By Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
Prominent Igbo leaders including elders, traditional and religious leaders as well as women groups rose from a one-day meeting in Enugu with an endorsement for the joint presidential ticket of Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi for the 2019 general election.
Also, the renowned constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, not only threw his weight behind the Atiku Abubakar presidential project, but also urged Ngigbo to support the project, insisting that the actualisation of the ticket remains the visible means of political survival for Ndigbo.
He specifically said the Atiku Abubakar project was his last wish “before I join my ancestors”.
In a five-point communique issued at the end of the summit with the theme “Ndigbo 2019 and Beyond”, the leaders said that their position was based on the restructuring agenda put on the table by Atiku/Obi, which four zones of the country had agreed on.
The communique read by a legal luminary Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) said: “The Igbo people of Nigeria held a 1 day non-partisan and inclusive summit convened by elders, traditional and religious leaders on Wednesday 14th November 2018 to consider Ndigbo’s place in the polity especially in light of the forthcoming 2019 elections.
“The summit deliberated on the state of Ndigbo in Nigeria today especially after years of exclusion from the centre. This country has never been so divided as it is today. We Igbos have always yearned for a level playing field with justice, equity and fairness.
“The summit recognised the nomination of His Excellency Mr. Peter Obi former governor of Anambra State as the vice-presidential candidate of the PDP and fully endorses this nomination. It was acknowledged that this nomination puts Ndigbo back in the centre of governance. It is therefore important that Ndigbo should rally behind the Atiku/Obi ticket.
“We identify with the Atiku/Peter Obi ticket on the restructuring agenda as has been reiterated by 4 zones of the country namely: South South, South West, North Central and South East. We believe that as long as the federating units remain weak the centre will continue to be weak. We equally move to appreciate the position of the Atiku/Obi ticket in promoting national unity.
“In conclusion, the summit reiterated that the time is now for Ndigbo to mobilise and organise effectively to realise the Atiku/Obi ticket. We are not campaigning against anybody, we are simply campaigning for our very survival. Igbo votes must count wherever Ndigbo live in Nigeria.”
Earlier, before the meeting christened: ‘Ahamefula, Ndigbo and The Future’ held at Nike Lake Resort, Enugu went into closed door, Prof. Nwabueze said that Igbos should work hard to actualise the Atiku/Obi ticket as a special gift to him, stressing that the best position Igbos should take ahead of the forthcoming presidential election was to stand firmly in support of the candidate that can ensure their survival in Nigeria.
“It is unfortunate that those who pioneered the independence of the country have been totally alienated in their own country and that is why we are here. We have to support the ticket that will ensure our (Igbo) survival. That ticket is the joint ticket of Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi.
“We must not allow this opportunity to slip out of our hands. If we, the Igbo leaders gathered here cannot actualise this ticket, then we should be ashamed of ourselves. We must work hard to achieve this because it is the best way for us to go at this time.
“We are not campaigning for anybody but we are campaigning for our self survival. We must achieve this joint ticket of Atiku/Obi because it is our desire to do so and we are determined to actualise it. Igbos should do this as their last gift for me,” he said.
Among personalities present at the meeting were Nwabueze, Ambassador George Obiozor, Chief Nnia Nwodo (Ohanaeze Ndigbo President), Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Prof. ABC Nwosu, Senator Chris Anyanwu, Senator Ben Obi, Chief Achike Udenwa, Prof. (Mrs.) Uche Azikiwe, Chief Onyema Ugochukwu, Senator Theodore Orji, Chief Emeka Ugwu-Oju, Chief Garry Igariwey, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, Ambassador Frank Ogbuewu, Prof. Osita Ogbu, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Chief Lawrence Nwuruku, Prof. Walter Ofonagoro, Archbishop Maxwell Anikwenwa, Commodore James Aneke (rtd), Prof. Elochukwu Amucheazi, Prof. Uzodinma Nwala, Senator Adophus Wabara, Air Comdr Allison Madueke, Igwe Afred Achebe, Obi of Onitsha, Prof. Anya O. Anya and Prof. Chudi Uwazurike, Major Gen. Obi Umahi (rtd), Uzodinma Okpara, son of the former Premier Eastern Region, Esom Nwafor Orizu, and daughter of the former acting President of Nigeria and Hon. Emeka Ihedioha.