President of the Middle Belt Forum, MBF, Bitrus Pogu, has called on the north central states in the country to support the South East for president so that the zone can also bid for its turn after another eight years.
Pogu stated this on Thursday during the unveiling of a book titled The Challenges of Good Governance and Leadership in Nigeria – The Peter Obi Factor, which was written and presented in honour of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi.
The book, which was edited by Professor Uzodinma Nwala, captured moments when Obi displayed his leadership qualities while he was governor of Anambra State.
The book reviewer, Ireti Heebah Kingibe, described Obi as not just a national phenomenon but a pan-Africanist, as captured in the book.
Kingibe, who’s the Labour Party Senatorial candidate for the Federal Capital Territory, described Obi as having changed the political landscape which now affords Nigerians the opportunity to seize the initiative.
But speaking during the unveiling of the book, Pogu who was represented by Lanre Obafemi, warned of dire consequences for Nigerians if they allowed what he described as “a unique opportunity” to pass by.
While bemoaning the situation in the country, saying Nigeria is on “auto-pilot”, Pogu warned that, “What has happened to Nigeria will happen to any country that is oblivious of the fact that there are consequences for political choices.
“If a people refuse to look properly at the antecedents of people that are thrust forward for leadership positions what they end up with is ‘one chance’, in street language.
“With improvements in the Electoral Law, particularly the introduction of the bimodal voter accreditation system (BVAS), we can express optimism that the incredible electoral heists that we witnessed in Nigeria have become history. The real question is: Have our people learnt anything from the past?
“Saying that whatever they do will not change anything is a defeatist approach to life. If enough people commit to doing the right thing, the right thing will become the way of doing things.
“While it is true that people often follow the band wagon, all it takes for a rethink is the first person to say ‘this is not working for us’.”
He stressed that “the Middle Belt Forum dared to say ‘this government is not working for us’. Every step of the way, we have been consistent. Right from 2015, when the ominous signs showed up we sounded the alarm. It started with the appointment of most defence and security sector chiefs from one section and faith of the country. We said it was wrong.
“When they attempted to wrest ancestral lands to give to the Fulani, from RUGA to waterways bills, we pointed out the dangers inherent in the gambits.
“Today, we are faced with a very daring Muslim-Muslim ticket. If this ticket succeeds in Nigeria, the only option to forcible conversion in Nigeria is to pack up and leave Nigeria with our families. It will be very dangerous to remain Christian.
“The Holy Bible enjoins us to do unto others as we would have them deal with us. Since 1999, we have had presidents of South West, North West and South South descent. Presently, APC has thrown up another candidate of South West descent, while PDP chose another Northerner to be President immediately after President Buhari would have spent eight years.
“We think that these are very insensitive things to do. If we want national unity, we ought to treat all sections of our country equitably. We cannot be insisting that our unity as a country is not negotiable while refusing to treat the South East with decorum,” he stated.
He pointed out that the Forum has never hidden its preference that the position of President should go to the South East in the present electoral cycle, with a view to putting forward a Middle Belter when the position rotates back to the north.
“It is in our strategic interest to support the South East in the present electoral cycle, to bury the spectre of the Civil War, and to build a strong alliance that we can call upon when we stake a claim to the position of President in the not too far future.
“We cannot continue to elect persons who will turn the common treasury to their personal ATM. Government can work for us. All we need to do is to look very well at people offering their services for governance and, as communities, employ those that will work for our people. It has been done elsewhere. We can also do it.
“Political development is about what works for us as a people. It is about putting in place a system that is amenable to allowing us, old and young, to develop as far as our God-given capacities will allow.
“It is about tinkering with a system that is inhibiting our potential for growth. It is about not allowing primordial interests to corner common resources and stunting our in the process. growth potentials.”
He further noted that, “It is when we get the system right, that we can begin to dream of lofty heights that will see our country arrive as a power, in her own right, in the comity of nations. It is possible. All we need to do is insist on doing the right things at the right time. At the present time, two things need to happen in rapid succession.
“First, we need to cooperate with others that mean well for our country to elect a President of South East extraction. Luckily for us, the candidate of South East extraction that we are supporting, Mr. Peter Obi, is head above shoulders better than the other contestants.
“In terms of competence, capacity, and character, Peter Obi stands taller than other candidates. Secondly, we need to restructure our country in a way that encourages productivity and puts the peoples’ money to work for them.
“The youth of this country have shown uncommon insight and foresight, as evidenced in the way that they comported themselves and cooperated with each other during the ENDSARS protest of October 2020.
“Again, they are mobilizing to deliver a government that they think can work for Nigeria in 2023. They are in the forefront of projecting Peter Obi for President in 2023. What they could not get in 2020 through civil protest they want to achieve in 2023 through the ballot box.
“We all would do well not to stand in their way. A people that is devoid of hope is capable of descending to any level. I exhort our political class not to, in any illegal and illegitimate way, extinguish the hope that the youth and the rest of us are clinging to. With the kind of wind behind us I foresee a future where ‘may Nigeria happen to you’ would be a prayer,” he stated.