IMO State Governor Rochas Okorocha has urged Igbo leaders to avoid what he called indiscriminate adoption of candidates ahead of the 2019 general elections without considering its implication.
Okorocha, who spoke on the background of the reported endorsement of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) candidate Atiku Abubakar by a section of Igbo leaders, warned that such action could be costly
He stated that President Muhammadu Buhari will still win the election.
Okorocha’s stance came as more Nigerians expressed mixed reaction on the Igbo leaders’ endorsement of Atiku.
A statement issued by the Imo State governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Sam Onwuemeodo, read in part: “Following the reported adoption of the PDP presidential candidate by Igbo leaders led by Prof. Ben Nwabueze, Governor Okorocha has advised the leaders and other relevant groups in Igboland to toe the path of wisdom and avoid the indiscriminate adoption of candidates.”
Onwuemeodo quoted the governor as saying: “My advice is that Igbo leaders should toe the path of wisdom and should not come again adopting a candidate. Mine is an advice that the Igbos should be careful not to play the same type of very bad politics we played in the past, which most of the times, kept us in political wilderness.
“As a people, we must be wise now and never foreclose the possibility of any presidential candidate becoming the President tomorrow.
The governor stated: “I am here also to inform the whole world that I am still in APC and the APC candidate for Orlu Zone Senatorial election. Nothing has changed towards that. This is to correct some misinformation and rumours that might be going on from time to time in some quarters. I believe in this APC and I founded APC and will remain in APC to ensure victory for the party in the forthcoming elections. I support President Buhari’s presidential ambition one hundred per cent and I am convinced that he will emerge victorious in the 2019 general election.”
Okorocha asked the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to verify the court order brought by Chief Hope Uzodinma for which he was listed as the Imo State APC governorship candidate.
He said the verification became necessary “to find out the authenticity or otherwise of the court order”, insisting that the court order in question might have been forged.
Also yesterday, Voice of Nigeria (VON) Director-General Osita Okechukwu frowned at the endorsement of Atiku and Peter Obi joint ticket by some eminent Igbo leaders.
Okechukwu said no matter the level of endorsement, Buhari stands a better chance in the forthcoming 2019 presidential election.
The VON boss, who is also an APC chieftain, described the development as “not the most viable option”.
Okechukwu said: “Without being immodest, Professor Nwabueze and co’s option is 2nd rate to Igbo presidency in 2023, if actually they want to finally address the age long marginalisation of Ndigbo and create sense of belonging…
“On the serious side of the political coin, one can sincerely state that there is no better way to once and for all create a sense of belonging for Ndigbo better than harvesting the rotation of president convention. By extension, there is no better way to actualising level playing field, equity and natural justice than voting for Buhari in 2019, as voting for him will make his supporters to vote for us. His cult followership is mostly from the North. He is “Ekwom Ibe”, meaning a man trusted by his people. And when we talk of 2023, Buhari’s remaining four years is cast in constitutional stone more than Atiku’s pledge.”
But the Lagos State chapter Chairman of the Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR), Roy Olokungboye, said as far as he was concerned, “it is a free world and every Nigerian is free to support any candidate of their choice”.
A chieftain of Anambra State All Progressives Congress (APC) Chief Charles Amilo, believes the Igbo leaders committed a political blunder by endorsing Atiku.
He said: “They have made a big mistake; they are taking their personal hatred for Buhari too far. This is a time to stand akimbo, otherwise the support for Peter Obi might be a worse disaster, compared to what happened when they followed former President Goodluck Jonathan sheepishly.”
National Chairman of the United Progressive Party (UPP), Chief Chekwas Okorie, does not subscribe to the view that what took place in Enugu on Wednesday was an Igbo endorsement of Atiku.
He said: “I would not describe what happened in Enugu yesterday as a support of the Igbo for Atiku. The endorsement that took place yesterday was done by Igbo people in the PDP and their traditional partners called the CUPP, particularly those who benefitted immensely from the PDP government.”
Former Lagos State Police Commissioner. Abubakar Tsav said those who endorsed Atiku in the Southeast have their reasons.
He said: “We are in a democracy and everybody is free to support anyone they like. But, we should not be carried away; those who endorsed Atiku have their reasons for doing so.
“Atiku served under Obasanjo and the former President has given us a report on him in his recent books, where he described his former deputy as corrupt. The point is, the man has a lot of money to spend. If we recollect during the PDP convention, where he emerged, there were reports of dollars exchanging hands.”
Lagos State All Progressives Congress (APC) chieftain Lanre Razak said Nigeria has passed the stage of politics based on ethnic colouration or support.
“The Igbo leaders should be more patriotic and more Nigerian than being sectional. Rather than saying that the entire Igbo nation is supporting one party or leader, they should be more liberal in their disposition,” Razak said.
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