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The recent call by former President Olusegun Obasanjo that the Igbo should produce the next President of the country in 2019 remained topical on Sunday in Abuja as senior Igbo members of the National Assembly differed on the issue.
The former President had made the call in his Abeokuta hilltop home last Tuesday when the leaders of the Ogun State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria paid him a visit.
However, among some of the Igbo lawmakers in the National Assembly, there was no uniformity of opinions on the views expressed by the former President.
While the Chairman of the Imo State caucus, Mr. Nnana Igbokwe, doubted the possibility of the zone producing the President in 2019, the Chairman, House Committee on Works, Mr. Toby Okechukwu, welcomed the idea.
Igbokwe simply told The PUNCH that the zone did not have a platform to produce a President.
He also observed that the North would block the idea for the reason of wanting to take eight straight years at the Presidency.
But, Okechukwu, who is from Enugu State, held the view that the Igbo had been prepared since independence in 1960 to lead Nigeria.
“It is not a bad idea for us to produce the President in 2019. The South-East has the capacity, whether manpower or resources to be the President of this country.
“Since 1960, we have been ready to lead this country. All that is required is for all Nigerians to buy into the idea.
“To become the President, it is the project of all sections of Nigeria, not just the South-East,” he added.
Another House of Representatives from the South-East, Mr. Jerry Alagbaoso, opted not to comment on the development until he had read and “digested” Obasanjo’s remarks.
Also, members of the South-East caucus in the Senate also differed on Obasanjo’s call for Igbo presidency in 2019.
Senator Joseph Ogba (Ebonyi Central) said the ex-President was right that the South-East geopolitical zone was overdue to take a shot at the Presidency.
He however said the Igbo might need to contest for the office after the North had spent two terms of eight years.
He said, “I thank former President Obasanjo for that comment. It is true that the Igbo are qualified for the Presidency. But it is good for us to follow the gentleman agreement. The North will take their eight years before it comes to the South-East. If you want to shut them (North) down after four years, I don’t think they will be happy about it. And anything that can further divide this country should not be encouraged.”
But, Senator Sunday Ogbuoji (Ebonyi South) dismissed Obasanjo’s campaign for Igbo presidency, alleging that the ex-President had previously blocked the South-East from the Presidency politically.
He said, “As Obasanjo is campaigning for us for the Presidency in 2019, is he not aware that President Muhammadu Buhari is still interested in running again in 2019? Is it that he has fallen apart with his bossom friend and younger colleague, Buhari, that he now wants to take the presidency from him?”
Also, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu North) stated that Obasanjo would not determine the future of the Igbo politically. He stated that the South-East would take its shot at the Presidency when the opportunity comes.
“I don’t want to join Obasanjo in his politics. The Igbo are focused and they know what they want. We won’t wait for Obasanjo to tell us to be President. And at the appropriate time, we will put our house in order and take a step forward on how we are going to prioritise our objectives on the leadership of this country,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Enugu State Chapter of the All Progressives Congress on Sunday also rejected Obasanjo’s suggestion that the South-East should produce the country’s President in 2019.
The Publicity Secretary of the party in Enugu State, Mrs. Kate Offor, who spoke to journalists while welcoming a former Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani, and other new entrants in the South-East to the APC, said the Igbo would wait for President Buhari to complete two terms of four years before having a shot at the Presidency.