By Clifford Ndujihe
AHEAD of tomorrow’s election of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Ndigbo have been urged to go for good candidates, who will reposition the organisation for the onerous tasks before it in the country.
The charge was made by Elder statesman and former Secretary General of Ohaneze, Professor Ben Nwabueze, SAN, and National Chairman of the United Progressives Party, UPP, Chief Chekwas Okorie.
The duo spoke, yesterday, while rooting for different candidates, who are running for the post of the president-general. While Professor Nwabueze is backing Professor Chiweyite Ejike, Chief Okorie is supporting Chief Nnia Nwodo for the prime slot.
In a reference letter he wrote for Ejike, a professor of Zoology and current chairman of the Convention for Intellectual Co-operation of Nigeria, COFICON, Nwabueze said: ”At a time when Ohanaeze, the umbrella Organisation for Ndigbo, is in shambles, and in some kind of disarray inflicted on it by lapses on the part of the leadership in recent years, we need someone of great integrity, impeccable character, outstanding sagacity and intellect, principled and disciplined, someone imbued with a passion and a vision for the promotion of the interest of Ndigbo, especially in the context of Nigeria. Professor C. Ejike seems to me to be such a person. He possesses, in an eminent degree, the qualities mentioned above…
”From working closely with Professor Ejike as my deputy in the Igbo Leaders of Thought, ILT, I know him to be a good manager of men and resources, however small the resources, an exemplary leader, a man of outstanding intellectual endowment, with an affable personality and a high sense of responsibility.”
Warning against the imposition of candidates, Nwabueze added: ”The forthcoming election provides an opportunity to revitalize Ohanaeze, to inject into it the spirit, vision and dream that animated its founding some 40 years ago, and to create, as it were, a new Ohanaeze Ndigbo.”
In like manner, Chief Okorie said he is backing Nwodo to be elected in the interest of Ndigbo because ”Ndigbo are at crossroads in Nigeria today. The Ohaneze leadership we must elect at this time cannot be somebody who has just chanced on the Pan Igbo organisation..”
He continued: ”I make this recommendation with every sense of responsibility and patriotism. Chief Nnia Nwodo towers head and shoulder above those who have stepped forward to contest for the office of President General of Ohanaeze in terms of commitment and personal sacrifice to the course of the apex Igbo socio cultural organisation, consistently for several years.
I wish to state unequivocally that I became a member of the Igbo Forum as an undergraduate of the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus in 1976. Igbo Forum was renamed Ohaneze Ndigbo in 1979. I have been involved in the affairs of Ohanaeze for an unbroken period of 40 years. I am therefore in a sound position to proffer an opinion on the fit and proper person to be considered for the exalted office of the President General of Ohanaeze.
I venture to state without any fear of contradiction that Chief Nnia Nwodo has paid his ‘dues’ satisfactorily to Ndigbo and Ohanaeze. Let me remind members that Chief Nnia Nwodo played a central role in supporting his elder brother, His Excellency Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo, the former Governor of Enugu State to donate the present National Secretariat of Ohanaeze complete with a Certificate of Occupancy. Chief Nnia Nwodo single-handedly sponsored and hosted several meetings of the Ime-Obi (Elders Council) of Ohanaeze when we were meeting monthly.
Chief Nwodo was the Chairman of the Constitution Drafting Committee of Ohanaeze. I served as the Secretary of the Committee. He practically converted his Law Office complete with his staff to the secretariat of the Constitution Drafting Committee until we completed the assignment and submitted our report to Ohanaeze. The Ohaneze profile of Chief Nnia Nwodo is unassailable.