A leading pan Igbo organization, Igbo Leadership Development Foundation (ILDF), has lambasted Senator Gabriel Suswan, representing Benue North-East on his statement that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) would zone the office of President to the North again in 2023, advising him not to insult Igbo sensibilities.
The group accused the Senator and some “uncanny and overly ambitious interests” in the leading opposition party of “flying a dangerous kite that would finally sink the PDP”.
Suswam had in an exclusive interview on Sunday, held that since the PDP failed to win the 2019 presidential election which is zoned to the North, the party would still retain the ticket in the region since it did not win.
But in a statement signed by its Director of Public Affairs, Dr. Law Mefor, and released to newsmen in Abuja yesterday, ILDF queried the rationale behind his claim that the PDP was bound to zone the President to the North in 2023.
It added that such utterances and scheming go a long way in confirming that lack of commitment to a single term for the party’s candidate in 2019 in order to field a South East candidate in 2023 was the reason the PDP sidelined the party’s southeast leaders immediately after the Port Harcourt National Convention and Presidential Primaries.
“The fact that the Senator Ike Ekweremadu-led PDP Post-Election Review Panel, in its wisdom, zoned the 2019 presidential ticket to the North to assuage the region’s feelings over the earlier breach of the zoning formula and to ensure that a fellow Northerner squared up with President Muhammadu Buhari, does not in any way mean that the ticket is now resident in the North.
“Feigning ignorance of the fact that the dynamics that informed the 2019 zoning have absolutely changed because the North has had two straight terms under President Buhari is most unfortunate.
“It is saddening that Susawan and his drummers ignored the monumental contributions of the South East to the fortunes of the PDP since its inception by sticking with the party through thick and thin. The region has not only contributed immensely to the party’s presidential victories in four straight presidential elections but was also the bastion of the opposition and rebuilding of the party since 2015.”
The body faulted Suswan’s idea of power rotation and warned the lawmaker and the PDP against taking the support of the South East and the South generally for granted.
“The South East has not been given the chance to fly the PDP flag or to produce Nigerian President since the return of democracy in 1999.
“The bottom line is that power has stayed for two terms in the North and has to move South in the spirit of rotation, zoning, and national unity. The southeast has not been given the chance to fly the PDP flag or to produce Nigerian President since 1999 despite its huge contributions to PDP’s electoral fortunes.
“Suswan must, therefore, wake up from this daydream and treacherous path and the PDP should bear in mind that it is not the only national political party. The southeast would not think twice to follow en-masse a credible alternative under which they can realize their aspiration of leading the country since the end of the civil war”, the statement concluded.
Recall that the Igbo Leadership Development Foundation had in March this year organized a National Conversation attended by many national and regional leaders in Abuja, where it made a strong case for a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction to heal old wounds and strengthen the unity of the nation.
PDP has not zoned its 2023 presidency — PDP youths, PANPIEC
Also reacting to Suswan’s position, the PDP National Youth Coalition, a pressure group within the PDP has stated that the party has not zoned its 2023 Presidency to any zone contrary to the comment by the former Benue State governor, Gabriel Suswan that it has been zoned to the North. The national coordinator of the group, Edomobi Promise noted that the PDP is a party built on justice and will make a decision that will reflect the mood of the nation and not the whims and caprices of a single individual.
He warned some chieftains of the party to stop making statements that do not reflect the view of the party.
In his reaction, the Spokesman of the Pan Nigeria Presidency of Igbo Extraction Coalition, the umbrella body of all groups championing the Nigeria Presidency of Igbo extraction in 2023, Prince Uche Erondu noted that ex-Governor Suswam’s comment was uncharitable at this point when Nigerians are trying to build national healing and consensus by ensuring an Igbo succeeds President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.
He noted that the PDP key organs have not made such a statement, wondering who is behind Governor Suswam. He expressed hope that nobody is using the ex-governor to test the waters, advising that such is not in the best interest of the nation.
He directed the Benue State chapter and North Central chapters of PANPIEC to reach the ex-governor to find out why he made such a disturbing comment.
IPOB should key into 2023 elections — Ogbonnia, APC chieftain
In a related development, a former presidential aspirant under the platform of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Dr. SKC Ogbonnia, has advised the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, and other Pro-Biafra organizations to play an active role in the 2023 elections and ensure that an Igbo becomes Nigeria president.
Ogbonnia said that pro-Biafra groups should key into the growing democratic revolution in Nigeria, by participating in Nigeria elections so as to uproot the status quo across Nigeria and ensure that good people are elected to positions of power.
He noted that whereas IPOB and other Pro-Biafra groups deserve profound praise for recognizing that the real enemies of Ndigbo are within the people, they should equally recognize that the real battle belongs at the polling booths.
“Therefore, instead of banal threats of election boycotts, which only serve to dis-franchise the ordinary people, the IPOB should key into a growing democratic revolution to uproot the status quo across Nigeria to ensure that good person is elected to positions of power. These political positions, of course, include the 2023 presidency which, by equitable consensus, is the turn of the South-East zone,” Ogbonnia said.
In a statement issued on Monday, Ogbonnia advised that instead of fraternizing with property acquisitions outside Biafra land by the Igbo, IPOB could capitalize on its overflowing influence to mitigate the suffering of its masses, by leading an investment revolution at home.