Nonsochukwu Uwa, Owerri
Ahead of the 2023 presidential election, the former president of Nigeria, Goodluck Jonathan, on Saturday called on Nigerians to vote for the presidential candidate of any political party that believes in the unity of Nigeria.
Jonathan made this call at the lecture series to mark the 80th birthday of Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, which took place in Owerri, with the theme “Igbo Quest for Nigeria’s Unity.”
The former president said: “Ahead of the election, politicians must cut and deemphasise on our differences. Especially, the youths should come out and vote for those who believe in the unity of Nigeria. Let us work as one and everybody will have a sense of belonging.”
Extolling the celebrant, Jonathan said, “Iwuanyanwu is a man of many colours and a meticulous investor whose positive story would guide the leaders of the country. Iwuanyanwu is a man of victory and his songs tell a story he has continued to place unity above parochial interest.”
In his speech, the chief host and the Governor of Imo State, Hope Uzodimma, said, “Ndigbo loves Nigeria and the evidence is everywhere. Igbos love Nigeria fervently with all their heart. The problem is that the Igbos saw that Nigeria does not reciprocate that same love they have for Nigeria. Despite the harsh policies and negative effects of the civil war the Igbos rose and embraced a united Nigeria.”
However, the governor also said: “Igbos have flaws. We are weak in negotiations. We always believe we can do it alone. The Igbo can achieve presidency through negotiations.”
While delivering a lecture on the theme: “The Igbo quest for Nigeria’s unity” the guest lecturer, former President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Nnia Nwodo, insisted that, “no attempt should be made to force Igbos out of political relevance; we are as qualified as other Nigerians and Nigeria needs all of us now.
“We must stop brooding over what has happened to us in the past, we can still make a country. Our industry and acceptability are evidence of our preparedness to serve and our quest for Nigeria’s unity is unswerving.”
“Iwuayanwu was a victim of imperialism. He has continued to project dialogue for the betterment of Igbos in Nigeria. The Igbos have heavily invested in many areas including the economy, entertainment and others.
“Igbos we’re doing great then because of the evolution of power. Nigeria cannot pacify the Igbos or the northern Christians who have been relegated to second-class citizens. The only way out is for us to return to what was before, that is restructuring, so that our people can manage their economy.”
The Secretary General of Afenifere, Shola Oduseni, said: “It is not the fault of others that the Igbos could not produce the president. It is the problem of the constitution. Just like the entire South-East has 95 local government areas. If we go to Kano and one other state, they have more local governments than the entire South-East region.”
The representative of the Middle Belt Forum, Birtrus Pogu, in a brief remark said the region had agreed to support Igbos to produce the next president of the country. “We have agreed that we will support the Igbos for presidency come 2023. We decided because of marginalisation.”