Abiodun OBA

The Igbo apex Socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has berated the Northern Elders’ Forum for kicking against the zoning of the 2023 presidency to the Southern region of the country.

In a statement titled: “the zoning shenanigans in Nigeria”, Ohanaeze retorted, ”The NEF is aware that Nigeria has religiously followed the rotation and zoning principle since 1999 with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (South West) as the elected President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Obasanjo, in keeping with the rotation principle, handed over to the North in the person of former President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua in 2007”.

Ohanaeze Ndigbo described as unfortunate and most surprising that NEF would collectively act as the “fifth Roman emperor, Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus who fiddled while Rome was on fire”.

The group in the statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Dr Alex Ogbonnia, on Sunday, said despite NEF observation of the unprecedented insecurity, poverty, large number of internally displaced among other issues confronting the nation yet they opposed zoning to the South.

Ogbonnia said “It is therefore very strange that the elders instead of seeking a solution to the problems they have so identified, they are busy strategising on how to destroy the vital values that have helped to lubricate a precarious balance in the country.

“At about 1994, some Nigerian patriots conceived an article of faith and principle of rotation of power that guarantees equity and inclusiveness for all the diverse components of the country. Thus, Nigeria was structured into six geopolitical zones; namely, South-South, South East, South West, North West, North Central, and the North East.

“It was also agreed that political offices will be zoned or distributed among the zones in such a way that every zone will have a sense of belonging. Furthermore, the presidency will rotate among the zones to promote peace, unity, and progress in Nigeria.

“At the death of Yar’Adua, a Southerner, specifically the South-South in the person of Dr Goodluck Jonathan was elected the President. Jonathan again, handed over to a Northerner, President Muhammadu Buhari whose second tenure of four years each will end in 2023. By the rotation and zoning principle that has been in operation in Nigeria, It is only fair that the presidency be zoned to the South, specifically the South East of Nigeria.

“It remains the moral duty of elders to guide the society on the path of truth and honour,” it said adding “when the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness”.

“The NEF know full well that in the interest of peace, unity, and corporate existence of Nigeria, we the elders must, as a matter of necessity, embrace equity and justice. It is therefore only fair that the South East of Nigeria should be supported to accede presidential power because what is good for the goose is, mutatis mutandis, good for the gander.

“It is also surprising that NEF is more enamored of power than the veritable and conducive environment under which sustainable national development can be attained. For the avoidance of doubt, there is no country on the planet earth that can progress under the dire straits and strains of inequity, injustice, mistrust, viciousness, braggadocio, and predatory ethnocentrism. The above vices will surely engender crises, conflicts, economic downturn, unemployment, poverty, insecurity, kidnapping, banditry among others.”

Ohanaeze, however, noted that the President, Major General, Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) has the burden of history to treat the South, the South East, as Chief Olusegun Obasanjo treated the North in 2007.

“Obasanjo against all pressures displayed honour and statesmanship when in 2007, he handed over to the North in the person of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Today, Buhari is the leader of the country. He pilots the ship of the state. It is hoped that he will anchor the ship at the appropriate bank.”

It assured Nigerians that with an Igbo as president of Nigeria, all the indices of a fragile state that currently confronts Nigeria would vanish for good. “With an Igbo as president, it is an era of prosperity.”

NEF had in a communique signed by former Vice-Chancellor of the Plateau State University, Prof. Doknan Danjuma Shenni, titled: “2023 Presidency: Northern Elders Kick against Zoning” among other issues stated that the “2023 presidential contest should be left open to every region of the country for the best candidate to emerge”.

Shenni alluded in the communique that “the current state of insecurity in the North is unprecedented and unacceptable.”

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