…Says consensus should be voluntary, not forced
…Moves on to twist process in favour of elites —Igbo group alleges
…MASSOB urges peace
…COSYL warns against imposition
…Don’t fight over Ohanaeze leadership, Mbazulike Amechi pleads
By Anayo Okoli, Chimaobi Nwaiwu & Chinonso Alozie
PROMINENT Igbo leader and elder statesman, Chief Mbazulike Amechi, has called on the leadership of Ohaneze Ndigno to ensure that it conducts free, fair, and transparent election that will enthrone a credible leadership in January 2021.
Amechi, the first Republic Aviation Minister and the only remaining member of the Zikist Movement called on leadership of Ohanaeze to live up to the expectations of Ndigbo worldwide.
He spoke on a day an Igbo group, Igbo National Council, INC, alleged of plot by unnamed elites to impose leadership on the people, warning that it would not be tolerated.
Speaking with Vanguard in a telephone interview, from his Ukpor country home, Chief Amechi said there was nothing to quarrel about in electing a credible leader of the Igbo social cultural organisation.
He urged all the aspirants to the position of Ohanaeze President General to conduct themselves with discipline, while calling on the incumbent leadership to respect the constitution of the body in conducting the election.
The elder statesman told the Chief Nnia Nwodo led Ohanaeze leadership to accept consensus candidacy only where there was voluntary consensus.
He said that if candidates refused to come up with a consensus candidate, the Ohanaeze should not force it one on them rather allow three to five candidates to run for the President General and other vacant positions.
“I think there is nothing to quarrel about in choosing who leads Ohanaeze, they should follow the constitution of the organization.
“Now that it is the turn of Imo State to produce the President General of Ohanaeze after Enugu State’s turn expires, if Imo State cannot agree on a consensus candidate, the position should be thrown open for contest.
“The leadership of Ohanaeze should only accept consensus candidate where there is voluntary consensus by the aspirants. But if the aspirants refuse to agree on a consensus candidate, the Ohanaeze leadership should allow between three to five candidates to contest, whoever wins let that person take over the seat.
“When it was the turn of Anambra State, it was selected by Anambra people, I and Chief Dozie Ikedife of blessed memory were interested. I told Anambra people that I am more of a national politician and should rather allow Ikedife to run. I stepped down voluntarily for Ikedife to run and he ran unopposed. But if I had continued in the contest, we would have gone into the election and whoever came out victorious would have taken the seat. Ikedife was not imposed on us, we gave him our consensus support and he went unopposed and became the President General.
“So I urge Imo people to agree among themselves on the step to follow to give us the acceptable President General of Ohanaeze or the leadership of Ohanaeze should throw the contest open for all the aspirants to go into the election and whoever wins should be allowed to take over the leadership of the Igbo group. There is no need fighting over consensus candidate. Consensus is not forced, it is accepted by everybody interested in the seat.”
INC alleges plots to impose leadership
Also speaking, Igbo National Council, INC, said it has uncovered some clandestine moves to impose a person on the people as the President-General of the Igbo apex body against the people’s wish.
The President of INC, Chilos Godsent, who made the claim, alleged that the Ohanaeze leadership had continued to delay the publication of names of the affiliate groups, which were supposed to participate in the election as part of the alleged plot.
Chilos alleged that Ohanaeze had increased the amount for revalidation of such affiliate groups to N250,000 as a way of frustrating the affiliate bodies.
INC also condemned what it called the high cost of the expression of interest forms for the Ohanaeze President-General to N500,000, claiming that it was a plot to favour money bag politicians.
“There is high level of orchestrated conspiracy to arm-twist aspirants that are not favoured by the state government and tactically edge them out of the contest.
“I also feel it is not ideal for a group of people within the hierarchy of the elites to begin to talk about consensus candidate.
“Ohanaeze should be able to create an enabling environment for all the aspirants to actively participate and test their popularity.
“We also condemn the high price of revalidation fee and you cannot impose a high price of N500,000 for the form of Ohanaeze President-General, then what do you tell political parties. It is too exorbitant,” Chilos said
Speaking further, the INC President said:”We know that there are tactical moves to allow the state actors to hijack the process because they are the only people to bring out such money.
“Also, we condemn the leadership of Ohanaeze for not outlining or shortlisting by now the affiliate groups that will participate in the election process.
“The affiliate groups should know themselves by now. We also condemn the fraudulent act to peg the revalidation of the affiliate group to N250,000.”
MASSOB urges peace
Meanwhile, the leadership of the Movement for Sovereign State of Biafra, MASSOB, has called for caution in the election, saying what Ndigbo need is a credible election to give them a credible leader to continue the good work the Chief Nwodo started.
MASSOB leader, Uchenna Madu urged all the Igbo to join hands and ensure that the election was a success as the Igbo were not expecting less.
Madu said the affairs of Ndigbo must be entrusted in the hands of credible leaders, who would join the fight to liberate the people of the marginalization they had been subjected to by Federal Government.
Commending the leadership of outgoing Nwodo executive committee, the MASSOB leaders called on the Igbo to work for the progress of Igbo Nation.
COSYL warns against imposition
In its reaction, Coalition of South East Youth Leaders, COSEYL, enjoins all delegates to the Ohanaeze election to ensure that they vote credible persons who will serve Ndigbo faithfully.
“The position of President General of Ohanaeze has been zoned to Imo State while the position of Secretary General has been zoned to Abia State and other positions zoned to other Igbo speaking states. “Presenting a consensus candidate by any state will mean disenfranchising other persons who are eligible to vie for any position zoned to their state of origin.
“The various states should allow those interested to vie for any position, come to the field and test their popularity. We are in a democratic government and it is totally undemocratic to ask anybody not to contest for any position he wants simply because some persons have endorsed a consensus candidate.
“The various states should present their best candidates and allow the delegates to choose the best persons that will represent and speak for Ndigbo. If any state should present a consensus candidate for any position against the wish of other eligible candidate, it will amount to imposition which is undemocratic,” the group said in a statement by its President General, Goodluck Ibem.