OWERRI (Sundiata Post) – President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday vowed never to take the people of Southeast Nigeria for granted as he has always marvelled at the overwhelming support of Ndigbo towards his electoral fortunes and political career.
He gave the assurance in Owerri, Imo State, when he met with delegations of Igbo Elders’ Council led by foremost nationalist, Chief Mbazulike Amechi; Igbo Leaders of Thought led by renowned constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze; and the Southeastern chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
The President expressed his deep appreciation for the massive support the Igbos gave him in 2011 and have promised to give him in this year’s election, pointing out that the support from the Southeast surpassed even his own native region of South-South.
His words: “I will never take the Igbo for granted. The support I get from South East I have never got such support from any of the geo-political zones, not even in the South South even though I was born there. So, there is no way I will think of taking the South East for granted.
“I pray for God to give me the opportunity to thank the Igbos, and I will reciprocate. So, I will not take the Southeasterners for granted; I will do my best not to disappoint you.”
The President also appealed for support of the Southeast in electing Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members of the National Assembly to assist him implement the report of the National Conference which he described as the only change Nigeria needs now.
According to him: “I still promise that we will implement the National Conference report. I know it will be difficult for us because toward the end of the government, the National Assembly has been so polarised, such that anything that comes from the President is politicised.
“Whether it is good or bad, as long as the President wants to move to the left they will move to the right, if the President moves to the right they will move to the left. The issue is not whether what the President is bringing is good or bad.
“And that is why we have issues of implementation. We only pray the PDP should have controlling majority in the National Assembly. If we have controlling majority in the National Assembly, we will surely implement it.
“So, we need you to talk to some of your elders to vote for us. The only thing that can bring about real change is the implementation of the conference report. Any other thing is very deceptive.”
The President further gave his word that he would do all he could to protect Igbos, just as other Nigerians, from post-election violence as he had been holding series of meetings towards ensuring that what happened in 2011 does not recur in 2015.
In his remarks, Amechi, a First Republic Minister of Aviation, pointed out that having fought for Nigeria’s independence and democracy, he was personally opposed to the presidential ambition of any former military officer who participated in truncating the nation’s democratic rule.
All the delegations endorsed Jonathan for re-election in the forthcoming poll with the Southeast CAN urging him “not to fear anything” as the elections approach.
The President also met with a delegation of Southeast women, including wife of former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme, and youths, who equally assured him of their massive support for his re-election.
Responding to the women’s demand for more than 35 percent appointments in his administration, the President said there was nothing wrong in a 50-50 percentage sharing of political positions between men and women, assuring them that he was “ready to use as many women as possible” in his government as long as they were adequately qualified.
Jonathan was earlier received by the South East Council of Ndieze (traditional rulers) led by Cletus Ilomuanya, to whom he assured of the creation of an additional state in the Southeast geo-political zone as contained in the 2014 confab report.
He said an extra state for the Southeast was long overdue and that he would endeavour to speedily address this in order to bring the zone at par with others.