Former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo
By Christopher Isiguzo
Notable Igbo political leaders under the aegis of the South East Forum (SEF) Thursday in Enugu raised the alarm over an alleged plot by some sections of the country to ensure that no Igbo man occupied the presidency of the country in 2015, vowing to work towards actualising the mandate.
The forum, which met in Enugu to formally present and launch its constitution, attracted the presence of prominent Igbo personalities, including the former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo, the forum’s national chairman, Dr Ezekiel Izuogu, former Director-General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Prof Elochukwu Amucheazi, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Nigeria Nsukka, Prof Chinedu Nebo.
Others were the son of the former Senate President, Chief Nwafor Orizu, (SAN), religious and traditional leaders from across the five states of the South-east.
Former Minister of Health, Dr. Ihechukwu Madubuike, was also spotted at the Modotel Hotel, venue of the event, though he did not participate.
The leaders in unison insisted that in view of the enormous sacrifices which the people of the South-east have made for the overall good and unity of Nigeria, anything short of allowing them to occupy the highest office in the country would amount to gross injustice.
They also called for the immediate reparation from Nigeria against the neglect and deprivations Ndigbo have suffered since the civil war ended in 1970, noting that time was ripe for other political regions in the country to compensate the region for the sacrifices they have made for the progress of the country.
Speaking at the event, Nwodo expressed worry that in spite of the invaluable contribution Ndigbo were making towards the development of every part of the country, they were grossly being persecuted.
He said the political situation since the war ended showed that there was a serious conspiracy to make sure that no Igbo man occupies the highest office in the land, stressing “they have continued to see Ndigbo as rebels.”
“How many Hausas, how many Yorubas, and how many Tivs have investments here in South-east much as Ndigbo have across the country,” he queried, wondering “why then are we being killed, why are we being persecuted?”
Nwodo, who chaired the event, said the time has come for these anomalies to be addressed by other regions supporting the Igbo presidency project as well as the imbalance in state structure.
He said: “we are loosing revenue by having five states only, we are loosing revenue by having a shortfall in the number of local government areas, and we are loosing three senators, reps members, state assembly members, board appointments, among others.
“Who will tell me how many industries the Federal Government has cited here ever since the war ended, who will tell me any part of the country that has the worst network of roads than the South-east. Is there any government that didn’t use the second Niger Bridge as a campaign promises?
“We have suffered enough and we demand reparation from this country, we are planning a summit for the people of this region after which we shall make our demands clear and we expect our tears to be wiped,” he stated.
Earlier in an opening address, the National Chairman of the forum, Dr. Izuogu said they were committed to the realisation of Igbo presidency in 2015.
According to Izuogu, “we support the government of President Goodluck Jonathan and we pray for him to succeed but we also support the emergence of a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction come 2015 and these two are not mutually exclusive”.
He disclosed that the forum was borne out of the need to fill a gap created by lack of a formidable socio-political organisation in the zone.
“While the South-west had Afenifere, the North had Arewa Consultative Forum and the Middle Belt had the Middle Belt Forum, through which these zones organised themselves and presented a formidable front in negotiations with political power brokers and office seekers, the South-east had no platform,” he stated.
In a communiqué presented at the end of the event, the National Publicity Secretary of the forum, Prof. Catherine Acholonu, announced the setting up of an 80th birthday planning committee for former Vice-President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, under the chairmanship of Senator Ken Nnamani.