SOUTHEAST governors and leaders on Sunday called for unity among Ndigbo. They pledged to continue to protect their interest.
They spoke at the Dan Anyiam Stadium in Owerri, the Imo State capital, after the election of former Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Prof George Obiozor, as President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
He succeeded Chief John Nwodo, whose tenure expired midnight on Saturday.
Chairman of Southeast Governors Forum and Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi and his Imo State counterpart Hope Uzodimma, led eminent Igbo citizens to the election.
It was the turn of Imo to produce the President-General, which is rotated among the Southeast states and Igbo-speaking parts of the Southsouth.
Delegates from Abia, Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Rivers states arrived at the stadium as early as 10 am.
The accreditation started at 11 am. The leaders were permitted to leave their VIP stand to identify with delegates from their various states in preparation for the elections.
The election was by Option A4, with voters queuing behind their preferred candidate.
Prof Obiozor scored 304 votes to beat Dr Valentine Oparaoche, who polled 15 votes, and Uju Okoro, who got three votes.
Chief Goddy Uwazuruike stepped down for Obiozor.
Other contestants – Prof. Chidi Osuagwu, Dr Chris Asoluka and Dr Joe Nworgu – obtained nomination forms, but were said not to have returned them.
Obiozor got 47 votes from Abia delegates, 41 from Anambra, 17 from Delta, 53 from Ebonyi, 40 from Enugu, 42 from Imo and 21 from Rivers.
There were 43 votes from Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Diaspora for the former Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) Director-General.
The position of Deputy President-General, which was unopposed, went to Obi Wali from Rivers State.
Okey Emuchay from Abia State polled 265 votes to win the position of Secretary-General.
Those elected for other offices are Beatrice Eze from Ebonyi State (National Treasurer), Batholomew Okorie (Financial Secretary), Alex Ogbonna (National Publicity Secretary) and Joseph Obinama (National legal Adviser).
Other candidates for President-General were Valentine Oparaocha, Prof. Eze Chukwunyere Nwebo and Uju Saviour.
The governors of Abia, Anambra and Enugu states were represented.
Three ministers, Dr Chris Ngige, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu and Dr. Uche Ogah, were present.
Also present were former Senate President Adolphus Wabara, and former Governors Sam Egwu (Ebonyi), Dr Okwusilieze Nwodo (Enugu) and Chief Ikedi Ohakim (Imo).
Other dignitaries included Senator Andy Uba, Senator Osita Izunaso, Senator Ben Obi, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Prince B.B. Apugo, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Prof ABC Nwosu, Chief Chekwas Okorie, Chief C.C. Okeke, among others.
The Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Alfred Achebe and the former Chairman of Imo State Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Samuel Ohiri led other traditional rulers to the event.
Archbishop of Enugu Anglican Ecclesiastical Province, Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuema, led religious leaders to the election.
Umahi praised Nwodo for conducting a successful election, despite distractions.
He said the Southeast governors endorsed the process and would stand by the outcome.
He urged the incoming executive to sustain the spirit of love among Ndigbo and to work for the country’s unity while protecting the interest of Ndigbo.
According to him, Southeast governors have been singled out for castigation because “we’ve always supported the unity of this country”.
Umahi added: “One thing we hold very dear is our love for Ndigbo. That comes first before political party. We don’t care what people say about that.”
Uzodimma thanked Southeast governors for playing an important role in uniting Ndigbo.
“My happiness is that Igbos are together against the wishes of some people who don’t wish us well.
“We’ve always come first in everything. Why we are behind is because the spirit I’m seeing here today was absent. We must go back to history to find our roots,” he said.
Nwodo thanked Ndigbo across the world for the support given to his executive and urged them to back his successors.
He said those absent at the election were out to destroy the organisation, saying they did not mean well for Ndigbo.
He called on “our dissenting brothers to please, sheath your swords and come back to the family”.
Ikpeazu greets Obiozor
Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu congratulated Obiozor on his election, describing it as a “watershed” moment.
He said: “Prof Obiozor’s election comes at a time when the Igbos are in a desperate search for consistent strong leadership that will galvanise us into a solid voice in national affairs.
“Prof Obiozor’s pedigree is unquestionable and his records, unassailable. His reach is wide and his integrity, solid.
“I am confident that with his long years of experience in public service, especially his expertise in managing the challenges inherent in complex diplomatic relations, Prof Obiozor is well suited for the challenges that face the Igbos in a united Nigeria.”
The governor also congratulated other members of the new executive, especially Ambassador Okey Emuchay (new Secretary-General), who is from Abia.
Ikpeazu urged them to be good ambassadors of the state at the organisation.
The governor assured the new leadership of his administration’s support and thanked Nwodo for his services to Igboland.
Parallel president-general ‘elected’ in Enugu
A parallel election, organised by the suspended Ohanaeze Secretary-General, Uche Okwukwu, was held in Enugu State.
Chief Chidi Ibeh, a former Commissioner in Imo, was elected the “President-General of Ohanaeze” in the election conducted by the Prince Richard Ozobu-led electoral committee.
Okwukwu, from Rivers, emerged Vice President-General; Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro from Abia State was elected Secretary-General.
Ibeh said the body will put Igbo interest above political and personal interests.
He maintained that Ohaneze Ndigbo will strengthen relationships with other ethnic groups and interests.
He said: “The new Ohaneze leadership is highly committed to pursuing and actualising the Igbo course. First and foremost is to ensure that Igbo interest is adequately projected within the Nigerian polity.
“We will collaborate robustly with other ethnic nationalities in the quest to achieve the Igbo Agenda. But most importantly is the task to unify our sons on different political and religious divides and ensure they close ranks and work together like other ethnic nationalities”.
On the authenticity of his emergence, Ibeh said: “We were legally elected in line with the provisions of the Constitution of the Ohaneze Ndigbo. Any other group claiming to be holding an election is illegal.
“We know what they are scheming; they are fifth columnists who put political and personal interests above the collective Igbo interest.
“But we won’t be distracted by their antics. Already, we have the people with us and also a majority of the Southeast governors are with us.
“What is required now is to extend the olive branch to all aggrieved persons to jettison whatever grievances they are nursing and work with the new leadership in the interest of Ndigbo.”
Okwukwu, in a statement, dismissed the election held Owerri by the Chief Gary Igariewey-led electoral committee.
He said: “The Igariwey committee is illegal, null and void. It is a subject of litigation before an Umuahia high court and we urge Ndigbo to completely disassociate themselves from such illegality.
“Any action, commission or omission, by the Igariwey-led committee is of no consequence. Whatever emanates from it cannot stand the test of time.
“In my former position as Secretary-General before the midnight of 9th January 2021 when my term constitutionally expired, I repeatedly said any Imeobi, NEC, Council of Elders or General Assembly summoned by persons other than me was illegal, null and void.
“What is frightening today is that a purported election is being conducted after the 9th January 2021 expiration of term of office of the former NEC. One wonders what the Igariwey charade is all about.
“How can an election be conducted after the expiration of term of office? Even the Nigerian state does not conduct election outside the term of office of an executive.
“If what is about to happen in Owerri had happened in the larger Nigeria, Ndigbo would have condemned it.”
Okwukwu called upon Ndigbo to rally round Ibeh and members of his NEC.
He said: “His emergence, against threats of ostracism and violence, is a true testament that Ndigbo are a free people with the capacity to decide who leads them.
“We congratulate all Igbos, particularly those who mistakenly bought forms from the Igariwey committee to contest for offices, particularly the office of the President General, and who for the greater interest of Ndigbo withdrew from the election in the face of overwhelming irregularities.
“We congratulate Dr Joe Nworgu, Chief Chris Asoluka and Professor Chidi Osuagwu.
“These men of honour will be remembered when the history of Ndigbo is properly written.”
APC greets new Ohanaeze leadership
The All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday congratulated Obiozor on his election as the new President-General of the Ohanaeze Ndígbo Worldwide.
It also praised the Nwodo-led executive for its patriotic leadership of the socio-cultural organisation.
Secretary of the APC Caretaker/Extra-Ordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC), Senator John James Akpanudoedehe, in a statement, urged Ndigbo to support the new leadership.
The statement reads: “Going by his distinguished service to the nation, Obiozor’s experience and suitability for the strategic position of President-General of Ohanézè Ndígbo is not in doubt.
“The party hereby urges Ndigbo to support Obiozor to fulfil the mandate of the organisation.
“The APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee (CECPC) under the leadership of Governor Mai Mala Buni is determined to consolidate on the ongoing efforts to further mainstream the Southeast geo-political zone in the workings of the governing APC and place the zone in its deserved political standing in the country.
“While the APC is ready to partner and work with the new leadership of Ohanézè Ndígbo towards our shared development, we are also confident that the new leadership will be a bastion for the unity and tolerance all Nigerians should imbue for the peace and progress of the nation.
“The APC wishes the Obiozor-led Ohanézè Ndígbo a successful tenure.”
– Jan. 11, 2021 @ 10:19 GMT |