MEMBERS of the Niger Delta Youth Leaders Forum have promised to back the agitation for the creation of the independent state of Biafra if the southeast geo-political zone is denied the opportunity to produce Nigeria’s president in 2023.
Nigeria has an informal gentleman’s agreement in place between the nation’s ethnic groups that the presidency should rotate between the north and south of the country. With there being three geo-political zones in the north and three in the south, when the presidency goes to either half of the country, the components parts agree on who should get it.
In 2019, both President Buhari and his main opponent Alhaji Abubakar were from northern Nigeria, so come 2023, Nigeria’s two leading parties the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are expected to field southern presidential candidates. Since the return to democracy in 1999, the southwest has produced President Olusegun Obasanjo and the south-south President Goodluck Jonathan, so come 2023, the presidency should automatically go to the southeast.
Amid claims that the southeast is being marginalised by the government of President Buhari, numerous Igbo groups have argued for the recreation of the defunct republic of Biafra that existed briefly between July 1967 and January 1970. During the 30-month period when the civil war raged, Biafra seceded from Nigeria and sought recognition as an independent sovereign state.
Yesterday, the coalition of youth organisations from across the south-south vowed to back the agitation for secession if the next president is not Igbo. Dr Abyie Douglas, the leader of the coalition, made the declaration when the group paid a courtesy visit to the leadership of the Ohanaeze Youth Council Worldwide in Abakaliki, the capital of Ebonyi State.
He pledged the forum’s commitment to the 2023 Igbo presidency project and appreciated the moves by the youth council to co-opt other ethnic groups into the campaign. Stating that the agitation was not for the Igbo alone, Dr Douglas added that the south-south and southeast zones would benefit mutually if they were united.
Dr Douglas said: “We are here to strengthen the unifying bond existing between the southeast and south-south Nigeria. As brothers tied with one destiny, we will remain united against any external aggression and will protect the two zones from the nefarious activities of the armed herdsmen and will ensure that we remain peaceful and prosperous to attract foreign investors and tourists to the zones.
“The Coalition of Niger Delta Youth Leaders Forum is fully committed to the 2023 Igbo presidency project and appreciate the robust leadership style of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide towards ensuring that the project is not only for Igbo alone but ensure that other geopolitical zones are fully integrated into the 2023 Igbo presidency project, for equity, fairness and justice. We believe that Igbo presidency project will address the current insecurity and economic challenges bedevilling our beloved nation, Nigeria.
“It is only an Igbo presidency in 2023 that will restore Nigeria back to the comity of nations as the true giant of Africa. We urge the southwest to allow the southeast to produce the next president, since Chief Olusegun Obasanjo had taken a fair share of the Yoruba between 1999 and 2007 and equally President Buhari had equally honoured the late Chief MKO Abiola and appeased them with the June 12 Democracy Day.”
In addition, Dr Douglas thanked the people of the southeast for the support they extended to former President Goodluck Jonathan when he was president. He added that it was the turn of the south-south to reciprocate the same support for the Igbo presidency project in 2023.
He said: “The north should honour the gentleman’s agreement that has existed since 1999 on power rotation between the north and south, that it’s the turn of the southeast to produce the next president in 2023. We urge the Northern Elders Forum to desist from any political agitation that will make Biafra a success by 2023 and any gang-up against the southeast will strengthen the realisation of the sovereign state of Biafra.
“If Igbo are denied the 2023 Igbo presidency project, alternatively Biafra will be realised without another civil war and the Niger Delta will be on the side of the Biafrans if the Igbo presidency project 2023 is denied. We insist that power must rotate between the north and south and the only zone yet to get the presidency in southern Nigeria is the southeast.”