The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has endorsed the Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate, Peter Obi, ahead of the 25 February general elections.
In a statement by its spokesperson, Chiedozie Ogbonnia, on Tuesday, Ohanaeze said, apart from them, other regional socio-political groups also endorsed Mr Obi during their gathering at Wells Carlton Hotel, Asokoro, Abuja on Thursday.
The other groups which endorsed LP candidate during the gathering, according to the statement, included the Middle Belt Forum led by its president, Bitrus Porgu, the Pan Niger Delta Forum led by Edwin Clarke, the Pan-Yoruba socio-cultural organisation, Afenifere, led by Ayo Adebanjo.
Ohanaeze said the groups separately acknowledged that Mr Obi has the needed capacity and competence to rescue Nigeria from its current woes and urged Nigerians to recognise and seize the rare opportunity which the LP candidate has provided.
“In unison, all acknowledged that Obi is the best thing God has done for Nigeria in this century; a game changer, soldier of morals, democracy archetype, the popular sentiment of Nigerian youths, an abundance philosopher, prudent resource manager, ethnic barrier-breaker and a quintessential audacious Igbo icon,” the group said.
It urged Igbos to remember that “politics is not always the art of the possible, but most times the art of choosing between the reasonable alternatives.”
The group suggested that it would be needless and counterproductive for residents of the South-east to continue their agitation against perceived marginalisation of the region and work against the LP candidate ahead of the general elections.
“Now that Nigerians are moving from a winter of despair to a summer of hope, through our son, Mr Peter Obi, is it sensible that agitations based on marginalisation and other forms of relative deprivations should continue?
“Is it sensible to turn the barrel of the gun inwards? And is it sensible for any noble Igbo son and daughter to embark on self-destruction such as the sit-at-home syndrome, destruction of public utilities, among others,” Ohanaeze stated.
2023: ‘It’s South-east’s turn’
Ohanaeze said although the group does not “wax eloquent on partisan politics,” it maintains the earlier stand that it is the turn of the South-east to produce a Nigerian president in 2023.
“It is to this end, that Ohanaeze insists that going by the political culture of sharing, zoning and rotation of power which have been in existence since the Nigeria came into existence, it is the turn of the South-east to produce a president for Nigeria in 2023,” the group said, insisting that the position is irrevocable.
‘PDP, APC machinations’
There have been calls from South-east leaders that the region should be allowed to produce a president for the first time in 2023.
But the ruling All Progressives Congress and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the two dominant political parties in Nigeria, picked their candidates outside the region during their separate presidential primaries in May.
The two parties subsequently ignored the region in the selection of their vice-presidential candidates.
Ohanaeze criticised what it termed “machinations” by the political parties against the South-east’s chances of producing a president in 2023.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo watched with keen interest, sadness and reproach the bourgeois cash and carry politics, conspiracy, cold intrigues, betrayals, hypocrisy, opportunism and other forms of machinations within the mainstream political parties, against the South-east, even from the least expected,” it said.
‘Obi’s formidable structure’
Mr Obi, a former governor of Anambra State, was among the presidential aspirants in the PDP in 2022.
He left the party a few days to the PDP primary saying there were practices in the party inconsistent with his “persona and beliefs.” He later joined the LP.
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Since his emergence as the LP candidate ahead of the 2023 general election and subsequent picking of Yusuf Ahmed-Datti as running mate, there has been growing support for his candidacy mainly in the South-east and South-south regions of the country.
However, his opponents have repeatedly claimed the LP candidate would not win the 25 February poll because of his lack of political structure.
But Ohanaeze dismissed the “lack of structure” comment, saying the growing support for Mr Obi and his running mate, Mr Ahmed-Datti, has developed into the needed political structure for electoral victory.
“Students of political history will readily recall that it is the ideas from gifted men that develop concentrically into ideology, movements, revolutions and finally to a political structure. And today, the Obi-Datti movement has become an enviable irreversible, irrepressible and formidable structure in Nigeria,” Ohanaeze said.
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