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2023: Conspiracy against South-East will fail, says Prof Nwekeaku

There are political maneuverings in the process of choosing the presidential candidates of the various political parties. In this chat, Secretary of the Igbo Elders Forum, Prof Charles Nwekeaku alleges that the permutation appear skewed against the South-East but tells ONWUKA NZESHI that it will fail


You have been meeting for hours and one would like to know what you were discussing?


Well, we discussed many things including the actualization of Nigeria’s President of South-East extraction in 2023. We are concerned with the seeming maneuverings by some people from different parts of the country.


Those who have had opportunities to govern Nigeria are trying to take the presidency again and we are saying that it is not right, it is not fair, it is not just and it is not equitable. President Muhammadu Buhari is from the North and by 2023, he would have done eight years and yet some people are going round talking about consensus for another candidate from the North. It will not work because this country belongs to all of us.


We, the people of the South-East have worked so hard to bring about Nigeria. No other region has worked better than us in the making of this nation right from the nationalist days to the present day. We played great roles for Nigeria’s political independence during the era of colonial rule.

Therefore, any person or group plotting to continue to sideline the people of the South East, will not succeed. We will not allow that to happen. So, they are wasting their time.

Who are these people plotting against the interest of the South-East?

They are people that we had supported to achieve their political aspirations in the past. We supported them in 2015. We also supported them in 2019.


You can go and check. Our people voted for both Muhammadu Buhari and Atiku Abubakar who were the candidates of the APC and PDP respectively. Having supported them in the past, we expected them to support us now. It doesn’t make any sense for people to be arguing and turning logic on its head.


What logic are they talking about?

They are telling us that the South has ruled Nigeria for fourteen years since 1999 and therefore, the North deserves more years in power. But, you see, political parties are mere vehicles to acquire power. We are not talking of PDP or APC.

The important thing is that Gen Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) is a northerner and will be completing his two terms of eight years next year. He came through APC and it is unthinkable for any person in PDP to say that it is the turn of the North in their party. What rubbish is that? Are they telling people who are not intelligent?

The North has done its turn and it is now the turn of the South. When it comes to the South, we are reaching out to our brothers in the South -West and South- South and we have said: Look, for the sake of peace, justice, fairness and equity, allow the South East to have it.

Who are the candidates your forum is supporting in the South-East?

We have wonderful presidential materials like the former Governor of Anambra State, Mr. Peter Obi. He stands tall among all these aspirants from many parts of the country.

If merit and competence are anything to go by, he is better than many of these people who are masquerading as presidential aspirants. The former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof Kingsley Moghalu is another good candidate.

Former President of the Senate, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim is  there and Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, a business mogul is also there. In fact, we have many formidable presidential materials in the South East. We are saying that Nigeria is where it is because of bad governance.

All these years that these other people have ruled Nigeria, what do we have to show for it? We can’t produce anything of value. We cannot provide basic amenities such as water and electricity for our citizens.

What makes you think that leadership that will be produced from the South-East will make a difference?

We are talking about a people that fought a civil war for 30 odd months and survived without any form of external help. They produced virtually every weapon they used during that war.

Despite the economic blockade against them on air, land and sea, Biafra survived and fought through that war. Many years after, Nigeria cannot produce anything, but the Biafrans produced all these things under a war condition.

We want Nigeria to move forward and that is why we are pleading with our fellow Nigerians to allow the South East produce the next President in order to mobilise our collective human intellect and natural resources for the good of the country.


As a country, we are suffering, most of our youths are jobless and are forced to run out of Nigeria in search of greener pastures. This migration is due to bad governance and lack of opportunities at home.

The government of the day is confused and does not seem to know how to solve the myriad of problems facing the country. We want to bring about a brand new leadership that will produce a creative, resourceful and accountable government for our country. We have the capacity to give Nigeria a President that will turn things around for the good of Nigeria.


You just mentioned the civil war and how it brought out the ingenuity of the Igbo man. Could it be that other Nigerians are still afraid of these same attributes and tendencies to dominate others?


Well, we’ve heard about such theories that some people are afraid of the creativity and ingenuity of the Igbo man, but these fears are unfounded. The Igbo are friendly; the Igbo are hospitable and they are not looking for anybody to dominate. The Igbo have used their resources to make Nigeria work as one country.

They are industrious and they invest in every part of the country. We are therefore saying: Allow us to deploy these same attributes to run the country and develop Nigeria for the good of all of us. Why would anybody be afraid of such a proposal? They have mismanaged the resources of our country for many years and we are saying allow us to salvage the situation. So why would anybody be afraid of us?


We are not running away. People think that that once we get to the Presidency, we will declare the Republic of Biafra and the country will disintegrate. No. This is not the agenda of the South East. If you think of any region that wants a united Nigeria, the Igbo are number one because we invest everywhere. Now, go to Enugu and count how many Fulani or Hausa has investments there.


But go to Daura, Katsina, Maiduguri, Kano, Lagos, Jos and see the investments of the Igbo. Indeed go to any part of Nigeria and see the investments of the Igbo man. If I invest in your place, that means I mean well for you. I am not trying to dominate you but to help you to develop your place.

So the Igbo are not looking for any person to dominate, rather they are saying, give us an opportunity to use our ingenuity and creativity to turn the fortunes of our country for the better and for all citizens.

What will you do if the APC and PDP deny South-East the presidential ticket for 2023?

Well, we learnt that they are plotting to deny us their presidential tickets, but that conspiracy will not work. I can tell you authoritatively that it will fail because we are also working. We know that power cannot be given to anyone on a platter of gold. You have to struggle for power in order to get it and we are ready to struggle for it.


Those people working against the South- East will be disappointed. In the first place, you know that the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum had said that anybody that doesn’t zone its presidential ticket to the South is on its own. Leader of the Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo has said give this thing to the South East. Leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum, Chief Edwin Clark and leader of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Pogu Bitrus have equally said the same thing at several fora.


We are watching. Let the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) try any mess and it will go into oblivion. The South-East had over the years being a stronghold of the PDP, the party has enjoyed our support and loyalty.

One good turn, they say, deserves another. But if they try to manoeuvre the South East out of the Presidency in 2023, that party will go into oblivion.

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