ABUJA — AS the clamor for a President of Igbo extraction in 2023 continues to gather momentum, the Minister of State, Education, Hon Emeka Nwajiuba has urged the South East to exercise caution in its quest or campaign for the “Igbo Presidency”.
Hon. Nwajiuba also advised the people to make sure that whoever they will be presenting in the 2023 election would be someone that will be accepted by every part of the country.
Speaking to journalists in his office, in Abuja, while reacting to the agitations for a president from the South-East extraction, the Minister argued that other ethnic groups that had produced Nigeria’s president never associated it with the name of their tribes.
He said that in previous presidential elections in the country, no aspirants from the South East had been barred from contesting for the position of president, adding that persons from the zone at one time or the other, had vied for the presidential ticket of their parties.
He further said that if the Presidential aspirants from the South-East geopolitical zone had won, nobody would have denied them the position.
The Minister said in politics, no position is ceded as a gift, noting that in 2015, the only ethnic group that did not participate in the presidential primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was the Yoruba.
According to him, “Anybody talking about Igbo presidency should be careful because there was never a time we heard about Hausa presidency. When the Yoruba were contesting, we did not hear of Yoruba presidency, why is our own different?
“Remember that before Obasanjo won in 1999, he contested for the ticket against Ekwueme. There was never a time we as Igbo did not contest in the primaries, the only thing was that we were not voted.
“There is no time people involved in politics will cede a position to anybody. Up to 2015, the only tribe that did not contest for the APC primaries is the Yoruba, is it not true? The North West ran, North East ran, North Central vied, South East vied.
“If Owelle Rochas Okorocha had defeated Buhari in the 2015 APC primaries, are we going to be talking about Igbo presidency now? But what is important if the Igbo want to become president, it’s not for you to say it’s your turn.
“Anyday you bring out an aspirant that is acceptable to other Nigerians, that is the day you indeed want the position of president in Nigeria. All you need is the majority. Buhari won the APC primaries with 3,886 votes.
“That’s what we counted, I was a returning officer in that election. Kwakwanso came second, then Atiku, Rochas, then Nda-Isaiah. I can still recall these things.
“So there was never a time it was ceded to Buhari. The people that voted for Buhari outnumbered others in that primaries. So when we bring out an acceptable aspirant, he will eventually win. That is what you are supposed to start searching for now. Even if the Igbo cry from now till thy kingdom come, if they don’t bring out a person that is acceptable to other Nigerians, nothing happens.”
Hon. Nwajiuba recalled that in 1998 the late former Vice President during the Second Republic, Dr. Alex Ekwueme was winning in the presidential primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) but for the entry of Senator Jim Nwobodo in the race who shared the Southeast votes with Ekwueme thus depriving him of the PDP ticket.
The minister said the southeast knowing every one of their sons and daughters should embark on an introspective search for an acceptable aspirant else it would continue to bemoan its fate in Nigerian politics.