Ahead of the 2023 presidential election, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization has advised the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to stop stoking ethnic tension and rather “speak in a manner that will truly unify Nigeria”
Ohanaeze Ndigbo was reacting to a viral video where the PDP presidential candidate appeared to be openly playing the “ethnic card” by urging Northerners to vote for a Northern candidate, not a Yoruba or Igbo candidate.
Atiku had while speaking at an event in Kaduna on Saturday declared that, “What the average Northerner needs is somebody who’s from the north and also understands that part of the country and has been able to build bridges across the country.
“This is what the Northerner needs, it doesn’t need a Yoruba or Igbo candidate, I stand before you as a Pan-Nigerian of northern origin.”
However, in a statement issued this Sunday morning, by its Secretary-General, Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, Ohanaeze Ndigbo condemned the former Vice President’s utterances, which it described as “stoking ethnic tension”
The statement reads in part:
“We find it very weird and disappointing that an elder statesman and a presidential candidate, in the person of a one-time Vice Presidential candidate of Nigeria could mount the podium at a public function and play such an ethnic card.
“We are worried that at such a time Nigeria is seeking for a unifier, Atiku appears to be pushing stoking ethnic tension. This indeed casts serious doubts on his capacity to lead and unite this country, which is already terribly divided today and in need of genuine healing and reconciliation.
The apex Igbo group added that the G-5 Governors led by Nyesom Wike have been proved to be the true lover of the country.
According to him, “we can see that the party has even suspended the presidential campaign after the flag-off in Uyo recently. All is not well with the team PDP.
“How can trust anyone trust a man who said he is a stepping stone for the actualization of the South East presidency in the future, only to do a volte face, within 48 hours, to offer the same Presidency to Governor Wike? It’s absurd to see how the PDP’s Presidential team now hawks counterfeit promises.
“For the sake of equity and the continued corporate existence of Nigeria, Governor Wike’s group should sustain the Ayu Must Go campaign. Since Atiku, in contravention of the North – South zoning arrangement enshrined in the PDP constitution went ahead to contest in the party’s presidential primaries and emerge therefrom as the party’s Presidential flag bearer, it is only fair that Senator Iyorcha Ayu gives up his seat as National Chairman to a Southerner, more specifically, to a South Westerner.
“Without that, the PDP can no longer to be a National party. As Governor Seyi Makinde of Oyo State pointed out recently, “Perhaps, having the candidate (Atiku) from the North East, the National Chairman (Ayu) from the North Central and the Director General of the Presidential Campaign Council (Tambuwal) from the North West is “zoning”. Unfortunately, the current leadership of the PDP appear not to understand that the statement was made as mockery of the new definition of zoning by the PDP, as a wholly Northern affair.
Going further, Ohanaeze Ndigbo noted that Atiku made such an ethnically charged statement in Kaduna because his Southern acolytes were afraid of calling him to order.
“It is evident that Atiku was emboldened in his divisive and unfortunate statement in Kaduna by the fact that his Southern acolytes are afraid of calling him to order.
“Finally, while calling on the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, and the National Peace Committee under Gen. Abdulsalam Abubakar to prevail on the PDP flag bearer to be more circumspect in his speech, we urge other presidential Frontliners like Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Mr Peter Obi of the Labour Party and Engr Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, NNPP to refrain from toeing such divisive and ethnic lines. There will still be Nigeria, after the 2023 Presidential elections”