…Okwukwu’s faction elects Chidi Ibeh
..Umahi, Iwuanyanwu, Wabara, Anya,Obi of Onitsha, others in Owerri
…Uzodimma, Umahi, Nwodo, Igariwey chart way forward for Ndigbo
…Any election after January 9, illegal —Ozobu
By Clifford Ndujihe, Chinonso Alozie, & Ugochukwu Alaribe
AFTER weeks of controversies, former Nigeria Ambassador to the United States, Professor George Obiozor, yesterday, emerged as the new President -General of Ohanaeze , succeeding John Nnia Nwodo.
Obiozor won the election conducted by the election committee led by Gary Enwo Igariwey, set up by Nwodo. The election was held at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri.
After Goddy Uwazurike and Eze Chukwuyere Nwebo stepped down, Obiozor polled an unassailable 304 votes to beat two other contenders- Uju Okoro (three votes), and Valentine Oparaocha (15 votes)
For the position of the Deputy Vice President, Obi Nwali was returned unopposed while Okey Egbuche emerged as secretary-general just as Beatrice Eze emerged unopposed as treasurer.
Other executive members are Batholomew Okere (financial secretary), and Alex Ogbonna (national publicity secretary.
However, the Obiozor team has a parallel exco to contend with in the battle for the soul of the Igbo apex organisation.
On Saturday, a former commissioner in Imo State, Engr, Chidi Ibeh, MFR. was reportedly elected in Enugu as President-General in the election organised by the Prince Richard Ozobu-led election committee raised by the former embattled Secretary-General, Uche Okwukwu, who incidentally was elected deputy president general. Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro emerged as secretary general.
Ozobu reportedly told reporters that the election was held in Enugu in compliance with COVID-19 protocols.
Umahi, Iwuanyanwu, Wabara, Anya, Obi of Onitsha, others storm Owerri
The Ohanaeze election in Owerri attracted a host of Igbo leaders.
Apart from Governor Hope Uzodimma, who is the host governor, also in attendance was Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, leading Igbo politicians as well as religious leaders.
Among them were Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu; Minister of Labour and Productivity, Dr Chris Ngige; Nnia Nwodo; Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe; Emmanuel Iwuanyawu; Minister of state for Mines and Development, Uche Ogah; former Governor of Imo State, Dr. Ikedi Ohakim; Senator Osita Izunaso; former Deputy Governor of Anambra State,Emeka Sibeudu; Archbishop of Anglican Diocese of Enugu State, Chukwuma Okoh; Senator Andy Ubah; and former Inspector General of Police, Mike Okiro.
There were also former Governor of Ebonyi State, Senator Sam Egwu; Senator Ben Obi; Chekwas Okorie, former Senate President, Chief Adolphus Wabara, elder statesmen, Professor Anya O Anya and Chief Guy Ikokwu.
Uzodimma, Umahi, Nwodo, Igariwey speak
Welcoming the delegates, Governor Uzodimma said: “I am here to welcome the Igbo people who have come to elect new leadership of Igbo. I thank the governors of the Igboland. I am happy because I can see a new order.
“I am here because the Igbo have been challenged that they cannot work together and now we have to get it right. In all, I speak prophetically, that today is a day for the change.
The only reason we have been behind is because the spirit of togetherness is lacking. We have to go back to our root and know what to do. In Imo state, we have done something that will provide a smooth transition.”
Adding his voice, Governor Umahi said: “Let me first thank God Almighty for today’s event. I also commend Igbo leaders for making this event happen today. I commend the outgoing President-General of Ohanaeze, Chief Nnia Nwodo.
“Whatever is the outcome of the election process the governors of the South-East will stand by it. I advice those who will emerge winners and losers that we are one.
“Those who will emerge victorious, you have a very big task of educating our people especially working for the oneness and unity of Nigeria.
“My dear brother, Hope Uzodimma, the love I have for you is the level of love you have shown for Ndigbo. We, the governors of the South-East are one. We the South-East leaders will organize a get together for Nwodo, on what he has done for us the Igbo people to show appreciation.”
Nwodo said: “I thank you for the opportunity you gave us to serve. Lopsidedness in the appointments in this country have affected the development of the Igbo land, that is why we are championing the restructuring of Nigeria.
“We urge the new leadership to continue with the constitutional amendment of the Ohanaeze, and achieve the aim of improving the organisation.
“I want to say that discordant voices do not mean well for the Igbo. I appeal to our Igbo brothers to sheathe their swords and let us move ala Igbo forward.”
On his part, Igariewey, said: “This committee is to save the Igbo Nation and to show the outside world that we are capable of running a credible election.”
Any election after January 9, illegal —Ozobu
Speaking on the Imo election where Obiozor emerged as Ohanaeze leader, Prince Richard Ozobu, said any election conducted after January 9, 2021 is illegal, null and void.
Ozobu, in an interview with Vanguard, said his electoral committee had conducted elections into the various offices in the local, state and national executive committees of Ohanaeze on January 9, in Enugu, and urged Igbo people to support the new executives who emerged from the Enugu election.
The Ohanaeze chieftain explained that the tenure of the Chief Nnia Nwodo-led national executive committee expired on the midnight of January 9, 2021, as it was elected on January 10, 2020. He insisted that the Chief Gary Enwo Igariwey led electoral committee set up by Nwodo had no right to conduct any election on January 10, as the tenure of the executive committee who inaugurated it had expired.
His words: “The life of an ad-hoc committee can’t go beyond the tenure of the executive committee that set it up. The tenure of Chief Nnia Nwodo led executive committee expired on the midnight of January 9th. They were elected on January 10, 2017. Therefore, it follows that the Gary Enwo Igariwey electoral committee he set up no longer has the right to conduct a lawful election.
“Electoral committee is an ad-hoc committee. Any ad-hoc committee set up by Nwodo has expired with his tenure. Those purporting to organize another election can’t legally do so because it is out of time. No valid election can be held in Ohanaeze after the midnight of January 9th. Anybody purporting to organize any election after January 9th is acting illegally according to the law.”
Asked about the venue of the election, eminent personalities who attended and whether his committee secured the support of the Governors of the seven Igbo-speaking states, Ozobu said nothing in the constitution of Ohanaeze states that the electoral committee must have the support of the governors; stressing that all the stakeholders including the governors made inputs in the issue of delegates to the election and votes cast in line with the law.
“The election was conducted in Enugu and those residing outside the city and in Diaspora participated through zoom. You know we have COVID-19 restrictions and you must not run against the law on COVID-19 on the issue of gathering of about 1,000 people, including Ohanaeze delegates from different states, journalists from far and wide as well as observers at a location. We also observed the zoning of the offices among the component states of Ohanaeze which operates a rotational system. The position of president general went to Imo state; the Secretary General to Abia State, etc.’