BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
Leader of the South East Grand Cohesion Alliance for Atiku, Kenneth Uzumaki Austin has urged the South-east to accept the olive branch offered to the region by Atiku Abubakar, candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party and some notably reliable Northern leaders.
Austin said the call became necessary in view of the obvious fact that Labour Party candidate Peter Obi lacks the necessary wherewithal to win the elections as well as the strength of solemn pledges made by Atiku which were all endorsed by reputable Northern leaders.
He assured that he was privy to a meeting held in the residence of a Rtd Military General and onetime Minister of Defence in Abuja, at which part of the deal was concluded and ratified.According to Austin who spoke on the sidelines of a press conference by the Group in Abakaliki, part of the agreements were that Atiku, if elected president, shall within the first 100 days in office, ensure that the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, would be released unconditionally.
This much has been officially confirmed by a former Senate President and the Chairman, Board of Trustees, BoT of the PDP, Adolphus Wabara.The second is that Atiku has promised to work to actualize the dream of an Igbo Presidency by ensuring he hands over to an Igbo successor.He pointed to Atiku Abubakar’s repeated promises to be a “stepping stone” to Igbo presidency.”One of these affirmations was made by Atiku early this week on Tuesday during the party’s presidential campaign rally in Enugu.
This is the third time the PDP candidate would make the promise to Igbos in the South-east.Atiku first made the promise in September during a zonal conference of the PDP in Enugu.The PDP candidate also made the same promise during his campaign flag off for the South-east region in Awka, Anambra State, in December.Speaking during the rally in Enugu on Tuesday, the former vice-president said he still stood by his words.
Third, he said, is the undertaking by Atiku to cooperate fully in the ongoing ICC investigation and ensure prompt prosecution of the outgoing President Buhari and top officials of his administration like the Attorney General of the Federation, Chief of Army staff, and GOC 82nd Div of the Nigerian Army, for the genocide committed with the Python Dance military operations conducted in the South-east. “Already the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague is investigating the September 2017 invasion of a community in Abia State by soldiers of the Nigerian Army during a military exercise code-named Operation Python Dance 2 (Egwu Eke Abuo) which would only get the backing and cooperation of government which Atiku has promised. “In the letter obtained with reference number OTP-CR-413/17 dated March 20, 2018, published by the Sun is the second response by the court to the petitioner, it was confirmed that the military invasion and deaths recorded were already under preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor.
“Part of the letter signed by Mark Dillon, head of the information and evidence unit at the Office of the Prosecutor, read: “Accordingly, your communication will be analysed in this context, with the assistance of other related communications and other available information,” Austin said.
To further prove his point, Austin pointed to a meeting between the Northern Elders Forum and South-east leaders where the NEF chairman, Ango Abdullahi, presented all the terms agreed upon.Abdullahi, in an interview with the Tribune of February 12, 2023, confirmed this meeting in these words: NEF is still discussing with other stakeholders from other parts of the country who are interested in the elections. Even today [Thursday], we are having a meeting with the representatives of the Ohanaeze in Abuja.
“NEF and Ohanaeze are meeting right now and we don’t know the outcome of their discussion yet,” Austin quoted Abdullahi to buttress his claims.He concluded by urging the Igbo not to allow sentiments or discontent to hold them back from coming out to vote massively to secure their future based on the promises made by Atiku and the Northern leaders.
“At least Atiku himself has been bold enough to openly declare his position in favour of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, whereas even our kinsman, Obi could not do that publicly. “We, the Igbo should key into this agreement reached and sealed by the North and its leaders by taking full advantage of this window of hope by voting massively for Atiku and ensuring their votes count, ” he said.