By Ochereome Nnanna
THE forthcoming election for the change of guards in the apex umbrella of all Igbo people, Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo, is obviously going to be the most keenly contested in the history of the 44 year-old organisation. With the post of President-General zoned to Imo State while Abia provides the Secretary-General, an array of suitably and eminently qualified Igbo patriots has stepped forward to canvass for electoral support.
It is not surprising that this election is eliciting such great interest. It is coming at a time of great ferment; a historic juncture when people of sterner stuff are required to provide leadership for the Igbo nation. Nigeria is at the crossroads of history.
Some are saying that a badly-laid foundation is pushing this otherwise blessed country to the end-stages of an unworkable partnership. This is the moment that the country’s principal components must take responsibility and preserve the interests of their peoples either within the Nigerian commonwealth or outside of it.
The Igbo nation is also faced with many challenges. There is a need to link up the angry and increasingly radical youth (particularly the pro-Biafrans) to the elders who have borne the brunt of fighting and losing the Biafra War, especially now that Biafra has returned to the centre stage of critical reckoning.
This is no longer the moment for the governors and the socio-cultural think tanks to chart their respective freelance courses; they must close ranks. The people (Oha) and the leadership (Eze) must come together. The Igbo at home and the rich Igbo Diaspora must come on one page, and the overflowing Igbo talent and ingenuity making ripples all over the world must be brought to bear to build the future that the Igbo people need.
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This is where Ohanaeze comes in. The leadership that the Igbo nation needs must be able to pin together the loose strands and create a popular momentum that will enable the Igbo nation be the principal solvers of their own problems. The Federal Government has failed to carry the burdens of Nigerians which it imposed on itself in order to corner and channel the nation’s resources as it likes. There is no indication that it will ever be able to do so in the foreseeable future unless the country’s political architecture is totally remodelled. Once again, I am convinced that all the candidates who have stepped forward for election are eminently qualified.
The post of secretary-general is very important because that is the engine and clearing house of all activities. Without prejudice to others who are offering their patriotic services, I believe in the candidature of Ireke Agbeze Kalu Onuma, and I hereby endorse him. Kalu Onuma, a Russia-trained Historian, has committed all his energies in the past 20 years in the service of the Igbo nation.
He served directly under two previous president-generals of Ohanaeze, the late Justice Eze Ozobu and eminent diplomat, Dr. Ralph Uwechue. He has for years also administered the Secretariat of Ndi Igbo Lagos and been part of the South East/South-South Professionals. Operating in Lagos has also exposed him to intimate interactions between the Igbo and Yoruba leaderships. He is vastly experienced in the critical constructive engagements that promote peaceful cohabitation with other important stakeholder groups in the Nigerian project.
Kalu Onuma has been intimately involved in promoting the Igbo political agenda and interests through his services within the defunct Council of South East and South-South, COSESS, the Igbo group’s inputs into the National Political Conference convened by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2006 and as a resource person in the secretariat of the Igbo lobby at the National Conference in 2014.
Kalu Onuma has been enough of an insider to know how the system works. He has also been enough of an outsider to bring his wealth of experience from Ndi Igbo Lagos to recharge the Ohanaeze Secretariat for more innovative delivery. Onuma’s personal charisma, articulateness, love and loyalty for the Igbo nation which I have personally witnessed at close range in the past 20 years give me the absolute gumption to throw my endorsement in his favour. He is the right man for the job.