From BONIFACE OKORO, Umuahia
Coalition of South East Youth Leaders has expressed worry that certain political elements were plotting to deny South East geo-political zone the opportunity to produce the President of the country in 2023 by frustrating efforts of elected politicians of South East extraction to clinch the Senate President of the Ninth Senate.
The group noted that President Mohammadu Buhari had promised to hand over power to the South East zone but said it was disheartening to note that some politicians have already started to marshal out dangerous plans detrimental to the unity and stability of the country for 2023.
According to the Coalition, the “secret plotters” are scared that if south East Senators are given the opportunity to serve as Principal Officers of the National Assembly, “they might declare to run for President come 2023, since President Muhammadu Buhari has already promised to hand over power to the South East zone in 2023. All they are doing is to frustrate it’s realization.”
The coalition pointed to the ordeal of Imo State governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, as an example of the evil plan by some politicians to undermine Igbo interest in taking a shot at the Presidency in 2023.
In a statement sent by mail to The Oracle Today in Umuahia and endorsed by President General, Chief Goodluck Egwu Ibem , Secretary General, Dr Kanice Igwe and Organising Secretary, Chief Anthony Ekezie, the Coalition is alleging that the turnaround by the Returning Officer who conducted the Imo North Senatorial election after declaring the result of the polling and subsequent withholding of Okorocha’s Certificate of Return, as being orchestrated by vested interests opposed to the progress of the South East.
“In Imo state National Assembly elections, the Returning Officer for Orlu Senatorial Zone declared Gov. Owelle Rochas Okorocha as the winner of the senatorial election in a live broadcast and after some time, the same Returning Officer turned around to say he declared the governor winner under duress.
“How can a Returning Officer, with all the security details attached to him, suddenly claim that he was kidnapped and forced to declare Gov Rochas Okorocha winner. It is not possible.
“This scenario is a calculated attempt by some APC bigwigs who are opposed to the progress of South East geo-political zone to reduce the number of APC senators from south East who they are scared might contest for principal positions in the Ninth National Assembly.
“We call on INEC to, as a matter of urgency, issue His Excellency, Gov Owelle Rochas Okorocha his Certificate of Return, as the duly elected Senator-elect for Orlu senatorial zone. This is the constitutional and right thing to do. Those who are displeased can seek redress at the election tribunal as stipulated by the Electoral law,” part of the statement read.
“We also need to remind INEC that when a candidate is declared winner, it is only the election tribunal that can upturn it. INEC lacks the constitutional powers to withhold the Certificate of Return of any candidate declared winner by the duly assigned Returning Officer of that election,” the Coalition added.
They also gave example of House of Representatives where the APC has high ranking members from the South East geo-political zone eminently qualified to hold principal positions such as Mrs. Nkeiruka Onyejeocha, who was elected in 2007 but was not being considered for any principal position “simply because she is from the South East.”
“It is regrettable to note that a zone that fought and contributed greatly to the independence of Nigeria is being targeted politically in dismal manner,” the statement said as the group called on those with the grand plan to frustrate the political opportunity of South-East to produce Senate President of the Ninth National Assembly to desist from it but rather support the zone for stability and peace in the country.”