South-East activists warn against picking Atiku’s running mate from South-West •Insist that Igbos deserve the position

Posted by News Express | 12 October 2018 | 1,298 times

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•PDP Presidential Candidate Atiku Abubakar

South-East pro-democracy and rights activists have warned against the choosing of the running mate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Candidate for the 2019 elections, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, from the South-West, insisting that Igbos deserve the position.

Their warning, contained in a statement issued on Friday in Onitsha by the South-East Based Coalition of Human Rights & Good Governance Organizations (SBCHROs), came amidst unconfirmed reports that Atiku was about to pick his running mate from the South-West and that Yoruba leaders had shortlisted candidates for his consideration.

But denying Ndigbo of the position could provoke problems, warned SBCHROs, a coalition of over seventeen human rights, pro-democracy and good governance groups based in the Southeast Region of Nigeria or Igbo heartland.

Among the groups that make up SBCHROs are Int’l Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law; Civil Liberties Organization, Southeast Zone; Centre for Human Rights & Peace Advocacy; Human Rights Organization of Nigeria; Society Watch & Advocacy Project; Anambra Human Rights Forum; Southeast Good Governance Forum; Int’l Solidarity for Peace & Human Rights Initiative; Igbo Ekunie Initiative; Civil Liberties Organization, Anambra State Branch; Foundation for Environmental Rights Advocacy & Dev; Society for Economic Rights & Social Justice; Initiative for Ideal Dev & Emancipatory Leadership in Nigeria; Igbo National Council; Forum for Promotion of National Ethos & Values; Easy Life Initiative for Rural Youths; and Voice of the Voiceless Int’l.

“Nigeria must also avoid allowing aggrieved region (s) to use violence (uprising or armed resistance) or encourage the use of same as the only means by any aggrieved region to get what rightly belongs to it in the country especially the plum seat of presidency and vice presidency or strategic inclusion into the country’s security establishments and compositions.  The country must regionally do what is right and appropriate and at the right time and circumstances and avoid allowing room for resort to “Niger Delta method” before giving any aggrieved region its due right or place in Nigeria,” SBCHROs said in the joint statement, reads in part:

“This joint statement of ours is sequel to strong rumors making the rounds that “Southwest leaders have successfully brought pressure to bear on Alhaji Atiku Abubakar to pick a Southwest citizen as his running mate, leading to short listing of five indigenes of the Region last night for the PDP Presidential Candidate to pick one of them as his running mate”. If these rumors turned out to be true, then it is the height of political suicide and another round of orchestrated, calculated and decades-long political repression and exclusion against the People of the Region in Nigeria.

“Giving vice presidency to the Southeast is viewed not enough by the People of the Region considering the decades-long personal, cultural and structural violence unleashed on them over the years, but giving same to another Region especially the same Region that has consistently taken a shots to the country’s two plum offices is the height of collective injustice and slavery which will never augur well with Nigeria. Vice Presidency of the country ought to be a non-negotiable gift to people of the Southeast or Igbo heartland in preparation for the Region producing the presidency of the country in 2023.

“Therefore, there must be an end to monopolization of Nigeria’s presidential and vice presidential seats by the Southwest and Northwest Regions of Nigeria. The decades-long claims, deceitful  and consistent occupation  of the two covet seats by the two regions as if they are their “birth right” must be discontinued and equity allowed, inculcated and entrenched into same whereby the regions marginalized for several decades must be allowed to take their turns if truly there is one united, indivisible and indissoluble Nigeria.

“With the recent sad experience in Syria with 2012 estimated population of 22.5m people where political repression and exclusion led to eruption of country-wide civil strife in March 2011, leading to death of over 300,000 and displacement of half of the population as refugees and IDPs and ruination of the entire country as well as fleeing of 5,000 people per day; Nigeria with estimated population of over 180m people cannot survive widespread civil strife of Syrian category if political repression and exclusion are allowed to continue.

“Any eruption of “complex humanitarian emergencies” in Nigeria over continued political repression and exclusion can never be contained by the combined forces and efforts of sub regional, regional and international political blocs such as ECOWAS, AU and UN owing to explosive population of the country and unmitigated humanitarian crises that will follow. If the world cannot handle or contain the crisis in Syria with mere pre civil war population of less than 23m people, how much Nigeria with explosive population of over 180m people?

“We have carefully followed and analyzed the ongoing political situation in Nigeria particularly since the commencement of its electioneering weeks ago and are particularly appalled and dismayed over the role of the mainstream registered political parties and their leaders in selecting candidates who will contest for the available 1,681 elective positions at Federal and State levels in Nigeria, out of total of 1,695 elective seats or polls at the country’s Federal and State tiers of government legally conducted by INEC.

“We make bold to say that the qualities of many of the candidates credibly or crookedly selected are not only nothing to write home about, but also thousands of miles away from the very essence of invention or founding of politics and political participation. In the global tradition of democracy, politics is meant for people of nobility with incontrovertible qualities to serve humanity, but in present Nigeria, just like its long and immediate past, politics is designed and meant for people of crooked and transactional world. Many of those selected in the just concluded party primaries in the country are stark illiterates, questionable millionaires/billionaires, political contractors, moneybags and other persons with grave minuses in their characters.

“We are particularly shocked and dismayed over the resurrection of “born-to-rule” quest and mentality by leading political actors of the Southwest extraction. Just not too long ago, leading political actors from the Region in the federal ruling APC indicated their interest to drag the Region back to the presidency of the country in the 2023 presidential poll. As if that was not enough, leading political actors in the federal opposition political party PDP from the same Region have just launched their campaigns to have one of their citizens tipped as the vice presidential running mate to PDP’s newly nominated Presidential Candidate, Mr. Atiku Abubakar (a Northeast Muslim).

“Analytically and irrefutably, this is nothing short of dictatorial, tyrannical, totalitarian, inconsiderate, wicked and absolutist monarchical disposition. It is also the highest order exhibition of “born-to-rule” mentality and a recipe for intractable violent crises and tearing of Nigeria into violent pieces. It is further a clear indication or case of “one country with deepened segregated classes or “animal kingdom or zoo”. In other words, Nigeria, by this, is chronically a slavish country of “first class”, “second class” and “third class” citizenship.

“Realistically and as a matter of equity, the Southwest and the Northwest Regions of Nigeria are equitably unfit to take a shot at the country’s presidency and vice presidency after 2019 until the Northeast, the Southeast and the North-central take their leadership turns. It is on irrefutable record that since the normative six geopolitical arrangement following the 1994/95 Nigeria’s Constitutional Conference and its adoption by successive federal governments; strengthened by Section 14 (3) of the existing Nigerian Constitution, no citizen of Southeast extraction has occupied the presidency and vice presidency of the country in both democratic and military settings, starting from 1990 or past 28yrs. From our checks, too, no citizen of the Northeast Region other than Mr. Atiku Abubakar who occupied the position of vice president under Olusegun Obasanjo’s Presidency, between 1999 and 2007, has occupied the position of president of Nigeria since 1990 till date.

“The Southwest had not long ago or between 1999 and 2007, occupied the country presidency in the person of Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo with a Northeast citizen, Atiku Abubakar, as his vice. Southwest Region has also since 2015 been occupying the country’s vice presidency in the person of Mr. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN.  The Northwest, on the other hand, had not too long ago occupied Nigeria’s presidency in the person of late Umaru Musa Yar’Ardua (29th May 2007 to 6th May 2010) with a South-south citizen, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as his vice.

“Presently, the same Northwest Region is occupying Nigeria’s presidency since 2015 in the person of Retired Major Gen Muhammadu Buhari with Prof Yemi Osinbajo (Southwest) as his vice. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan from South-south also occupied the country’s presidency between 6th May 2010 and 29th May 2015 with another Northwest citizen, Alhaji Namadi Sambo (2010-2015) as his vice.

“In all these, no citizen of the Southeast or Igbo heartland has occupied the presidency of Nigeria whether as military or democratic since 1990 or past 28yrs. No citizen from the Region has also occupied the position of the vice president in the past 28yrs or since 1990. Except Atiku Abubakar’s vice presidency between 1999 and 2007, no citizen of the Northeast Region of Nigeria has occupied the seat of Nigeria’s presidency since 1990 or past 28yrs; whereas the Southwest and the Northwest Regions have taken two shots both at the country’s presidency and vice presidency since 1990.

“Statistically, Chief Ernest Shonekan from the Southwest was the interim President of Nigeria between 26th August and 17th November 1993; Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo from same Southwest was President of Nigeria between 29th May 1999 and 29th May 2007 while Prof Yemi Osinbajo from the Region presently occupies Vice Presidency of the country since 29th May 2015 and will serve out on 29th May 2019. Militarily, Retired Lt Gen Oladipo Diya (Southwest) was the 9th Chief of General Staff (Vice-President of Nigeria) from 1993 to 1997.

“From the Northwest Region of Nigeria, late Umaru Musa Yar’Ardua was Nigeria’s President from 29th May 2007 to 6th May 2010 when he died in office. Alhaji Namadi Sambo also served as Vice President of Nigeria from 29th May 2010 to 29th May 2015 while Retired Major General Muhammadu Buhari from the same Northwest Region presently occupies the Presidency of the country since 29th May 2015 till 29th May 2019 when he will serve out his four years tenure.  The North-central Region of Nigeria is the third most marginalized Region in Nigeria with General Abdulsalam Abubakar as the only head of Nigeria’s presidency from the zone since 1990 or past 28yrs, between 9th June 1998 and 29th May 1999.  

“Therefore, the moves by leading political actors from the Southwest to return the Region to the country’s presidency and vice presidency in 2019 or in near future are roundly opposed and rejected by SBCHROs. In other words, we are totally opposed to moves and pressure by leading political actors from Southwest Region to get the PDP Presidential Candidate, Mr. Atiku Abubakar to pick a Southwest citizen as his running mate. The citizens of Southeast Nigeria and those of South-south, Northeast, North-central and Northwest Regions should also oppose and reject same. The Regions of Southwest and Northwest Nigeria must put their return to the country’s presidency and vice presidency on hold especially from 2019 and support the Southeast, Northeast and North-central Regions to take their rightful turns in the country’s two plum leadership offices.

“The vice presidential seat of the federal opposition PDP in the 2019 presidential poll should not only go to the Southeast Region or Igbo heartland but there shall also be a concrete arrangement to placate the Region and restore its sense of belongingness in Nigeria by allowing and supporting the Region to produce the president of the country in 2023; after which the North-central will take its turn before it returns to Southwest and South-south respectively; in order of precedence and records. Any arrangement short of the above is a clear invitation to anarchy including possible eruption of serious or intractable socio-political crises and fragmentation of the country.”


Source: News Express

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