The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar on Wednesday 14 November received a major endorsement from Igbo leaders and elders from the five states of the South East geopolitical zone.

Atiku met the leaders in a meeting called under the auspices of Nkpoko Igbo at the prestigious Nike Lake Resort Hotel at Emene near Enugu. He came to the meeting with several chieftains of his party including senate president, Bukola Saraki, party chief, Uche Secondus and his running mate, Peter Obi

Several Igbo dignitaries were in attendance including the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo and the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe amongst many others.

In the aftermath of Alhaji Abubakar’s choice of Peter Obi as his running mate in September, grumbles had emerged from the ranks of PDP leaders in the southeastern region who felt that their decisive role in the emergence of Atiku as the party flag-bearer should have earned them the privilege of consultation before such major decision concerning the region were made.

Mr. Atiku already on his way for a foreign trip pledged upon return to call on the region for explanations and additional consultations.

He kept his word on 14 November.

The meeting, chaired by renowned constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, who is largely credited with authoring the first Nigerian presidential constitution of 1979, in his remarks pointed out that restructuring of Nigeria and the agenda for the Igbo in 2019 were the main thrust for the gathering.

The concourse tagged ‘Ahamaefula’, the professor said, the “beginning of a new struggle to assert Igbo full citizenship in Nigeria”.

The octogenerian threw his weight behind the Atiku Abubakar presidential project and also urged Ngigbo to support the project, insisting that the actualisation of the ticket remains the visible means of political survival for Ndigbo.

In an emotional moment, he specifically stated that Atiku Abubakar’s ascendancy to the presidency and his accomplishment of the restructuring of Nigeria were his last wish “before I join my ancestors”.

“It is unfortunate that those who pioneered the independence of the country have been totally alienated in their own country and that is why we are here. We have to support the ticket that will ensure our (Igbo) survival. That ticket is the joint ticket of Atiku Abubakar and Peter Obi.

“We must not allow this opportunity to slip out of our hands. If we, the Igbo leaders gathered here cannot actualise this ticket, then we should be ashamed of ourselves. We must work hard to achieve this because it is the best way for us to go at this time.

“We are not campaigning for anybody but we are campaigning for our self survival. We must achieve this joint ticket of Atiku/Obi because it is our desire to do so and we are determined to actualise it. Igbos should do this as their last gift for me,” he said.

Later, in a five-point communique issued at the end of the summit with the theme “Ndigbo 2019 and Beyond”, the leaders said that their position was based on the restructuring agenda put on the table by Atiku/Obi, which four zones of the country had agreed upon.

The communique read by a legal luminary Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) said: “The Igbo people of Nigeria held a 1 day non-partisan and inclusive summit convened by elders, traditional and religious leaders on Wednesday 14th November 2018 to consider Ndigbo’s place in the polity especially in light of the forthcoming 2019 elections.

“The summit deliberated on the state of Ndigbo in Nigeria today especially after years of exclusion from the centre. This country has never been so divided as it is today. We Igbos have always yearned for a level playing field with justice, equity and fairness.

“The summit recognised the nomination of His Excellency Mr. Peter Obi former governor of Anambra State as the vice-presidential candidate of the PDP and fully endorses this nomination. It was acknowledged that this nomination puts Ndigbo back in the centre of governance. It is therefore important that Ndigbo should rally behind the Atiku/Obi ticket.

“We identify with the Atiku/Peter Obi ticket on the restructuring agenda as has been reiterated by 4 zones of the country namely: South South, South West, North Central and South East. We believe that as long as the federating units remain weak the centre will continue to be weak. We equally move to appreciate the position of the Atiku/Obi ticket in promoting national unity.

“In conclusion, the summit reiterated that the time is now for Ndigbo to mobilise and organise effectively to realise the Atiku/Obi ticket. We are not campaigning against anybody, we are simply campaigning for our very survival. Igbo votes must count wherever Ndigbo live in Nigeria.”

Among personalities present at the meeting were

Sen. Ben Obi

Prof. Ben Nwabueze

Sen. Chris Anyanwu

Chief Achike Udenwa

Chief Onyema Ugochukwu

Prof. Anya O. Anya

Amb. Emeka Ugwu-Oji

Amb. Frank Ogbuewu

Lawrence Nwuruku

Sen. Enyinnaya Abaribe

Prof. A.B.C. Nwosu

Prof. Uche Azikwe

Amb. George Obiozor

Chief Gary Igariwey (former Ohanaeze Ndigbo President-General)

Lt.Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika (rtd)

Chief Olisa Agbakoba (SAN)

Prof. Osita Ogbu

Dr. Okwesileze Nwodo

Chief Felix Mgbada

Archbishop Maxwell Anikwenwa

Prof Walter Ofornagoro

Commodore James Anieke (rtd)

Chief Abel Chukwu

Prof. Uzodimma Nwala

Amb. Lawrence Agubuzo

Chief Adolphus Wabara

Amb. George Obiozor

Chief Nnia Nwodo (Ohanaeze Ndigbo President)

Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu

Prof. ABC Nwosu

Prof. (Mrs.) Uche Azikiwe

Chief Onyema Ugochukwu

Senator Theodore Orji

Chief Emeka Ugwu-Oju

Prof. Osita Ogbu

Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo

Chief Lawrence Nwuruku

Prof. Walter Ofonagoro

Commodore James Aneke (rtd)

Prof. Elochukwu Amucheazi

Prof. Uzodinma Nwala

Senator Adophus Wabara

Air Comdr Allison Madueke

Igwe Afred Achebe, Obi of Onitsha

Prof. Anya O. Anya

Prof. Chudi Uwazurike

Major Gen. Obi Umahi (rtd)

Uzodinma Okpara, son of the former Premier Eastern Region

Esom Nwafor Orizu, (daughter of the former acting President of Nigeria).

Hon. Emeka Ihedioha.

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