Southeast leaders yesterday renewed the call for power to shift to the region in 2023.

Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide said insecurity should not be an excuse to deny the region the top job.

It argued that every part of the country has one form of security challenge or the other.

Anambra State Governor Willie Obiano said it was a matter of justice and equity for someone from the Southeast to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari.

First Aviation Minister, Chief Mbazulike Amechi, warned that only selfishness and lack of unity can stop Ndigbo’s goal.

They spoke in separate interviews with our correspondents.

Ohanaeze President-General, Prof. George Obiozor, disagreed with those who say Ndigbo cannot be entrusted with the presidency due to agitations in the region.

Describing the presidency as a patrimony to all Nigerians, he said it would be most unfair to use insecurity as a reason for the major political parties not to zone their ticket for the president to the Southeast.

“The idea of making Southeast the focus of insecurity must be fought because the whole country is unsecured and if it is to be made a condition for anything, no place in Nigeria is qualified as the safest place or an Eldorado,” he said.

Obiozor noted that the other regions that have produced presidents all had or still have serious security issues, including President Buhari’s region before he assumed power.

“So, the whole issue or idea of using newspapers to promote a concept that Southeast is unsecured or has political instability is not true.

“We do not have more insecurity than the other. Those pushing it should be replied in their own language in comparative terms,” he said.

Obiozor, a former ambassador to the United States, believes there can only be justice and fairness in Nigeria when there is “political balancing”.

“We are asking for balancing and giving everyone a sense of belonging,” he said. “You must balance Nigeria to have peace.

“Justice is anchored on transparency, equity, fairness; not selective morality, double standard and outrageous paradox, or one thing for one group and other for another. The presidency is a patrimony for all Nigerians.”

Southeast needs other regions to realise goal

A former President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide in Imo State, Dr. Ezechi Chukwu, urged Ndigbo to seek the support of other regions.

He said: “Politics is not all about media hype. I believe strongly that at this stage, what we need is more of subterranean bridge-building across borders.”

Ohanaeze spokesman, Alex Ogbonnia Ndigbo, called for an end to what he described as ongoing political manoeuvring that has been deployed to stop a president of Igbo extraction.

According to him, the Igbo group was not happy with the way Nigerians were politicising the issue.

He said: “We expect eminent people from other parts of Nigeria to join the call that Nigerians should consider an Igbo for the president of Nigeria…

“We are waiting to the extent that…all the eminent persons in Yorubaland who we know have been outspoken will rise to the occasion and say this is the turn of the Igbo.

“We’re looking for people with conscience in the North that will join in that proclamation.

“But it doesn’t mean if we don’t get it, heaven will fall. No. The truth of the matter is that we are not happy with the way Nigerians are politicising the issue of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction. It is the turn of the Igbo.”

A chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Enugu State and professor of political science, Obasi Igwe, said those interested in the top job do not necessarily need to make it known more than a year before the next general elections.

According to him, none of the persons who emerged as the president since 1999 declared an interest.

He said: “Nigerians should not always be raising the bar when it comes to Ndigbo. All who were presidents since 1999 did not indicate interest…

“Igbos have indirectly declared interest in the presidential race. They should not be treated differently from the way other Nigerians were treated before they became president unless we are changing the goalpost.”

Obiano: It’s a matter of justice

Governor Obiano, who spoke through his Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, C Don Adinuba, said among the zones in Nigeria, only the Southeast has not produced the president.

This, to him, is unfair to the region.

He said all the permutations had been that the South should produce President Buhari’s successor in 2023, adding that it should be further narrowed to the Southeast, being the only geopolitical zone not to produce a president since 1999.

“The Southwest has the Vice president. They had produced the president in the person of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. The Southsouth had Dr Goodluck Jonathan as Vice president and later president. So, where are Ndigbo?

“What is good for the Southwest and Southsouth should also be good for the Southeast. It is a matter of social justice that somebody from Igbo must take over from President Buhari,” the governor said.

Amechi warns against self-interest

For Chief Amechi, Ndigbo deserves to produce the President in 2023.

But he fears that the only factor that can stop the region is the selfishness of some politicians.

“Ndigbo deserve the position in 2023, but the selfish nature of the politicians will not allow them to actualise it.

“I don’t really know, but let’s wait and watch them,” said the 93-year-old former minister.

For Chieftain of the People’s Democratic Party in Ebonyi State, Jerry Obasi, the Southeast is ripe for the Presidency and there is no going back or compromise on the position.

The former Deputy National Secretary of the All Progressive Grand Alliance(APGA) believes the zone should have no business with the vice president position in 2023.

He maintained that it was President or nothing as the zone has played second fiddle to others for long despite having some of the most qualified candidates.

He said: “Anybody who is talking about Vice President is not serious. The Southeast is ripe for the President of the country.

“We have some of the best candidates for the position, academically and otherwise. A lot of times in the past we have been relegated to Vice President or other positions even when we paraded the best candidates.

“We are very ready this time to produce the next president of the country. The political class should seek to build synergy with other zones using diplomacy as we need the support of other zones,” Obasi said.