Chief Chekwas Okorie, National Chairman, United Progressive Party (UPP), says that the party has adopted President Muhammadu Buhari as its candidate in the 2019 presidential election.
Okorie disclosed this while speaking with State House correspondents after leading a South-East group to a closed door meeting with Buhari on Friday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Other people in the delegation were Chief Azuka Okwuosa, an APC Chieftain from Anambra South Senatorial Zone, Dr Ugochukwu Okafor, National Publicity Secretary, Igboezue Cultural Organisation and Sadiq Masara, National Secretary, UPP.
“We came to pay the president not just a solidarity visit but intimate him on how we intend to get fully involved in his re-election bid.
“It will be recalled that UPP in August this year, took a decision by its National Executive Committee (NEC) that we will not present a candidate for the 2019 presidential election and we therefore resolved after due consultations and consideration of every factor to adopt President Buhari as UPP Presidential Candidate for the 2019 presidential election.
“This, we shall formally unfold on Tuesday when our NEC will meet and address a world press conference to that effect.
“In doing that, we are going to deploy all our ward, local governments and state/national structures to be actively involved in the campaign to make a pronouncement and go to sleep and wait for result to make itself.
“We will be part of that result; Igboezue Cultural Association is coordinating all the extant Igbo groups across the country for this same purpose.’’
Okorie said that a situation where Igbo people had put their eggs in one basket for 16 years was not healthy as the people were almost out of the political radar.
He said the out of Buhari’s benevolence, certain infrastructural activities were going on and funded without having to change the contractors.
According to him, this is the time to make Buhari’s re-election bid something of a national consensus so that every section will have a claim.
Okorie dismissed the reported endorsement of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)’s Presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, by the Igbo people, saying it was a fluke.
“ I joined Ohaneze in 1976 as an undergraduate. Ohaneze is 42 years and I am 42 years old in the organisation.
“ The original members that founded Ohaneze, they are only four living today including myself.
“All others, including those who lead Ohaneze now, came after that formation and I have been a member of the elders council; there was no where we met and agreed on the event that took place yesterday,’’ he said.
The UPP national chairman said Ohaneze had issued a statement to say it did not, as a body, endorse Alhaji Atiku Abukakar.
He said that Ohanze was a non-partisan pan-Igbo organisation and could not have endorsed Atiku.
Okorie said that he and other stakeholders were working towards changing the narrative so that Igbo people would be more involved instead of being out of government.