By Ralph Obioha
This statement is necessitated by some major factors or issues that I consider significantly critical and germane to the 2023 general election and what the conduct or outcome of the election portends for the corporate existence of Nigeria as a unified nation.
The first in reckoning is the epochal candidacy of Peter Obi which, by all credible accounts, has taken the entire nation by a storm. The Obi phenomenon is so revolutionary and swift that in as short as just few months he has come to be seen by many as the candidate to beat.
On my part as someone having the abiding authority of Igbo elder statesmen to speak on their behalf on issues like this, I make bold to say that, along with the vast majority of Nigerians, Igbo elder statesmen are solidly behind Obi, not merely because he is Igbo but because he unarguably possesses the high character and fitness to be a president.
In the recent past, there have been innuendoes from certain familiar quarters that ranking Igbo elder statesmen such as myself are not behind Obi. Nothing can be further from the truth. The latent truth is that Igbo elder statesmen did not wish to be seen as jumping out to support Obi just because he is Igbo. We simply took our time to study all the major candidates before we decided that Obi is topnotch and thus should be supported without any equivocation.
The second issue I wish to address is the rising fear that the Igbo vote might be suppressed by the rhetoric on election boycott emanating from a disaffected high-ranking member of IPOB based overseas. I used the word ‘disaffected’ because it is my understanding that the mainstream IPOB led by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is openly opposed to any election boycott.
Yet, in combination with the rising violence in Southeast, any rhetoric on election boycott in Southeast will likely dampen the maximum turnout of voters that is expected in the Southeast on 25th February, 2023. For this reason, I call on all Ndigbo to ignore or caution anybody calling for boycott of the 2023 election and prepare themselves to come and vote despite any let or hindrance.
In the same vein, I call on those pushing the self-destructive election boycott to retrace their steps. I also call on all Igbo leaders to unite behind the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu before the election, not only because he deserves his freedom but also because his release will obliterate the only justification offered by those that are calling for election boycott.
_Obioha, former caretaker president general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide and one-time member of the House of Representatives, wrote from Alaigbo._