lder statesman and Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Alhaji Balarabe Musa, has berated the Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB) for putting spanners in the wheels of the quest for an Igbo presidency in 2023.
Reacting to the agitation for the zoning of the presidency to the South East on the heels of the attack by IPOB on Ike Ekweremadu last weekend, Musa said that he is among those canvassing for Igbo presidency in 2023, but that IPOB is making their job difficult.
Musa said: “They (IPOB) are now breeding enemies for the South East. We are campaigning for the presidency to go to the South East, even though zoning was introduced by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that we are opposed to. It is good for us as a country because it gives every person and area a sense of belonging.
“So we support the zoning and we are saying the presidency should go to the South East and we have our reason. Now, they are making our job even more difficult and they are not helping even the people in the South East .”
On the attack on Ike Ekweremadu, the former governor of old Kaduna State said: “IPOB is wrong to have attacked the former deputy president of the Senate. Even though we are opposed to them because they are a separatist organisation, because they are an organisation that wants to separate NIGERIA, but we also have sympathy for them because they have genuine grievances.
“They are now spoiling the little sympathy they have by doing what they did. It is uncalled for, the person they attacked is an individual, not an organisation. I think it’s wrong for them to have done so.
“They are also making it difficult for us. Even though we are opposed to them as a separatist group, we have sympathy for them because of their grievances. But this mindless violence is making them to lose sympathy. I expect them to be concerned with organisations, not individuals; they should engage individuals with reasons. They should stop this violence.”
Musa added: “The threat on the South East Governors is not worth it. As a separatist organisation like Afenifere, OPC, Northern Elders Forum and so on, these are separatist groups, what they are doing will further alienate them from people that have any sympathy for them.”
Also weighing in, Elder Statesman and former adviser to late former President Shehu Shagari, Mallam Tanko Yakasai said that the hostile position of the Igbo Nation to Northern Nigeria and not the attack on Ekweremadu would do damage to their ambition.
In a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, Tanko Yakasai, said: “Neither the Ndigbo collaboration with the Yorubas nor the entire South would make them realize their ambition, but the support of the entire country.
“The votes of the entire South can’t produce the president in 2023, neither would the North alone. We need one another, and the Igbos who are being favored by some elites are showing some uncompromising attitudes that would completely deny them the chance of producing the president.
“Although there are strong agitations to allow Igbos to have the 2023 bid, but that is within the elites. What happens to the downtrodden electorates? Northerners are not that stupid.”
Yakasai continued: “Talking about what happened to Ekweremadu, that has proven to the world that these people have problems and they cannot be trusted. That action has completely destroyed their legacies and integrity in global politics.
“Ekweremadu is a leader with no match in the entire South East in the current dispensation. Do not forget he was Deputy Senate President thrice and he has done all he could for the Igbos, but because of the behaviour of some, look at how they disgraced themselves.”
But the apex Igbo socio cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo differs. Rather, it said the Nuremberg, Germany show of shame would enhance the Igbo 2023 presidential ambition.
The Deputy National Publicity Secretary of the Pan Igbo group, Mazi Chuks Ibegbu, drew a parallel to similar attacks on former President Goodluck Jonathan by Ijaw youths as well as rejection of former President Olusegun Obasanjo by the Yorubas in 1999 and yet both still became presidents of Nigeria.
Ibegbu also argued that despite the terrorist activities of Boko Haram and the attendant killings and destruction of the economy of the North East and other parts of the North, both current president Muhammadu Buhari and late President Umaru Yar’Adua still became the president of Nigeria.
The Ohanaeze spokesperson said that the action of IPOB, though misguided to the extent that it was violent and targeted at the wrong person, will serve as wake up call for Igbo leaders, especially the governors, to rise to their responsibilities to the people that elected them into office.
He counseled IPOB not to use illegal means to address their grievances, noting that Ekweremadu was a victim of circumstance; as he had been at the forefront of the fight against the marginalization of Ndigbo and also one of those that secured the release of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB when he was detained.
“The attack by Ijaw militants on Jonathan did it stop him from becoming president. They attacked him. I was in Yenagoa the day they attacked him, attacked his house, sacked him from his house. Did it stop him from becoming president?
“The refusal of the Yoruba to support Obasanjo, did it stop him from becoming president? Yoruba voted against Obasanjo, they voted for Olu Falaye.
“Boko Haram militants and their killings did it stop Buhari and Yar’Adua from becoming presidents? Why must everything about Ndigbo, even we ourselves we start doubting ourselves?
“There is no effect. It (attack on Ekweremadu) will not stop the Igbo presidency; in fact, it will enhance it. How? Because these young men are not happy with the situation of things in the country. They are not happy that they are politically, economically and socially marginalized. They are venting their anger, although misguidedly. They are venting their misguided anger because I don’t think Ekweremadu deserves that treatment.
“Ekweremadu is seen as being at the forefront of de-marginalisation of Ndigbo. He was one of those that stood for the release of Nnamdi Kanu, he was one of those that worked against Operation Python Dance. So the attack on him was misguided. I think he was a victim of circumstance.
“My advice to IPOB is that they should not use illegal means to approach their grievances. I know they have grievances, but they should not use illegal means and unlawful means; and it will also be a lesson to those who are not doing anything in Igbo land.
“I’m aware some governors owe their workers’ salaries and pensions; I’m aware that infrastructures in some states are dilapidate. I don’t want to mention names. Our cities are dilapidated and the little money that comes to South East, they pocket it. So this is a warning to them that they should live up to expectation,” he said.