The Chairman of a Presidential Lobby Team set up by the Youth Wing of the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Mazi Chukwuma Okpalaezeukwu on Wednesday promised to lead a movement that will ensure that Ndigbo moves as one united family in their quest for Presidency, come the 2023 General Election.
The team was set up to mobilize support from across Nigeria and beyond for the emergence of a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction in 2023 and has among its terms of reference, to identify credible, reliable, qualified and highly saleable Southeast candidates from across Party lines who may be supported for the presidential election in 2023.
It is also expected to initiate high-level engagements with relevant stakeholders across Party, religious and ethnic lines, towards convincing them on the need to support an Igbo for the presidency of Nigeria in 2023 and to mobilize support across different political lines towards ensuring that an Igbo is elected President of Nigeria in 2023.
The 20-man team has as its Deputy Chairman, High Chief Henry Okorie, with Hon. Chris Obiemenyebo as its Secretary, with other members drawn from the seven Igbo speaking states of the country.
Speaking with TNC correspondent in Awka, the Chairman of the group, Mazi Okpalaezeukwu said the committee basically, is to address one of the major challenges in Nigeria that amounts to injustice and lack of equity and fairness, which is presidency for the Southeast zone.
“All the other five out of the six geo-political zones in Nigeria have produced the president of the country except the Southeast.
“The Southeast is not just a zone but very paramount in terms of economy, physical development and other benefits,” he said.
Okpalaezeukwu said his team is aware of the enormous task facing them which is to lobby the other five zones and convince them to bring all hands on deck for the Southeast zone to produce Nigeria’s next president come 2023.
He however said with the support of the Ohaneze leadership at the national and state levels, they intend to commence with inward harnessing of the nascent Igbo unity as charity begins at home.
“We must first start with harmonizing interests.
“The task must start at home.
“If we fail to harness a united home front from our people’s diverse views, positions and voices, we will go out balkanized and this will amount to no meaningful progress,” the team lead said.
The Ohaneze Youths Secretary said in doing their job, they will ensure that all the aspirants from the Southeast, irrespective of political parties, are given fair opportunity and equal playground so that unanimously, a consensus candidate will emerge.
He expressed absolute confidence that if Nigeria gets it right in 2023, and Ndigbo are given presidency, they are going to rebuild Nigeria beyond expectations.
“An Igbo president will show more commitment to the development of Nigeria, to addressing the insecurity in the country and building the economy.
“Ndigbo have the capacity to revive the ailing economy and reduce the sufferings of the people.
“It will be a total change of narrative. Nigerians should have confidence in the race and give them presidency to see a genuine change,” he posited.
On the fears expressed by some quarters that Igbo Presidency come 2023 will amount to Nigeria’s disintegration, Okpalaezeukwu described it as a total lie.
He made it clear that Ndigbo stand for a united Nigeria, saying that the agitations in the region is as a result of perceived marginalization, which he believes giving the region President will help address permanently
In his words; “Ndigbo, in all sincerity, do not want to leave Nigeria, Ndigbo love Nigeria.
“That is why they are spread all over the country, contributing immensely to the growth and development of their host communities.
“But no geo-political zone, tribe or ethnic group in Nigeria will pass through the kind of tribulations Igbos are passing through and not agitate.
“That is why there is need to have a president of Igbo extraction so that all these gross marginalization, injustices, denial, abuse and neglect, will be addressed.
“Once these are addressed, these agitations will be gone.
“Ndigbo do not want to leave Nigeria.
“We want peace but not that of the graveyard.
“We want unity but not that of the master and the slave.
“We deserve and demand respect.
“We demand sense of belonging as we deserve because we are paramount stakeholders in this country called Nigeria.”