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Igbo leaders reject call on Jonathan to contest

Igbo leaders have distanced themselves from a recent call on President Goodluck Jonathan to contest the 2015 election, warning those using the name of the Igbos for such pronouncements without permission to desist or prepare to be ostracized.

“Whereas Ndigbo overwhelmingly supported the election of President Goodluck Jonathan in 2011 elections, we remain of the view that the President should not be distracted by relevance-seeking political jobbers with such calls, even when he is yet to deliver on his major promises to Ndigbo,” they said in a statement.

The statement was signed by Oganiru Ndigbo Foundation/Igboville; Emeka Maduewesi (Leader); Uche Onuh Lucas (President General); Maxi Okwu; Okey Igbokwe; Onyema Uche and Obichi Ikechi. They said the call was made by “a certain Chief Arthur Eze and his gang of faceless so called Igbo elders.”

They drew attention to Jonathan’s failures so far to honour promises made to the Igbos, including construction of the second Niger Bridge within his first tenure; to convert Enugu Airport to an international hub; and to give roads in the South East urgently needed attention within his current tenure.

“As at today, none of these promises have been fulfilled,” the statement said. “Second Niger Bridge is still in the “drawing board” and no international flight has yet landed or taken off from Enugu Airport. South East roads remain the worst in the country, including the Enugu-Onitsha Federal highway that Chief Arthur Eze traveled to Onitsha from Ukpo through. Enugu-PH highway is at best a death trap while Aba-Ikot Ekpene highway is virtually non-existent as a road.

They also contended that in the sharing of national resources, Ndigbo are yet to get any favors from the Jonathan regime.

“No single refinery out of the six promised by President Jonathan is located in the South East even though three south east states, Abia, Imo and now Anambra are oil producing states,” they said. “Revenue allocation is heavily skewed against Igbo states with one state receiving more monthly allocation than all 5 SE states. Even desert states that contribute next to nothing to the national revenue pool are getting more than two times the monthly allocation of oil producing Igbo states. Nobody is even discussing the promised 6th state for Ndigbo, to put the South East at par with other regions that have 6 states.”

They also criticized President Jonathan’s “failure” to protect Professor Barth Nnaji, the former Minister of Power who resigned last week, describing him as a “reformist” who naturally attracted opposition from vested interests in the perennially corrupt power sector in Nigeria. Other ministers of Igbo origin, they said, are not faring better within this government.

With that background, the group said it was important to unequivocally state that while Ndigbo are not at war with President Jonathan, there is absolutely no reason, at this time, to endorse him or any other politician for 2015 election, especially as Ndigbo has already expressed interest in producing the best President of Nigeria in 2015.

“We are committed to working with Mr President to achieve his electoral promises, especially as relates to Ndigbo,” the statement stressed. “If by 2015 we review his performance and determine that he has done well enough to deserve second term, we will join authentic Igbo leaders to make our position known.

“For now, we encourage the President to focus on his work including securing the life and properties of all Nigerians. The frequent massacre of Ndigbo in parts of the country by terrorists masquerading as religious zealots is giving us sleepless nights. Real Igbo elders should be seeking a solution to this unfortunate targeting of Ndigbo rather than stomach-induced endorsements and calls for anyone to contest elections.”

For Chief Eze and those who spoke with him, the group said, “Even Joshua in the Bible spoke for himself and his family, not for the entire children of Israel. When Ndigbo want to speak, we know through whom we will speak.”

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