Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State has said that the Southeast has a right to produce Nigeria’s next president because the people have a better understanding of Nigeria as a whole.
Ikpeazu made this assertion today after a visit to President Muhammadu Buhari in his office at the State House.
“I think that the southeasterners have a right to take a shot at the presidency of Nigeria and I dare say that our qualification starts from the fact that we understand and know Nigeria better than the other states of Nigeria.
“I dare say, this is my opinion. We go everywhere, we are everywhere, we invest everywhere, we are Pan-Nigerian people,” the governor declared.
On a lighter note, he added, “Today, a lot of people are afraid of Sambisa, but for an Igbo man, Sambisa is a business opportunity,” he grinned.
In a chat with State House correspondents, Ikpeazu listed some qualities that Nigeria’s next leader must possess and urged Nigerians and political parties to be magnanimous and consider the yearnings and aspirations of the southeast geo-political zone.
“The question of Nigeria president of southeast extraction is a national question that required negotiation, discussion and conversation with all parts of this country and I am least qualified to determine what happened in 2023.
“I also want to spend my time supporting the incumbent president to do his time and do his best while we wait for what happens to begin to unfold. So, these are my views about the presidency
“In first place, anybody who wants to aspire to the highest post of the presidency, it doesn’t matter where you come from, must have what I regard as Pan-Nigerian mentality. He must be somebody who has an understanding of all the contending interests and influences in this country. He must understand that we are a country of diversity with the different persuasions, traditional, cultural, religious and all of these must be put at a place where you can understand and respect them.
“That individual must also be somebody who is ready to accommodate the youths of this country because turning it into a slogan the fact that youths are our leaders of our future have bit sever us correctly because we are drifting into an age that youths understand which many people may not understand, those who grew up before this era.
“So, that people must be willing to accommodate the youth without necessarily throwing away very experienced ones, he must be able to find a labyrinth of all the interests.
“He must also reflect an extreme women agenda. Such a must also be in investor-friendly, he must be and individual who understands the nuances of economics and what is the relationship between international politics and economy and the person must be strong enough to face up to the issue on the front burner, which is security.
“He must be able to create jobs, he must be able to not deploy the kinetic device all the time, he must able to also listen and negotiate peace.
“I’m a Christian and religion believes that you seek peace and you will find it. So, that which you seek is not commonplace. So, must be able to dredge up courage to listen to one another and then find a middle course all the time for the interest of our people.
“What the political parties need to do. Well, the political parties need to be sensitive to the feelings of the various contending ground because politics should not be a winners take all thing.
“It’s not at all times that you want to use your might, at times you listen even to those whom you think are weak or those whom you think may not be able to find themselves at the centre stage due to circumstances.
“Because of you don’t do that, you will bottle up sentiments that will implode the system going forward. So, you must be able to create ventilations from here and there so that you can accommodate diverse opinions and have strategies to help you run the country.
“So, all the political parties should be alive to this sentiments and feelings in taking decisions going forward. And we are at a critical point in our history and anything that is self-serving, anything that is selfish, anything that is leads to winner take all mentality should be jettisoned at this time. We need to rescue our nation; we need to work hard to put Nigeria in a strong footing before we can begin to look at other things.
“So, if we have this at the back of our minds, my thinking is that we will arrive at the fact that there is a geo-political zone that has been clamoring and yearning for an opportunity to lead.
“And we should be gracious and magnanimous enough to give consideration to such yearnings and aspiration.
“But as I said earlier it can not be done in isolation. It’s not a matter right, it’s not a matter of ‘I have to.’ It’s a matter of negotiation, conversation, and discussion going forward.
“And I think Nigeria is alive to all of that. We can find people who listen,” Governor Ikpeazu enunciated.
He emphasized that he is not interested in the presidency, noting that he is very busy as governor and “thinking about what I will become now will amount to shortchanging my people who gave me a mandate for an initial four years and renewed it for another four years and it will terminate around May 2023”.
According to Ikpeazu, it will be self-serving for him to begin to think about what he will become instead of concentrating on serving his people for the period in which he has been elected to serve.