By Emmanuel Elebeke
ABUJA: The Apex Igbo Socio-cultural Group, the Ohaneze Ndigbo yesterday succeeded in pressuring the former governor of Abia State and former presidential candidate of Progressive peoples Alliance, PPA, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu to shelve his Presidential ambition for the 2015 general elections.
Kalu on Monday – after intense pressure from the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, that lasted for six months – announced his total withdrawal from the 2015 race in his Abuja home, following an extensive meeting with the leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo led by the president general worldwide, of the association, Gary Nnachi Enwo-Igariwey.
He said his decision to withdraw from the race was informed by his determination to ensure continued peace and unity amongst his Kinsmen, whom he so much believed in and would always rely upon in pursuing any higher position in the land.
‘‘I will never be a scape goat to sacrifice my tribe for selfish reasons.
We felt that it will not be in our general interest to have divided views on the 2015 presidency. I went to tell the President of Ohaneze Ndigbo that I want to run for Presidency and he told me not pursue that ambition now.
The former governor noted that he was approached by the Ohanaeze leader over his presidential bid about six months ago and stated that he believed the group had its reasons for asking him to shelve his ambition for now but warned, that the Igbos should not mis- manage their chances.
While, commending the group for its efforts in restoring peace among Igbos urged politicians to have faith in the election timetable recently released by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC for the general 2015 elections, urging them to use the time remaining to educate and enlighten Nigerian voters on their voting rights and to play by the rules of the game.
“INEC’s timetable is okay, people should embrace it. We should work on our people to know how to vote. There is nothing wrong with the time table,” he added.
Earlier in his remarks, the President General of Ohanaeze NdIgbo, Worldwide, Gary Nnachi Enwo-Igariwey pleaded with the former Abia State governor to shelve his ambition to contest for president in 2015, describing him as one of the strategic Igbosons that are being preserved for the future Presidential race.
According to him, the decision to ask Kalu to shelve his Presidential ambition was taken in the general interest of Igbos and for him to join hands with the Pan Igbo Socio-Cultural group to speak with one voice on the issue of Igbo Presidency at the appropriate time.
Enwo-Igariwey pleaded, however said Ohaneze was not stopping any other Igbo man who wanted to contest for president in 2015, since it does not have such powers to stop anyone nursing such ambition.
On the alleged division of the group, he debunked the insinuation that the apex Igbo group was factionalized and challenged the proponents of the information to proof it.
He insisted that his leadership was properly elected under the watch of some prominent Igbo sons from within and outside the country and sworn-in and described the faction allegation as figment of the imagination.
“Ohanaeze deals with interest of the Igboman. Chief Orji Uzor Kalu is a great Igbo man we so much have regards for. It was not by force that he agreed to hold on over his ambition
“I know his interests. It is only fair for us to ask him to hold on. We have our strategic people. He is one of our interests
“We are not saying any other Igbo person who wants to run should not run, we don’t have that kind of control. We have our people and we know those we want to strategize with,” said the Ohaneze President.
On the alleged threat by some Northern Elders Forum to drag the former Chief of Army Staff and six others to International Criminal Court, ICC for alleged human rights abuse in Borno State, the Ohaneze leader urged the northern leaders to withdraw the statement in the interest of national peace and unity.
Also on the proposed national Conference, he said that the idea was a good development that would offer Nigerians an opportunity to take stock of their existence and foster better ways of staying together an indivisible and united nation.
He however, advised that the conference should be centred on restructuring of the country and that representation should be drawn from the six geo-political zones of the country for the purpose of equity and even representation.
On the crisis in River State, Enwo-Igariwey called for peace and urged all the stakeholders to make sure that peace prevails in the oil rich state.