As 2023 general elections draw nearer, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Friday, urged youths in the South East to eschew ethnic chauvinism.
The plea by Dr Alex Ogbonnia, national publicity secretary of Ohanaeze, was in reaction to a statement issued by Igbo youths under the auspices of the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL).
The group had warned individuals promoting the presidential ambition of Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu to steer clear of the zone.
The group described as ‘unfortunate how certain persons from Igbo land would allow themselves to be used to promote the ambition of a man who is outdated in all ramifications in the scheme of things to be voted as a Nigerian president come 2023’.
Speaking about the statement, Alex said Ohanaeze Ndigbo ‘acknowledges the inalienable rights of individuals and groups to express their views on national issues, but advises that such rights should not infringe on the rights of other Nigerian citizens’.
Presidential candidates should enjoy access to mass followership
According to him, “Each of the presidential candidates has every right to campaign and canvass for votes in all parts of the country.
“Since the presidential candidates of the South East or Igbo extraction enjoy an untrammelled access and mass followership in other geopolitical zones of the country, it is a political self-immolation and indeed highly unreflective for COSEYL to embark on a misstep that may diminish the Igbo patina for inter-ethnic friendliness.
“Emphasis is further drawn that the statement by the COSEYL is at variance with the Igbo character of liberality, hospitality, frontier spirit and accommodation of diverse interests.
“The South-East constituency has sufficient political awareness or enlightenment to assess the presidential candidates as they visit the South East to market their manifestoes and canvass for votes.”
Igbo youths must be mature for political activism
He further urged Igbo youths to, in the spirit of the International Youth Day, ‘instead of an archaic and implacable adherence to prosaic ethnic indulgences, to develop an inter-ethnic solidarity with an encompassing national ideology into which the productive energies of the youths from diverse parts of the country will coalesce’.
Ohanaeze added, “For further clarifications, it is a subversion of the democratic process and indeed a potent source of national crises for candidates to perceive threats or hostility from groups within the country.
“While we share in the passion and grievances of the Igbo youth, maturity is still needed in our political activism to eschew ultra-ethnic chauvinism.”