By Stephen Ejiofo, Awka
Ahead of the 2023 General elections, the search has begun, for a credible candidate of Southeast extraction for the presidential seat, as agitations intensify for other geo-political zones of the country, to support the region to produce the next president of Nigeria.
Against this backdrop, a notable group of community leaders from the entire southeast of Nigeria, last weekend, resolved to support the aspiration of Prof Peter Umeadi for the 2023 presidential election.
The group which came under the auspices of the Association of Southeast Past Presidents-General (ASEPP), from over 2000 communities of the Southeast states of Nigeria, namely Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo; publicly endorsed “Prof Peter Umeadi as Igbo Presidential candidate in 2023.”
The endorsement ceremony which took place at the country home of the presidential aspirant, Nri in Anaocha Local Government Area of Anambra State, also attracted other interest groups from south-south and south-west geo-political zones.
Announcing the endorsement, the National President of ASEPP, Mazi Omife Omife, said the group is committed to “ensuring the emergence of a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction in 2023, in regard to the principles of equity, justice and fairness in Nigerian politics.”
Omife noted that having painstakingly analyzed the ambition of all top Igbo politicians, they have come to the conclusion that none has declared interest in becoming Nigeria’s President, rather they were aiming at the Vice Presidential slot in their various political parties, which he noted, is not acceptable for Ndigbo in 2023 presidential race.
According to him, only Prof Umeadi has shown genuine interest in contesting the Presidential election, hence their support and endorsement.
“ASEPP like other patriotic Pan-Igbo group, has consistently decried the marginalization of Igbos in the Nigerian affairs especially as it concerns the leadership of the country. We have discovered also that part of the reasons for this was due to the inability of the Igbos, to present a candidate with the requisite credentials, antecedents and personal attributes, formidable enough to garner nationwide acceptability. It was after a painstaking search for a credible Igbo candidate that satisfies the above criteria that we found Professor Umeadi.”
The ASEPP President took time to eulogize Umeadi’ excellent career in the judiciary, his integrity, courage, patriotism and commitment to the Igbo cause, adding that Igbos have in him, a quality candidate for the position.
He called on the various political parties in the country to reach out to Umeadi for possible adoption, noting that any party that adopts him, will be sure of the support of the over 2000 communities in the Southeast at the next general elections.
In his words; “We also call on all Igbos, irrespective of party affiliation, to support our endorsement of Professor Umeadi and join hands to make Igbos proud in giving Nigeria the best President we never had after Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe. All our members across the Southeast states and beyond are encouraged to spread the message of this endorsement in all the communities, to ensure total support for Prof Umeadi during the 2023 Presidential elections.”
The chairmen of ASEPP in all states of the Southeast, also took turns to validate the endorsement of Professor Umeadi, assuring of their commitment to mobilise support from their various local communities to achieve victory at the polls.
In a goodwill message to the event, the National President, National Forum for Southeast Presidency, Dr Patrick Enuneku said it is heartwarming that their agitation and struggle for the realization of a South-easterner becoming the President of Nigeria, is yielding results, adding that Professor Umeadi’s credentials speaks of a man with the capacity to turn around the fortunes of the country.
He acknowledged that Igbos are gifted in the management of the resources and a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction come 2023, will help address the numerous socio-economic woes of Nigeria
Enuneku maintained that for Nigeria to move forward, there must be equity and fairness, and this supports the claims for the presidential seat in 2023 by the Igbos.
“It is only in the presence of equity that there can be peace in Nigeria. By doctrine of what I call unwritten agreement, the Nigerian nation has rotated its presidency among the Northern and Southern region. In the course of this rotation, it is only the Southeast region that has not produced the president of this country in the Southern protectorate since the return of democracy in 1999. The southwest has tasted it same as the southsouth. So, there is the need for all Nigerians to be united in working for the achievement of a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction in 2023. This will also douse the agitation for an independent state of Biafra,” he opined.
Responding, Prof Umeadi thanked the group for the endorsement which he described as evident to the fact that Igbos are beginning to unite in the pursuit of their common good.
According to him, since the end of the Nigerian Civil War of 1967-1970, the promise to reintegrate the Igbos back into the Nigerian nation was not fulfilled, creating a lacuna.
In his view, a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction in 2023, will help address this lacuna.
“People of the Southeast should focus metaphorically on a post-Alex Ekwueme united Nigeria where the Igbos should aim at acquiring political power through the ballot box after negotiating same with other geo-political zones. It is morally indefensible to deny the Igbos the opportunity to vie and win the highest office of the Federal Republic of Nigeria come 2023. I, therefore, describe this endorsement as historical, epochal and monumental,” the professor of Law acknowledged.
“The endorsement,” he said, “is a pathway to unity, cohesion and a vehicle to collectively harness our efforts at building a prosperous Nigeria and in the process, reap our just rewards. I hereby accept your endorsements.”
Peter Umeadi promised to engender a system of justice and good governance within four years, that will yield affordable healthcare for all, the security of lives and property, enabling environment for economic growth and access to a quality life.
He said if elected, he will embark on crucial and inevitable changes and reforms, committing to the sustenance of the sovereignty and the corporate existence of Nigeria as a united country.
The highpoint of the occasion was the presentation of the resolution and articles of endorsement, which they unanimously adopted since 18th December 2020; to Professor Peter Umeadi by the leaders of the group.