By Dennis Agbo & Kelechukwu Iruoma
ENUGU—OHANAEZE Ndigbo has stated that the Igbo will support only political parties and candidates with the interest of Ndigbo in their agenda in the 2019 general elections.
President General of the body, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, said that their support will only go to a presidential candidate with manifest programme that would address the multifarious interests and challenges confronting Ndigbo in Nigeria.
Nwodo spoke yesterday, at a reception organized by the Enugu Chapter of the group in his honour on arrival at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, after a trip to the United States of America, where he and his deputy went to inaugurate the South Carolina chapter of Ohanaeze.
Nwodo stressed that although the group was a non-political association, it would advise Ndigbo to vote for a candidate of the political party that has the best programmes for Ndigbo in 2019.
Nwodo also expressed anger at the deplorable state of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, saying that deliberate neglect of the airport, the only international airport in the zone, tallies with the obvious marginalization of the South East geo-political zone in the socio-political and economic development of the country, particularly after the civil war that ended in 1970.
He said their visit to the US provided the opportunity for him to interact with other Igbo organizations and business men and intimated them of the recent South East economic summit and the work of Prof. Chuwkuma Soludo’s Economic and Political Committee, which Ohanaeze inaugurated recently to articulate the roadmap for the socio-economic and political development of South East region.
The President General of Ohanaeze said that Nigerians in US were enthusiastic to partner with South East governors for the development of the region, especially in the area of digital technology, agriculture and power in order to create employment opportunities for the young ones and revive the moribund industries in the area.
“Ohanaeze is a non- political organization and the membership of Ohanaeze cuts across political lines. All Igbo are members of Ohanaeze from their town unions and they all exist in all the political parties, so I cannot be an agent of any political party.
“What is important to Ohanaeze is that before the election, all the political parties must sell their manifestoes to us so that we can advise the Igbo appropriately. The parties have not yet nominated their candidates; so, it is premature for me to begin to ask them what they have.
“When the candidates emerge, I will seek audience with them. First of all, I’ll want whoever becomes the next president of Nigeria to sign an undertaking, if he is not an Igbo man, that he will not stay for more than one tenure and that the next president of Nigeria will come to Igbo thereafter. That is the irreducible minimum for Ndigbo.”
On the state of Akanu Ibiam International Airport Nwodo said, “Today I lost my temper at the Airport, because our people have an international airport that is not operational. I spoke to the President in Abakaliki about the state of Enugu Airport; the runway is in a despicable condition. The Ethiopian Airlines came to my house and complained to me with pictures. There were cracks in the runway, the new terminal building is abandoned, the one former President Jonathan renovated is not like anything anybody did anything to. Part of the annex was carried away by hurricane. The one there is in a very bad condition.
“In the international arrival where we used today, it took us two hours to get our luggage. First, the trucks that were going to bring them are in disuse, only one is working. Secondly, the punishment our people are given in the airport there, Immigration takes bribe from them, Customs takes bribe from them.
“There is nowhere in the world you have gone through an air transportation and you arrive in your place and the Customs will begin to ask you what are you carrying, because there is international agreement for carriage of goods. All dutiable goods are assessed at the point of shipment because they go through an x-tray.
“But people carry personal effect and reach Enugu airport and they tell them to open their box to see what they are carrying, nobody does it in Lagos, nobody does it in Abuja, nobody does it in Kaduna, nobody does it in Kano. But it is done here. A boy called S. I. Jubril of the Nigerian Customs was the one presiding over this rape of our people today and I chastised him,” he said.
Sets up committee to resolve Lagos leadership tussle
Meantime, the pan-Igbo socio-cultural organisation yesterday said the organization is poised to resolve the leadership crisis of Lagos Ohanaeze Ndigbo, stating that some fraudsters have been using the name of Ohanaeze to defraud people and it will come hard on them.
The National Deputy Financial Secretary of Ohaneze Ndigbo and the team leader of Lagos transition committee set up to resolve the leadership tussle, Elder Chris Iseluka said that anybody misbehaving in the South West in the name of Ohanaeze will be taken care of.
He said: “The National Executive Council, NEC, has taken over Lagos. As far as Ohanaeze Ndigbo is concerned, there is no executive in Lagos state. That is why we have come to Lagos to resolve the issues. We know the implication of what is happening in Lagos and we are prepared for it.
“We are in total control of the situation. Those who are loyal to the national body will not be disappointed. We have 13.5 million members of Ohanaeze in Lagos state. That is why we have high regard for Ohanaeze Lagos. After National Ohanaeze, Lagos is next,” Iseloka said.
He said the committee will be meeting with Lagos state governor and Lagos commissioner of police to help fight those using Ohaneze to defraud people.
He added that due to the leadership tussle in the state, the national body has decided to hold a town hall meeting on December 14 in National stadium, Surulere to bring peace to Ohanaeze Lagos branch. “Ohaneze is one . Why we are doing this is to enable peace reign in Ohanaeze Lagos.”
We now have strong affiliations with Afenifere, Niger Delta and the Middle belt to move our goals forward.”
He said those who will attend the town hall meeting are the five South East governors, South East senators and members of the House of Representatives.
The members of the organizing committee for the Lagos Town Hall meeting include Ogbuefi Eluemunoh, Chief Charles Odunukwe, Dr. Sylvanus Ebigwei, Chief Eric Ebeh, Barrister Guy Ikoku, Barrister Chibuzo Azubuike, Hon. Kalu Uguru.