Pro-democracy and rights activists from the South-East have frowned at what they called subterranean moves to return power to the South-West after the North completes its two-terms in May 2013, warning that any attempt to prevent the Igbo from producing the President could lead to the dismemberment of Nigeria.
The activists, under the umbrella of the South-East Based Coalition of Human Rights and Democracy Organizations (SBCHROs), said at the end of a special two-day meeting/session held from Saturday December 8 to Sunday December 9, 2018 in Onitsha, Anambra State, that they viewed with shock and dismay the recent comments credited to the former Governor of Lagos State and current Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Raji Fashola, that President Muhammadu Buhari would hand over the presidency to the South West in 2023 if he is reelected in next year’s general election.
The group observed that while former Governor Fashola urged the Southwest to vote for the President Buhari in the 2019 presidential poll so as to guarantee the return of the presidency to the Southwest in 2023, the former Anambra State Governor, Dr Chris Ngige, “deceitfully urged the Igbo to vote for the same Buhari” or lose the chance of producing the President of Nigeria in 2023.
“In the North, Senator Gumau Yahaya, representing the Bauchi South Senatorial District, had in August 2018 disclosed that his only mission in the Senate is ‘to make Buhari life President of Nigeria’. It is still unclear which of the Buahris he wanted or wants to make Nigeria’s life President in 2023.
“The contradictions inherent in the statements above are clear indications of how dishonest, parochial, cunning and desperate Nigerian politicians can be in matters of politics in Nigeria or when seeking for elective offices.”
The coalition urged eligible voters of the Southeast and the entire Igbo nation to ignore such deceitful comments or statements, stressing that the Igbo must resist any attempt to perpetuate the current Presidency of Nigeria in power beyond 2023 if it credibly wins the 2019 presidential poll or return any other region order than the South East to the presidency.
“It is either Igbo presidency in the next dispensation with re-constitutionalisation of the country or a referendum for total separation. The only non-tradable condition for the Igbo nation state to remain in Nigeria beyond 2023 is allowing and supporting the region to take a shot at the presidency in the next political dispensation.”
The communiqué of the two-day meeting also warned that “reckless use of criminal labeling and collateral violence by the Nigerian security agencies against innocent members of the Nigerian public, particularly the unarmed and defenseless pro-Biafra campaigners, must be avoided.”
Security agencies were also reminded by the coalition that “group or individual violence and its management is still globally governed by proportionality of use of force and any form of derogation associated with same is intolerable and punishable.”
The coalition deplored “the increasing monetisation of the political space by the present federal administration and subtle shutting down of the media space giving no room for constructive criticisms and other forms of democratic free speeches as clearly provided in the constitution and international rights treaties acceded or ratified by Nigeria.”
It insisted that “the voices and votes of all Nigerians, irrespective of tribe, region, class or gender, must be allowed to count all times particularly in the 2019 general polls.”
The coalition, according to the communiqué, “further received with shock; deliberated and condemned without reservation the unpronounced decimation of the South East from the military circle through biased postings to hot spots in the insurgency ravaged parts of the North East. Many, if not most of the Igbo bright chaps in the military drafted even from the Engineering regiment to war zones, have been dying in droves with the casualty figures not made public or intentionally underreported.
“Totality of these has further led to mass exodus of young Igbo military officers from the military; forcing them into forced and unceremonious retirement. The partisan disposition of security chiefs and security agencies in Nigeria is a serious threat to the country and presents danger to country’s democracy particularly its 2019 general elections.”
The meeting, which lasted throughout the evening into the late night of Saturday, and continued till Sunday afternoon, was attended by 20 SBCHROs coalition member-groups, in addition to specially invited persons drawn from the academia, legal profession, media industry, religious organisations, Igbo think-tank, business community, computer engineering, military profession, human rights community, electoral advocacy, research and demography; and persons living with visual impairment, etc. Experts on anti-poll rigging using ICT as well as PVCs distribution and Card Reader Management, were equally in attendance.