…I’ll work for Kanu’s release, pledges ex-minister
From Chidi Nnadi, Enugu, David Onwuchekwa, Nnewi, Emmanuel Uzor, Abakaliki and Geoffrey Anyanwu, Awka
As the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, goes to the poll, today, to elect new national officers, former Information minister, Chief John Nnia Nwodo (Jnr); former chief of naval staff and former military governor of old Imo and Anambra states, Rear Admiral Allison Madueke (retd); former vice chancellor of Anambra State University of Technology, Prof Chiweyite Ejike and Chief Joel Enugwu are set to slug it out for the position of the president general.
The organisation had, at the weekend, conducted elections into local government and state offices without rancour.
This is just as the stage is set for today’s election.
At least, three contestants must vie for the position of president general, according to Ohanaeze’s constitution, for the election to be valid.
In a chat with Daily Sun at the Ohanaeze Ndigbo national secretariat in Enugu, outgoing secretary general, Dr. Joe Nwaorgu, confirmed that four persons purchased forms to contest the election for president general.
“Four people collected and returned their forms and are set for the election tomorrow (today). Prof Chiweyite Ejike, Nnia Nwodo, Prof Enugwu and one other (Allison Madueke).
“All the positions are being keenly contested because there is a synergy between all the forces in Igbo land in this election.
“That is why it is generating so much interest because the awareness has been created and we are arriving at the crescendo tomorrow (today).”
On the beehive of activities at the secretariat on the eve of the election, Dr. Nwaorgu said: “We are totally set; the increased frenzy is the excitement both by Ndigbo and the apex organisation. Everybody is involved and we are ready for the election.”
Meanwhile, Ebonyi State government has endorsed Nwodo as Ohanaeze president general.
This was even as Nwodo cautioned the Federal Government against secret trial of leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu.
“I cannot see why he should continue to be in detention.
“There should be normal practice of law court. He has to be tried in public and as a lawyer, I know that the most important thing is that the right thing should be done in this type of case.”
“I am going to ensure that standard of justice is uniform. I am going to ensure he regains his freedom.”
A motion for adoption and endorsement of Nwodo as the next president of Ohanaeze Ndigbo was moved by Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ebonyi State, Augustine Nwkeagu and was seconded by the Chairman, Traditional Rulers Council of the state, Ezeogo Charles Nkpuma.
Governor Umahi, who welcomed Nwodo, who was accompanied by his elder brother, Okwesilieze and stakeholders from Enugu State explained that the contestant, Nwodo, is God-sent and meant to clear tears from the eyes of Ndigbo.
In a related development, Minister of Labour, Senator Chris Ngige and a former president general of Ohanaeze, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, have called on Ndigbo to ensure they elect a credible person to lead the body.
Ngige, who spoke to newsmen in Awka, Anambra Sttae, urged Ndigbo to be careful in the choice they would make today and ensure they elect a charismatic person.
He said past leadership of the Igbo group, for five years now, was not something desirable.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo is a socio- cultural organisation with little political inclination. Since people like Dozie Ikedife and Justice Eze Ozobu left the leadership of the organisation, there has been a yawning gap in the association. I enjoin them to get it right now.
“That is how the Igbo can get a voice in national discourse. The organisation needs to redeem its image now,” said Ngige.
Ohanaeze election, he further added, is important to Igbo because “the people needed to be united like other ethnic groups in the country.”
On his part, Ikedife warned against any manipulation that would lead to the election of the wrong leader.
He gave the warning, yesterday, at his Nnewi country home where he said his expectations were that the process would be transparent, devoid of manipulation, imposition, irregular movement and should be peaceful, anchoring everything on God that He would give us the right person to lead us.”
He said Ohanaeze will be a dead force if a wrong person is elected president and added that the organisation has the chance of galvanising and piloting the affairs of the Igbo and make them proud to pursue their self-determination and self reliance under a good leadership.
“Anybody to be elected the president general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo should be as apolitical as possible. He should not identify with any political party so that he would not be accused of divided loyalty.
“Ohanaeze should be detached from the control of any particular group, be it governors forum, ministers or even the presidency.
“It is a sociocultural group expected to carter for the socio-cultural needs of the Igbo race,” Ikedife said.
On his message to pro-Biafra groups, Ikedife called for unity of purpose among Biafra agitators for quicker and better results. He said what seemed to have delayed the realisation of the Biafra quest for self-determination was mainly disunity among agitators.
According to him, the new dawn in the organisation was brought about by its awareness drive and the confidence reposed on Ohanaeze for being able to speak the mind of the Igbo people.
He noted that the Ohanaeze election process has been enhanced by the selection of the high caliber 22-member electoral committee led by Prof Anya O. Anya that is handling the election.
“You can see the caliber of people in the electoral committee, people known for high excellence, we have assembled highly influential people, persons with high pedigree; selecting these people into the Electoral College has given credibility to our vision and we believe that what they have produced after their screening of the candidates will be the best for Ndigbo. The South-East governors are involved because they are members of Ime-Obi too; everybody is actually involved unlike in the past,” he said.
On the position of the president general that was zoned to Enugu State and further zoned to the Nsukka cultural zone by stakeholders in the state, the outgoing Secretary General said: “The zoning thing for President General and Secretary General is an internal facilitation thing, the constitution is clear that any Igbo person from that state can run; zoning is a means of facilitating harmonious elections and doesn’t affect the policy that any person can run.”
He, therefore, advised all the contestants to be committed to the Igbo interest when elected into office, saying that “nothing surpasses the Igbo interest; therefore, those that will emerge should focus their minds on the Igbo interest and nothing less.”
He said the electoral contest should be seen as a brotherly one, advising the contestants to see themselves as those who had come out to serve Ndigbo, adding that “it’s not a do-or-die affair; so, if a winner emerges others should queue behind the winner because it is not everybody that will be president general or secretary general and all that; if a winner emerges the other people should close ranks to support the winner for the general interest of the Igbo.”