Ahead of the 2023 presidential race, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has said any presidential aspirant from the South-East must meet its stipulated criteria
The group communicated this through the National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Alex Ogbonnia, in an exclusive interview with newsmen at the weekend.
Although the group had stressed that they do not have a favorite candidate among the presidential aspirants, adding such aspirants must be highly intellectual, patriotic and one with audacity.
Ogbonnia noted that such qualities were necessary for anybody with presidential ambition.
“Such a person must also have political sagacity and national appeal. He must be patriotic and above all, must have a track record of accomplishment,” Ogbonnia added.
Ogbonnia who field reply on whether it would invite aspirants from the South-East for a meeting on the need to give more favorable aspirants opportunity to avoid jeopardizing the chances of the zone during the primaries said it would be done when all must have expressed their interest.
“We want more aspirants to come out first. Assuming we had called for a meeting about four days ago (Sunday), we wouldn’t have seen the likes of Chief David Umahi; we wouldn’t have seen the likes of the Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.
“So, let them begin to come out; it will come to a point where we can now decide whom Ndigbo will support,” Ogbonnia said.
The National Publicity Secretary, however, said it would not screen any aspirants as Ohanaeze already know the credentials of every Igbo man of note.
“We already know their credentials. There’s no person in Igboland of note we don’t know of his background. So, they don’t require any screening,” he added.
Asked if Ohanaeze would meet with the two major political parties to pick a candidate from the region, Ogbonnia replied in affirmative saying, “Yes, we have already done that in several fora and we’ll continue on that.”
Meanwhile, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo General Assembly Worldwide has called on the South-East to consult widely and build bridges for the coming race.
It noted that if Igbo would have any stake in the Nigerian project in the coming elections, they should not threaten other tribes and regions in the country.
The Director-General, Strategic Planning, and Implementations, Tony Obizoba, Made this known in a statement.
According to him, “Our position on the forthcoming general elections is that the Ndi Igbo if they need any position, should build bridges and consult widely within the various divides, not asking anybody that has declared interest to drop his interest and wait for Ndi Igbo to come and present its candidate.
“We urge our people that if we must have a stake in the project called Nigeria, then we have to begin to build bridges with immediate effect. We have to build a wider consultation from the stakeholders of Ndigbo. Ohanaeze Ndigbo is urging all stakeholders to unite as one, dialogue, and consult widely with the North and West to be able to establish their presence and cordial relationship before talking of attaining any certain position.
“We are not going to play along with the other group of people calling themselves Ohanaeze Ndigbo and who are asking those that have declared interest to run for the presidential seat to drop their ambition”.