By Iheke Awa Solomon
Let me from the onset declare my preference for, endorsement and recommendation of Chidi Gideon Osuagwu for the leadership position of Ohanaeze Ndigbo at the forthcoming January 2021 election.
The rationale for my recommendation of this academic would become obvious in the course of this piece.
However, this piece is not about the professor of biochemistry. This piece is a timely warning to Ndigbo on the deficits and liabilities of the candidates sponsored and endorsed by the political representatives of the ruling class and their caliphate backers. It is a wake-up call to digest the significance and utter need for a change in the leadership of the apex umbrella body of Ndigbo, at a time and juncture of the systemic failure and foundational collapse of the fake structure of the Nigerian state made worse by the failure of leadership at every tier of government.
It is about the enthronement of an unusual and unconventional leadership to confront, without fear, the adversaries of Ndigbo who will stop at nothing in their quest to shortchange the aspirations of Ndigbo in order to maintain the failed feudal federalism, using their Igbo surrogates. It is to draw the attention of Ndigbo to the recognition and significance of the year 2023 in the collective aspirations and yearnings to produce a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction who will effect a transformational change to correct the failed defective feudal federal structures that have stifled our march to nationhood.
The main objective of Ndigbo at the forthcoming January 2021 election must be to effect a radical change of the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, by enthroning persons who are uncontaminated by the common denominators of the elements of the Nigerian establishment and its conventional politics: a new leadership that will engage the gear of high moral grounds, set uncompromising visionary goals and processes for their fulfilment, and to commence in earnest a nonpartisan and transparent search for virtuous Igbo presidential materials, who are neither caliphate-sponsored nor representatives of some external adverse interests which are bent on perpetrating the obnoxious, predatory and oppressive status quo.
Oppressive status quo
It’s no gainsaying, to state that from the days of the struggle for independence to the birth and foundation of the new independent Nigerian state, Ndigbo have been at the forefront of the driving forces for the advancement of the Nigerian enterprise, and in-process serving as the cannon fodder and the mortar that ensures the continued existence of Nigeria as one indivisible and indissoluble entity.
Unfortunately, the altruistic motives of Ndigbo has often been mischievously misinterpreted by her adversaries who feel that Ndigbo must be stopped from gaining supreme ascendency in Nigerian enterprise. Accordingly, conspiracies were hashed against Ndigbo and their eastern constituents, to scatter, decapitate, dehumanise and annihilate them into servitude.
However, for a moment in time, Ndigbo and their eastern constituents took a momentous decision to determine their future in a nation of their own, Biafra. But the Nigerian state, sensing what it stands to lose by the departure of these republican people, vehemently resisted the move and stopped at no expense, to force and compel a reunion.
Now, that forced reunion has since experienced existential threats by the contradictions of the historical fraud foisted by the British imperial contraption, sustained by the many years of sectional military regimes through fraudulent and forced constitutional legalism of a skewed, unsustainable feudal federalism.
The seam lines of this fake federation have been terribly exposed and its underbelly stinking to the anger and regrets of even those who supported the feudal forces in the fight to force a reunion. And today, we are finally at the brink of the deluge, where the false foundation has collapsed and the dire consequences are pretty ominous to all but most worryingly to Ndigbo whose wealth is spread unendingly across the Nigerian state, out Igbo homeland.
It is at this most critical juncture and time in the of history of Nigeria as a whole, and Ndigbo as a distinct and peculiar people, that a transition in the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo is taking place. Ndigbo must heed the warning to depart from business as usual in order to avoid the conspiratorial devices and traps of her adversaries who are shocked at how easily Ndigbo have recovered from the ashes of defeat to prevail economically.
These adversaries are afraid that Ndigbo could gain political power come 2023 and coupled with her economic prevalence, her domination of the Nigerian state will be complete. The stakes of Ndigbo in the Nigerian enterprise are the highest compared to other competing ethnic nationalities combined.
We can hardly afford the luxury of allowing compromised elements of the Nigerian establishment, conventional politicians, the Igbo surrogates of the caliphate and the sponsored representatives of some external adverse interests to take the driving seat of the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo at a time like this.
It will be a monumental and unpardonable error from which Ndigbo may never recover unless some other novus interviniens occurs. This is what informs our wailing calls for the enthronement of professional thinkers and unconventional men to takeover the leadership of Ndigbo at the forthcoming election. Ndigbo cannot continue to follow the same paths and expect to get to a different destination.
It is instructive to note that Ohanaeze Ndigbo was conceived and given birth to at a very critical juncture and time in the history of Ndigbo as a people, emerging as they did, from an epoch-making defeat, with debilitating consequences of a conquered people. The contemporary patriarchs of Ndigbo of that era, looking at the seeds of time and configuring the complexities and competing interests in the Nigerian enterprise to which Ndigbo was compelled to belong, and in order to reassert and take back the lost glory and prime of place within this iniquitous Nigerian equation, fathomed out a common umbrella platform to weld together the interests and aspirations of Ndigbo as one solid unified body to contend with other forces in the Nigerian conundrum.
Considering the massive displacement and monumental loses occasioned by war – economic, social, political and infrastructural, these prominent patriotic fathers founded what they christened Igbo National Assembly, INA, which umbrella body received instant and overwhelming applause and approval by the generality of Ndigbo. But the joy of its foundation was cut short by the military junta led by the Supreme Military Council of General Yakubu Gowon, who banned the organisation, suspecting that its existence is a grand design for Ndigbo to regroup for another phase of armed insurrection against the forced union.
Insurrection against the forced union
However, in 1976 the dogged, restless and republican spirit of Ndigbo found expression in another set of Igbo patriotic fathers, who conceived and delivered another pan-Igbo umbrella organisation now named Ohanaeze Ndigbo. Through the leadership of the no-nonsense but pious patriarch, Dr Francis Akanu Ibiam and the erudite constitutional lawyer, academic and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, an assemblage of prominent Igbo leaders was convened to form Ohanaeze Ndigbo. Dr. Ibiam emerged the pioneer Chairman leader whilst the mantle of the pioneer Secretary-General of the organization fell on Prof. Nwabueze.
Other pioneer champions and formative fathers of the organisation included Dr. Michael Iheonukara Okpara, Dr. Pius Okigbo, Dr. Kingsley Mbadiwe, Chief Jerome Udorji, among other notable prominent personalities.
The history of the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo from the foundation in 1976 to date points to the fact that, apart from the foundational and pioneering leadership of the father figure of Dr. Francis Akanu Ibiam (chairman 1976-1978) and Prof. Ben Nwabueze, the succeeding and successive leaderships have been peopled by though, no less great patriots, academics and professionals, they have all been establishment elements of the Nigerian state and or conventional politicians of note and sorts, who exhibited vested partisan interests, with cleavages and political baggage on their shoulders almost like heavy anvils of albatrosses on their necks. Thus they have largely failed to take Ndigbo ashore.
Between the era of Dr. Francis Akanu Ibiam and the great erudite constitutional jurist, Prof. Ben Nwabueze and the equally great polemicist, orator, economist, lawyer and administrator, Chief Joe Nnia Nwodo, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has had, no doubt great men as its leaders, with a few exceptions.
There was the exceptional elder statesman, Dr. Francis Akanu Ibiam 1976-1979; followed by Chief Mathias Ugochukwu 1979-1983; then the indubitable and irrepressible Prof. Nwabueze 1984-2000 succeeded by Justice Eze Ozobu 2001-2003; then the academic, legal and insurance guru, Prof. Joseph Ogbonnaya Irukwu 2004-2006, followed by Dr. Dozie Onyeanusi Ikedife 2006-2008, who was succeeded by the career diplomat, late Ambassador Raph Uwechue 2008-2012, and then by Chief Gary Nnachi Enwo-Igariwey 2012-2016 before the incumbent and soon to depart fairy political icon, Joe Nnia Nwodo, 2016 to date.
Almost all of these men had one common denominator, they are either establishment men or conventional politicians, or both; and useful as they had been in varying degrees for times of their manifestation.
The times have changed and we must admit the effective change in the leadership personnel of Ohanaeze Ndigbo that will deploy and harness new strategies, build appropriate structures to pursue radical and uncompromising visionary goals and objectives. Now, ideas are needed for changing the existing system.
These ideas, such as process improvements, new synergies of engagement, setting new goals and milestones with time frames to meet the exigencies of the moment, can come from within as well as from outside the established order. From within, the establishment men and conventional politicians, have over the years of their leaderships tenures laid the foundation that depended on a compendium of ideas which the new men from outside can tap from by way of reference and history to help them navigate and drive the effective change process.
There is a general uncertainty about what the future of Nigerian enterprise will look like if certain, well defined and articulated steps are not taken to arrest the certain drift into the fast approaching and inevitable cataclysmic storm, and that informs prudent people to depart from the usual paths of the past by carefully avoiding the enthronement of the same men who have been part of the lingering problems that has beset the Nigerian enterprise and its constituent parts.
THE leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo over the years by establishment men and conventional politicians has occasioned some intractable and protracted internal rivalries, partisanship, bickering, factionalism and even litigations that have plagued the organization till date. This parlous state of affairs has opened up Ndigbo to self-seeking, opportunistic leaders who are unable to suppress their narrow interests for the common good of Ndigbo.
These leaders have used the organization for their personal gains and to consolidate their sphere of political influence leading to the failure of Ndigbo to succeed in the pursuit of her collective aspirations to produce a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction. The scenario is about to repeat itself as 2023 draws nigh and the search for new leadership of Ndigbo is foreshadowing the nature of politics to come.
It is therefore not totally unexpected that political interests groups in the various political parties with their unscrupulous godfathers and gadflies have started congregating to appropriate to themselves the wisdom of declaring some persons as the anointed consensus candidate for the office of the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
The Chief Emmanuel Iwunyanwu sponsored political group, a gathering masterminded by the paymaster Governor of Imo State should leave no true Igbo man in any doubt that the caliphate has infiltrated the electoral process of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and planted one of their own from the Nigerian establishment to emerge. This must be resisted by all well-meaning Igbo patriots.
The caliphate sponsored candidate is no other person than Prof. George Obiozor. This writer has long known and admired the person of Prof. George Obiozor. Right in the early days of 1992, when this writer was learning the ropes of courtroom advocacy under the tutelage of the no-nonsense British trained consummate litigation lawyer, Chief K. H. C. Nwokolo ( Ide Obosi ) who was the lawyer to the retired ambassador.
This writer had a close encounter with him in Chambers and formed an esteemed view of him. Therefore, ordinarily, this writer would have thrown his weight of support behind his candidacy. But in the indelible words of Brutus in William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”, I declare that ” Not that I loved Caesar less but that I loved Rome more”. Personal considerations of affection and respect for Prof. Obiozor should never outweigh the collective aspirations of Ndigbo. More so, from recent events, it is sadly all too obvious that the Prof. is not in good health.
We must collectively pray for his recovery and good health, and for him to remain alive to play other roles that he is most suited for. Truth be told, he is not the man for a time like this, and as we say in strict legal jargon ” equity is past the age of childbearing “. More instructively, he is a man of the Nigerian establishment for whom the maintenance of the status quo is of more value than the radical and uncompromising pursuit of the collective aspirations of Ndigbo.
The foregoing argument holds true for all the other candidates save two: Chief Godwin Anayo Uwazurike and Prof. Chidi Gideon Osuagwu. Chief Godwin Anayo Uwazurike is a successful lawyer who has no identifiable record of political service and partisanship, or any establishment service either at the State or federal level. He has been engaged in advocacy under a sociocultural group of Aka Ikenga.
Professor Chidi Osuagwu on the other hand is a former chairman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Imo State Chapter between 2007 and 2009, an academic and professor of biochemistry. He is the author of the book, “Truth and Chaos”, a masterpiece on the Igbo race. His pedigree as a professional thinker and champion of the Igbo cause is unquestionable. Already steeped in knowledge of the workings of Ohanaeze Ndigbo at the primary shopfloor without the stains of the contentious rivalries and controversies.
This writer has had late-night sessions of dissection of topical issues and detailed analysis of Igbo leadership crises, Igbo cosmology, the struggle to achieve Igbo aspirations within the Nigerian state and the very fundamental issues of restructuring the political and economic architecture of Nigeria to pave way for the fulfilment of the manifest destiny of this nation and its constituent parts in a balanced federal republic.
Professor Osuagwu has demonstrated during these sessions that he has the profundity of thought to assert that a radical departure from the usual templates of engagement of the adversaries of Ndigbo both within and outside Igbo enclave and the hegemonic caliphate predators of the Nigerian establishment is required to achieve a paradigm shift and to navigate the Nigerian statecraft away from the looming iceberg of destruction and disintegration.
It’s been noted already that the caliphate and the northern political leadership is well disposed to the candidacy of the retired Nigerian ambassador, Prof. George Obiozor, and their Western counterparts have aligned themselves with former Nigeria Police boss, IGP Mike Okiro, retired. These are thoroughbred Nigerian establishment people who will not serve any utilitarian and altruistic Igbo purpose but to continue with the status quo that will shortchange Ndigbo to serve their class interests and to cheat the Nigerian masses of the desired changes that will end their oppression.
The other candidate is Dr Joe Nworgu, a former Federal Civil Service director in the Department of Estates in the Federal Capital Development Authority, Abuja. He was also a commissioner for works, housing and transport in Imo State from 1994 to 1996. The fact that he was a former Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo does not distract from bearing the same burden and albatross of the elements of the Nigerian establishment and conventional politicians.
The last and by no means the least is Dr Chris Chigoziri Asoluka, a multidisciplinary academic and one time elected honourable member of Nigeria’s House of Representatives and deputy chairman of Committee on Appropriations, National Assembly (NASS) in 1992, and a leader of the Bipartisan Caucus of NASS.
He was also a commissioner for finance and economic development, Imo State; and chairman, Committee of Finance Commissioners in Nigeria, between 1994 – 1996. Dr Asoluka had also served as the national vice president general (Imo) of Ohanaeze Ndigbo between 2009-2013 and headed several NEC committees of the apex body, including the Election Committee, 2012/13; and a member of the Election Committee of Ohanaeze, 2016/17, which conducted the electoral process that led to the emergence of the Nwodo-led NEC/Ohanaeze.
Dr Asoluka is like the other two establishment candidates X-rayed above. He is yoked and encumbered with the lethargic burdens of the carpetbaggers of the Nigerian establishment. Almost all this eminently qualified candidates for the leadership of the apex organization of Ndigbo, with fantastic résumé of qualifications and services, are laden with deficits and liabilities that render them incapable of effective service delivery.
The uncertain times we live in and the expectations of Ndigbo does not admit of the leadership of this men because they are players who are likely to have some yellow card bookings that would render them incapable of engaging the entrenched ruling class and their sponsors who must be uncompromisingly confronted for the effective change that would liberate Ndigbo and by extension, the masses of this country.
Ndigbo must shine their eyes and not be deceived by those masking as their leaders. Men who have compromised their integrity by serving themselves in the Nigerian establishment. The emerging scenario calls for a hard-nosed man who would brook no reputation of any demagogue, a man who will entertain no fear of any yellow card bookings for which he would trade away the interests of Ndigbo on the tables of negotiations to save himself from a dangling red card over his head.
Prof. Chidi Gideon Osuagwu is the man for the job at this particular point in time. He has crafted a radical agenda for a fresh visionary engagement which is time-tailored to milestones and is set to trigger a transparent nonpartisan process to throw up Igbo presidential materials that will man the Nigerian statecraft and carefully navigate it away from the cataclysmic iceberg that threatens the corporate existence of our nation. This stoic academic will make Ndigbo proud by the untainted Igbo presidential materials that will be thrown up by his leadership, the kind of materials that would address the foundational issues of our failed federal structures.
IHEKE SOLOMON, ESQ., is from Ugep in Cross River State with proud Igbo maternal roots in Igbere, Bende LGA of Abia State; he is a litigation lawyer, the Principal Partner of Chancery Chambers ( Abuja/Umuahia) and a Minister of the gospel of Christ Jesus with Bible Believing Ministry Inc, aka, the dwelling place of the God of Talknado. He was Deputy Governorship Candidate of Alliance For Democracy (AD)1999; Governorship Candidate of Progressive Peoples Alliance(PPA) 2007; the Director, Legal Services to the Ibrahim Shakarau Presidential Organization 2011; a legal resource person representing ANPP in the subcommittee of Constitution and Registration of the Merger Committee for the formation of APC; Iheke has longed quit APC after its registration. He is not a card-carrying member of any political party.