Leaders of the 19 northern state Igbo delegates assembly and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), have declared their support to the All Progressives Congress (APC), presidential candidate General Muhammadu Buhari for March 28 Presidential election.
Speaking at the Buhari campaign office in Abuja on Friday, President General of Igbo’s living in the north, Sam Demian Enyama, described Buhari as a man of impeccable character and urged south easterners to downplay any religious and tribal sentiments in the coming polls and vote Buhari on the 28 of March, adding that Buhari’s presidency will address the pressing needs of all the regions.
On his part Eze’udo of the 19 norther state, Uche Egenti said as Igbos who have lived in the north for many years, knows Buhari and what he stands for, he said ” We are here to support your aspiration to become the president of this country, we know you it is easier to work with you because what you stand for. We are not ready to be plunge into another civil and we are pleading with you to help us organize Nigeria again. We want discipline to reign again.
“We want to pled with you to help galvanized Nigeria once more, let the discipline rain again in Nigeria, let the polity be sensitized. A lot of people have complain that the issues about you is religion but we know you are not a religious bigot. You are a very firm articulated officer of the Nigerian army. In 1983 when Nigeria was at a verge of collapse, you came in and rescue it.
“We are here to affirm our support on the use of the permanent voters card, because it will be decency in the polity and will bring credibility to the election. We are here to pled with you that you should remember that the Igbo’s are behind you.
Responding, General Buhari said, “This meeting is an act of God because we have agreed on our programmes since and Chief Ogbonnaya Onu came to me and said that this meeting must take place. I tried to get out of it by going through the programme with him and telling him that I have visited 35 states excluding Yobe and because of the additional unsolicited six weeks grace granted, another programme was drawn and to conduct some town hall meeting. I told him that, we are scheduled to go to Owerri and Onitisha to meet the Igbo leadership and business community. So, why not let us merge the two events. He said no, these are Igbos from the 19 Northern states and eventually, I gave up and said let it be done at the expense of our holidays. That was how I got him off my back.
“I have no regrets holding this meeting because he educated me about this organization in the respective states which I was unaware of. He told me the details and I appreciate this organisation because of your experiences especially when crisis happened in this country. I could recall the good old days. When it is Christmas and new year, virtually, businesses closed up in the north especially in Kano until the Igbos goes back again because the businesses will pick up again. After the interruption of the civil war, I must admit that the elements of the first republic civil service were good because to the best of my knowledge, where ever Igbos have property on town, there were committees in the respective towns, the property were repaired, given it for rent, an account opened for them. After the war, the Igbos that survived came back and claimed their property and the savings made. That is why I think that the neigbourhood you choose were responsible because after all, people did not know what you have in terms of landed property. I thank the civil servants of those good old days because the committees were developed with very clear and firm terms of reference and the Igbos property were looked after and they claimed them back. I think they did well.
“I think that I am the only Army officer to command three of the four Nigerian Army divisions. Again, from 2nd Lieutenant, all the Command and Staff appointments I don’t think I missed any. My colleagues were Col. Ugokwe, GC. Ojukwu and they can bear testimony to that. On the political side, I became governor of the north east which is now six states and spent three and half years in Ministry of Petroleum, twenty months as Head of States and 40 months in detention eventually. I think I have seen quite a lot in Nigeria. After going top and sliding down, why did I join politics? There were two reasons which I have mentioned on several occasion. I have to bore you this because I don’t want you to slow down on whatever you are doing.
Keep on trying, God will repay you one way or the other. I was sitting at home after I got out of detention and thought people will leave me alone. I didn’t even build a filling station, not to talk of owing an oil block and so I thought I have lost their sympathy. But they kept coming to me and there was nothing I could do and then I speculated that maybe when I get into partisan politics, I will get into a position to be heard and then something happened in 1991 and the Soviet Union collapsed. They were the first to go into space and in terms of nuclear war heads and conventional forces, they were superior to NETO and their social problem was very good. It just collapsed and people just went home and now, there are 18 Republic in the old Soviet Union. That was when I decided that the best form of governance is multi party democratic system with a big proviso that elections must be free and fair. Other wise, the whole thing will be a sham and it is in pursuit of that, that I am on my fourth attempt to get the highest office.
In the fist three attempt, I ended up at the Supreme Court because I believe in the system. There is no point believing in a system and conducting yourself half hazardly. I am telling you that I fill fulfilled because when I decided to join politics in April 2002, I joined APP even though there was PDP and they were in government. But I went into the opposition even though there were governors, senators, members of the House of Representatives in the party, but the following year, they gave me the ticket and what did I do with the ticket? I got the late Chuba Okadigbo to be my running mate and by that, I blew the mind of people about my tribal or religious position. In 2007, I picked Chief Ume Ezeoke and again, he was Igbo.“So, I dispel any question about my being a religious bigot or a tribalist. Later picked Pastor Bakare and now, I am running with a Pastor, Prof. Osinbajo. The issue of religion has been taken into account in this country, but then, it is what human beings are worth in politics that they may be able to earn the efforts they are putting in. I am very grateful to Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu for organizing this meeting. I a, even more grateful that the leadership of the Igbo community in the north decided to turn up. It is important that we continue to make sure that we are broad minded. The beauty of this system is what I have mentioned already.
Let the government respect Nigerians and individuals and let them to choose and elect those they want to lead them. If that is done, Nigerians will be surprised about how peaceful this country will be. I think that in every human being there is an element of rebellion. If you try to force a human being to do something he doesn’t like, he will develop a way of resisting it. But if you develop a system and persuade him to accept the system, then, Justice must be done and you will be surprise how peaceful you will live. But if you try to force it, I am afraid that you will keep on suffering. Look at what we have suffered in the last 16 years.
Most of you are business people and always out there. Maybe you don’t even need computers because your head is just like a recorder. You import and know the exchange rate. Where were we 16 years ahold when PDP took over this country and where are we now. How much was the naira to the dollar now and how much is if now. Does it mean that you will not sell the things that you have in your shop now because people cannot afford them because the naira is now about N230 to the dollar. I think that as a community, You are more affected in Nigeria than anyone else. You are the ones that go from Singapore to China and all over the world to make the contacts and order things. You don’t order them in naira, but in dollars or pound starlings or yen. Now, you need trailer load of naira to maintain your businesses. Remember what we earned from 1999 till now. But then, where is the Nigeria Railways that we have been talking about, where is the Nigeria Airways, where is the Nigeria Shipping line, where are the roads and where is the money we earned.
There are states now that haven’t paid salaries for months. Corrupt PDP governors cannot even pay salaries. I don’t think you can support this type of government anymore. It will be impossible because the worse has almost happened. If everybody is impoverished, what do we do? Do we eat grass? What we identified in APC are three fundamental things that we remain relevant and we hope, God willing, if we get into government having campaigned on those three fundamental issues, we will deliver on those three fundamental issues so that you can physically see. I think that those who are really poor and live in the rural areas hardly have anything to lose, but you who criss cross the world using your resources, when you are grounded, you feel it harder. It is a fact of life.“What are the three things we identified? First, security, the death of the economy as a result of which there is mass unemployment and three corruption. Throughout my visit to 35 states, I mentioned these three things and nobody ever challenged me on that. We cannot continue like this because this is our country. No sentiment and nothing should make us change our mind. We just have to get rid of PDP and start building Nigeria again.“In 1983, when we came in, we felt that change has to take place because I was involved in the military government that handed over to the second republic and as Minister of Petroleum, I was holding one of the most important appointment. The military handed over a relatively, materially and physically secured country to the second republic. In four year, three months, if anybody tells you that he knew how much debt Nigeria incurred after spending what the military left, he is telling you a lie because when we came, because of the debt Nigeria has incurred, we had to put in place two committees, one local and one foreign to help find out how we incurred the debt and how we are going to pay for it.“So really, the question of patriotism is a very serious issue. The damage has been done, you are in a position under the system to make a difference and I am appealing to you to make sure that this difference is made. We are not doing anybody any favour, we are doing a favour to ourselves because we have no other country than Nigeria.
“I am very happy with your kindness in coming to Abuja to see me and to support the APC. I assure you that you will not regret it. We are patriotic, Nigeria is our problem because we have no other country, but Nigeria”.