South-East has right to take shot at presidency — Ikpeazu

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The Governor of Abia State, Okezie Ikpeazu, has said the South-East has the right to produce Nigeria’s next president because the region has a better understanding of the country.

Ikpeazu said this while addressing State House correspondents after a visit to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), in Abuja on Thursday.

“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,” he said.

“Today, a lot of people are afraid of Sambisa, but for an Igbo man, Sambisa is a business opportunity,” he added.

Ikpeazu said the next president of Nigerian must have a Pan-Nigerian mentality with understanding of all the contending interests and influences in the country.

“The question of Nigerian 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 happens 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 will begin to unfold. So, these are my views about the presidency.

“In the first place, anybody who wants to aspire to the highest post of the presidency 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, traditions, cultures and religions. All of these must be put in 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 without necessarily throwing away the experienced ones, he must be able to find a labyrinth of all the interests.

“He must also reflect an extreme women agenda. He must be investor-friendly and an individual who understands the nuances of economics, the relationship between international politics and economy. 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 my religion believes that if you seek peace you will find it. So, that which you seek is not commonplace. We 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.

“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 if 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. We are at a critical point in our history. Anything that is self-serving, anything that is selfish, anything that leads to winner takes all mentality should be jettisoned at this time. We need to rescue our nation; we need to work hard to put Nigeria on 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 cannot not be done in isolation. 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,” the Governor said.