The former Nigerian Ambassador to the United States (US), Prof. George Obiozor, was on January 10, 2021 unanimously elected the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the pan-Igbo socio-cultural organisation. The ex-Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Lagos, polled 304 votes to defeat his lone contender, Chief Valentine Oparaocha, who got only 15 votes in a keenly contested election held at Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri, Imo State.
Obiozor succeeded the immediate past President General of the apex Igbo organisation in Nigeria and in Diaspora, Chief Nnia Nwodo, whose tenure elapsed recently after many years of meritorious service. Prior to the January 10 election, other candidates who campaigned for the post and later withdrew from the race for certain reasons, included Dr. Joe Nworgu, Dr. Chris Asoluka, Prof. Chidi Osuagwu, Chief Goddy Uwazurike and Prof. Nnaemeka Obiaraeri.
As an experienced diplomat and technocrat, Obiozor is eminently qualified and intellectually equipped for the job. Although the tasks before him are enormous, they are definitely not insurmountable. It is commendable that Obiozor has unveiled an agenda which he intends to implement during his tenure to protect Igbo interest in Nigeria. These include security, economy, education, peace and reconciliation. He must ensure that his agenda is faithfully implemented. However, he will be able to carry out the agenda if he gets the support of the political leaders and other stakeholders in the organisation.
We enjoin him to extend the olive branch to his opponents, reconcile and unite the seeming fractious Ohanaeze Ndigbo. We believe that this is perhaps the best way he can heal the wounds arising from the fierce and rancorous campaigns prior to the election. Obiozor should build bridges of friendship among members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Imo, Abia, Anambra, Enugu, Ebonyi, Rivers and Delta states. He should also reach out to other ethnic groups across the country.
Obiozor is assuming the leadership of Ohanaeze at a time the clamour for Nigerian president of Igbo extraction is being intensified. It is expected that he will bring his wealth of experience to bear on the noble aspiration of Ndigbo by getting the needed support of other ethnic nationalities in the country.
We congratulate Obiozor on his election victory and urge him to be magnanimous enough to carry everybody along in the onerous task of leading Ndigbo. He should work with other stakeholders, including members of the political class, the academia, the business community and other groups, in the task of repositioning the organisation. He should take Ohanaeze beyond the indelible achievements of his predecessor, Chief Nwodo.
We call on all those having grudges over the election to sheathe the sword and withdraw all pending court cases on the matter and work with Obiozor to move Ndigbo forward. We say this because Ndigbo will not make any meaningful progress if the organisation is divided. This is the time to put Igbo interest first before any other consideration.
Let Ndigbo eschew clannishness, divisiveness and those things that have over time impeded their progress. At individual level, we have made some appreciable progress, but as a group, we are yet to make the expected mark, especially in the political front. That is why Ndigbo must unite and work together. No doubt, Ndigbo need peace, love and progress now more than at any other time to accomplish their manifest destiny.
We have no doubt that Obiozor will excel in his new job, taking into consideration his pedigree. We also agree with him that his service is coming at one of the most critical times in Nigerian history. This is why he must work with other Ndigbo patriots to develop Igboland and Nigeria.
Obiozor is a native of Awo-Omamma in Imo State. He got his BA (Hons) Political Science in 1969 at the University of South Tacoma, Washington, USA. He later went to Columbia University, New York, where he got MA in International Law and Organisation as well as his doctorate degree in International Relations.
He worked as a Senior Research Fellow at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs and later became its Director-General. As he takes over the leadership of Ohanaeze, we join other eminent Nigerians to wish him a successful tenure.