Igbo leaders castigating the emergence of Mr Peter Obi as Nigeria’s president in 2023 are outcasts.
Gov Samuel Ortom of Benue State stated this on Monday when he hosted the Igbo Community Assembly in Benue State at the new Banquet Hall of the Benue Peoples House, Makurdi.
Obi is the presidential candidate of the Labour Party in the 2023 general elections. Dr Ortom tasked Igbos in the country to seize the wide acceptance of Mr Obi to ensure his victory during the Feb 25 presidential polls.
Governor Ortom said, “I know that if there are people who are connected in this world, it is the Igbos. This is an opportunity you have to say that an Igbo man from the South East is president because some of us believe in the unity of Nigeria. We believe in working together. That is why we accommodate everybody here. We believe in the unity of this country and so let us not miss this opportunity that God himself is providing.
“Obi’s matter is not about PDP, APC or SDP or any other political party. It is about Nigeria. I can sacrifice my senatorial ambition for Obi.”
He added, “You are many. You have the population and thank God that what is unfolding. Peter Obi is someone that is not bonded by ethnicity and that is why when I hear some prominent Igbo personalities castigating Peter Obi for contesting election, I feel sad.”
He further inquired, “Is it not you Igbos that are lamenting that you have been marginalized since after the war? An opportunity has come today and you are still complaining? The whole country, North, South, East and West, are saying Peter Obi, and you hear some people saying we don’t want it. Haba! Those people should be outcast.”
The governor commended the Igbo for their contributions towards socio-cultural, economic and political development, stating that their economic models of empowering younger generations were unequalled.
He particularly commended the Igbo community in the state for coexisting peacefully with people of Benue, saying, “You live and do your business among our people without violence. The value addition that you have done here is great.”
He expressed appreciation to the Igbo community for conferring on him and his wife chieftaincy titles, stating that it would foster his relationship with Igbo people whom he noted have inspired him particularly in doing business.
The president general of Igbo Community Assembly, Engr Friday Anigor, extolled Governor Ortom for providing a conducive environment for Igbos in the state to do their commerce.
He said Ortom’s drive towards total security and protection of lives and property of all citizens in the state was highly appreciated by the Igbo community.
Quoting him, “The recognition, affection and appointment of Igbo sons and daughters in your government are gratefully acknowledged.”
The Igbo Community Assembly, led by its traditional council chairman, Prof Charles Ariahu, conferred on Governor Ortom the Igbo chieftaincy title of ‘Agu Na-Eche Mba I’, and the governor’s wife, Eunice, bagging the title of ‘Uno Agu I’ of Benue State.
The chieftaincy titles were in recognition of the ‘positive endeavours by Ortom and his wife as the voice of the voiceless and defender of the people’, the Igbo leaders said.
They also prayed for the victory of Ortom in his senatorial bid to represent Benue North-West Senatorial District in the National Assembly.