*Ngige tasks Igbo on quality leadership; Ikedife warns against imposition
By Vincent Ujumadu, Dennis Agbo, Nwabueze Okonkwo & Peter Okutu
ENUGU—No less than five contestants, including a former minister for Information, Chief Nnia Nwodo, were yesterday screened for the position of President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, which election takes place today.
The out-going Secretary General of the organization, Dr. Joe Nwaorgu, made the disclosure to Vanguard at the national secretariat of the Ohanaeze in Enugu, yesterday.
Nwaorgu, however, said he could not immediately divulge the names of the contestants but it was gathered that those screened for the position included, Chief Nnia Nwodo, Commodore Alison Madueke (rtd), Prof. Chiwete Ejike, Dr. Simon Otuanya and Chief Joel Enugwu, all from Enugu State.
Also, the post of Secretary General zoned to Rivers state is being contested by four aspirants, out of which one candidate is protesting the payment of N300, 000 as nomination fee.
The contestants from Rivers State are: Barr. Uche Okwukwu, Chief Isaac Nwaonwu, Chief Jackson Omenazu and High Chief Kroham Joel.
Omenazu told Vanguard that he refused to pay the N300, 000 nomination fee, saying: “Am I coming to take money from Ohanaeze? The amount is too much and they must screen me.”
The post of National Treasurer of the group zoned to Delta State is being contested by two persons including a veteran journalist, Ogueshi Emma Okocha.
Okocha said he will bring on board transparency, accountability and innovations to the body if elected.
“I will publish monthly accounts of Ohanaeze if elected in the same way Ngozi Okonjo-Iwela transparently handled the finance ministry in Nigeria,” pledged Okocha.
The outgoing President General, Chief Gary Nnachi Enwo-Igariwey and the secretary of the election committee, Prof ABC Nwosu refused to speak to the press, with Nwosu making derogatory remarks about journalists.
One of the candidates for secretary general, Krohan Joel said his edge is that he is an ex-Biafran soldier, who fought on the side of the defunct Biafran republic, noting that “We have an uncompleted struggle.”
Okwukwu on his own said he is most qualified for the post of Secretary General given his pedigree as an arbitrator and educationist of 22 years standing.
Ngige harps on quality leadership
Following this development, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige has tasked the Igbo nation to get it right this time so that the race would take its rightful place in Nigeria through quality leadership that had been missing.
Ngige, who spoke in an interview in Onitsha, regretted that Ohanaeze had been in comatose for some time, adding that today’s election was an opportunity to for it to recover the lost ground.
According to Ngige, since the end of the tenures of Dr. Dozie Ikedife and Justice Eze Ozobu, there had been a yawning gap in Ohanaeze leadership.
He said that if the right person was elected to lead Ohanaeze, Igbo would regain their voice in national discourse, adding that the organization needed to redeem its battered image without further waste of time.
Ikedife warns against imposition of leaders
Similarly, former president general, Dr Dozie Ikedife has warned against any manipulation that would lead to the election of wrong leaders.
Ikedife gave the warning, yesterday, at his Nnewi country home. He said his expectations were that the process would be transparent, devoid of manipulation, imposition, irregular movement and should be peaceful “anchoring everything on God that He would give us the right person to lead us,” he added.
He said Ohanaeze would be a dead force, if a wrong person was elected president.
Ebonyi adopts Nwodo
Meantime, Ebonyi State government has adopted the former minister of Information and culture, Chief Nnia Nwodo as its sole presidential candidate ahead of today’s convention in Enugu.
The state made its position known when Nwodo accompanied by some stakeholders from Enugu state paid governor David Umahi courtesy call at Government House Abakaliki on Monday.
Governor Umahi, while endorsing Nwodo, said he deserved the position and is the most qualified to hold the top job among other contestants.
Umahi with other stakeholders including traditional rulers in the state present at the event prayed for Nwodo’s victory to show their full support.