Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The Senate Committee Chairman on Customs, Excise and Tariffs, Hope Uzodinma has expressed the determination of Igbos to support the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term in order to pave way for an Igbo President in 2023.
Speaking in an interview in Abuja weekend, Uzodinma said it was imperative for the Igbos to produce the Presidency in order to fully put the nation back on the track of unity.
â€œIt is supremely important because that will assure that the ugly events of the Civil war have been truly put behind. By 2023, the Presidency returns to the South and by acts of omission or commission it eludes Ndigbo, then that will only be a confirmation that the Igbos have not truly been accepted into the mainstream of Nigerian politicsâ€.
According to him, â€œIn 1998, former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme was coasting home to victory with the PDP presidential ticket. It took a high level conspiracy to stop him and people believe it was because he was Igbo and because of the stigma of the civil war. So if in 2023, Igbos are stopped again, the simple conclusion would be that the rest of Nigeria do not welcome them as equal stakeholders in the Nigerian project.â€
The Senate Committee Chairman however said such a Presidential candidate from Ndigbo must possess a Pan Nigerian world view. â€œThe summary of it is that such a candidate must possess a Pan Nigerian world view because it is the collaboration of other zones in the country with the South East that could make it possible,â€ he added.
On whether the 2023 agitation would push Igbos to support President Buhari for a second term, Uzodinma said it was the only opportunity left if it is to be a reality.
â€œIf we (Igbos) donâ€™t support Buhari who has only four years left, then how can 2023 be a reality? Any fresh northerner on the seat would be there till 2027. President Buhari is the only northern candidate, who if elected, must relinquish power in 2023, thereby paving way for the South East. So, yes, for Igbos like me, I will most definitely support Buhari for 2nd Term and I think other right thinking South Easterners should do the same.â€
Uzodinma commended the support of prominent northerners like former Kaduna State Governor, Balarabe Musa for the Igbo 2023 Presidency Project.
â€œFirst of all, I think that people like Balarabe Musa should be commended for speaking out and for their patriotism. Actually, I think he even suggested that in the same way the rest of Nigeria compensated the South West with the Presidency for the annulment of June 12 election by allowing only Yoruba candidates, only Igbo candidates should also be allowed to run in 2023 to compensate for the Civil warâ€, he declared.