By Bassey Inyang in Calabar
Former Vice-President of Nigeria, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, yesterday in Cabalar, the Cross River State capital, tasked Igbos in the country to continue the struggle for the realisation of Igbo presidency from where he stopped.
Ekwueme stated this in Calabar when he attended the child dedication of the family of Chief and Lolo Chukwuemeka Egwuonwu (KSM) Ochubaradikeohia 11 of Awa who dedicated their daughter, Favour Chimamanda, at St. Bernard Catholic Church, Calabar.
Speaking with journalist after the deduction of the child, Ekwueme who did not state whether the Igbo should have a shot at the presidency in 2019 or thereafter said: “I was vice president up till December 1983 and by the old National Party of Nigeria (NPN) order, and I would have contested for the number one position in 1987, but the military intervened in 1983 and the civilian regime was cut short. I tried again in 1998 and (Olusegun) Obasanjo was released from prison, and he came and won, supported by his colleagues in the military. I tried again in 2003 and the same thing happened. I pray that the other people (Igbos) can take it up from there and make progress.”
The former vice president also spoke on the health issue of President Muhammadu Buhari, saying Nigerians should pray for the president, and for peace in the country.
“We have conflicting reports about the President’s health. The Minister of Information says he is hale and hearty, but his wife says we should pray for him. So, if he is hale and hearty I don’t why she said we should pray for him. Whatever it is, we ask God to look after him. We want Nigeria to be at peace and to make progress and see how we can get out of our present difficulties.
“We really need prayers. We are in great difficulty. People are suffering. There is hunger in the land and it is not very encouraging. So, we need God’s intervention to help us get out of it,” Ekweme said.
At the reception ceremony held at the Management Development Institute (MDI), President of Ohanaeze in Anambra, Chief Damian Okeke Ogene, also spoke on issue concerning the future of the Igbos in Nigeria.
“An Igbo presidency is overdue but as far as I am concerned, it is not something that is coming out now. Our National President Chief Nnia Nwodo is going to make the stand of Ohaneze known as regards to the presidency. Igbo presidency is long overdue whether it is 2019 or 2023, our own National President will make our stand known,” he said.
Speaking further, the Ohanaeze chieftain said: “Agitation for Biafra is a way of expressing justice, fairness and equity which is lacking. If there is justice, fairness and equity, the whole world can be one country. It is because of injustice people say we can be on our own. As far as I am concerned, immediately after the war, the Gowon administration said three Rs and we believe in three Rs, reconciliation and reconciliation, reconstruction and none of them has taken place. It looks like to us, the war has not ended.”
On the continued detention of Nnandi Kanu, he said: “We are all human beings and we are not ready to shed any blood, it is not necessary and we have advised our own youths and our own son whether IPOB or MASSOB, what they are saying we are part of how to address the injustice but for violence we are not part of it. We advised the federal government that you do not use a sledge to kill a millipede. It is not when you child demands school fees and you kill him because he demanded school fees. Our youths are demanding justice, equity and fairness and they should not be killed.
“You and I here cannot release Kanu, the courts have said release Kanu but the powers that be is beyond and me and we. Have been saying leave this young man, give him to us and we will manage them.”
Earlier, the Metropolitan Arch-Bishop of Calabar, Bishop Joseph Ekwueme, had enjoined Nigerians to tolerate one another and abhour ‘eye for eye’ principle of old order.
Ekwueme said, “Eye for an eye makes everybody blind.”
Stating that revenge was un-Christian, Ekuwem said: “To be a Christian is to be a fool for Christ. Our standard is not the same as standard of the world. We are not call to pay evil for evil but to win the evil ones through act of love.”