ADDRESS TO THE CONSULTATIVE FORUM OF SOUTH EAST POLITICAL AND PDP LEADERS IN ENUGU ON 6TH JANUARY, 2022.
Representatives of Our Governors
Leaders of the Peoples Democratic Party in the South Eastern Zone
Leaders of thought representing the South East
Other Protocols Observed
I am most delighted that you all found time to respond and honour our invitation to this briefing. I realize that many of us have just resumed our normal undertakings after the Christmas and end-of-year holidays and break. I feel honoured by the presence of your distinguished selves.
It is customary in all our traditions that when you set out to run an errand on behalf of the people, you must return to them periodically to report your progress. You must periodically brief those on whose behalf you have set out on a mission. It is even more important for you the messenger to return to your base if only to renew your inspiration and recharge your vision. This is my way of explaining the object of today’s briefing session. The choice of Enugu as the venue for this briefing is not accidental. Enugu remains the heart of what we all recognize as the East.
As you are all aware, I have set forth on a mission that belongs not only to the South-East geo-political zone but indeed to the entire Nigerian nation. As you have obviously learnt, I have declared my intention to contest for the 2023 presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria under the auspices of the Peoples Democratic Party. By declaring that intention, I am making myself available to run an errand on behalf of all Nigerians.
My aspiration is informed by a long period of contemplation and consultations. I have heard the long clamour of the people of the South East zone for greater equity and justice in the running of the affairs of our nation. There has been a long cry for equity, for justice, for inclusion and for a place under the Nigerian umbrella so that we can contribute our quota to the development of Nigeria as equals with other compatriots.
I have also heard the loud cry of the ordinary people of Nigeria irrespective of tongue, faith, status or geography for a better country for this and future generations. In general, our people want a better government. They do not want to continue to go to bed on empty stomach. Most ordinary Nigerians would be content if they can find two square meals while hopeful that the third meal is achievable through honest effort. Most people desire a leadership that can at least point them in the direction of the third meal.
After listening to these various voices of distress, I came to the conclusion that I, working with like minded fellow Nigerians, can place my experience of public service at the disposal of the nation by aspiring to the office of president in the 2023 contest. I express this aspiration because I am a Nigerian citizen. In aspiring to this lofty height, I have no personal hunger for power, wealth or influence that I have not previously experienced. I am stepping forward to this office of enormous responsibility because I love my country. I am offering myself for national service again because I share the desire and wishes of fellow Nigerians irrespective of tongue, faith or location on the compass for a nation that our children can be proud of. That nation would be one that is safe, peaceful, prosperous and full of opportunities for all. That nation would be a place of equity, justice and peace for all. In that place, no Nigerian will feel left behind or left out. No Nigerian will be denied opportunity because of his location on the national map.
I make bold to say that I am from the South East. That identity carries a moral burden in today’s Nigeria. I am not oblivious of the loud echo of dissatisfaction among the people of the South East that we have been left out in the cold of the national equation for far too long. Fifty years after a bloody civil war is far too long for any group of citizens to be allowed to feel excluded from the pinnacle of power in a country they call theirs. Part of Nigeria’s urgent challenge is to discharge the moral burden of injustice to the South East.
My understanding of the grievance of the people of the South East is that we bear the burden of political injustice. We carry the moral burden of a bad history and ugly politics. We feel excluded from the pinnacle of national power. We feel the weight of a certain inequity in the present national equation. The clamour for more equity, more justice and more inclusiveness is a legitimate entitlement of citizenship. I identify myself totally with this outcry. For the avoidance of doubt, I need to add my voice to those who insist that Nigeria owes the people of the South East a huge moral debt. That debt needs to be discharged in order for Nigeria to make progress as a fair society and a credible democracy.
But my aspiration for national leadership goes beyond our regional/zonal sense of marginalization. The Nigerian constitution entitles every citizen of Nigeria to aspire to the highest office in the land and to seek it within the confines of existing political party structures and requirements. My aspiration to contest the 2023 presidency is therefore in full exercise of my civic rights as a citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, not just as a person from the South East. What I seek is the understanding and fairness of fellow Nigerians, not their sympathy. I seek a fair assessment of my merit for the job I seek to do for my country, not as concession or token gesture to me because I am Igbo from the South East.
Let us make no mistake about where we are as a nation. On the scale of national challenges and problems, the people of the South East have their fair share of the deprivations that afflict all other Nigerians. Poverty is no respecter of zone or language. Bad educational system is not localized to any part of Nigeria. Insecurity is not limited to any one zone though it may have peculiar local faces. Hunger knows no language and worships no particular God. The unemployment and disease that are ravaging the land are not localized to any zone. As a nation, we carry the burden of under development and misguided governance. It ought to concern us all, irrespective of party affiliation, region, faith or tongue that our nation continues to lag behind in all indices of human and national development.
I am happy to report back to you that I have since carried the message of my aspiration and our concerns as a people to other parts of this great country. I have shared my dreams with leaders from different parts of the country. I have also craved their understanding for the case we are making for a presidential candidate from the Southern end of the country and, specifically, the South East zone in 2023. I have also shared with these leaders my concerns about the current challenges of our nationhood.
I am happy to report to you my leaders that other sections of the country understand our case. They largely agree with us on most points. We are all in agreement about the current problems and the desire for positive leadership change in the coming dispensation. I have gone into these consultations, not as a mendicant or beggar from the South East, but as a proud Nigerian citizen and concerned patriot.
From all my consultations, I can reassure this assembly that our basis for hope remains sound. Our optimism about Nigeria is a shared one because what we desire for Nigeria is exactly what the leaders of other sections want. We all want a more united Nigeria. We all want a safe country. We all want a fair country and a place that gives every citizen a fair shot at every available opportunity. The net result of my consultations is that I have found common ground with fellow compatriots on the need for a better Nigeria for ourselves and our children.
In the months ahead, I therefore, seek your further support to deepen my engagements with other Nigerians. Our task is to reduce the barriers to communication and open the doors of greater co-operation. We need to undertake a journey of mutual reassurance as we work towards a future national leadership that understands our diversity and how best to manage it to the benefit of every Nigerian. Our aims and objectives are shared by all. We seek a more united nation. We desire an inclusive governance. We will work towards a more balanced federation. Above all else, we will work towards an equitable, just and humane nation that will guarantee peace and prosperity for every Nigerian both living and unborn.
In seeking to further canvass these aims to the rest of our country, I humbly seek the understanding and support of this assembly. I thank you for your support so far. But as your son and messenger, I seek even more of your support.
So help us God
Long live the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
I thank you all for your attention while I wish us all journey mercies back to our destinations.
Senator Anyim Pius Anyim