Magnus Eze, Enugu
There is a desperate effort by the President Muhammadu Buhari team to factionalise the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and also divide Igbo town unions, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation has alleged.
“Part of the design is that some renegades have been assembled to come and endorse the President, today, at the Aso Rock Villa; all in a bid to create the impression that the adoption of the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, by Ohanaeze was not the popular wish of the Igbo,” it said.
National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Uche Achi-Okpaga, in a statement, yesterday, said the plot was exposed by a recorded telephone conversation between the point man of the Buhari team, Prince Paul Ikonne and the leadership of the Association of South East Town Unions (ASETU).
“They are planning a meeting in the State House, on Friday (today), where they will induce splinter group in Ohanaeze and representatives of the town unions to counter endorse Buhari. They are under tremendous pressure now. For Ohanaeze, they are using the Secretary General (Uche Okwukwu), who they induced to countermand Ohanaeze’s endorsement of Alhaji Atiku,” Achi-Okpaga said.
Ohanaeze described as shameful, the alleged involvement of the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, in the whole setup.
The Igbo organisation also urged the people to disregard the purported visit to Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, by a group that claimed to be Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos State chapter, led by one Nnamdi Nwigwe.
For the avoidance of doubt, the Ohanaeze spokesman said the President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos State chapter is Chief Solomon Ogbonna, who confirmed that there is no parallel executive committee in Lagos State.
He described “any other person parading himself as the president of Ohanaeze in Lagos State as an impostor, a thoughtless wiseacre masquerading to swindle the governor of Anambra State and, as well, a gimmick tailored to insinuate and create the impression that Ohanaeze Ndigbo is factionalised.”
When contacted, Director General of Voice of Nigeria (VON), Osita Okechukwu and Paul Ikonne, confirmed that some select Igbo leaders would meet with the president in Abuja, today.
Okechukwu advised Nwodo not to cry foul because he caused the division in Ohanaeze by taking the Imeobi endorsement of Atiku as final without ratification by the General Assembly.
“It was Nwodo who broke the ranks of Ohanaeze; he called an Imeobi meeting; took a decision without passing it to the General Assembly for ratification. If I were him, I would have been at the commissioning of Zik’s Mausoleum.
“That Thursday was one of the most important days in Igbo history. In fact, one of the most prominent Igbo was being buried that period. That day was the wake for Chief Sunny Odogwu; the Ide Ahaba. We have South East governors; even if they are younger than Nwodo, he should have honoured them by shifting the time of that meeting.
“For me, that communiqué was nothing but ‘stomach infrastructure communiqué,” he said.
Also, Ikonne said they will disown Nwodo during today’s visit to the president.
“The truth is that Igbo leaders from different groups and states will come together because we have to dissociate ourselves from what Nwodo and whoever is with him said; he didn’t speak for me,” he said.
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation has been under attack since its endorsement of the candidate of the PDP on January 24.
Senator Ngige said Atiku’s endorsement was done by the ‘Ohanaeze PDP.’
“We are going to react because we belong to a political party. I belong to the APC and all of them who held the meeting at Nike Lake Hotel belong to the PDP stock. So, it will be Ohanaeze PDP versus Ohanaeze APC and others; we’re ready for the war.
“We are not mincing words about it; we have factionalised our organisation and we warned them not to factionalise Ohanaeze. Endorsements have not brought anything good to the Igbo since 1979,” the minister said.