By Emma Elekwa, Onitsha
A non-political intellectual think-tank, Millennium Centre for Training and Leadership (MCTL) has lent its voice to the growing calls for the presidency to be zoned to the South East geopolitical zone.
The group particularly named Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, Vice Presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Peter Obi or former Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, (CBN) Prof. Chukwuma Soludo as strong candidates for the presidential ticket, under the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the PDP platforms.
In a press statement on Monday signed by its President, Prince Okey-Joe Onuakalusi Esq. and made available to newsmen, MCTL argued that zoning the presidency to the South East would foster a sense of belonging in the region as well as put an end to alleged political marginalization.
The statement partly read, “It will also help to douse national tension and mitigate the tide of separatism that has engulfed the region for some years now, in keeping with the ideals of inclusion, fair play, and justice in order to foster national cohesion and a more perfect union.
“This is germane for national cohesion and consensus, and inter-regional interaction for national development. A strong sense of belonging and unhinged national acceptance would help to dissolve the agitations by Pro-Biafra agitators. It would also create a nexus to heal the wounds of the past and generate national integration.
“The two major political parties, namely the APC and the PDP, should intentionally zone their presidential slots to the South East to guarantee the emergence of a President from the zone, since credible and de-tribalized Nigerians are not in short supply in the South East region.
“Ceding the presidency to candidates of Igbo extraction in all the political parties should be viewed as a national duty to promote unity, peaceful co-existence, justice, equity and permanently erase the notion of perennial marginalization of Ndigbo in the affairs of the nation.
“In the APC, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, amongst others in the party stands distinctly tall among his peers and he has enduring character, temperament and national acceptance to make a good candidate for APC and subsequently president.
“Dr. Onu has demonstrated unwavering character stability, consistency and the political sagacity and loyalty that are unmatched by anyone else. He has an impassioned belief in project Nigeria and has made giant contributions and sacrifices for national development.
“We urge all the other political parties like the PDP to field Igbo candidates like Mr. Peter Obi or Prof Chukwuma Soludo to realize the national ethos of unity base on justice and equity.
“We equally urge all Igbo presidential hopefuls from across all parties to enter into nationwide and healthy discussions with interest groups, civil society organisations and regional and geopolitical leaders with a view to positive engagement for seamless power shift.”