Former Chairman of Northern Elders’ Forum, Paul Unongo, has advised the Igbo not to wait for other Nigerians to give them the presidency, but to organise themselves as Nigerians, and not Igbo, to canvass support for their ambition to occupy the slot.
Unongo, who resigned during the peak of herdsmen killings in Benue and Plateau states, expressed fear that Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo might not sacrifice their ambition of becoming President in 2023 for the Igbo after working so hard to capture power from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Speaking with The Sun newspapers, the elder statesman said, “I will not look at the Igbo Presidency, I will look at Nigerian Presidency. I am not going to be boxed, I am not going to be forced, I am not going to be pushed to play the foolish thing that some people are playing by talking about Igbo Presidency.
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“Will it be fair to now tell people like Prof Yemi Osinbajo or Tinubu who came into this alliance (the ruling party) that an Igbo man has to be president, so after Buhari the ambition of Tinubu should be quashed, the vice president should not nurse the ambition to be president.
“Tinubu that is the leader of a political party that is winning election should not nurse ambition, will that be fair?
“I think what I am telling you is that, the Igbo should stop destroying potential Igbo people that are old enough to take up this challenge. I want an Igbo man to organise me like the Yoruba people organised us and I want an Igbo man who will organise us just like the way a Hausa man organised us and we will get to a point that we will not be calling on tribes.
“If Rochas Okorocha comes and wants to be president of Nigeria I will support him, if Ben Nwabueze is strong and says this place has become upside down. So, we men of ideas should try to be president, if I am standing as presidential aspirant and Ben Nwabueze is standing, I will step down for him and I will canvass for him.
“I canvassed for Zik, I took him across the whole of this nation. I was the General Secretary of the Party that pushed Zik to become the president of this nation.
“He was Igbo, but we didn’t sit down in one place and said since he was an Igbo, let him be president, no. I presented him to Nigeria and said this is the best material we have as president. We didn’t have money and he was the best material and I was very proud.
“I didn’t feel I was being disloyal to the North, I didn’t feel I was being disloyal to the Fulani or Tiv, no. I just felt that out of the human beings in the country the best person that could be president then was Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe.”
Unongo, however, added, “I am encouraging my son, Rochas Okorocha, to come out and stand as president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He has more guts and courage than anybody I have seen from the East. I will support him if he comes out.”