The Igbo Leadership Development Foundation (ILDF), a foremost pan- Igbo organisation, which, for years, has embarked on the campaign for a Nigerian President of South-East extraction, has rejected the decision of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP NEC to throw the party’s presidential ticket open.
In a statement signed by its five principal officers, the group also condemned the South-East representatives in the Governor Samuel Ortom led PDP zoning committee for endorsing the decision to throw open the presidential ticket of PDP despite the express provision of the PDP constitution for rotation.
The group also announced that they are still in hot pursuit of their case in an Abuja Federal High Court seeking to compel the political parties to adhere to the Federal Character Principle enshrined in the 1999 constitution, and zone their presidential tickets to the South-East.
The body equally appealed to former President Dr Goodluck Jonathan to shelve his presidential ambition and back the South-East, a zone that has always been there for him. Below is the full text of the ILDF press Statement released in Abuja. ..
The Igbo Leadership Development Foundation is deeply worried about some disturbing developments in the polity as the nation gears up for the 2023 Presidential Election and wishes to address some of them as follows…
REJECTION OF THE DECISION TO THROW OPEN THE PDP PRESIDENTIAL TICKET
ILDF notes that the decision of the opposition PDP to throw the Party’s presidential ticket open is an affront to the PDP constitution and the prevailing convention, which stipulates that presidential power shall rotate between North and South Nigeria and further rotate within the two divides. We note that this has been the trend and practice since 1999.
It is therefore unfortunate and disheartening to hear some PDP members lamely argue that selection of flag-bearers is solely an internal affair of the political parties, but they forget that Nigerian courts also have to compel any organisation, including a political party (PDP inclusive), to obey their laws. ILDF has already gone to court on related grounds. PDP and the other political parties cannot change the goalpost in the middle of the game without consequences as if the South-East are not stakeholders in the Nigeria project.
SOUTH-EAST REPS IN ORTOM PDP ZONING COMMITTEE BETRAYED OUR PEOPLE
ILDF wants to also place on record our condemnation in the strongest possible terms, the acceptance and endorsement of the recommendation of the Ortom PDP zoning committee that the PDP presidential ticket be thrown open.
This is self-evident since Gov Ortom made it clear that the decision was unanimous and none of them has challenged him since then. The so-called representatives of the South-East in that Committee, therefore, represented only themselves and should bear in mind that they have truly betrayed our people and gave the PDP the impetus and leeway to trample on the right South-East, whose turn it is to produce Nigeria’s President for 2023. Posterity will not be kind to them.
ILDF LEGAL BATTLE IN ADVANCED STAGE
As already stated, ILDF twice told Nigerians that we shall challenge PDP’s action in court if the party does not produce a South-East presidential candidate. We have since done so and even expanded the dragnet to include all the 18 registered political parties. ILDF is in an Abuja Federal High Court since 2021 for a judgment that will compel the political parties to adhere to the provisions of Federal Character in the 1999 Constitution(as amended) and zone their presidential tickets to the South-East.
This legal battle will also consequentially compel the PDP to respect its laws. For the records, PDP included in its constitution, the principle of rotation of the office of the president between North and South Nigeria. For the avoidance of doubt, the PDP party constitution amended in 2009 states in Article 7(2c): ‘In pursuance of the principle of equity, justice and fairness, the party shall adhere to the policy of rotation and zoning of the party and public elective offices, and it shall be enforced by the appropriate executive committee at all levels.’ Apart from the violation of Federal Character, this express and extant provision in its Constitution is what the PDP is bent on flagrantly violating as if there can be no consequences. We warn again, that there will be consequences, even beyond legal remedy, which we are already seeking.
In this regard, we commend Rt. Hon. Ike Ibe, former speaker of Abia state House of Assembly who has also gone to court to contest throwing the PDP presidential ticket open to the whole country. We urge you to press on as we too are determined to see our suit to its logical conclusion, as they both have similar endings.
DR. GOODLUCK JONATHAN SHOULD SHELVE AMBITION AND BACK SOUTH-EAST
ILDF wishes to appeal to the former President of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan to shelve his presidential ambition and salvage his statesman’s status, which has been battered by his desire to return as the President of Nigeria. We acknowledge the constitutionality and legality of Dr Goodluck Jonathan’s aspiration. But the way the country is configured and the zoning and rotation principles at issue, which give the South-East the right of first refusal, place a moral burden on the former Nigerian President.
We share the bitterness arising from the massive betrayal that Dr Goodluck suffered at the hands of the PDP leadership in 2015, but we equally believe that joining APC to return to power is both desperate and precarious and likely not to have a happy end.
ILDF further urges Dr Goodluck Jonathan to instead of throwing his hat in the ring and incur further reputational damage and suffer his integrity further, he should back the South-East, which has always stood by him. We strongly recommend that he (Jonathan) should specifically reach out to his former appointees, former and present governors, NASS leaderships and members under his time as President, many of whom may be statutory delegates, and appeal to them to support the South-East. The aspiration of the zone to produce Nigeria’s President in 2023 is most justified and will be a win-win for all.
Jonathan’s intervention in this regard will go a long way in pushing through the noble and equity quest.
Dr Jonathan is also an influential and highly respected former President and is in the best position to appeal to his colleagues and even the retired generals and assure them that there is nothing to fear from the South-East Nigerian Presidency.
WE ARE PROUD OF PETER OBI, OTHER S/EAST ASPIRANTS
ILDF is equally proud to note that Peter Obi heeded our call to join the presidential race and has, as we predicted, become phenomenal and a movement in such a short time. We are equally happy for the South-East presidential aspirants. You have all put to shame our detractors who touted the zone as having no viable aspirant.
APPEAL TO DELEGATES
Once more, ILDF urges the delegates for the presidential primaries to think deeply about the future of our nation and that of their children. There is no amount they will collect at the primaries to vote for the wrong person that will assuage the suffering they and other Nigerians would be subjected to for another 4 to 8 years.
South-East has thrown up Peter Obi who bestrides both merit and zoning. Matched against any other aspirant in the two main political parties, he stands far taller, and his national acceptability is confirmed in all opinion polls where he comfortably leads the packs. South-East has one or two other viable aspirants, apart from Peter Obi.
AGAIN, THE CRITERIA FOR THE PRESIDENT NIGERIA NEEDS IN 2023… INTEGRITY FIRST!
Finally, may we reiterate, that the ILDF criteria for the President of Nigeria in 2023 remain: Integrity, Capacity/Competence, National visibility and acceptability, among others. As we once stated and warned in the press conference where we urged Peter Obi to join the race, Integrity is the foremost qualification for the leader that Nigeria and Nigerians need in 2023. In the absence of Integrity, we may end up electing a competent rogue and repeat the mistakes of the past.
May God see Nigeria and Nigerians through 2023. Let common sense prevail for the sake of social justice, equity, unity and progress in our beloved nation, Nigeria.
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
DR. GODWIN I. UDIBE
DR. LAW O. MEFOR
Vice-Chairman/Director of Public Affairs
ONYEBUCHI OBETA ESQ
Director of Finance