By Clifford Ndujihe
Chief Gary Nnachi Enwo-Igariwey, Deputy President-General of Ohanaeze spoke to journalists during the week on burning issues in the umbrella body of Igbo socio-cultural organisations and the polity including the 2011 polls.
The Ohanaeze leadership has been criticized by a section of the polity over its endorsement of President Goodluck Jonathan for the 2011 polls. One of its vice presidents, Chief Enechi Onyia, has faulted the position of Ohanaeze on Jonathan. What is your reaction to this?
Onyia is one of the vice presidents in Ohanaeze leadership structure. We have the President-General, in the person of Amb Raph Uwechue, followed by the Deputy President-General, who is myself, then we have six vice presidents who are in charge of the five Southeastern states and Rivers.
These vice presidents include: for Abia State, we have Chief Alozie Nwogu, for Anambra State, Chief Hyacinth Nweke, for Enugu State, Chief Enechi Onyia, for Imo State Chris Asoluka, and for Rivers State Engr Isaac Nwanwu.
When you have one disagreeing with the decision of the National Executive Council, NEC, that is not an issue as far as we are concerned.
Did Onyia attend the meetings where the decisions were taken?
This man was part of all the meetings of the executive of Ohanaeze, he was also part of the Ime- Obi, and he was present at the General Assembly. In all these meetings, he never opposed any of the decisions we made.
We saw his action as been mischievous. I can believe that somebody who was part of the executive decisions can come from the meetings and address the press and try to misrepresent issues.
He was part of all the processes. If he had any protest, I expected him to raise them during the Ime-Obi or the General Assembly, but he never spoke. We don’t accept such an insincere reaction with ulterior motive. He may be sponsored.
What is your take on allegations that some stakeholders were not invited to the Ime-Obi meeting?
Every member of the Ime-Obi was invited and Ime-Obi cannot wait for people. The meeting was publicized and he was there himself and should have raised this issue.
There was reasonable representation and everybody cannot come to Ime-Obi. Some of those who could not make it informed us that they were not coming while some others didn’t inform any of us their inability to come to the meeting.
Extension of tenure for the NEC from the two to four years has also come under hammer. Some have accused Uwechue of pushing for tenure elongation…
The Ohanaeze Constitution is very clear on this issue. Any person from the floor in Ime-Obi, can move a motion for amendment and if it is adopted by the Ime-Obi, it will not be effective until it is ratified at the general assembly.
This is exactly what Ohanaeze has done. Article 29 of the Ohanaeze Constitution states: “(i) The General Assembly may, subject to the provisions of this article, amend any of the provisions of this constitution.
(ii) Any member of Ohanaeze may propose an amendment to Ime-Obi.
(iii) The proposed amendment, if adopted by Ime-Obi, shall thereafter be tabled by the Secretary_General before the General Assembly, and shall become effective and operative if it is passed by not less than two_thirds majority of the total membership of the General Assembly.”
So the process provided by the constitution on its amendment was duly followed. That is what the Constitution states. The problem with those who are arguing on this is that they lack knowledge of the provisions of the constitution they are making reference to.
I want to tell you that the man at the helms of affairs of Ohanaeze, Uwechue, has made enormous sacrifice financially because he believes in the Igbo cause and has never hidden his passion to see that Ndigbo get their right place in Nigeria.
Why should he push for extension of tenure for personal interest? Is it because of the millions we are paying him or what? You see, some people just sit in Abuja and make noise about things they know nothing about and that is very bad of our people.
Extension of tenure has been a re_occurring issue in all Ohanaeze executives in the past. It started with the first Ohanaeze President-General, Eze Ozobu, it also came up during Prof. Joe Irukwu. Our people said that two years is too short for any executive to do anything meaningful for Ndigbo because what you see is that an executive will come in, put up a foundation, before they can build on it, two years is up and another executive comes in, take up with another foundation which it will certainly not finish before the time is up.
To that extent, we have several foundations without good structure. That has been the problem in Ohanaeze.
The past executives of Ohanaeze were factionised so they could not possess the will power to bring up and implement the four year tenure that has been argued over time. We thank God that today, Ohanaeze executive has enough time to effect changes and do more things for Ndigbo.
You are from Ebonyi, don’t you think the extension would affect Ebonyi State, which should have produced Uwechue’s successor this month?
We are wise people and we have seen that two years leadership of Ohanaeze is not good enough.
We also think that we will benefit from the four years, so why should we kick against the tenure extension when it will provide us the opportunity of contributing reasonable to the betterment of the Igbo nation? Four years is appropriate and we are waiting to take our four years turn in the Ohanaeze leadership.
How do you view statements that tenure extension and support for Jonathan had caused disunity in Ohanaeze leadership?
When one or two persons out of 24 disagree with the overall view of the executive, such disagreement is very insignificant. As a matter of fact, every person in a meeting cannot agree on an issue. We also do not expect every member of the executive to agree on one issue.