The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has called for the arrest and prosecution of the Katsina-based activist, Mallam Mahdi Shehu, over his appeal to Christian northerners not to vote for Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi.
Ohanaeze said his prosecution and eventual imprisonment would serve as a deterrent to other ‘ethnic bigots’, adding that “if such a deep ethnic jingoism is allowed to play out in the oncoming campaigns, then the fledgling wing of the eagle may be irredeemably broken”.
Shehu in a viral video said a vote for Obi in the 2023 presidential election is a vote for Biafra.
He also alleged that a vote for Obi is synonymous with the destruction of the North, and went further to ask his audience what they stand to gain by voting Obi, a southerner, among other things.
Reacting to Mahdi Shehu’s statement, the Igbo apex body said his statement was not only provocative but also capable of igniting ethnoreligious tension across the country.
Ohanaeze in the statement titled: “2023: the likes of Mahdi Shehu should be confined,” signed by its spokesman, Dr Alex Ogbonnia, said it is regrettable that such a “narrow-minded ethnic bigot that holds tenaciously to the grudges of the past is still in our midst in this millennium”.
Ohanaeze noted that the remarks by Mahdi Shehu are not only “disingenuous” but also “distasteful, mischievous, provocative, incendiary and capable of igniting ethnoreligious tensions across the country”.
The statement partly said, “The rabidity, thoughtlessness and hollowness that characterised the video signpost the last wish of a fading and end of the rope propagandist. Persons that harbour such despicable thoughts and mindsets are the pernicious cancerous social incubus which has for long held Nigeria down.
“The Ohanaeze Ndigbo calls on the federal government of Nigeria to arrest, prosecute and ultimately confine Mallam Mahdi Shehu in a prison to serve as a deterrent to other ethnic inflammatory chauvinists. If such a deep ethnic jingoism is allowed to play out in the oncoming campaigns, then the fledgling wing of the eagle may be irredeemably broken.
“Mallam Shehu and his ilk should be made to know that the ethnic cards that were played in the past to the detriment of unity, progress and corporate existence of the country have become loathsome, unserviceable and anachronistic.”
It added, “Denis Waitley appeared to be speaking to the hearts of Nigerians when he posed: There are two primary choices in life, to accept the conditions as they exist or accept the responsibility for changing them.
“Evidently, there is no Nigerian, big or small, rich or poor, northerner or southerner, Christian or Muslim that is comfortable with the current state of affairs in the country. Therefore, the question is to be or not to be. To this end, Albert Einstein cautions that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
“Therefore, two major options are open to Nigeria in the 2023 general election: to continue with the abysmal tailspin of poverty, unemployment, rising inflation, banditry, kidnapping, general insecurity, epileptic power supply, mass strikes, etc., and indeed all the indices of a collapsing state on one hand or a productive, robust, visionary and combustive economic salvation on the other.
“Mallam Shehu, in his unmitigated myopia, lacks the basic social reflections to recall that the Christian Southerners had in the past willingly voted President Shehu Shagari, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and President Muhammadu Buhari on account of the manifestoes they presented to the populace.
“The most recent being President Buhari when in our historical lethargy he promised change, vibrancy, ruthless fight against corruption and uprooting the nefarious Boko Haram insurgency. The uninitiated should know that Nigeria has witnessed a major ideological quantum leap or a paradigm shift.
“Perhaps, the social media and the present educational standards among Nigerians have created an awareness and mass enlightenment far beyond the narrow Mallam Shehu pigeon-hole vision. The youths of today share in the propensity to follow a leader in whom they perceive as means of meeting their own ends. This is the irrevocable present-day reality.
“Instructively, the Igbo cosmopolitanism admits politicians of all persuasions to canvass for votes across the entire Igbo space without let or hindrance, bearing in mind that what Nigeria needs now is a transformative persona, a visionary with ideologically based programs and a proven record of accomplishments.”
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