Leader of the pan-Yoruba socio-cultural platform, Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo, has berated former President Goodluck Jonathan, for mulling entering the 2023 Presidential race, as he reiterated his position on a South East Presidency.
Pa Adebanjo, had while speaking at the just-concluded ‘Greater Nigeria Conference,’ which held in Abuja, Monday, organized by leaders and friends of the South East geo-political zone, also insisted that for the sake of justice and equity, the South East region deserved to be given the chance to produce Nigeria’s next president in 2023.
The conference held under theme of; ‘Together we can.’
“I only like to point to the fact that they are just deceiving you. All that you are hearing that they (the North) are supporting the South-West is an element of deceit to deprive you to be able to rule you. They don’t like anybody!
“I told Bola Tinubu himself, not in the paper, face-to-face. You believe this man (Buhari) will make you President? He said ‘yes’. I said he wanted to make you President, he asked (Yemi) Osinbajo to contest? He asked (Kayode) Fayemi to contest, he asked Ibikunle (Amosun to contest? All in the West, why? He wanted to divide the West first.
“The unfortunate thing is that President Goodluck Jonathan allowed himself to be disgraced by mentioning the fact that, ‘I’m considering whether to be President’; for what? Who are you consulting?”
The nonagenarian wondered why political leaders from the North were now propounding a lot of theories when they realized it was the turn of the South-East to produce the President in 2023.
“Now that it is the turn of the South-East, they are propounding a new theory that it must be based on merit and all that. If it is the question of merit, who in the North? All of them…if it has been based on merit till today, till kingdom comes, the East alone will produce the President”, he said.
The Afenifere leader said that all the talks that the aspirants from the South must go and lobby, campaign and sell themselves was all rigmarole, saying the North knows the truth.
“Although I don’t like all the people that came out from the East. But for the fact that they are saying you have no people, I’m happy you demonstrate that (you have people). But go and unite. A house divided against itself will not stand,” Adebanjo advised.
Elder statesman, however, noted that there was a need for aspirants from the South, especially from the South-East to be united.
According to him, the decision of presidential aspirants including the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi and the Governor of Rivers state, Nyesom Wike who are from the South South to contest would only give the North undue advantage over the South, as, according to him, ‘the truth was that the North did not want to leave power in 2023.’
“We all know the truth, they don’t what the South-east. It is not because they don’t know what is right.
“I only like to point to the fact that they are just deceiving you, all that you are hearing that they (the North) are supporting the South-west is an element of deceit to deprive you to be able to rule you. They don’t like anybody.
“The unfortunate thing is that President Goodluck Jonathan allowed himself to be disgraced by mentioning the fact that I’m considering whether to be president! “For what?
“Although I don’t like all the people that came out from the East. But for the fact that they are saying you have no people, I’m happy you demonstrate that. But go and unite. A house divided against itself will not stand.
“The North doesn’t want to leave power, while the South is slugging it out, they put their candidate up. We can still be together if we have a government that will give autonomy to regions.”
In his contribution, former Federal Commissioner for Information and Ijaw National leader, Chief Edwin Clark, spoke in similar vein as he said the South-East be allowed to produce President for the country in 2023.
He said: “The people of the South East deserve to have a sense of belonging in this Country. So, the clamour for a president for the South last geopolitical zone is supported by me. Today, with no other tangible reason for still wanting to hold on to power, some people are talking about merit and competence. To these people my response is simple, we must all woo, and win, each other because every part of this country has a beautiful bride and every part has a handsome groom.
“It will not cost money or anything to make Nigeria better. All that is required is for us to demonstrate reciprocal respect, love and understanding to one another. Let us do what is right; let us accommodate one another, and be fair to one another. Let all other Nigerians support a South-Eastern Candidate President, come 2023. I repeat, very soon, I will be 95 years old. I have spent more than 70 years of this period in Nigerian affair. I have seen it all. For the peace and sanity of the country, I appeal to all, in the name of the Almighty God, to make this concession to the Igbos, to present a President Nigeria. And like every other part of the country, they have the men and women, who are competent, patriotic, loyal, intelligent, industrious, healthy and active, whom Nigerians will be proud of, to occupy the position. Let us give them a chance.”
In his welcome address, Senator Chris Anyanwu who spoke on behalf of leaders of the GNC told the gathering that the focus of the organisers was to call attention to the threat to the unity of the country which he claimed was being promoted with the exclusion of a section of the country from the exalted office of Presidency.
“Without Equity and Justice; without Inclusiveness; without mutual respect among the component units of this society, the future is bleak for Nigeria. All parts of Nigeria have woken up to the fact that they have equal rights and therefore hold equal stakes in the Nigerian enterprise. Therefore, no group is willing to sit at the sharing table and watch others gorge themselves on of the fruits of our patrimony and not partake.
“That is why the cries for equity, justice and inclusiveness will ring higher and higher and the restiveness in the Nigerian society will grow more and more and the tears and pulls from all directions on the fabric that holds the nation together will become more forceful and more desperate until it is completely shredded. Today, we will talk. “Those who know better will talk. Those who have seen it all with talk.
“And we hope, that those who have ears will hear. “Equity will decide the future of Nigeria. The political parties will decide this year either to go for a Greater, more inclusive and more united Nigeria or a weaker, more frightening, more fragmented pseudo-Nigeria. This conference is planned to explore these issues and hammer on that one essential step that must be taken now to restore hope for a Greater Nigeria: and that is: South East Presidency.”