By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—AHEAD of the February 16 general elections, President Muhammadu Buhari-led All Progressives Congress, APC, and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, have intensified efforts to grab the about seven million votes of Ndigbo in northern part of the country.
While attempts are made to ensure that Buhari get the endorsement of Ndigbo in the north, there appears to be disaffection among the leadership of Ndigbo in the area over what they described as grand plot by a former national vice chairman of PDP, South, Nze Ozichukwu, to hijack the Atiku’s campaign in the north.
This development, it was gathered, has made the Igbo leaders in the area to contemplate endorsement of President Buhari despite the general adoption of Atiku by the parent body of the apex socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
It was alleged that the suspended secretary of the Igbo apex group, Mr Okwukwu had embarked on recruitment drive with the support of one of the ministers from the South-East to pay a visit to President Buhari at the Presidential Villa with the aggrieved Igbo leaders in the north to declare their support for the President despite the Ohanaeze endorsement of Atiku.
A source privy to the development in Ohanaeze leadership in the north told Vanguard on condition of anonymity that a powerful group led by one of the ministers from Southeast has embarked on aggressive consultations and money was moving to swell the support base of President Buhari but such move has been resisted.
The person who described the unfolding development as “dangerous concerning Ndigbo support in the north,” said: “There is a campaign going on for the endorsement and support for Buhari. The reason is that those not elected as leaders in the north now hijacked Atiku’s campaign, both Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Igbo Delegate Assembly.”
The source accused Nze Ozichukwu Chukwu, former national vice chairman of the PDP of assembling some people in Abuja to hijack the Atiku campaign.
Continuing, the source said: “Igbo leadership in the north has met and agreed to make open declaration in support of Buhari, this is an underground move. There are powerful people behind it. As we talk, money is moving and the leadership is resisting the attempt.
“Ozichukwu is busy using Atiku’s wife and people that are not part of the leadership here in the north. The seven million votes is about to go down the drain. In the next few weeks, if nothing is done, the aggrieved people will dump Atiku.”
The source further claimed that meetings were held in Abuja in the minister’s residence and in Minna, Niger State to woo people for President Buhari.
The source alleged that the expelled Secretary of Ohanaeze was in Abuja to endorse Buhari, adding: “If things don’t go right, there will be tsunami.”
When contacted, President of Igbo Delegate Assembly, Chi Nwogu, said his group was not a political group to be engaged in politics.
He said every Igbo person respects the decision of Ohanaeze and that if the President of the Federal Republic invites them, they would honour the invitation to hear him out, though he said that to his knowledge, there was no invitation before him.
On the endorsement of Atiku by the Ohanaeze leadership, he said: “There is something you should know. Since Ohanaeze is involved and there is no crisis in the election of the President General, anything he says is binding on Igbo people. Before this political era, Ohanaeze had no problem.”
Also reacting to the alleged attempts by the Buhari camp to invite them to the State House, he said: “If the president of the Federal Republic wants to see you, you will not say no, but I am not aware of that as at now.”
On the allegation of attempts to hijack the Atiku campaign structure in the north, former PDP boss, Nze Ozichukwu said: “Well I am not a member of the executive of Ohaneze and I am not involved in the leadership of the Igbos in the north. This is the season of blackmail and people will want to seek relevance by dropping names. I am not in the mood to engage anybody.”