The immediate past president of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Ekiti, and current President, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Southwest Nigeria, High Chief Nathaniel Uzomah, has advised the Igbo to be neutral in choosing who to support in the forthcoming presidential poll and not to risk giving block votes to candidates of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP): Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi, simply because of the choice of their brother, Obi.
He warned that such voting pattern may amount to another political suicide reminiscent of 2015 when all Igbo gave their votes to the PDP, giving President Muhammadu Buhari a reason to say he didn’t receive their support.
Uzomah, who advised that Igbo people should weigh the consequences before taking voting decisions, gave clarification for his neutral stance thus: “I am happy that Atiku Abubakar was picked as the candidate of PDP, he is a businessman to the core and business is one thing that drives the economy and if a businessman is in the saddle, things are bound to take shape.
“Having picked one of my brothers, Peter Obi, it is a double joy for me because I am from Anambra State, but I am coming from a different background because I am not a politician, politicians pitch their tents where their interest lines, if you ask a PDP man, he would say Atiku is better and if you asked an APC man, he would tell you to rather vote Buhari. But you get a frank opinion from people like us who would not take sides. If you asked me, I cannot say Buhari hasn’t done well although much of what he has done will take time to surface and Atiku has only been promising, we haven’t really known what he can do. He had served as Vice President but that was under a President.
However, what every southerner wants is restructuring and Atiku has made a strong promise on that and this is an area many of us do not like Bubari for.
“You see, Buhari abandoned the recommendations of the last sovereign conference convened by former President Goodluck Jonathan, and that is a fundamental issue, especially the one on restructuring. President Buhari cannot say that every recommendations made in that conference report is entirely wrong. He can look into them and take the ones he can do.
“Buhari can outsmart Atiku now by starting promptly the process of restructuring to please majority of Nigerians. He has the opportunity to do that now. As a leader of my people, I cannot categorically tell them not to vote Buhari and go for Atiku. This is because Atiku is still promising, he hasn’t got there. He may also get there tomorrow and renege on his promises. But Buhari has the chance to right the wrong now by starting the restructuring process and win the hearts of southerners as he is still in power.
“I also want to advise that President Buhari and APC should show cause why Igbo should vote them by meeting with the leadership of Ndigbo and committing themselves to creating a platform for Igbo presidency after his tenure in 2023.”
Reacting to alleged corrupt practices Atiku is being accused of, the Igbo leader said: “Politicians are fond of digging so much things up to rubbish their opponent, and that is what the ruling party is doing against Atiku, but the truth is that Obasanjo who had championed the cause of alleging that Atiku is corrupt has forgiven him and even endorsed him for presidency, so why the hullabaloo again?. I want to urge that our politicians should shun politics of bitterness and vendetta and address issues of development and growth when campaigning instead of engaging in character assassination.”
The Ohanaeze leader also commented on the continued detention of former Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over alleged graft , saying: “The issue of Fayose and EFCC didn’t start today, it began about two years ago. What we expect now is that the EFCC should just bring out all their evidences against Fayose and confront him with it, if he contests their claims they should charge him to court and allow the court to decide his fate.”
Chief Uzomah also gave new Governor Kayode Fayemi an advice on the task ahead in Ekiti, saying: “He has been in that position before and he is not new to it. Now that he is back, I want to believe that he is better prepared. I want to urge him to ensure that he delivers the dividends of democracy to the masses. Especially, he should ensure the payment of salary arrears very soon.
“All the abandoned projects, he should complete them and even those ones Fayose and Segun Oni left behind, he should complete them. He should not say because Fayose never completed his own projects he would now abandon his, he should complete all.
“In any case, if you complete an abandoned projects of your predecessor you would have taken the glory and taken the shine off your predecessor who didn’t complete it. Also, now that he is back and as he has promised, he should consider the Igbo community in appointment because we are very critical stakeholders in Ekiti project,” he said.