Any major political party that does not zone its 2023 presidential ticket to the Southeast will not get the region’s votes, some Igbo leaders said on Tuesday.
This was part of resolutions reached at the end of a bi-partisan meeting of Southeast political leaders at the Camp Neya, Igbere, in Abia State.
Camp Neya is the country home of the Senate Chief Whip and former Abia governor Dr Orji Uzor Kalu.
Former Senate President and one-time Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Anyim Pius Anyim, read a communiqué issued at the meeting.
The leaders told the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the All Progressives Congress (APC) and others that they would only vote for Igbo presidential candidates regardless of the party.
They alleged that the region continues to be marginalised despite its political and economic contributions to the country.
The communique reads in part: “We implore Nigerians across political, ethnic, religious and geopolitical divides and persuasions to support the people of the Southeast geopolitical zone to produce a Nigerian President of Southeast extraction as a mark of good faith and to promote justice and national harmony.
“We implore all the political parties to cede their presidential tickets in the 2023 general election to the Southeast in the interest of justice, equity and national unity.
“To make good our demand and reciprocate such good faith, we have decided as a geopolitical zone with a substantial presence in every part of the country to give a block vote and throw our full weight behind any major political party, particularly the APC and PDP, that zones its presidential ticket to the southeast in 2023 general election.
“What we seek is a Nigerian president of Southeast extraction, one that will work to further unite and develop every part of the country.
“Such a President will be President of all Nigerians irrespective of their political, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, ensuring that all citizens and every part of the country are given a sense of belonging and treated with the utmost sense of justice.
“Such was the dream of the founding fathers of this great nation whereof they declared that though tribe and tongue may differ, in brotherhood we stand.
“For the same reason, they also committed to building a just nation where no man is oppressed so that Nigeria may be blessed with peace, plenty, and prosperity.”
Former Senate President Ike Ekweremadu; Deputy Chief Whip, House of Representatives, Nkeiruka Onyejeocha; a former All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) Chairman Chief Chekwas Okorie; former Minister for State, Federal Capital Territory Chuka Odum, among others, said the zone has suffered marginalisation since the civil war ended.
They said the situation remained the same even in the last 20 years of the democratic dispensation.
Onyejeocha said: “It is still not late for the Igbos to take what belongs to them. What happened today has shown that the people of the Southeast can actually come together to speak in one voice.
“I urge President Muhhamadu Buhari to support the presidential quest of the Southeast.”
‘Why we shunned bi-partisan meeting’
Southeast governors boycotted the meeting, saying they were not carried along.
Ebonyi State Governor and Southeast Governors Forum Chairman David Umahi told reporters after the forum’s virtual meeting that they were named as organisers without their permission.
A statement announcing the meeting said members of the PDP, APC, APGA and other political parties were expected.
It said leaders expected were governors, former governors, ministers, former ministers, senators and former senators, former Senate presidents and former Speakers of House of Representatives, members and former members of the House of Representatives and their state counterparts, among others.