The presidential candidate of the Labour Party, LP, Peter Obi, has reacted to the ethnic strife brewing in some states, especially Lagos, following the outcome of the presidential and National Assembly elections and the upcoming governorship and state assembly polls.
There have been anger and disagreement in Lagos since Obi defeated the All Progressives Congress, APC, candidate and former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in the state.
Peter Obi’s Labour Party and his Obidient movement are also working towards unseating the incumbent Governor of the State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in the March 18 governorship election and for this reason, there appears to be a clash of interest between the Igbo and Yoruba in the state.
Just last week, properties worth millions of Naira were destroyed following a fire incident alleged to have been orchestrated by suspected political thugs in a market predominantly occupied by Igbo.
Obi recalled that past presidents, such as Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan and MKO Abiola, all recorded their highest votes in the SouthEast during their respective elections, insisting that politicians are trying to pit the Yoruba against the Igbo.
The Obidients’ leader said that the ethnic strife is the handiwork of politicians who are bent on creating trouble where there is none, adding that those who voted for him in Nasarawa, Lagos, Plateau, Abuja and other states where he claimed victory were people from all across the country and not just Igbos.
“People are just trying to hide in what does not exist to cause confusion. There’s no such thing. The vote I got in Lagos State cut across everybody in Lagos. Call it Yorubas, Igbos, Hausas, Ijaws and all the tribes that are resident in Lagos.
“So I can tell you that I know people who are purely Yoruba that supported me 24 hours. And it shouldn’t be. In 2003, Obasanjo got over 90% of the vote in the South East despite the fact that our own leader, Ojukwu was contesting.
“Then nobody shouted at anybody or stopped doing business with anybody. Obasanjo failed in Yoruba land but we gave him more votes even when our own revered leader was contesting. Nobody quarrelled over it.
“There are still Yoruba people who live in the East. In Onitsha, two prominent people that I’m dealing with are from the South West. They are there, and nobody harasses them. They have the right to vote for whomever they want. In 2011, we voted for Jonathan. He got more votes in the South East than the South-South.
“When Abiola contested for president, he got more votes in the South East than the South West even when his Vice Presidential candidate was a Muslim Northerner. When Tofa had a respected Igboman as a Vice president, Abiola won. When election was annulled, Igbo people lost more in NADECO.
“So when people bring up issues that are nonexistent. So who are the people that voted for me in Abuja? Nobody got 25% in Abuja. I got 95%. Were the Igbos that voted for me in Plateau? Were they the ones that voted for me in Nasarawa? Are there 300,000 Igbos in Kaduna? I’m appealing to people[to stop all these things].
“Today, we have a Pakistani as the Mayor of London and an Indian as Prime Minister. And they’re doing far better than we’re doing in this place that is not even working; we’re still trying to divide ourselves.
“It is this rascality, this structure that we’re trying to remove. It brings hatred and must be removed so that the system can work. They’re shouting that Peter campaigned on religion but they are the ones doing it. I’ve never told anyone to vote for me based on religion.”