The Director-General of Voice of Nigeria (VON) and Chieftain of All Progressive Congress (APC), Mr. Osita Okechukwu, has urged Ndigbo to accept the offer of President Muhammadu Buhari who said that Igbos will be better off if he is re-elected as it will be the turn of Ndiigbo to be President come 2023.
Last week at Owerri, President Buhari through the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, for the second time offered Ndigbo the olive branch by reminding them that it would be their turn to produce President of Nigeria of Igbo extraction in 2023, going by the zoning convention.
Mustafa, however, noted that the realisation of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction lay on the support of Ndigbo for President Buhari in 2019.
Answering questions on the raging issue of rAPC from journalists in Enugu on Sunday, Okechukwu brushed the emergence of the rAPC aside and urged Ndigbo to pluck the olive branch offered by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Prodded further on what he meant by olive branch, Mr. Okechukwu recalled that at Owerri last week, President Buhari via the SGF, Mr. Boss Mustapha, for the second time offered Ndigbo the olive branch, by reminding them that going by the zoning convention, it would be their turn to produce President of Nigeria of Igbo extraction in 2023.
Quoting the SGF, “2019 will make or mar the aspiration of Igbo nation. I am calling on the Igbo to make a paradigm shift and think seriously of their position. The choice is that of the Igbo nation. What happens in 2019 will determine the future of the region. The presidency of Nigeria is negotiable and can only be done in the position of strength and the strength of the Igbo will be determined by 2019 support for Buhari.’’
Okechukwu described the statement made by the SGF as a wake-up call and an olive branch by President Buhari to Ndigbo.
“In simplicita, it translates to Ndigbo vote for Mr. President in 2019 and the president is for Ndigbo in 2023. Methinks, this is the most pragmatic and fastest route to Nigeria President of Igbo extraction and hence enlistment of Ndigbo into the mainstream of Nigeria’s political landscape. It will automatically end long years’ sulk of marginalisation and fully integrate our dear country,” he said.
On the position of pundits that President Buhari does not like Ndigbo, Okechukwu recalled that twice Buhari chose Igbo sons as his running mates in 2003 and 2007 – Rt. Hons Chuba Okadigbo and Edwin Umezoke – both of blessed memory and if Ndigbo had voted for him (Buhari), with his vote-bank of 12 million, he could have won.
He maintained that Igbo vote was the missing link then and even today, so they must make a paradigm shift and think out of the box.
Asked how to convince Ndigbo who are clamouring for restructuring to vote for Buhari in view of the tenuous situation in the country? Okechukwu quipped, “Beware of propaganda and campaign taunts, 95 per cent of those clamouring for restructuring are for one Nigeria. The herdsmen/farmers clash will soon stop. Therefore, not only that Buhari is the only Northerner who constitutionally has four years left; methinks that no other Northerner will do better than him, as per restructuring and especially critical infrastructure, given his integrity quotient.”
On the debate whether the North will allow the zoning convention to subsist after 2023, he said Nigerians and Ndigbo, in particular, should not forget that it was the Northern political elites who out of enlightened patriotism, peace and harmony of our dear country, that initiated the zoning convention.
According to Independent news, Mr. Osita Okechukwu insisted, “What is expected of Ndigbo is to vote for Buhari, if not, the South West, which had adopted the President, would triumph.”
“But if we vote Buhari, we will then appeal to both the South and North to support Igbo candidate. For Ndigbo have equity and natural justice on our side, being the only geopolitical zone in the South which had not benefited from the zoning convention since its inception in 1999.
“Let’s vote for Buhari in 2019 and pluck the olive branch of President of Nigeria of Igbo extraction in 2023. It is more pragmatic and surreal. It’s what Zik would do if he was alive,” Okechukwu said.