By Ikechukwu Okaforadi
A National Commissioner in the Northeast Development Commission (NEDC), Theodore Ekechi, at the weekend said the Igbos will stoop to conquer Nigerian presidential seat in the 2023 general election, even as he urged politicians from the region to understand that power is not given but obtained through intense lobby.
Speaking to journalists in his office in Abuja, Ekechi said though the Igbos deserve like other parts of the country to till Nigeria, but he differ with the assumption that this is the best time for Igbo person to rule the country, saying all the time had always been best for Igbo person to lead Nigeria.
He condemned the idea of some Igbos that there is a deliberate plans by some forces outside the region to deny an Igbo man the presidency, pointing out that this narrative has made it look like Igbo presidency is something that the Igbo people must be given only if they beg for it.
Ekechi who dismissed the perspective that there are some persons who deliberately frustrate and deny Igbo man from becoming the President, he said when former Vice President, Alex Ekwueme, rose to challenge then incumbent President Olusegun Obasanjo, for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential ticket in 2003, he could not have done it without support that cuts across the regions, tribes and religion.
He said if not for Providence, Ekwueme would have clinched the PDP ticket, given the way he shook the table with national support, adding that the Igbos who are aspiring to become president of Nigeria should rise now and begin to reach out to other stakeholders in the Nigerian project.
According to him, “the presidency of Nigeria is not given in Ochanga market, the presidency of Nigeria is not allocated in the bars in Owerri, or is the president of Nigeria shared in Nsukka or Enugu”, just as he pointed out that the presidency cannot be won by Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo who will now take it to Enugu to decide decide which Igbo son it should be given.
At this juncture, he called for an Igbo personality who will rise above clannish and primordial sentiments to meet other tribes and work with them, explaining that what is at stake is not a presidency of Igbo ethinic group but of Nigeria, who will be fair to all the tribes.
According to him, from the time of Nigeria independence, it has become clear that no part of the country can rise to become Nigeria’s President without tacit support of people of other tribes and regions.
Making reference to M. K. O. Abiola, he said Abiola was cosmopolitan, as he was able to defeat his opponents even in the north, after he had upstaged the south east and the south south with support that came naturally, pointing out that such structures are not built overnight.
He argued that for one to become president in Nigeria, such aspirants must have made serious sacrifices across the length and breath of the country, or if such aspirants have the endorsement of those who have made such sacrifices.
In reference to President Buhari, Ekechi recalled how he tried three times to become the president but could not, yet he strove in patience until he was able to achieve it I 2015, recalling that in most cases, Buhari was defeated by southern candidates yet he persisted.
He emphasised the need for the Igbos to stoop to conquer the Nigerian President in 2023, adding that it is a task that must be achieved with any form of descrimination on the basis of religion or tribe.