Support for the 2023 Igbo presidency quest was rekindled at yesterday during a public lecture to mark the 80th birthday of Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu at the Imo Concord Owerri, when the leading ethnic organisations in the country Afenifere and the Middle Belt Forum (MDF) both agreed it was the turn of Ndigbo to produce the next president.
President of the MDF, Bitrus Pogu, in his goodwill message accepted that the southeast has been marginalised and should be supported for the presidency in 2023.
According to Pogu, who spoke on behalf of leader of the organisation, Theophilus Y. Danjuma, said: “This is the opportunity of the Southeast, they have been marginalised for long, they should occupy the position of the president of Nigeria and we would support them.”
Also, Secretary General of Afenifere, Shola Odunseni, said the Southeast should not be blamed for not producing the president of the country but rather the constitution of the country.
Governor Hope Uzodimma in his speech at the occasion while eulogising Iwuanyanwu on his new age blamed Igbo woes on improper negotiations. He opined that Ndigbo should cooperate with other zones to actualise their dream.
He said: “Getting to the ripe age of 80 years (or the 8th floor as we call it) is a blessing, but staying strong, lucid and articulate at 80 is a special grace that can only come from God.
“I am not surprised that Chief Iwuanyanwu has been so blessed and gifted by the Almighty because most of his life has been dedicated to the service of God and humanity,” the governor said, adding: “Let me submit that the truth of the matter is that in spite of obvious misinterpretations and misrepresentations, Igbo love Nigeria passionately and the evidence is overwhelming.
“There is no part of Nigeria, no matter how remote, where you will not find Igbo, living happily with their host communities while contributing to the growth and development of the area. I often ask this question: can a man live in a land he loathes? Can a man feel at home in a land he abhors? Will the gods of a land allow the business of a man to thrive in a land he does not wish well?
“I believe the answers to these questions are obvious, capital No. You can now fill in the gaps for the Igbo. What the Igbo seek from the country is accommodation, not domination. What they seek is acceptance and not rejection. What they seek is friendship and brotherhood, and they are also willing and able to offer the same. There is sufficient and irrevocable evidence from Nigerian history that Igbo leaders have never been found wanting in advocacy, backed by action, for Nigeria’s unity.”
Former President Goodluck Jonathan, who presided at the public lecture, to mark the milestone 80th birthday of Iwuanyanwu, in his address to the distinguished assemblage, advised Nigerian youths to shun tribalists and cast their votes for only those who will de-emphasize the ethnic and religious differences of Nigerians. He also described Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu as a man of many parts who is worthy of celebration at 80.
The public lecture titled, Igbo Quest for Nigeria Unity, was organised by Correspondents’ Chapel of the Imo State Council, Nigeria Union of Journalists in honour of the octogenarian.
Jonathan challenged Nigerian youths to take charge of their future by electing those who believe in the unity of the country and will promote peace and progress and not religious bigots.
“The incoming Nigerian leaders must take deliberate steps to whittle down the ethnic cleavages pulling us apart and pulling the nation backwards. So, my appeal to all Nigerians is to de-emphasize our differences and focus on the issues that bind us. We have over-ethnicized our politics to the detriment of our country and our collective growth. We need to stop this,” the former president said.
He pointed out that the Igbo have made enormous contributions to the progress of Nigeria and that they hold an important place in the history of the country through trade and investment.
“They are known to be excellent industrialists and entrepreneurs and scholars. They epitomize resilience amid adversity and fortitude in times of despair; these are the virtues we need to emphasize now more than ever, given our nation’s challenges,” Jonathan said.
He also praised the Guest Speaker, Chief Nnia Nwodo, who described as an orator, patriot and a great leader, who led the Ohanaze Ndi Igbo to a greater height, with courage, great zeal and an in-depth knowledge of Nigerian political history.
In the spirit of the day, President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, noted the contributions of the political leader to the social, economic and political development of the country, starting with a successful career in engineering that blossomed into a business conglomerate that daily caters for needs of Nigerians.
The President also applauded Iwuanyanwu for his role in creating opportunities for the younger generation in entrepreneurship, sports and media, enabling many to discover their talents and pursue careers that have translated into recognitions and awards.
President Buhari affirmed that the wisdom of the renowned octogenarian in advocating for a private sector driven economy has continued to pay off. He praised Iwuanyanwu for his widely acknowledged philanthropy in the areas of education and health.
Similarly, in his message to felicitate with the octogenarian, the Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party and former Vice President of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, commended Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu for his “outstanding contribution to the unity, progress and development of Nigeria,” noting that his decades of committed service speak eloquently to the evolution of Nigeria’s democracy, the expansion of the business environment, the explosion of its sporting prowess and his inspiration for irrepressible philanthropy.
He added that in politics, Iwuanyanwu’s voice and bridge-building disposition had helped in shaping and defining the future of the nation into a bounded entity committed to its oneness.
Former Governor of Abia State and Chief Whip of the Senate, Dr. Orji Kalu, while congratulating Iwuanyanwu, Kalu acknowledged the invaluable contributions of the statesman to the social, economic and political development of the country.
Kalu described the business magnate as a highly detribalized and patriotic statesman with passion for a united and indivisible Nigeria.
He said: “On behalf of the people of Abia North Senatorial District, I felicitate with Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu as he clocks 80. The elder statesman has consistently contributed to the growth and progress of Nigeria in many ways.
“As a successful businessman, community leader and philanthropist of repute, Chief Iwuanyanwu has carved a niche for himself beyond the shores of Nigeria.
“Through various platforms, the celebrant has continually demonstrated large heart, selflessness and patriotism. He is a role model for his contemporaries and the younger generation.
In the same vein, Delta State governor and Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, lauded Iwuanyanwu for his contributions to nation building, adding that the legacies of the business mogul and patriot would have good accommodation in Nigeria’s history.
Okowa said the celebrant remained one of the strong pillars of Nigeria’s growth and democratic evolution through his celebral contributions in physical, political and sports development as well as his philanthropy.
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