From Fred Itua, Abuja

Indigenous People of Nigeria (IPN), have called on leaders from the five other geopolitical zones of the country, to support the South East in 2023 to produce Nigeria’s next President.

Convener of IPN, Mazi Nnamdi Iroegbu, while addressing newsmen in Abuja on Friday, said in the interest of justice, it was only fair for the region to be allowed to produce the country’s next President.

He said: “We recall that during the military administration of General Sani Abacha, a former Vice President of Nigeria and one of the founding fathers of the 4th Republic, Dr. Alex Ekweme, proposed the subgrouping of Nigeria into geopolitical zones. Hence, he proposed six zones, the North-East, North-West, North-Central, South-East, South-West and South-South, and suggested that power should rotate among these six zones for equity and justice.

“The Head of State, General Sani Abacha, saw wisdom in the proposal and adopted it. Unfortunately, the framers of the 1999 constitution failed to capture this brilliant arrangement in the 1999 constitution (as amended).

“Since the return of democracy, three of these six zones, that is South-West, South-South and North-West have had opportunity to govern Nigeria through Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’adua, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari.

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“Muhammadu Buhari, who has been incumbent since 2015, is expected to complete his tenure in 2023. The natural expectation is that Buhari, being from the northern region, power should shift to the southern part of Nigeria following his eight years in office.

“IPN therefore, reasons that for the interest of justice, equity and fairness, the only zone in the Southern region, the South-East, that is yet to produce a President or Vice President since 1999, should be supported to produce the next President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“Nevertheless, IPN is not unmindful of the constitutional rights of indigenous peoples of Nigeria to elect whosoever they desire. But we appeal to the leading political parties, to present choices that will reflect oneness, equity, fairness and justice to all Nigerians.”

The group said it “recognizes and respects the rights of the indigenous peoples of Nigeria to self-determination, because it is a fundamental human right. We strongly hold that the concerns raised by these agitators are legitimate, hence, should be addressed.

“We frown at the crackdown on harmless protesters and agitators across the nation. We strongly hold that the antidote for these agitations is dialogue rather than lethal force.

“As a group for the advancement of the interests and rights of Nigeria’s indigenous people, the IPN aims to fill the vacuum created by the ineptitude of the current administration in Nigeria, and to enable and promote the required bridges for the much desired renegotiated federation. We shall defend the interest of all the Indigenous peoples of Nigeria, irrespective of ethnic and political affiliation or creed.”