Notable personalities from the Southeast, under the aegis of Igbo Elders Consultative Forum, IECF, have insisted that their geopolitical zone must produce the next president of Nigeria.
They also threatened heavy sanctions against any Igbo politician who accepts to be presidential running mate to any person outside the Southeast zone.
The Chairman of the forum and former Governor of Anambra State, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, made the remarks while speaking to journalists in Abuja on Wednesday.
Present at the briefing were the former Minister of Education; Prof. S. C Madubuike; Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo (FCT chapter), Dr. Nkonye Kingsley; His Royal Majesty, Igwe Ibe Nwosu, among several leading Igbo scholars and traditional title holders.
Ezeife insisted that it is either the Southeast is allowed to produce the Nigeria’s next president in 2023 or the region will quit the country.
He said, “Emboldened by the increasing demand and support by credible and patriotic Nigerians for power to shift to the South in 2023, the Igbo Elders Forum hereby encourages visionary, credible and creative presidential materials of South East zone to declare their intension for Presidency and pursue it with every sense of seriousness, vigour and commitment.
“We are very serious about this directive, and do not mean those unserious bootlickers, who are angling to be running mates to candidates from other parts of the country, as the Igbos will not take it lightly with any of our sons or daughters who accept to be running mates to any person outside the South East zone in 2023.
“It is either we are allowed to produce the president of this country in 2023 to change the appalling narrative of continued decay, poverty, insecurity, poor governance, corruption and maladministration in Nigeria or out of it. No half measure, as serious sanctions will be visited on any Igbo man or woman that sabotages this noble and patriotic decision of our people to provide for Nigeria a credible, visionary and creative president.
“Legally, morally, and strategically, it is the turn of the Southeast to produce the next president of the country as the other zones have been given the opportunity to serve this country in that capacity.”
Ezeife also argued that it is not just for the sake of equity, justice and fairness, but also for a change of narrative of Nigeria, which he described as the sleeping giant of Africa.
In the same vein, the Secretary of IECF, Prof. Charles Nwekeaku, warned that any political party that does not zone its presidential ticket to the Southeast will lose the region’s votes.
“We are waiting for them (political parties), as they will meet their Waterloo this time, if they insist on shortchanging the Southeast people this rare opportunity of producing a credible, patriotic, detribalised and dynamic president of Nigeria in 2023,” he said.