Ndigbo on Wednesday reacted to the rejection of power shift to the south by Northern elders, insisting that those who love the corporate existence of the country must incline to truth, equity and justice.
It advised the northern elders to take wise counsel and ensure that its actions and utterances do not lead to the separation of Nigeria as was the case before the 1914 amalgamation.
Southern governors, who met on Tuesday in Lagos had demanded the return of power to the south in 2023 in line with the unwritten power rotation between the north and south, among others.
In response to the declaration, however, Northern elders in a statement by its Director of Publicity and Advocacy, Hakeem Baba-Ahmed stated that the region would not be intimidated into yielding to an office that ought to be settled democratically.
But reacting to the statement, Ohanaeze Ndigbo stated that anybody that wants the unity and progress of Nigeria should not contradict southern governors’ position on power rotation, even as it dismissed as unfortunate the position of the northern elders on the matter.
Ohanaeze’s National Publicity Secretary, Chief Alex Chiedozie Ogbonnia said, “It would appear that the northern elders have eaten the cake so deep and they are so happy and want to continue to eat it. There must be some members of the northern elders’ forum that have conscience and like Utham Dan Fodio, said “Conscience is an open wound, only the truth can heal it”.
“So the issue of Presidency in 2023 requires conscience and truth and people entrenched in justice and who want Nigeria to move forward must abide by it. Those who understand the basis of what is called Nigeria in the first place must know that it was formed upon unity and equity.
“The issue of zoning had been there for a long time and in 1998 when Abdulsalam Abubakar was about to give way, there was a meeting at the NUC centre, Abuja about rotation of power. The man who spoke for the southeast was Chuba Okadigbo and the man who spoke for the north was Abubakar Rimi.
“It was agreed in that meeting that power would rotate between north and south. That was how a southern person was supported as president in 1999. After the south, Yar’Adua took over and after Yar’Adua, it was Jonathan (south) and after Jonathan, it went back to the north.
“Now that Buhari who came from the north is serving out his eight years, the natural thing to do is to return power to the south. Coming down to the south, it should go to the southeast. Those who like the corporate existence of Nigeria must incline to truth, equity and justice”.
Ogbonnia insisted that the southeast had always supported the north in their quest for power without demanding anything in return, stressing that it was now the turn of the region to support the southeast zone rule of the country after President Buhari.
Also speaking, National Coordinator of Southeast for Presidency Movement 2023 (SEFORP2023), Rev. Okechukwu Obioha, urged the northern elders to read in-between the lines and the handwriting on the wall, commend the southern governors, and go further to assure the southeast of the position.
“Nobody is intimidating anyone. It is rather the words and the position of not applauding the decision of the southern governors by thinking otherwise that is intimidating and taking a position of ultimatum,” Obioha said.
Chairman, Board of Trustees of World Igbo Peoples Assembly (WIPAS), Mazi Chuks Ibegbu however, urged Nigerians to discountenance the position of the northern elders, explaining that they were not speaking for the people of the region.