Evangelist Elliot Ugochukwu-Uko, founder of Igbo Youth Movement (IYM), has appealed to Edwin Clark, elder statesman and former minister of information to withdraw his endorsement of Timipre Sylva and throw his weight behind Southeast presidency in 2023.
Uko who made the appeal to the elder statesman in a statement on Friday, expressed reservations with his decision to endorse Sylva, minister of state for petroleum who is from Bayelsa State, south-south, despite his known support for Southeast presidency.
“Highly revered Chief Edwin Clark’s support for power shift to the South East is highly commendable, but his equal support to South South aspirants such as Timipre Sylva, makes his support for power shift to the South East, look suspect,” Uko who is also the secretary of Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA), said.
“Chief Edwin Clark endorsed Timipre Sylva and gave him his full backing, while giving us the impression that he believes power should shift to the South East. Quite confusing.
“Which brings me to the altercation between Chief Edwin Clark and Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.
“Senator Kalu had complained bitterly over the greed and insensitivity of our southern brethren from the South West and South South, who discreetly count on using the age long anti Igbo emotions in the country, to scuttle South East presidency in 2023, by grabbing the presidency for themselves, thereby keeping the South East effectively away from the plum office for at least another sixteen years, as power will revert back to the North for their eight years, after SW or SS must have done their eight years.
“Keeping South East out for sixteen years after Obasanjo’s eight years as President and Osinbajo’s eight as VP, simply means that all South East politicians will be too old to contest the Presidency in 2039 when power will rotate back to the South again.
“Senator Kalu had argued that the two big parties should have zoned the presidency to the South East as the country did in 1998 for the South West.
“He frowned at the pretense and hypocrisy that a South East candidate stands a chance against a South West or South South candidate in the heated ethnic politics of Nigeria.
“He lamented over the lack of consideration and inequity displayed by our Southern brethren who are scheming to further isolate the South East by denying the South East the opportunity to lead Nigeria for a season come 2023.
“Now, the game is that our Southern brethren are cleverly pretending that they do not know that the configuration of the anti Igbo coalition that prosecuted the civil war (1967-1970), will always mobilise votes for the other non Igbo candidate running against the South East candidate in the spirit of the ever-alive anti Igbo emotions ruling the country, mostly as a result of the huge envy the Igbo man’s success in trade and commerce usually elicits.
“Moreover, religious leaders and other opinion leaders would readily and easily mobilise their people against the South East candidate in preference for the other Southern choice.
“Therefore, the only truthful way to heal the land, would be to replay the 1998 scenario where the two big parties zoned the presidency to the South West, but this time, doing same to the South East.
“Any body pretending they are unaware of anti Igbo sentiments in the land, that would jeopardise South East candidate’s chances to the benefit of a South West or South South counter choice, is insincere and mischievous.
“No South East candidate will stand a chance against a South West or South South candidate given the anti Igbo sentiments in the land.
“Accordingly I plead with Chief Edwin Clark to kindly plead with aspirants from the South West and South South to kindly withdraw from the race, in order to allow the South East produce candidates for both parties, as that remains the only way to heal the land. In the spirit of Obasanjo and Falae from the South West in 1999.
“Anything short of this is hypocritical, deceptive and mischievous. Trusting in Chief Clark’s influence and ability to mobilise other elders from other regions to buy into our plea, we hope that our plea will be taken seriously.
“Three weeks to the primaries may seem late in the day, but in politics 24 hours is enough to change the dynamics of the game.
“Yes, we agree that all these would have been done at least two years ago. We also agree that lobbying would have been concluded at least two years ago, but scamming the good people of the South East with pretentious and fake support, is unkind and ungodly. The country should do for the South East what we all did for the South West 24 years ago.
“In that connection, we stand 100% with Senator Orji Uzor Kalu that the two big parties should kindly zone the presidential slot for the 2023 elections to the South East for equity, justice and fairness.
“We plead with Chief Edwin Clark to withdraw his support and endorsement for Chief Timipre Sylva and help mobilise elders and statesmen from other regions to prevail upon politicians and leaders of the two big political parties to kindly zone the presidential ticket of both parties to the South East this time around.
“Anything else is mere grand standing, deception and sheer mischief.”