Igbo leaders have explained their decision to support the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his running mate, Mr. Peter Obi in the 2019 presidential election.
They said they are identifying with Atiku and his deputy because of their promise to restructure the country along geopolitical zones.
Among those present at the event were President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo; chairman of the occasion, Prof Ben Nwabueze, SAN; Senator Ike Nwachukwu; former Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Azubuike Ihejirika, rtd; the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe; wife of the former President of Nigeria, Prof Uche Azikiwe; the chairman of Enugu Council of Traditional Rulers, Igwe Lawrence Agubuzo; business mogul, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu; Admiral Allison Madueke and the former Governor of Enugu State, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo.
Others were Prof Anya O. Anya; Gen Obi Umahi, rtd; Chief Onyema Ugochukwu; the governorship candidate of the PDP in Imo State, Chief Emeka Ihedioha; former Economic Adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo, Prof Osita Ogbu; Chief Uzodinma Okpara; Prof Uzodinma Iwuala; former President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Gary Ogariwey; Chief Olisa Agbakoba, SAN; Senator Ben Obi; Chief Emeka Ugwuoju; Chief Venatius Odo; Archbishop Maxwell Anikwenwa; and Prof George Obiozor; Chief (Mrs) Kate Offor; Chief S. N. Okeke and Prof Walter Ofonagoro, among many other Igbo leaders and PDP heavyweights.
In his opening remarks, the chairman of the occasion, Prof Ben Nwabueze said that although Ndigbo believed in the unity of the country, they wanted to survive as a people first, hence their agitation for survival.
He said Ndigbo would support Atiku Abubakar/Peter Obi presidential ticket because they believe that the duo would wipe away the Igbo tears when they come to power in 2019.
Nwabueze who noted that the roll call of the Igbo in the meeting was complete said: “With this kind of assemblage, how can we not achieve our purpose? Success is ours, we are here for our own self survival, we all know that Ndigbo have been reduced in a country. They were in the vanguard of its independence. We must preserve the legacies of Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe and Nwafor Orizu because these are the great leaders of Ndigbo.
“We must survive in this country, we must fight for our own self survival because we became relegated to almost irrelevancy and we must change that. We must organise round a ticket that will help us for self survival and that is the ticket of Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi. We must not let that opportunity pass us by.
“If it passes us by, then we must be ashamed of hat, we must not allow that. We are here to tell ourselves about the actualisation of that dream. There is nothing wrong with self survival. We are not campaigning for anybody but for self survival. In this Atiku/Obi ticket, it is our determination to mobilize the Igbo in the country to work for it.”
The elder statesman told the gathering to go back to their various villages to preach for the self survival of the Igbo nation.
A communique drawn at the end of the meeting, titled, “Ndigbo 2019 and Beyond Summit,” which was read by Chief Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) stated in part: “The Igbo people of Nigeria held a one day non-partisian and inclusive summit, convened by elders, traditional and religious leaders on November 14 2018, to consider Ndigbo’s place in the polity, especially in the light of the forthcoming 2019 elections.
“We identify with Atiku/ Obi ticket on the restructuring agenda as has been reiterated by the 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.
“The summit deliberated on the state on Ndigbo in Nigeria today, especially after years of exclusion from the centre. This country has never been so divided as it is today. We, Igbo, have always yearned for a level playing field with justice, equity and fairness.
“In conclusion, the summit reiterated that the time is now for Ndigbo to mobilise and organise effectively and realise the Atiku/Obi ticket. We are not campaigning against anybody, we are simply campaigning for our very survival. Igbo votes must count wherever they live in Nigeria.”