Governor Ikpeazu also said that the South East should not look at the 2023 presidency as a right, rather they should negotiate with other parts of the country on the need to allow the zone to produce the President of the country.
AHEAD of the 2023 presidential elections in the country, the Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, Thursday said that the South East should be considered for the position of president of Nigeria because they know the country more than other people.
This is as he said that because of the industrious and adventurous nature of the Igbo, the Sambisa forest where people may be afraid to go because of the presence of the Boko Haram Islamist terrorists, the Igbo man will see the Sambisa.as a business opportunity.
Fielding questions from State House correspondents after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja, on his position on the clamour for a president of South East extraction in 2023, the governor said that Igbos are pan-Nigerians who live and invest everywhere in the country.
But he maintained that the issue of Igbo presidency in 2023 cannot be a matter of right but something that should be achieved through negotiations and conversations.
While distancing himself from the 2023 presidential race, Governor Ikpeazu, told political parties to consider the yearnings and aspirations of the South East in selecting their presidential candidates.
Asked about his view on an Igbo president and whether he would contest the election, he said, “I’m not interested in the presidency. I’m 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.
“We are yet in 2021 and it will be self-serving for me to begin to think about what I will become instead of concentrating on serving my people for time they elected me.
“May be after 2023, I’ll begin to think about what next I’ll do.
“Having said that, I think that the south easterners 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.
“Today, a lot of people, on a lighter note are afraid of Sambisa. But for an ibo man, Sambisa is a business opportunity.
“So, it will be preposterous of me not to add my voice to that one.
“However, the question of Nigeria president of South East extraction is a national question that requires 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.”
Responding to another question on the qualities that the 2023 presidential candidate should possess and how the political parties may choose the individual, Dr. Ikpeazu said that the person must have a pan-Nigerian mentality.
According to him, “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 different persuasions, tradition, culture, religions 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 the future have not serve 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, the person 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 person must also be in investor-friendly, he must be an 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 a 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 you seek peace and you will find it. So, that which you seek is not commonplace. So, 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.”
Addressing the role of political parties in the emergence of the desired president, Ikpeazu stated:“What the political parties need to do. Well, the political parties need to be sensitive to the feelings of the various contending forces 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. 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 cannot 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.”
Ikpeazu, who described Abia as the safest state in the country, said he met President Buhari to felicitate with him on the Yuletide season, thank him for projects in the South East and as well to brief him on the Enyimba Economic City, which he said would provide jobs for 625,000 Nigerians.
He said that the desire of the state government was that President Buhari would perform groundbreaking of the Enyimba Economic City in 2022.
\He said the project is a collaboration that involves the state government, the Federal Government, and the private sector.