Less than seven months before 2015 general elections, more people are saying that the time is ripe for the Igbo to produce at least the Deputy Governor of Lagos State.
According to an interview conducted by The Daily Sun, the latest call is coming from the Igbo United Initiative (IUI), a renown pressure group in the state.
In the interview, the chieftain of the IUI, Chief Amobi Nnadiekwe, said that people from the South-East zone in Lagos will vote for any political party that fields an Igbo as deputy governor.
Nnadiekwe, who doubles as the Chairman of Win Peace Investment Ltd, claims that the Igbo constitute 43 per cent of the population in Lagos.
Below are excerpts from the interview:
Your group has been sensitising the people of South-East to vote any political party that fields an Igbo as deputy governor of Lagos in 2015. So far, what has been the response?
The response was wonderful. We plan to visit town unions and markets in Lagos State especially, the ones dominated by Igbo. It is time to be part of the political process in the state where Igbo contribute over 52 per cent to the state’s economy. Of course, you know that South-East constitutes 43 per cent of the state population. To that extent, we deserve the position of deputy governor. With the number of Ndigbo in Lagos, no doubt, if collectively we decide to vote for any party in Lagos, the party must win. Lagos State has continued to marginalize us politically, hence, Igbos have decided to demand for their right. We have written to all the political parties in the state, informing them of our resolve to vote any party that fields an Igbo as deputy governor.
We have given them early notice, so that they won’t say we took them unawares as they are about to begin their primaries. Anything short of making an Igbo man deputy governor in 2015 will not be acceptable to Ndigbo. For the very first time, this vision has united Igbos in Lagos and in the Diaspora. This warning is extended to parties in the other states where Igbos are the second largest population. They should, as a matter of policy, field an Igbo man as deputy governor in 2015. The next stage is rally, which will be organized in the major centres in Lagos and in the affected states.
What other steps do you hope to take to make this happen?
Arrangements have been concluded to visit Igbo leaders and organizations including Ohaneze Ndigbo towards achieving this noble cause, because the population of Igbos in Lagos cannot be undermined in the forthcoming general elections in the state, even though we failed to realize this in the past. Our votes have always decided electoral victories in the state. Any party we vote for must win, hence, we refuse to be used to make up numbers in future elections in Lagos. Ndigbo will participate actively like never before in the 2015 general elections. We will continue to sensitize our people not to vote any party that fails to give the deputy governor slot to Igbos in Lagos. So, this is an assignment for parties jostling to win the gubernatorial race in the Centre of Excellence state next year. We don’t care about party, what matters most to Igbo is a party that has our interest at heart, whether APC, PDP, Labour or APGA. But if no party fields an Igbo man as deputy governor, we may be forced to boycott the governorship election in Lagos State.
Why the demand for deputy governor slot instead of the governorship seat considering the population of Ndigbo in Lagos?
It is possible for an Igbo to become governor of Lagos State. If you cast your mind back, you will remember that Zik won election as Premier of Western Region but was denied the opportunity and he ran back to become Premier of the Eastern Region. So, it is possible. If Ndigbo can come together, we will produce governor of Lagos State in the near future. We must start from somewhere, and that is the deputy governorship seat in 2015. Lagos is our second home. Majority of our investments are in Lagos and we have a good population. We are law-abiding citizens because there has never been any misunderstanding between Igbos and Lagosians. The relationship has been cordial, hence, even the indigenes wouldn’t mind to elect Igbo as governor.
Don’t you think that the issue of indigenisation should be first enshrined in our constitution before making such demand?
Indigenisation is one of the important issues addressed at the just concluded National conference. However, that won’t stop us from making genuine demands such as the one at hand. Indigenization is welcomed by all Nigerians. What it means is that a Yoruba man can be governor of Anambra State; an Hausa can contest and win a senatorial seat in Ondo State. And until we get to this stage, we are not yet a nation. Once again, I beg my brothers in Lagos State to allow Igbo participate fully in the 2015 political process in the state by zoning the position of deputy governor to Igbo.
We have paid our dues and have contributed in the development of the state which warrants this demand. Except they see us as slaves who don’t deserve fair treatment. But if Lagosians are sincere, they would agree with me that Igbos are stakeholders in the Lagos project. We have developed virtually all parts of Lagos, a sign that we are not willing to leave the state or do anything to destroy or disrupt the relative peace in the state. If the truth must be told, Ndigbo have developed Lagos more than South East.
The current governor of Lagos state is Babatunde Fashola of the All Progressives Congress. His second year tenure expires next year and the APC is yet to announce who would be representing the party in next year’s gubernatorial polls.
Also, the major opposition party in Lagos State, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has not named a candidate for the governor seat in Lagos.
Both parties are expected to hold their governorship primaries in a couple of months and political analysts are waiting patiently to see who they would announce as their flag-bearers.