Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, has beckoned on the people of the South-East to support the re-election bid of President Muhammadu Buhari, declaring that a second term mandate for the President will pave way for the actualization of the South East’s dream to produce a President in Nigeria.
Mustapha made the declaration at a dinner organised by business mogul and former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu in honour of Mrs. Georgina Ehuria, Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
In what could be described as an affirmation that Buhari would participate in the 2019 presidential election in spite of the groundswell of opinion against him, Mustapha said Nigeria was a complex nation and any person or group aspiring to lead the country must do so through negotiation and compromise.
The SGF, who was responding to Kalu’s pledge that the South-East will give at least 75 per cent of its votes to President Buhari if he decides to run for a second term in office, said the Igbo will fare better in the political equation by voting massively for the incumbent president in 2019.
“You made allusions to the fact that the South-East would support Buhari. Let me confirm to you that for any thought of Igbo presidency, this is the shortest part. I have been in this game in the last 35, 37 years. I can attest to it. I know what it is, I know the permutations. I know what is on ground and I am an election manager. I know how you can commute, how you can fix the figures and how they come and arrive at the destination. “I can tell you without any fear, without any iota of doubt that the shortest path to an Igbo presidency is for Buhari to complete his tenure and now engage the Igbo nation in a decisive move.
“I leave this with my Igbo brothers that the act of negotiation that you have perfected in dealing with merchandise, in dealing with commerce, in dealing with entrepreneurship, must be brought to bear on your navigating your way to the Presidency,” Mustapha said. According to the SGF, the Igbo had an advantage in terms of the homogeneity in the language and culture of the South-East, adding that there was no reason the people cannot resolve to support a particular candidate with their block votes in return for the Presidency in 2023. “Nigeria is a complex society. We come from different diverse background. I come from a state called Adamawa. There are about 96 ethnic communities. We speak different distinct languages.
You have an advantage. You speak only one language in all the five South Eastern states. “I have told you in Adamawa, we speak 96 different ethnic dialects. In a local government, you may find four, five and when they speak; they don’t even understand each other. And the only common denominator with which we communicate is Hausa.
Similarly, it is like that in almost all the states in the northern part of the country. But we have learnt the act of negotiation, accommodation, give and take in the process. We have shared power, even in our small state on a rotational basis that every part would have an opportunity. “In Adamawa State, as a matter of fact, most of the people that have been governor since Adamawa state, except one, come from the minutest of the tribes. That explains exactly what I mean.
It is not the numerical figure, the act of negotiation, the ability to accommodate, the ability to give and take is what would create the prosperous Nigeria of our dream,” Mustapha said. In a welcome address, Kalu, as chief host, had expressed appreciation to President Buhari for counting a daughter of Abia State, Mrs. Georgina Ehuria, worthy of the appointment as Permanent Secretary of the Cabinet Office. Kalu, who described Ehuria as an exceptional lady, said that her appointment was an indication that Buhari was poised to address the issue of marginalization of Igbo in key federal appointments.
He urged the President to continue to do more for the South-East, pledging that the region would back his re-election to the fullest. “This has shown once again that the president is looking towards us, coming to Bende Local Government, in our own home to pick a permanent secretary. We are very grateful, but even when we are thanking him, we are still expecting more that Mr. President should look more towards our area. We are not stopping because if we do, they might not remember us again.
“President Buhari has done very well and also giving us one strong appointment in my local government and we, the Igbo, we have decided; the PDP, APC, APGA, PPA that if the president is running again, he will have 75 per cent vote in the South-East. And this is a statement of fact,” Kalu said.
Dignitaries present at the reception included Mustapha; Head of the Civil Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita; Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole; Director General, Voice of Nigeria, Mr. Osita Okechukwu and Mr. Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity.
Others included the Managing Director, Nigeria Pipeline and Storage Company (NPSC), Mr. Luke Anele; a former Deputy Governor of Plateau State, Mrs. Paulien Tallen; former Governor of Ekiti State and Deputy National Chairman of the APC (South), Engr. Segun Oni; former Minister of State, Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Chief Chuka Odom as well as some members of the Diplomatic Corps in Abuja.