Former governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, has said that he believes the Yoruba nation is better positioned now more than ever before to back the emergence of an Igbo as President of Nigeria in 2015.
In a press statement signed by his Special Assistant, Mr. Emeka Obasi, the former governor, who is fresh from consultations with eminent Nigerians across the South, declared that the Yoruba by nature abhor injustice.
Kalu said having realised that the South-East had suffered pathetic neglect for so long, some strong individuals from that region (South-West) could lead the campaign for change.
According to Kalu: “Give it to the South-West. They always raise personalities against injustice. It did not just start with late Chief Gani Fawehinmi. Mrs. Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti was ready to confront colonialism with bare hands. Prof. Wole Soyinka risked his life and went to jail not really because his friend Christopher Okigbo died in Biafra, he had a soft spot for the Igbo who suffered so much persecution.
“The road to 2015 will throw up more such men and women.”
Kalu maintained that the perceived cat and mouse game between the two largest groups in the South does not mean they could not come together for more than political convenience, arguing that both understood themselves beyond power sharing.
The statement added: “There is so much between us. During the war, you found some Igbo living in Lagos. Chief Philip Asiodu even served in the Federal Government in spite of the loss of his brother, Sidney, to the bullets of Nigerian troops. Tony Igwe was busy playing soccer and Obisia Nwankpa sweated out in the gym. At the same time, Prof. Vincent Ike’s wife, a Yoruba, was part of the Biafran war efforts.
“Even the daughter of Lagos Oba Adeyinka Oyekan was married to a Biafran naval officer, Ohiaeri-Duru. To cap it all, one of the gallant Yoruba officers who saw the war, Lt.General Alani Akinrinade, had since condemned it as unnecessary. That is why the Yoruba stand out.”
Furthermore, Kalu expressed optimism that the long sought after handshake across the Niger would be witnessed in the 2015 presidential election since the Yoruba may not have their eyes on Aso Villa, following Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s unprecedented goodluck.
The statement added: “Let me point out that the South-West will prove their love for the South-East in 2015. That is the best way to bury all the accumulated suspicion between both groups. For me, I know the Yoruba could stand up and be counted.
“The war years showed it. There was this Yoruba soldier who applied the brakes of his army truck to save the life of an Igbo pedestrian near Orlu at the end of the war in January 1970. An accompanying officer was so furious that he took control of the vehicle, drove for about 10 kilometres and forced the driver out into the dark.
“Time was 1.00a.m.’Ejoo oo,ejoo oo’ (please, please) the soldier pleaded. All to no avail. Fortunately, the drop zone was in Isu right in front of the house of the first Igbo Dental-Surgeon who had worked in Ibadan before the crisis. And he took the soldier in. The lesson is that there are more Yoruba out there who cannot kill Igbo dreams in 2015.”