2019 Presidency: Igbo leaders endorse Atiku

Eminent Igbo leaders of all extraction yesterday in Enugu endorsed the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, and his running mate, Mr. Peter Obi, ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The Igbo leaders, who met at the Nike Lake Resort Hotel Enugu, endorsed the duo during their gathering aimed at charting a new course for Ndigbo ahead of 2019 and beyond.
But, the Buhari Presidential Campaign Council has declared that the Igbo leaders won’t determine the electoral success of the President in 2019, saying the ultimate decision lies with the Nigerian masses.
In a five-point communiqué issued at the end of the summit with the theme, “Ndigbo: 2019 and Beyond”, the leaders said that the position was based on the restructuring agenda put on the table by Atiku/Obi, which four zones of the country had agreed on.
The communiqué read by a legal luminary, Olisa Agbakoba (SAN), said: “The Igbo people of Nigeria held a one-day non-partisan and inclusive Summit convened by elders, traditional and religious leaders on Wednesday 14th November 2018 to consider Ndigbo’s place in the polity, especially in the light of the forthcoming 2019 elections.
“The summit deliberated on the state of Ndigbo in Nigeria, today especially after years of exclusion from the centre. This country has never been so divided as it is today. We the Igbo have always yearned for a level playing field with justice, equity and fairness.
“The Summit recognized the nomination of His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State as the Vice Presidential candidate of the PDP and fully endorses this nomination. It was acknowledged that this nomination puts Ndigbo back in the centre of governance. It is therefore important that Ndigbo should rally behind the Atiku/Obi ticket.
“We identify with the Atiku/Peter Obi ticket on the restructuring agenda as has been reiterated by four zones of the country namely: South-South, South-West, North-Central and South-East. We believe that as long as the federating units remain weak the centre will continue to be weak. We equally move to appreciate the position of the Atiku/Obi ticket in promoting national unity.
“In conclusion, the Summit reiterated that the time is now for Ndigbo to mobilize and organise effectively to realise the Atiku/Obi ticket. We are not campaigning against anybody. We are simply campaigning for our very survival. Igbo votes must count wherever Ndigbo live in Nigeria.”

The meeting, which was chaired by renowned constitutional lawyer and elder statesman, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, was attended by a cross-section of Igbo leaders including; President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo; former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika; Gen. Obi Umahi (rtd); Obi of Onitsha, HRM Alfred Achebe; chairman of Enugu Traditional Rulers Council, HRH Lawrence Agubuzu; Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu; Prof. Anya O. Anya; Admiral Alison Madueke (rtd); Emeritus Arch. Bishop of the Niger Anglican Communion, Maxwel Anikwenwa.
Others are Prof. George Obiozo; Amb. Frank Ogbuewu, Prof. ABC Nwosu, Onyema Ugochukwu, Dr. Water Ofonagoru, Chief Lawrence Nwuruku, Emeka Ihedioha, Adolphus Wabara, Senator Chris Anyanwu, and Senators Enyinnaya Abaribe and Theodore Orji among others.
Nwabueze, in his opening remarks, said that the meeting was for self-survival of Ndigbo in Nigeria.
He called on Ndigbo at home and in the Diaspora to rally round Atiku and Peter Obi, whose presidency would address marginalization of Ndigbo.
Nwabueze said that although he is at “the departure lounge” of his life, he will continue to work with the people until Igbo liberation is achieved.
Nwabueze said: “Self-survival is the first law of nature. We are here for self-survival. Who doesn’t know the Igbo are relegated to the background? Who doesn’t know that Ndigbo are not reckoned with in the scheme of things in Nigeria? Yet the Igbo were at the forefront of the struggle for Nigeria’s independence.
“We must survive in this country. We want Nigeria to continue to exist but we must strive for self-survival.
“We are talking about the ticket of Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi… We are here today to tell ourselves that we must work for the actualization of Igbo dream. We are not against anybody. We are striving for our survival and we must achieve it.
“The ticket of Atiku and Obi, we must strive to mobilize entire Igbo race to support that ticket. Please do me the honour of achieving that ticket before I die. This means when you leave here, go back to your village and spread that we must ensure self-survival of Igbo race in Nigeria.”
Obiozor, Nigeria’s former ambassador to the United States, said that Igbo was like a Phoenix, “no matter what you do, we’ll rise up again”.
In his remark, Atiku vowed to work for the ouster of President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC) from power to save Nigeria from disintegration.
Addressing the Igbo leaders, Atiku said that Nigeria has never been so divided as now, even not during the civil war.
The PDP presidential candidate, while appreciating Ndigbo for endorsing him, deplored the lopsidedness in appointment of heads of the security agencies of the nation, as well as collapsing economy, and promised that with the support of Peter Obi as his vice president, they would fix the problems if elected.
“This is a historic gathering and moment for Igbo nation. Our economy must be fixed and a combination of Obi and myself, I think you can trust us to fix it. Security architecture must be balanced.
“This nation has never seen this kind of disunity, not even during the civil war. I think you can trust us to fix this nation.
“For me, I know I will fight to the last, whether I’m president or not to make sure that Buhari goes; so Buhari must go,” he vowed.
Atiku urged Nigerians never to believe President Buhari and his party, the APC, saying that they are very deceitful with issue of restructuring in the country.
He said that as vice president, he advocated the decentralization of power generation in the country to generate enough electricity to address power supply, but regretted that the programme could not be implemented because he was not in charge.
The presidential candidate of PDP promised to revive the coal industry in Enugu to generate enough power for the zone known as home of industrialization, even as he promised to also fix the rail system in the country using the private sector.
In his remarks, President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Nwodo, prayed Atiku that if elected, to revive the coal industry and Akanu Ibiam International Airport, saying that the runway was in a terrible shape.
On Atiku’s entourage were Chief Ben Obi; national chairman of PDP, Uche Secondus; Osita Chidoka, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, Dr. Muazu Babangida Aliyu, Senator Dino Melaye, among other senators.
Meanwhile, Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), Director of Media and Strategy Communication of President Buhari Campaign Council, told New Telegraph that the President believes in the ability of Nigerians, not that of Igbo leaders, in determining his fate.
Keyamo said: “We want to rely on the very masses of the country as a whole.
“As important as leaders are in the modern world, the masses will still have to make their decisions. All of those individual leaders, their influence may not go beyond their immediate environment. So, at the end of the day, the very good people of the South-East would have to make up their minds whom to vote for.
“Don’t forget that there are so many leaders from the South-East who are also in support of President Muhammadu Buhari. So, the people you see there today, they are leaders in their own right but they are not the only leaders in the South-East. Don’t forget that the former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, former governors, present and past Senators and prominent Igbo sons are supporting the President.
“So, what happened today is not more than a section of the South-East who believe in Atiku, endorsing him and those who believe in President Buhari would endorse him.”
Keyamo also said that Atiku can’t determine Buhari’s fate in 2019.
“Nigerians would decide that not him (Atiku).
“It is not him that would determine if Buhari would return or would not return; Nigerians would decide that,” he said while dismissing the PDP presidential candidate boosting.

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