• Urges Igbo leaders to shun antagonism
• Says 2023 is our turn to produce president
A former President of the Senate, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim at the weekend urged the Southeast leaders to negotiate with other geo-political zones in the federation in order to realise Igbo presidency.
Anyim, Secretary to the Government of the Federation under former President Goodluck Jonathan, contended that it “is time for the south-east to produce the next president of Nigeria.”
He made a strong case for Igbo presidency in a lecture he delivered at the sixth World Igbo Summit held at Gregory University, Uturu, Abia state on Friday.
Southeast, a geo-political zone in the South, has not produced a president for the nation since the end of the civil war in 1970.
While the Southwest produced President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999, President Goodluck Jonathan represented the South-south between 2010 and 2015.
Consequently, different Southeast groups at home and in the diaspora including Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, have been agitating to produce the successor of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Delivering the lecture on Friday, the former senate president noted that those calling for Igbo presidency should put in more effort if the goal would be realised.
Rather than adopting an antagonistic approach, Anyim observed at the summit that Igbo presidency is neither an entitlement nor a gift.
He recommended that in engaging with other zones, the tone “must reflect negotiation and not antagonism. It must be one of friendship and not disdain or disrespect.
“It must show our willingness to enter into an enduring and lasting relationship for long term interest of all the parties. The task is achievable if approached collectively,” the former president said.
He observed that the Igbo of the southeast geo-political zone “is in continuous search of a system, or if you like, a polity that guarantees and secures his social, political and economic interest based on equality of citizenship, equity and justice.
“I make bold to say that the Igbos of the south-east geo-political zone can find this in Nigeria,” he said while encouraging Igbo leaders to sustain the push for Igbo presidency.
Anyim acknowledged that the journey to building an equitable society “is usually challenging and rough, but many nations have arrived safely from this journey.
“It is, therefore, my position that those who posit restructuring have a point but should work harder to secure national consensus to make it possible.
“Also those who advocate for president of Nigeria of south-east extraction should diligently and boldly pursue it for the time has come, and the time is now.
“It is, therefore, my considered view that the present-day political interest of the Igbos of the south-east geo-political zone is to attain the presidency of Nigeria come 2023,” Anyim said at the world summit.