elders instead of seeking solution to the problems they had so identified, were busy strategizing on how to destroy the vital values that had helped to lubricate a precarious balance in the country.

He said around 1994, some Nigerian patriots conceived an article of faith and principle of rotation of power that guarantees equity and inclusiveness for all the diverse components of the country, adding that this, Nigeria was structured into six geopolitical zones; namely, South South, South East, South West, North West, North Central and the North East.

He pointed out that it was also agreed that political offices would be zoned or distributed among the zones in such a way that every zone would have a sense of belonging, adding that the presidency would rotate among the zones to promote peace, unity and progress in Nigeria.

“The NEF are aware that Nigeria has religiously followed the rotation and zoning principle since 1999 with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (South West) as the elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Obasanjo, in keeping with the rotation principle, handed over to the North in the person of former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2007.

“At the death of Yar’Adua, a southerner, specifically the South South in the person of Dr Goodluck Jonathan was elected the President. Jonathan again, handed over to a northerner, President Muhammadu Buhari whose second tenure of four years each will end in 2023.

“By the rotation and zoning principle that has been in operation in Nigeria, It is only fair that the presidency be zoned to the South, specifically the South East of Nigeria.”

He insisted that it remained the moral duty of elders to guide the society on the path of truth and honour.

“It was Alex Tocqueville who admonished that ‘when the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness’. The NEF knows full well that in the interest of peace, unity and corporate existence of Nigeria, we the elders must, as a matter of necessity, embrace equity and justice. It is therefore only fair that the South East of Nigeria should be supported to accede presidential power because what is good for the goose is, mutatis mutandis, good for the gander.

“It is also surprising that NEF is more enamored of power than the veritable and conducive environment under which sustainable national development can be attained. For the avoidance of doubt, there is no country on the planet earth that can progress under the dire straits and strains of inequity, injustice, mistrust, viciousness, braggadocio and predatory ethnocentrism. The above vices will surely engender crises, conflicts, economic downturn, unemployment, poverty, insecurity, kidnapping, banditry, etc.

“All the ongoing shenanigans about zoning in Nigeria is because it is the turn of the South East to produce a president in Nigeria. This NEF knows. We want to use this medium to salute the likes of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, Chief E K Clarke, Dr. Pogu Bitrus and other leaders for their courage to stand by the right side of history. I have supreme confidence in the inevitable natural phenomenon, that a broken leaf, after fluttering in the air, must obey the law of gravity.

“Above all, President Muhammadu Buhari has the burden of history to treat the South, the South East, how Chief Olusegun Obasanjo treated the North in 2007. Obasanjo against all pressures displayed honour and statesmanship when in 2007, he handed over to the North in the person of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Today, Buhari is the leader of the country. He pilots the ship of the state. It is hoped that he will anchor the ship at the appropriate bank.

“Without sounding immodest, the Ohaneze Ndigbo led by Professor George Obiozor stands on a firm wicket to assure Nigerians that an Igbo president has the Midas touch to turn around the Nigerian economy for better. With an Igbo as president of Nigeria, all the indices of a fragile state that currently confront Nigeria will vanish for good. With an Igbo as president, it is an era of prosperity. Nigerians are witnesses to the highly accomplished cerebral Igbo technocrats with impressive track records of accomplishments that have indicated their interest to redeem Nigeria from a tailspin. Among them are men who have served Nigeria with uprightness and impeccable integrity” he stated.

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