By Harry Awurumibe, Editor, Abuja Bureau
As the level of insecurity in Nigeria especially in the South East geo-political zone of Nigeria continues to rise, former Chairman of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Senator Victor Umeh, believes that the agitations and demands by some groups for self rule will die down if the next President of Nigeria comes from the South East.
Umeh who represented Anambra South Senatorial Zone in the Senate of 8th Assembly, also blamed the current attacks on Nigerian Police formations and Correctional Centers in the South East on the frustration of the people of the region especially the restive youths who have no jobs even after graduating with First Class Degrees from the best universities in the country.
Speaking on African Independent Television (AIT), breakfast programme Kakaaki, on Thursday, Umeh opined that the injustices being meted out to the people of the South East region is responsible for the agitations by groups to opt out of the Nigeria state.
According to him: “South Easterners are not rebels. They are peaceful people anywhere they found themselves hence South Easterners build fortresses wherever they settle in Nigeria. They work hard to build so they are not known for destroying lives and properties”.
Asked how he thinks the South East geo-political zone will be peaceful again and the people of the region drop the agitations for self rule, the former Senator said he has been shouting on top of the roof of the backlash of the marginalization of the South Easterners in the affairs of the country.
“I have raised my voice when I was in the Senate to say that it was wrong to suppress the people who are airing their frustrations about the injustices done to them. You brand people who have no weapons terrorist group and proscribed them. I have never seen where somebody says I am not happy and you go to court to get judgement to force him to be happy.
“I was even arrested in Anambra and brought to Abuja by the state operatives. I was accused of sponsoring the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) but the truth is that I am not involved. I only said it’s not right to kill people who are only protesting their exclusion from the national cake. So I was asked to give suggestions on how to quell to agitations and I said let their be equity and justice to every part of Nigeria”.
On his view on the 2023 Presidency, the outspoken Senator Umeh pointedly said the South East geo-political zone should be allowed to produce the next President of Nigeria.
Said he: “Nigeria will benefit from the Presidency of a South Easterner extraction. I believe it is the right thing to do because if you do your calculations you will found out that only the South East has not produced the President of Nigeria. And if the region produces the President in 2023, activities of IPOB and Eastern Security Network (ESN) will disappear”.
“If my memory serves me right, in over 60 years of Nigeria’s independence, a South Easterner, late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe was a ceremony President for a short period. Every other region of Nigeria has produced the President except the South East.
“And if we still believe in One Nigeria and in the Constitution, the agreement that power should rotate between the North and South, the South East is the region to produce the President in 2023 General Elections.
“This is because it is the turn of the Southern part of Nigeria and it is so, the South West through President Olusegun Obasanjo has done 8 years and South South through President Goodluck Jonathan has held the Presidency.
Therefore, equity and justice demands the South East produces the next President who will succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023″, Umeh concluded.