Chief Damian Okeke-Ogene, national vice president of Ohaneze Ndigbo, said that Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the People Democratic Party (PDP), lost the support of the Southeast as a result of his involvement in abandoning zoning, from which he had primarily profited.
According to him, Atiku would be the biggest hero if he had been one of the people who insisted that the Southeast’s time to deliver President Muhammadu Buhari’s successor was in 2023.
Okeke-Ogene is also the Southeast Zonal Coordinator for the Peter Obi/Ahmed Datti Presidential Campaign Committee. He told the media on Tuesday that the PDP presidential candidate would have viewed the upcoming election as a chance to repay Ndigbo for their support in the previous campaign.
He states, “If conscience is anything to go by, the two major political parties couldn’t have field candidates from any other zone other than Southeast. Igbos are being persecuted by Buhari today because they gave Atiku during his last election 95% votes.
“What Obasanjo and others are doing today is what we had expected from Atiku, who happens to be our in-law. That’s why it could be better to vote according to sentiments.
“Atiku would have known that the entire Southeast sacrificed their votes and interest for him and see this election as a payback time. He wouldn’t have engineered and funded the no-zoning campaign because we voted for him based on zoning.
“Atiku would have been the greatest hero of our times if he had been at the forefront of championing its turn of the Southeast. But if Atiku fails this election, he’ll go to the grave as an unrepentant person. Sorry to use that word, but it’s very unfortunate.”
Okeke-Ogene, when asked if he was concerned by the lack of support of Southeast Governors for Peter Obi’s campaign, said he was optimistic about LP’s victory, noting that the days of a Governor bragging of whole votes in his state were over.
He continued, “Southeast Governors are five persons with five votes. I have a family of five, so I have five votes. I can’t guarantee that all of them will join me in voting for my candidate.
“The same way the votes of the governors belong to them. They may decide to cast it to Labour Party or elsewhere. Days are gone when one man will say, leave the entire Southeast for me to deliver; it’s a joke.
“We’ve grown to the level that you can’t drag people like cows. Even today’s cow is resisting. For the past 27 years, I’ve served Ohaneze; I perceive the people’s odour and innuendo. They’re not voting for Obi because he’s an Igbo but as a Nigerian project.
“Obi’s national acceptance is the first of its kind in Nigerian history; even Zik and Ojukwu didn’t enjoy such a handshake across the Niger. But he’s having more than a handshake; we’re even expecting a handshake across Africa. It’s a divine intervention.
“The Igbos have voted for every tribe and zone in this country. That’s why people, including Obasanjo, are speaking for us. They appreciate our pains and know they’re genuine. They are ready to carry our load.”