A founding member of All Progressives Congress, Osita Okechukwu has urged his party and Peoples Democratic Party to help preserve the unity of Nigeria by observing the zoning convention, which midwifed the fourth Republic in 1999 and let someone from the South-East emerge president in 2023.
Okechukwu, who is of the director-general of Voice of Nigeria, also commended the PDP for the timely clarification of its stand on zoning the 2023 Presidency.
According to him, the South-East should produce the President in 2023 to, among other things, ensure equity, natural justice and good conscience and “end of the civil war” activities of the Indigenous People of Biafra.
Okechukwu stated these on Sunday in an interview with journalists in Abuja.
The PDP had through its National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, clarified on Sunday that it was yet to zone its presidential ticket contrary to claims by former Governor, Babangida Aliyu.
Ologunagba had stated: “The attention of the Peoples Democratic Party has been drawn to comments and speculations from certain individuals claiming that our party has zoned its presidential ticket to a particular part of the country.
“This is completely misleading as it does not in any way represent the position of our party. For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP emphatically and unequivocally states that it has not zoned its presidential ticket to any part of the country.”
Speaking to journalists, Okechukwu said his party, the APC and the PDP, hold the key to the preservation of Nigeria’s unity by observing the zoning convention, which midwifed the 4th Republic in 1999.
He noted that supporting a President from Southeast would be APC and by extension President Muhammadu Buhari’s greatest legacy to the socio-political stability and development of Nigeria.
Welcoming the PDP’s stance as very interesting and refreshing, Okechukwu, who is also the Director-General of Voice of Nigeria (DG VON), maintained that “the two dominant political parties in our multiparty system, APC and PDP, hold the key to restoration of Nigeria’s unity by observing the zoning convention. It was that same zoning convention that midwifed our 4th Republic and we are waiting for the two to save our fledgling democracy.”
He explained that his adamant campaign for zoning is that political power has always rotated between the north and south, adding, “my major concern is the peace, unity and prosperity of our dear fatherland.”
He asserted that in political activities, the law, with its legal teeth, combines with convention and its moral weight, stressing that both played prominent roles in the political economies of all countries at one point or the other.
“It was based on this premise, for instance, that patriots like former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, Solomon Daushep Lar, Alhajis Abubakar Rimi, Umaru Shinkafi, Adamu Ciroma, Dr Olusola Saraki, all of blessed memory, and a host of others shelved their self interest and adopted the zoning convention, thereby saving our country. We need the same zoning convention to further stabilise Nigeria,” he stated.
On whether APC would heed his admonition, Okechukwu declared: “Mine is to walk the path of persuasion, I know our great party, APC is not averse to zoning. In fact, zoning was one of the factors that built national resolve and enhanced our victory in 2015.
“I have lived for 33 years in the north, I know Nigeria sufficiently well that every geopolitical zone has eminently qualified persons to preside over the country; therefore, none should be denied the opportunity. I also know that it is not the region, which produced the President that benefits more, so it is a soothing balm in nation building.”
Responding to the seeming confusion over which micro-zone in the South should get the Presidency, Okechukwu stated: “Without being immodest, it is the turn of the Southeast; our brothers in Southwest had eight years 1999-2007 and eight years of Vice President 2015-2023, while our South-South brothers had 2010-2015. Thus going by equity, natural justice and good conscience it is the turn of the Southeast.
“Zoning to Southeast will be the end of the civil war and end of IPOB. It will give Ndigbo renewed faith in Nigeria, sense of belonging and national loyalty. To a large extent, allowing a person from Southeast to succeed President Buhari would be the President’s greatest legacy.”
He said his position is without prejudice to the demographic considerations by PDP or the prodigious roles people like Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu played in President Buhari’s election.
“Without self-immolation, Ndigbo are not only foremost patriots that live and invest in all nooks and crannies of this country; but also it borders on misinformation or misrepresentation to underrate Igbo population in Nigeria.
“For instance, taking Lagos City as the most populous city and Kano as the most populous state in the country, you will agree with me that Igbo constitute the second dominant inhabitants after the original indigenes in both Lagos metropolis and Kano State,” the VON DG remarked.