A socio-cultural pressure group comprising of accomplished public officers, technocrats, academics, professionals and leaders of thought of Enugu State origin, the Hilltop Club 1972, Tuesday enjoined Nigerians to support the zoning of the 2023 presidency to the South-Eastern part of the country.
They specifically appealed to both the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to cede their presidential tickets to the South-East for the sake of “national unity, peace and stability of the country”.
The Hilltop Club 1972 made the call in a statement signed by its Chairman, Chief Emeka Ibe and Secretary, Barr. Pascal Ozioko.
They maintained that a Nigerian President of South-East extraction in 2023, is pragmatic and founded on the fact that of all the major ethnic groups in Nigeria, the South-Easterners have since been marginalised from occupying the position.
They noted that even though there is no doubt that people from the zone invest most in the Nigerian project as they live and invest in virtually every nook and cranny of Nigeria, peacefully sponsoring small and medium scale enterprises they are still being denied the top position.
They argued that a President of South-East extraction in 2023 will not just promote “national unity” and the “national loyalty” of Nigerians, but would unleash the established positive ingenuity of the Igbo and other ethnic groups in the country and redirect Nigeria on the path of “stability, economic recovery and sustainable development”.
The group reasoned that the clarion call is supported by the 1999 Constitution and the constitutions of the two dominant parties, the APC and the PDP, as well as sound reasoning, equity and good conscience.
According to the statement, “the quest for the zoning of the Presidency of Nigeria to the South-East is dictated by the imperative of fairness, equity and good conscience.
“This is because since Nigeria achieved political independence in 1960 through a struggle co-led by a South-Easterner, the Rt. Hon. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, nobody from the South-East of the country has ever become the President of Nigeria with executive powers.
“For purposes of clarity, since the return of the country to civilian rule in 1979, Nigeria has had three Presidents from the North (President Shehu Shagari, President Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and now President Muhammadu Buhari); one South-West President (President Olusegun Obasanjo) as well as Mr. Ernest Shonekan, Leader of the civilian Interim Government of Nigeria; one South-South President (President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan) and no President of South-East extraction.
“Apart from the afore-specified imbalance in the Presidency of Nigeria, there is a climate of opinion that the Igbos from the South-East are still being victimized in Nigeria on account of the Biafran civil war despite the no-victor-no-vanquished declaration at the end of war, which has been observed far more in breach and that the 2023 Presidential Election in Nigeria presents a perfect opportunity for Nigeria to heal the wounds of the Biafran civil war, remedy the marginalisation of the South-East from the mainstream of Nigerian politics, and indeed comply with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and the Constitutions of the PDP and APC.
“The additional case for a Nigerian President of South-East extraction in 2023 is a pragmatic one founded on the fact that of all the ethnic groups in Nigeria, the South-Easterners have invested most in the Nigerian project as they live and invest in virtually every nook and cranny of Nigeria, championing small and medium scale enterprises– the engine of growth in any economy.
“Hence, the proponents of the South-East President of Nigeria in 2023, including the Hilltop Club 1972, take the view that a Nigerian President of South-East extraction in 2023 will not only promote the ‘national unity’ of Nigeria and the ‘national loyalty’ of Nigerians, but also unleash the ingenuity of the Igbos and other ethnic groups in the country and redirect Nigeria on the path of stability, economic recovery and sustainable development.
On the means for achieving a Nigerian President of South-East extraction in 2023, they stated that “it is fitting to take us down the memory lane regarding the formula used to quell the political quagmire that threatened the foundation of the country as result of the annulment of 1993 presidential election, which was that the Presidency of Nigeria was zoned to the South-West and the major political parties in the country then encouraged only the people from the zone to vie for the Presidency of Nigeria that resulted in two Yorubas, Chief Olu Falae and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, becoming the Presidential Flagbearers of APP/AD (joint platform) and PDP respectively, and ultimately leading to the Presidency of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999.
“This political masterstroke assuaged hurt feelings and preserved the fragile unity of our country”, the club stressed.
They commended the individuals and organisations that have been at the forefront of promoting the cause for a Nigerian President of South-East extraction in 2023, especially Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Edwin K. Clark, the Afenifere, the Southern and Middle Belt Forum as well as the Niger Delta Forum, for their patriotism and unalloyed loyalty to Nigeria.