A group pushing for the emergence of a president of South-eastern extraction, the South East Mandate, has berated Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State and his Abia State colleague, Okezie Ikpeazu respectively, over Sunday’s endorsement of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, as the presidential candidate of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP) in the 2023 elections.
The endorsement, the group claims, is against the national advocacy for a specifically South East/Igbo President.
The group lamented that while most Igbos are campaigning for the South East geopolitical zone be given a chance to produce the next President of Nigeria in 2023, the two governors of the PDP in the zone, Ugwuanyi and Ikpeazu, have already thrown their support for Wike.
This, a source in the group says, is tantamount to betrayal of the Igbo cause.
According to one to the source, “Wike was in Enugu on Sunday March 27, 2022, in company of Okezie Ikpeazu, among others, where he attended the Enugu State special PDP Stakeholders meeting organized by Ugwuanyi, as Guest of Honour. The meeting was attended by several Enugu State PDP leaders, including the Speaker, Edward Obosi, and Members of the House of Assembly. National Vice Chairman of the PDP, South East zone, Ali Odefa and the Enugu State Chairman of the party, Augustine Nnamani. Members of Enugu State National Assembly caucus, and other senior stakeholders and leaders, were also in attendance.
“At the prompting of Ugwuanyi, the meeting adopted a resolution to endorse Wike as their candidate for the PDP presidential ticket for the 2023 election. Shortly after, the two governors, manouvered the Southeast Zonal Executive Committee meeting, held on Sunday March 27 at the Enugu State Government House, to adopt a resolution calling for the zoning of the presidential ticket of the PDP to the South, a move which fits nicely into Wike’s game plan. There was no mention of the South East. Ikpeazu, who on Wednesday 23rd March hosted PDP Governors overnight at his Umuobiakwa village estate, where strategies for the Wike campaign were fine-tuned, is expected soon to organize an Abia PDP Stakeholders meeting, where Nyesom Wike will be endorsed as the Abia candidate for PDP Presidential ticket.
“Unsuspecting participants of the Enugu meeting are already expressing regret at the betrayal of the Igbo Presidency Project. The South East Mandate is hereby calling on Ndigbo to rise and condemn this act of betrayal by Ugwuanyi and Ikpeazu. We demand that all political parties in the country pick their 2023 presidential candidates from the Southeast. South East region has sacrificed a lot and must be allowed to produce the next President of the country.”
Another source added, “It is particularly insulting to the sensitivities of the South East, that Wike has serially denied any sociocultural affiliations with the Igbos, but the two PDP governors in the zone have been bought over by the legendary generosity of the Rivers State Governor who by our account, spontaneously made money available to the meeting at Enugu, in exchange for his jaundiced, inconsequential endorsement”.
The organisation has been at the forefront of the advocacy for a president from Igboland, the Igbos being the singular ethnic group in the South East of Nigeria, with kinsmen in Delta State and parts of Rivers State. In the post-civil war political history of Nigeria, the Igbos have never produced either a military Head of State, or a civilian President. The recognition of the Igbos at that level of governance, has been restricted to the position of Vice President of the country in the person of Dr Alex Ekwueme between 1979 and 1983, and Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, who served as Chief of General Staff, the deputy to Nigeria’s former military President, General Ibrahim Babangida, between 1985 and 1986, respectively.
At the last count, about half a dozen presidential aspirants have emerged from the South East of Nigeria, across party lines, in the runup to the 2023 presidential election. They include Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State, who was also running mate to Atiku Abubakar at the 2019 election; Anyim Pius Anyim, former President of the Senate and former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, (SGF), respected and Sam Ohuabunwa, former Chairman of Neimeth Pharmaceuticals of Nigeria. David Umahi, Governor of Ebonyi State; Rochas Okorocha, immediate past Governor of Imo State and incumbent Senator, and Kingsley Moghalu, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN), have also thrown their hats into the ring.