Chuks Okocha in Abuja
In an apparent response to the comments made on Arise Television by the Publisher of the now rested Democrat Newspaper and life member of the Newspapers Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria (NPAN), Alhaji Isa Funtua, the Igbo people have demanded for an adoption of what they described as the Olu Falae/Olusegun Obasanjo model in the election of the president by 2023.
The Olu Falae/Olusegun Obasanjo model is a style where the main political parties, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) will select their presidential candidates from the same geopolitical zone.
This model was adopted in 1999 when the PDP and All Peoples Party (APP) deliberately adopted Olusegun Obasanjo and Olu Falae, respectively, both from the South-west to pacify the region for the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential elections presumed to have been won by the late Chief MKO Abiola.
The model, the Igbo people said would guarantee the peace, justice, equity and continued unity of Nigeria after the volatile agitation for the actualisation of the June 12.
In an interview with THISDAY yesterday the Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu who is also a close associate of President Muhammadu Buhari, said that the adoption of the model would ensure that only the Igbo candidates would be allowed to contest the 2023 presidential tickets of the two main parties.
He said that it was for the adoption of this model in 1999 that the likes of Dr. Olusola Saraki, Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, Alhaji Umaru Shinkafi, Mallam Adamu Ciroma, Dr. Alex Ekwueme all of blessed memory and a host of other northerners and southerners like Dr. Ogbonaya Onu, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu were persuaded not to contest the presidential election in 1999.
According to the Director General of the Voice of Nigeria, “All we are appealing is for the leadership of All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to adopt the Falae/Obasanjo Model in 2023 presidential election and zone the presidency to Ndigbo. For the rotation convention is the ligament, which holds our fledgling democracy and our dear country united.”
Prodded further on the allegations by Funtua that Igbo politicians played exclusive politics, Okechukwu retorted, “I am sincerely of the considered view that Ndigbo since the birth of civil rule and liberal democracy in Nigeria in the 1960s and beyond we were in major alliances. In the 4th Republic, Ndigbo were among the founding leaders of both the two dominant political parties – PDP and APC in 1998 and 2013, respectively.
Also re-echoing Okechukwu’s sentiments, the World Igbo Summit in a communique held in Uturu, Abia State and signed by Prof. George Obiozor and Dr. Ifedi Okwenna, said that Igbo should pursue both restructuring of Nigeria and emergence of Nigerian President of Igbo extraction as both are not mutually exclusive
The communique also said that other ethnic nationalities and zones, should as a matter of justice, equity and fairness, support the emergence of a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction in 2023.
It said that the leadership of all political parties, should as a matter of justice, equity and fairness, cede the nomination of their presidential candidates to the South-East and that the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo should in consultation with Ime-obi constitute a Pan-Igbo organising committee to develop and pursue a sustainable strategic plan of action for the “handshake outreach” across Nigeria.
According to the communique, the handshake programme should cumulate in a grand finale during which the harmonised positions of the alliance zones would be adopted and publicised as a basis of a joint bill of the people to the National Assembly to pass into law and use as a document for convoking a national conference for restructuring.
It further said that the alliance zones would use the harmonised positions to commence the arduous task of lobbying and working with politicians, political parties, interest groups and other stakeholders to come on board the movement for restructured Nigeria.