OBINNA EZUGWU

Former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, has called for constructive engagement with other geopolitical zones to achieve Southeast presidency in 2023.

The former Secretary to the government of the federation made the call while delivering a lecture at the World Igbo Summit held at Gregory University, Uturu, Abia State on Friday.

Anyim argued that it is the turn of the Southeast to produce president in 2023, but cautioned that is not an entitlement, but a project that the zone must actively work for by building trust with other Nigerians.

“Let me again make bold to say that it can not be a gift. The concept of equal citizenship means that the nation, its resources and leadership belong to all Nigerians,” Anyim said.

“The fair application of this equality of rights concept is what guarantees the cohesion of every society, particularly a multi-ethnic nation like Nigeria. The peace, prosperity and general progress of every country is dependent on how institutions are strengthened to ensure equality before the law. In recognition of the above, it is essential to note that no particular individual or group owns the leadership of the country and so nobody gives it. Many are of the view that power is not given but taken and the only way to win power in a democracy is by persuasion and through the ballot box.

“Accordingly, we note that in the exercise of the voters right of choice under the law, the voter is protected from coercion. And so, to persuade another to exercise his right in your favour, you must seek his cooperation and alliance.

“I recommend that in our engagement with other zones and peoples, our tone must reflect negotiation, not antagonism. It must be one of friendship and not disdain or disrespect. It must show our willingness to enter into an enduring and lasting relationship for long term interest of all the parties.”

Anyim regretted that of the six zones in the country, the Southeast has the least voter turnout, which according to him, needed to change.

He emphasized that “producing a President of Nigeria of South-East extraction demands a lot of work from every segment of the Igbo nation. I therefore use this platform to call on all and sundry to rise to the occasion.
“The task is achievable if approached collectively and adequately. Most importantly, to strengthen the capacity of the Igbos of the South-East geo-political zone to negotiate and ultimately win the Presidency, there is an urgent need for civic and voter education to increase voter turnout.

“The South-East is currently the zone with the least voter turnout, and this should change. Institutions like the World Igbo Summit should actively promote voter education and civic engagement. Moreso, every Igbo organization and association should arise and promote voter education and civic engagement. I call on each and everyone of us to stand to be counted”