The Director-General of Voice of Nigeria, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, has said Ndigbo will be the major beneficiaries of President Muhammadu Buhari’s second term in office.
The apex socio-political body of the Igbo, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, had, in a recent statement, said it was only interested in restructuring, and had not taken any decision on the 2019 elections.
Speaking in Enugu on Sunday, Okechukwu, a member of the All Progressives Congress, advised the Igbo to back Buhari for a second term, as, according to him, restructuring was already on the agenda of the Buhari-led Federal Government.
The VON boss added that the Igbo should support Buhari’s second term bid in order to have a chance of producing his (Buhari’s) successor in 2023.
Although the President had yet to declare his intention to go for another term, Okechukwu explained that Buhari would seek re-election.
Apparently reacting to Ohanaeze’s declaration that it was only concerned with restructuring, and was not thinking of the 2019 polls, Okechukwu said, “Restructuring is not a one-day event, but the golden opportunity of Buhari being the only northerner, going by the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the zoning convention, with only four years that ends in 2023 is a matter of fact.
“Voting for any other northerner means postponement of the golden opportunity which Mr. President’s re-election offers Ndigbo.
“Restructuring is already on the cards of our party, the APC. Definitely some items will be restructured before the 2019 general elections, going by the Mallam Nasir el-Rufai committee’s recommendations.”
Okechukwu noted that in addition to the chance of an Igbo succeeding Buhari, the region would also benefit from the President’s infrastructural projects.
“Secondly, Ndigbo stand to benefit immensely from Buhari’s massive critical infrastructure – roads, rails, agriculture and power projects.
“As one of the most hard-working and entrepreneurial people in Nigeria, we stand no doubt to gain from the 5,000 kilometres of federal roads, 5,000 kilometres of standard gauge rail lines, agrarian revolution and additional 5,000 megawatts of electricity, with a completion cycle of three to five years,” he said.
Asked if he was sure that Buhari would actually back an Igbo candidate to succeed him, Okechukwu said, “It is not only about Buhari’s backing, it is more about paradigm shift in the voting pattern of Ndigbo in 2019, which signposts realignment of political forces.
“The Igbo, since 1999, have religiously been voting for the Peoples Democratic Party, without commensurate results. Common sense dictates a paradigm shift in our voting pattern in 2019.
“Buhari in 2003 and 2007 had Igbo sons as running mates – Chuba Okadigbo and Edwin Umezoke of the blessed memory. Yet, we failed to vote for him.
“To align with the mainstream, we should vote for him now. He subscribes to equity and justice and cannot jeopardise the chances of a credible Igbo candidate who can appeal to our brothers and sisters in other regions, especially the South-West and South-South.”
Okechukwu added that Buhari would definitely seek a second term in order to complete ongoing and planned infrastructural projects.
He observed that it “would be suicidal” if the people of the South-East opted to vote for the PDP once again, and therefore, miss the “infrastructure revolution”.