Presidency: Abia gov makes case for South East

Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, has backed agitation to zone the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential ticket in 2023 to the South East. Last week, PDP stakeholders, at a National Executive Council meeting (NEC) in Abuja, zoned the party’s national chairmanship position to the North.

In his reaction to agitations that the South East should be allowed to produce the party’s 2023 presidential candidate, the governor told Daily Sun, yesterday, that it was right and proper for his party to zone the presidency to the South after President Muhamamadu Buhari would have completed his two terms of eight years in the spirit of equity and justice.

He, however, reiterated that it would be left to the three southern zones to go to the negotiation table to micro-zone it to the particular region that has never produced the president.

“Our zoning options have been spelt out by the PDP and it says that the chairmanship of the party should go to the North in 2023. As an individual, I feel that the weight of equity and justice favours the president from the South and when we come to the South, we find out which zone has not yet produced the president and give then ticket to that zone.”

The governor also said the current faceoff between the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafran (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu and the Federal Government could be resolved on the negotiation table to pave the way for peace and justice.

“We must engage with IPOB. Yes, we must find a way to talk about the issues at stake. These people are not as bad as the ones in the North East or the North West, who go to schools and seize the whole population of teachers and students or invade the mosques and churches and kidnap all the worshippers and nobody can find them until ransom is paid.

“I believe that there is some ideological sense in what these people in the South East are saying. There is something to listen to even though it is criminal to take up arms against the state. “There is a message they are trying to pass in the process. We need confidence building among ourselves rather than use words that we should not use even as leaders.

“Nigeria is sitting on a keg of gunpowder but the solution is not too difficult to find.

“I regard Nnamdi Kanu as my citizen but not as leader of IPOB because I am the governor. I am prepared to engage to resolve the issue. I care about his welfare and I care that he should be tried in a just and fair way. I am happy that they want to bring justice to bear by looking at the allegations against him and trying him fair and square but I would not want him to be treated as if he was a convict when he has not be convicted. Not until otherwise, he is still my citizen and as his father, it behoves on us to care for him after all the prodigal son had a father.

“The scenario you have in the South East appears as if we are running away from the foundation of solving the problem of IPOB but you must recognise the fact that the apparatus of security lies heavily on the Federal Government.

“That is why when IPOB gives sit-at-home order, the governors are unable to counter effectively because they do not have control over federal police, which are neither adequate nor well equipped to deal with security challenge. “The problem is further compounded by the fact that there is proliferation of small arms in the hands of people who should not have them. We also have ill-equipped, inadequate and underfunded police system in the land.

“If you call governors the chief security officers of their states and they cannot determine the number of policemen they can deploy and the kind of equipment to use, then it becomes extremely difficult for governors to take control of security issues in the South East. The South East governors are handicapped but we are trying our best,” he said.

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