The Northern Elders Forum (NEF) has warned the Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, to stop threatening the North with the Igbo Presidency.
The NEF Spokesman, Dr. Hakeem Baba-Ahmed, gave the warning in a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday night while reacting to a statement made by the factional Secretary of Ohanaeze, Okechukwu Isuguzoro.
Naija News reports that Isuguzoro had in a statement on Tuesday said that Nigeria would not be secured and united unless an Igbo president emerges.
Baba-Ahmed however, described Isiguzoro’s remarks as juvenile utterances that should be condemned by everyone, saying that such a comment was both irresponsible and damaging to the Igbo interests.
The NEF spokesman warned opinion leaders and organisations such as Ohanaeze to be mindful of their statements as campaigns for the 2023 election started on Wednesday.
Baba-Ahmed asserted that Northern voters will not be stampeded or threatened by Ohanaeze to support the Igbo Presidency in the 2023 elections.
He said, “The Northern Elders Forum is shocked at the statement released by Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Mazi Okechukwu Isuguzoro, in a language that is both irresponsible and damaging to its own interests.
“At a time when wise counsel dictates that Nigerians should be circumspect and disciplined in the manner they interact with the electoral process, the juvenile utterances of Isiguzoro must be condemned in the harshest terms.
“Mazi Isiguzoro singles out the North as the bastion of ethnic and religious politics while he unashamedly campaigns for Igbo presidency, complete with the threat that Nigeria will not be secure and united unless an Igbo President emerges.
“This damaging de-marketing of the prospects of an Igbo President will be hard to surpass. Nigerians, and Northerners in particular, will not be impressed or blackmailed into making choices that are not informed by their own interests. On the contrary, they will notice that the apex Igbo organization is virtually subverting one of its own, and blaming the rest of the country for the postures of political candidates.
“For the purposes of clarity, it should be emphasized that Northern voters will not be stampeded or threatened by Ohanaeze Ndigbo. The North can identify ethnic and religious politics, and will see it clearly in this reckless statement coming from Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
“The Northern Elders Forum appeals to leaders and elders to show maturity and leadership as we embark on campaigns that are, in themselves, fraught with threats and dangers.
“The Forum advises Nigerians that the democratic system does not operate on the basis of threats and blackmail, and we should be prepared to support and vote for any candidates of our choices next year.”