Following the release of 2019 general elections timetable by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Osita Okechukwu, the Director General of Voice of Nigeria, VON, has called on the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, John Nwodo, to be more pragmatic, strategic and introspective in advancing the interest of the hard working, enterprising and itinerant Ndigbo.
Mr. Okechukwu agreed that there are fault lines, but said it should not warrant abuses and stone throwing when President Muhammadu Buhari had congratulated Nwodo and offered an olive branch.
Entertaining questions from journalists in Enugu at the weekend, Mr. Okechukwu explained that Mr. Nwodo should have compiled all the grievances of Ndigbo and take a date with President Buhari for discussion, rather than resorting to name calling and abuses.
“Is this how to regain lost grounds? Chief Nwodo wants to repeat the costly mistake of Dr Joe Nworgu and the former president who up to date had not replied the letter Buhari wrote to Ohaneze on 7th November, 2014, requesting for a meeting before the 2015 presidential election.
“I pleaded with them to simply, or even with courtesy reply him and set a meeting where the checklist of Ndigbo will be discussed. A strategic meeting which could be the decider of whether to support Buhari or Jonathan,” Mr. Okechukwu said.
Mr. Okechukwu however re-affirmed the commitment of President Muhammadu Buhari towards fulfilment of his promise to revamp Enugu coal, which has potentials of creating employment on a large scale in the South-East.
He equally dismissed as “baseless and unfounded” claims by former Central Bank Governor, Charles Soludo, that Buhari made the country’s already bad economy worse.
He asked Mr. Soludo to explain to Nigerians while under his watch, CBN ran an economic policy that made banks owned by less than one per cent of Nigerians grow astronomically while 99 percent of the people nosedived into abject poverty.
Reiterating his position on the debate over whether Ndigbo should contest for presidency in 2019 or 2023, Mr. Okechukwu said the best thing for Ndigbo is to vote for Buhari in 2019 and then rely on the zoning convention to harvest the benefits in 2013 presidency.
Mr. Okechukwu said Ndigbo did not vote for President Buhari in 2015 and payback time has come again for them to reciprocate the North by voting him in 2019 and then reap the benefits in 2023.
“There are two contending issues in the political domain. One is the law with its legal teeth. It is written. It can pull down any mountain. The other one is the convention. It is not written but with its moral weight, it can also pull down mountains. 1999 to 2007 is eight years. Forget that something happened with the death of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, otherwise it would have been another eight years by the North. So, there is a convention.
“So, for Igbo presidency to be germane, we must key into the convention. So that we could harvest the goodwill on our side because we have done a small analysis; when you come to Lagos and ask any indigene of Lagos to stay on one side and the next ethnic group, it is the Igbos. When you come to Kano, you tell the truly Kano indigenes to stay one side, the next group is where? Ndigbo.
“We are only third in four states – Edo, Kwara, Niger, Kaduna is contentious between Yorubas or Ndigbo! We are one of the most acceptable groups in the country. So, the country is waiting for us.
“The convention has weight and mark you, like I told some Northern friends, the Igbo president will be a win-win situation because the Igboman will accommodate all sections.
“And he will bring the entrepreneurship to bear on the economy and the growth of the country. I told them that it is going to be useful to the whole country if a proper Igboman becomes President, not a lackey. We should look for the best within our crowd.
“So, my position is that my people might be in a hurry, yes. But at my age, 62 years, one will not jump in on sentiments. I don’t have foresight. That is why I rely on hindsight. Hindsight in the sense that the NADECO struggle consequent on MKO Abiola annulled mandate made the Northern political elite to say, “If we don’t go south, there might be no country. Let us go south, especially the South-West, which was the foundation of the rotation convention.”