Igbo leaders on Wednesday endorsed the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his running mate, Peter Obi.
The decision was contained in a five-point communiqué issued at the end of the summit with the theme: “Ndigbo 2019 and Beyond” The meeting held in Enugu by Southeast elders, comprised political, traditional and religious leaders as well as women groups.
In the communiqué, the leaders said that their position was based on the restructuring agenda tabled by the Atiku/Obi candidacy which four zones of the country had agreed on.
The communiqué which was read by a legal luminary, Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) said: “The Igbo people of Nigeria held a 1 day non-partisan and inclusive Summit convened by Elders, Traditional and Religious leaders on Wednesday 14th November 2018 to consider Ndigbo’s place in the polity especially in the light of the forthcoming 2019 elections.
“The summit deliberated on the state of Ndigbo in Nigeria today especially after years of exclusion from the centre. This country has never been so divided as it is today. We, Igbos have always yearned for a level playing field with justice, equity and fairness.
“The Summit recognized the nomination of His Excellency, Mr. Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State as the Vice Presidential Candidate of the PDP and fully endorses this nomination.
“It was acknowledged that this nomination puts Ndigbo back in the center of governance. It is therefore important that Ndigbo should rally behind the Atiku/Obi ticket.
“We identify with the Atiku/ Peter Obi ticket on the restructuring agenda as has been reiterated by 4 zones of the country namely: South South, South West, North Central and South East.
“We believe that as long as the federating units remain weak the centre will continue to be weak. We equally move to appreciate the position of the Atiku/Obi ticket in promoting national unity.
“In conclusion, the Summit reiterated that the time is now for Ndigbo to mobilize and organize effectively to realize the Atiku/Obi ticket. We are not campaigning against anybody, we are simply campaigning for our very survival. Igbo votes must count wherever Ndigbo live in Nigeria.”
In a swift reaction, the ruling All Progressives Congress described the reported endorsement of Atiku and Obi by some South- East leaders led by Chief Ben Nwabueze as an affront on the Igbo nation.
Reacting to the development on Wednesday, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu said the Igbo people should not be fooled by any group, having been victims of underdevelopment under the PDP for 16 years.
“The APC considers Atiku and his PDP co-travellers as people who have lost any sense of shame. The purported endorsement of Atiku and PDP by some leaders of the South East for the 2019 general elections is an affront on the Igbo people who were frontline victims of the 16 years of the PDP misrule.
“It will be interesting to know what the PDP will be telling the Igbo people during the campaign. The South East people have three and half years of visible progress in terms of massive infrastructure and the thousands of common people who are benefiting from the social programme investments under APC to compare to the PDP’s 16 years of retrogression.
“We in APC are confident that the Igbo won’t be fooled by any group, by whatever name, to sell a thoroughly discredited party like the PDP to the very discerning Igbo people,” Issa-Onilu said.
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