There are indications that stakeholders and interest groups are now piling pressure on the apex socio-cultural Igbo group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, to end their silence and declare in categorical terms, their stand on Peter Obi’s presidential bid.
This apparently became necessary following the open declarations made by similar socio-cultural groups from the North, Middle-belt and the South-West in support of Obi’s presidential bid.
It would be recalled that NEF was the first to bell the cat shortly after the primaries of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and the opposition parties elected their presidential candidates for the 2023 election.
The leader of NEF, Prof Ango Abdullahi, said that neither Ahmed Bola Tinubu nor Atiku Abubakar could fix Nigeria.
He said: “We still haven’t got the man who we think will fix Nigeria. What we have on the ground is not good enough. How can you look at Tinubu and Atiku to say they are the ones who will fix this country?
“They have been on the ground for the last 25, 30 years and so on. What have they done? What are we looking for?
Giving the reason behind Afenifere’s endorsement of Obi, the leader, Pa Ayo Adebanjo said it was based on equity and fairness, adding that it would bring about peace in the country.
Adebanjo said: “Yes, we have endorsed Peter Obi. My reason for supporting him is because based on equity and justice, the presidency should go to the South-East.
“That is what I have been saying. I have not changed my position on that. If you want peace and tranquility in this country; if you want the country to be united, we must do the right thing by ensuring the presidency goes to the South-East. I have no reason to change my stand.”
Prominent sons of the South East, who spoke with Sunday Telegraph on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue, said they were at a loss as to why the apex Igbo group has remained silent over their choice for the 2023 election.
Before the Presidential primaries of political parties, when the likes of David Umahi, Ogbonnaya Onu, Ken Nnamani, Rochas Okorocha, Emeka Nwajiuba, Peter Obi and several others were still in the race, Ohanaeze Ndigbo made a public declaration of their support and demanded for a president of Igbo extraction.
Ironically, not much has been heard from Ohanaeze since Obi became the Presidential standard-bearer of the Labour Party.
Not a few persons are eager to hear Ohanaeze declare the support for Obi and urge Ndigbo across-board to support him, at least, for the sake of equity and fairness is the power-sharing calculation of Nigeria.
Though, a school of thought has argued in defence of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, saying that Ohanaeze is apparently being careful not to portray the Obi presidency as an Igbo affair, instead of the Nigerian project it rightly is but other proponents insist that there is no middle ground in electoral politics. As such, the people should know for certain where Ohanaeze Ndigbo stands at this point in time.
However, the pan-Igbo sociocultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has explained why it did not engage in the business of endorsing any presidential candidate, especially Mr. Peter Obi, ahead of the 2023 presidential election in Nigeria.
Speaking exclusively to Sunday Telegraph in Enugu, weekend, the National Publicity Secretary of the group, Dr. Alex Ogbonnia, said Ohanaeze’s commitment to the realization of a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction was unwavering and irrevocable.
The apex Igbo group was responding to questions as to why it’s yet to endorse Mr. Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of Labour Party in the 2023 presidential election.
Ogbonnia said that since Obi is from South East, it was unnecessary pronouncing his endorsement, since Ohanaeze has not changed her advocacy that it was the turn of the region to produce Nigeria’s next president in 2023.
He said that the word ‘endorsement’ connotes doubt or uncertainty, hence those who are announcing their endorsement of Obi or any other candidate were merely clearing their doubt.
He said: “South East advocacy for a president of Igbo extraction still remains strong. It’s a project we started; as a matter of fact, it is the turn of South East to produce the next President.”
With regard to the comments by some prominent Igbo politicians or clergy against Obi’s presidential aspiration, the Ohanaeze spokesperson said it was an unfortunate development.
“Ohanaeze is supposed to be nonpartisan, but it’s unfortunate that some people will see the truth and be turning it upside down. It’s left to the person’s conscience.
“But it has been Ohanaeze’s advocacy that it is the turn of South East to produce the next president and on that we stand.
“The issue of endorsement is neither here nor there; endorsement is even when there is doubt, when you are in doubt. When you endorse, you say the doubt is cleared. You don’t begin to endorse yourself. When somebody endorses from the North, it’s to let you know that he is committed and has cleared the doubt.
“But there is nobody who will be in doubt of the position of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Nigeria,” he said