By Clifford Ndujihe, Deputy Political Editor
THE Chief John Nnia Nwodo-led newly elected leadership of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has onerous but clear-cut tasks before it.
The 18-man team is coming at a time the Igbo are at socio-political and, perhaps, economic and even cultural crossroads, and need a united front as well as strong and patriotic leadership to move forward.
Thus, Nwodo’s first task is to get the Igbo, irrespective of political and other affiliations, to come together. He has to start by ironing out the court case against his election, which he inherited.
Although, Ohanaeze is a socio-cultural organisation, his team is expected to play crucial political roles on the thorny road to the 2019 general elections. His predecessors played such roles in the 2011 elections that helped to cement affinity between the South-South and South-East geo-political zones when former President Goodluck Jonathan, from Bayelsa State, won the polls. Will Ohanaeze leadership back President Muhammadu Buhari’s re-election, go for Igbo presidency or back another candidate in 2019? The stand of the new Ohanaeze leadership is eagerly being anticipated.
Boiling grievances in the South-East, which have led to the resurgence of agitations for Biafra Republic, for which Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, has been in prison since 2015 and being prosecuted, will fall under Nwodo’s urgent purview.
Can he get the Federal Government to address the perceived marginalisation the South-East, especially by the Buhari administration and thereby assuage the bitterness in the zone?
There are claims in some quarters that he was ‘imposed’ on the Ndigbo by the five South-East governors and some Igbo leaders. Can he prove to all and sundry that his popularity, track record and acceptance won him the prime post by leading Ndigbo with equity, fairness and justice?
Ocean of support
Already, Nwodo has been swimming in an ocean of tributes and support since he won last Tuesday’s election. Among those who congratulated him and pledged to work with him in the interest of Ndigbo are President Buhari, South-East Peoples Democratic Party, PDP; South-East Senate Caucus, and Ndigbo Unity Forum, NUF, among others.
While saluting Nwodo, the South East Senate caucus, in a statement by its Chairman, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, advised the new executive to live above board and make the overall interest of Ndigbo its focal point.
South-East PDP also pledged support for the Nwodo-led Ohanaeze.“National Vice Chairman of the PDP, South-East, Chief Austin Umahi,“said with the emergence of Nwodo as Ohanaeze president-general, Ndigbo a new Igbo order has been born.““With your emergence as the President General of the Apex Socio-Cultural organisation, an umbrella body uniting all Igbo and Igbo speaking states across the country, we can now believe that“Ndigbo have come to a level of self determination. PDP as a party is desirous of having a robust synergy with your office at the Ime-Obi, to enable us chart a new cause for Igbo
survival and existence. In the face of obvious challenges staring us“in the face as a people, we believe that a new era has come in Igbo“land and we have come to the level of tenaciously holding on to our“common inheritance and striving harder to maintain our lead in all“facets of life especially in political, social and economic sectors“using unity as a weapon.”
Given these support, it was therefore not surprising that some Igbo leaders were embittered by reports that Igbo elites were at war over the Ohanaeze election on account of litigation by Chief Enechi Onyia, SAN, said to be on behalf of the Professor Ben Nwabueze-led Igbo Leaders of Thought, ILT.
Indeed, ILT leader, Professor Ben Nwabueze, SAN, and his deputy, Professor Chiweyite Ejike, distanced themselves and the ILT from any court case seeking to nullify the election of the Chief John Nwodo-led newly elected Ohanaeze executive.“Professor Ejike, was one of the candidates for the president-general post and lost to Chief Nwodo at the poll held on Tuesday.“A day after the election, the ILT, reportedly represented by Chief Enechi Onyia, SAN, was said to have lodged a legal proceeding against the election of the new executives, insisting that the past executive committee of the group led by Chief Enwo Igariwey had no locus to conduct the election that produced Nwodo.
It argued that the tenure of the Igariwey-led executive had expired two years ago, that the Igariwey-led executive was served the court process on December 22, 2016 but it was defiant and went ahead to conduct the election.“The court process lodged in an Enugu state high court presided over by“Justice A. O. Onovo, fixed March 1, 2017, as a date to commence“hearing on the validity of the Chief Igariwey-led executive to have“conducted the election.“However, in a press statement and telephone chat, Professors Nwabueze“and Ejike said they are not aware of the suit and have no hand in it.“Quoting the reports, Nwabueze, in a statement said: ”We hereby state“categorically that, until we read the above news reports, we were“unaware of any such court action or of any plan or intention to“institute same.
Neither I, as Chairman of The Igbo Leaders of Thought“nor Professor Ejike (a candidate at the said election), as Deputy“Chairman, knew anything about the court action. Neither did we“authorise anyone or group to institute such a suit on behalf and/or in“the name of Igbo Leaders of Thought. The reports in the two newspapers“are thus completely false and unfounded as well as downright“mischievous and malicious. We are yet to get copies of the originating“processes in the case, in order to find out who the real plaintiffs in“the court action are and their names.“‘’We hereby disassociate the Igbo Leaders of Thought and ourselves as“its Chairman and Deputy Chairman respectively from the said court“action and from the false newspaper reports…
After the series of crises that have riven our Organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo needs a breathing space to try and repair the damage of the past and to reposition itself for the future under a new leadership.’’““ Nwabueze, Ohaneze, Igbo elites ‘re united – Guy Ikokwu“Speaking on reports that Igbo elites are at war over Nwodo’s election and that the Professor Nwabueze-led ILT are in court to stop him, Second Republic politician and a member of Ime-Obi (elders’caucus of Ohanaeze), Chief Guy Ikokwu, said there is nothing like that.
His words: ‘’Please, Igbo elites were not at war at the just concluded Ohanaeze general election at Enugu. This was the most attended and calm election of Ohanaeze Worldwide. Meritocracy was the injunction of the day. The foremost clarion call was for Nigeria to be moved forward for justice, equity, and fair play believing in meritocracy rather than mediocrity.“‘’Nigeria must right the wrongs of the last 56 years. Only a restructured system of governance with true federalism instead of the so-called unitary federalism, devolution of powers from the centre will this year take us out of recession and coming stagflation and present hunger and anger of our populace.
‘’These are ardent views of our legal and constitutional icon, a former Secretary General of Ohanaeze to whom we must apologise profusely for the report that he was part of those in court to stop Nwodo. He is not part of the renegade minority group litigating blatantly against Ndigbo Worldwide.’’
MASSOB, IPOB task Nwodo on Igbo interest
Speaking on Nwodo’s election, the National leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, Mr Uchenna Madu, said that the new Ohanaeze leadership should concern itself with piloting the affairs of Ndigbo strictly on the basis of “Igboism which means Igbo political, economic, social, academic and religious interests first, before Nigeria and their personal interests.”
Madu said MASSOB was not bothered if the leadership was even sponsored by President Buhari through his allies in Igbo land provided it pursues Igbo political and economic interests.
“With the current political development in Nigeria, consciousness of Biafra actualisation and Igbo political target in 2019, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo leadership is no longer private businesses as usual. As Nigeria government can’t be afraid of Ohanaeze Ndigbo but fears Biafran agitators, MASSOB’s advice to the new Ohanaeze leadership is to align with Biafra consciousness for greater achievement of Igbo political interests in Nigeria and start your official service to Ndigbo with Nnamdi Kanu’s case.’’
The new Ohanaeze team
•Barr. Nnia Nwodo President General
•Rtd DIG Hillary Opara Deputy President General
•Barr Uche Okwukwu Secretary General
•Solomon Ogunji Deputy Secretary General
•Emeka Ogwu Treasurer
•Alphonsus Duru Financial Secretay
•Chris Eluemunoh National Assistant Financial Secretary
•Chief Chuks Muomah, SAN National legal adviser
•Chief Okeagu Ogadah National Assistant legal adviser
•Chief Eric Ebeh National Assistant Treasurer
•Uche Ani Publicity Secretary
•Chuks Ibegbu Natl Asst Publicity Secretary
•Charles Odunukwu National Vice President Anambra
•Sylvester Ebigwei National Vice President Delta
•Prof Chigozie Ogbu National Vice Chairman, Ebonyi
•CP (Rtd) Onuoha Udeka National Vie Chairman, Abia
•Chief Igoh Okparamma National Vice President, Rivers