Southeast leaders are gradually raising their voices in the demand for zoning of the president to the region in 2023. Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State visiting President Muhammadu Buhari at the State house, Abuja, on Thursday, joined the league of Igbo leaders demanding the presidential ticket in the 2023 general elections. He stated that southeast leaders have right to produce the president, noting that the Igbo people are everywhere and understand Nigeria better than any other region.
According to Ikpeazu: “I think that the south-easterners have a right to take a shot at the presidency of Nigeria, and …that our qualification starts from the fact that we understand and know Nigeria better than the other states of Nigeria.
“We go everywhere, we are everywhere, we invest everywhere, we are Pan-Nigerian people.”
The Abia governor further said: “Today, a lot of people are afraid of Sambisa, but for an Igbo man, Sambisa is a business opportunity.”
Governor Ikpeazu further highlighted that anybody who wants to be the next president of Nigeria must be Pan-Nigeria and must understand all contentious issues in the country. He, however, acknowledged the need for negotiations with other regions in the demand for the next president to come from the southeast.
Governor Ikpeazu had declared: “The question of Nigerian president of southeast extraction is a national question that requires negotiation, discussion, and conversation with all parts of this country and I am least qualified to determine what happens in 2023.
“I also want to spend my time supporting the incumbent president to do his time and do his best while we wait for what happens to begin to unfold.
“So, these are my views about the presidency.
“In first place, anybody who wants to aspire to the highest post of the presidency, it doesn’t matter where you come from, must have what I regard as Pan-Nigerian mentality. He must be somebody who has an understanding of all the contending interests and influences in this country. “He must understand that we are a country of diversity with the different persuasions, traditional, cultural, religious and all of these must be put at a place where you can understand and respect them.
“That individual must also be somebody who is ready to accommodate the youths of this country because turning it into a slogan the fact that youths are our leaders of our future have bit sever us correctly because we are drifting into an age that youths understand which many people may not understand, those who grew up before this era.
“So, that people must be willing to accommodate the youth without necessarily throwing away very experienced ones, he must be able to find a labyrinth of all the interests.
“He must also reflect an extreme women agenda. “Such a person must also be investor-friendly, he must be an individual who understands the nuances of economics and what is the relationship between international politics and economy; the person must be strong enough to face the issue on the front burner, which is security.
“He must be able to create jobs, he must be able to not deploy the kinetic device all the time, he must be able to also listen and negotiate peace.
“I’m a Christian and religion prescribes that you seek peace and you will find it; that which you seek is not commonplace.
“So, we must be able to dredge up courage to listen to one another and then find a middle course all the time for the interest of our people.
“Well, the political parties need to be sensitive to the feelings of the various contending grounds because politics should not be winners take all thing.
“It’s not at all times that you want to use your might; at times, you listen even to those whom you think are weak or those whom you think may not be able to find themselves at the centre stage due to circumstances.
“Because if you don’t do that, you will bottle up sentiments that will implode the system going forward. So, you must be able to create ventilation from here and there so that you can accommodate diverse opinions and have strategies to help you run the country.
“All the political parties should be alive to these sentiments and feelings in taking decisions going forward.
“And we are at a critical point in our history and anything that is self-serving, anything that is selfish, anything that leads to winner takes all mentality should be jettisoned at this time. We need to rescue our nation; we need to work hard to put Nigeria in a strong footing before we can begin to look at other things.
“If we have this at the back of our minds, we will arrive at the fact that there is a geo-political zone that has been clamoring and yearning for an opportunity to lead.
“And we should be gracious and magnanimous enough to give consideration to such yearnings and aspiration.
“But as I said earlier, it cannot not be done in isolation. It’s not a matter right, it’s not a matter of ‘I have to.’ It’s a matter of negotiation, conversation and discussion going forward.
“And I think Nigeria is alive to all of that. We can find people who listen.”
Governor Ikpeazu pointed out: “thinking about what I will become now will amount to shortchanging my people who gave me a mandate for an initial four years and renewed it for another four years and it will terminate around May 2023”.
He, therefore, clarified that he is not in the presidential race for now.