Former governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife
By Luminous Jannamike, Abuja
A coalition of youth groups in the 19 Northern States and the FCT, under the aegis of Arewa Youth Federation (AYF) said on Saturday that for the sake of fairness, justice and equity, power should return to the south, particularly to the southeast region in 2023.
This is even as a former governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, faulted the suspicion that Igbo politicians could not be trusted with power, perhaps for the fear of Biafra secession.
The Arewa youths spoke when they met with members of the Igbo Elders Consultative Forum during an advocacy visit to Ezeife’s Abuja residence.
The Arewa youths President-General, Alhaji Aminu Mohammed (Kano), stressed that there was a need for fairness in the country, adding that marginalisation and widespread poverty had become the loudest cry among Nigerians.
According to him, one of the pathways to ending the pervasive insecurity and mutual suspicion in the land was for fairness to reign, especially in the leadership of the nation.
He said, “The Igbos, from day one, have been marginalised. From the series of post-independence military coups to the popping of Shagari’s regime, it has been the South-west and the North (leading the country), but Nigeria was formed by the Yorubas, Hausas, and Igbos. But as far as Nigeria’s economy is concerned, you cannot rule out the Igbos. However, these are the same people that are being marginalised. They were somewhat recognized in the first republic, relegated in the second republic, further relegated in the third republic, and then reduced to nothing in the fourth republic.
“We, as Nigerians, are faced with the issue of insecurity, but shifting power to the Southeast will cure 80-90 percent of Nigeria’s insecurity.
Any country that is not experiencing economic boom from the private sector will not make real progress. The Igbos have the power and spirit in them to even turn ‘sand’ to wealth. It is on this basis that we are solely calling for power shift to the Southeast.
“If Nigeria is to remain as a sovereign nation and we truly crave unity and peace, then the power must be shifted to the Southeast in 2023. Only on the basis of this solid foundation can the unity, peace and security of the giant of Africa be restored.
“We, the Northerners, see and identify the loops and recommend a solution which is to partner with our brothers from the Southeast to restore the lost glory of Nigeria.”
In the same vein, another prominent member of the Arewa youth delegation, Barrister Bala Abdulmalik, said the meeting was to also express the Igbo Elders Consultative Council led by ex-governor Ezeife for their uninhibited disposition against maladministration of the country over the years and to strengthen the advocacy for the emergence of a Nigerian leader of Igbo extraction in 2023.
According to him, “Posterity will not be kind to us, if we are not here today to thank you for your vociferous stance against insecurity, maladministration, corruption, and mis-governance in this country.”
“We want to use this medium to reinstate and reinforce our commitment to the progress, peace, security and unity of this country. We also want to use this medium reassure you categorically that as Northern youths that we are committed to power shift to the Southeastern part of this country.
“Since our return to democracy, the Southwest and the North have had their turns at the presidency. So, it is equitable and in the interest of justice and peace of this country that Igbos should have their turn in 2023. That is the only way, we can say Nigeria is a just nation and our our leaders believe in justice and equity.”
In his remarks, Ezeife said Nigeria will experience an explosive growth and development under an Igbo president.
The octogenarian said, “It has become clear that the problem of Nigeria is with older politicians who have lost their consciences and are just plundering the treasury of the country. I thank you for telling the truth to everyone that power should shift to the Southeast, when it does, we shall engage in explosive growth and development of this country.
“Thank you for fully endorsing power shift to the Southeast. You will not regret it. Nigeria will become what God destined it to be. Chief Edwin Clark and Ayo Adebanjo are people we should listen to, so that this country will move up. They are also singing it, as a song, that power should shift to the Southeast in 2023.”
The elder statesman, nonetheless, harped on the need for a political solution to the Biafra agitation rather than carry-on as though the issues behind the demand for secession by members of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, were inconsequential.
“We (Igbos) are committed to Nigeria, but the present government has been behaving as though they want to push us out of Nigeria, and our sons and young ones are crying. We must understand what IPOB is doing,” he said.
Speaking further on the controversial issue of secession by the south-east, Ezeife categorically said: “We (Igbos) don’t want to quit Nigeria. We are not going to quit Nigeria for any person. We built up this country. We are going to stay in this country to make it a powerhouse.”
Others at the event included two former Ministers of Education; Profs. Fabian Osuji and S. C Madubuike; Secretary-General of Ime-Obi Ohanaeze, Prof. Charles Nwekeaku; among several leading Igbo scholars and traditional title holders.