The Council of Elders, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, has said that rotating the country’s presidency within its six geo-political zones should be made constitutional for equity, justice and fairness going forward.
Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, chairman of the council, said this while briefing journalists at the end of its extraordinary meeting on Sunday in Abuja.
He said limiting the zoning of the country’s presidency to the North and South is vague and should therefore be discouraged.
Mr Iwuanyanwu said the council believes that if it was agreed that the presidency should be zoned to the South in 2023, since the South-west and South-south had produced the country’s presidents, it was now the turn of the South-east.
According to him, the South-east leaders did everything possible to convince the South-west and South-south leaders of the need for it to produce the country’s next president in 2023.
He said the leaders, including Middle Belt leaders, agreed that it was the turn of the South-east and even made public statements to support the Igbo presidency in 2023.
He added that while the leaders agreed that it was the turn of the South-east to produce the country’s next president at the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure in 2023, the political class took a contrary decision.
“The political class, unfortunately, took another decision which made us feel terribly betrayed, not by the elders, but by the political class.
“Because we are sure that the elders in the whole South and Middle Belt supported Igbo presidency in 2023.
“So it is our strong view that issues of zoning the presidency should be put in the Constitution and it should be rotated among the country’s six geo-political zones.
“The question of rotating the presidency between North and South is very vague, after all, the federal character is very glaring,” Mr Iwuanyanwu said.
He added that though the South-east geo-political zone was disappointed that none of the two major political parties zoned its presidential ticket to the region, it would not boycott the 2023 general elections as being speculated.
He said Nigerians of Igbo extraction are major stakeholders in the Nigerian project and the only tribe seen across the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) doing businesses and contributing to national development.
“We are not going to abandon Nigeria, we are the biggest investors in any part of the country, so we are not going to withdraw our participation in any political activities.
“We will fully participate in all political activities ahead of 2023 general elections, but we are going to watch and probably make a statement later.
“But let it be known to Nigerians that Igbos are going to fully participate in the 2023 general elections,” he said.
He, meanwhile, decried the situation where certain persons made claims on behalf of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, adding that the council had only one recognised structure, headed by George Obiozor, its president general, and Okey Emuchay, its general secretary.
“The Council of Elders, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, is worried that some people make reckless statements on behalf of Ohanaeze. Nigerians should ignore such persons.
“The only persons authorised to make statements on behalf of Ohanaeze are Professor George Obiozor and Ambassador Okey Emuchay,” Mr Iwuanyanwu said.
He added that the council had, however, passed a vote of absolute confidence on Mr Obiozor’s leadership because he was doing well.
He expressed concern over the current security problems in the country, saying that there was a need for the federal government to do more to address the situation before it gets out of hand.
He also expressed sadness over the recent killings of some worshipers at St. Francis Catholic Church Owo, Ondo State, noting that many of those killed were of Igbo extraction.
He said the council had directed that a letter of condolence should be sent to the Ondo State governor to express the views and support of the council to the people of the state.
“By our Constitution, Gov. Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State is our son-in-law and an honorary member of Ohanaeze because he is marrying our daughter so also their children,” Mr Iwuanyanwu said.
He further added that the council at the meeting, set up different committees to proffer ways of addressing issues affecting the South-east region, especially in areas of education, electricity and security among others.