By Babajide Okeowo
A group, called Igbos for Progressive and United Nationhood (IPAN) has urged the pan-Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, not to blackmail presidential aspirants from other zones.
The National President of the group, Mr Lawrence Onuzulike, made the call on Thursday at a news conference in Awka.
Onuzulike said that every Nigerian, who met the constitutional requirement to contest for the president, is eligible to do so, regardless of his region.
According to him, no one should blackmail anybody for throwing his hat into the ring.
“We strongly believe that 2023 is the perfect time for an Igboman to become the president of the country.
“But we do not believe in arm twisting Nigerians to make an Igboman president or tell aspirants from other regions to drop their ambition.
“Ohaneze should be at the forefront of rallying support for Igbo aspirants in their various political parties like IPAN is doing instead of advising or begging interested aspirants from other regions not to contest.
”I am aware that since 1999, Igbo politicians have always contested the presidential election, even when some political parties zoned their ticket to other regions.
“All we should be doing is simply to appeal to Nigerians, including the masses and political elite, to support Igbo candidates this time for the sake of equity and fairness,” Onuzulike said.
He described as a welcome development, the declaration of interest by former Anambra Governor, Mr Peter Obi, to run for president, if the People’s Democratic Party would zone its presidential ticket to the south.
He described Obi as someone who has the capacity to garner the support of Nigerians just like other Igbo politicians who had declared their presidential ambitions.
“Obi left room for doubt, when he hinged his presidential ambition on the zoning arrangement in his party.
“If the PDP must zone their presidential ticket, they should zone it to the south or specifically to the South-East.
“This is because we believe it is time for a president to emerge from the zone,” Onuzulike further said.