From Magnus Eze, Enugu
Mixed reactions have continued to trail the election of Nigeria’s former Ambassador to the United States of America, George Obiozor; and his team as new helmsmen of Ohanaeze Ndigbo. Some believed that the process leading to Obiozor’s emergence as President General at the Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri, Imo State, on January 10, 2021, was anything but transparent and credible.
Others openly applauded the process and even claimed that it was the best thing that ever happened to the Igbo in recent times. Elder statesman and former Chairman, Police Service Commission (PSC), Chief Simeon Okeke, told Daily Sun: “I must say I am more reassured now than ever in the determination of my people, my tribe, to see themselves through in an election such as this and it is most reassuring. Some people used to say that ‘Igbo enwe Eze’ (Igbo have no king) but now, the narrative has changed.
“In an election such as this, it is a race and someone has to win but being sportsmanlike, you have to accept defeat and wait for another day.”
The Igbo I of Abuja, Eze Nwosu Ibeh, described the election as “one of the best elections we have had since the beginning of Ohanaeze. They call this Option A-4 and everybody is happy the way they conducted the election.
“Elections could be rancorous especially when someone feels that he can’t get what he wants, he will start making some allegations because he can’t get what he wants.”
Regardless, the truth is that it is time to move on. Gleaning from the views from various quarters, the job seems to have been cut out for Obiozor and his crew. From investigations, the task before the new Ohanaeze team is to quickly make peace with different aggrieved parties and hit the ground running.
The PG being an accomplished diplomat and the Secretary General, Okey Emuchay, another renowned diplomat, the thinking is that warming their way into people’s hearts would not be a Herculean task.
When that is done, many people have recommended that the apex Igbo body should focus primarily on restructuring of the country and actualization of a Nigerian President of South East extraction in 2023. They urged the new leadership not to gloss over the current existential threat faced by the Igbo, which according to them, has ruptured home land security of the people.
Kwado Ndigbo Forum (KNF) co-convener, Dr. Laz Eze, further enjoined the apex Igbo body to reach out to other ethnic nationalities especially the Middle Belt and Southern parts of the country in pursuing these two critical goals: “As former international diplomats, we believe the new PG and Secretary will listen to concerns on the current structure and operations of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and make deliberate efforts to address them.
“We are optimistic that under the new leadership, Ohanaeze Ndigbo would demonstrate wisdom and courage, work with all and for all well-meaning Ndigbo and our well-wishers in protecting Alaigbo from existential threats.
“We enjoin the new leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo to mobilise the support of other Nigerians to elect a President of Nigeria of South East extraction in 2023.”
The new President-General on January 20, unveiled the agenda of his team. Obiozor indicated that his administration might not be combative but instead adopt diplomacy in pursuing its goals. In his “Ohanaeze Ndigbo: The Dawn of a New Era,” message, the PG said the Igbo nation was not at war with Nigeria and had nothing pending before any authority that demanded a separate entity for Ndigbo.
He noted that the issue of Biafra is beyond the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, and appealed to him to toe the path of honour, listen to the voice of wisdom and drop his agitation for a separate nation. He warned that people and organisations should refrain from actions or utterances that put Ndigbo in imminent danger: “Nnamdi Kanu is one of us and he must listen to some of us for several reasons. The fact and reality are that the issue of Biafra is above and beyond his capacity to decide.
“He must listen because he is one of us and we are all in this dilemma together. And our mutual and collective responsibilities are sacred and must be respected.”
Dismissing insinuations that he will champion anti-Igbo interest, he reminded Ndigbo that what the late Biafra leader, Dim Chukwuemeka Ojukwu, meant by the bones shall arise did not mean conflict, violence and war. He declared that the “greatest revenge against injustice is success.”
A public office holder who wished not to be named said the Igbo were the least prepared for self-governance in the country right now: “Alaigbo needs a period of rebuilding and if you like a declaration of lockdown to deal with our internal political, economic, security, cultural and social governance crises and erosion of our pristine value of delayed gratification.
“We need to develop and embark on 10-15 years of intense and holistic pan Igbo development marshal plan, covering political governance, economy, security, infrastructure, culture, gender equity, youth inclusion etc., built around the beautiful concept, ‘the greatest revenge against injustice is success’.
“If the Igbo make a success of these, then somebody can talk about Biafra by which time it would no longer be necessary because we have a bigger playground in Nigeria.”
He added that the Obiozor team should be engaged and supported to lead on this, beginning with a tour of Igboland to listen to the needs of the people and mobilize them once again on the viability, potency and currency of pan Igbo consciousness in responding to the existential crisis “we are all facing at the moment, as the Igbo State Union did in the 50s.”
Obiozor was also praised because two of the core focus areas in his speech were internal issues to Ndigbo; economic development and education. A marshal plan for regional economic development, they said, would address the restlessness in Igboland especially in the area of youth unemployment:
“Igbo graduates have to leave Igboland to get decent jobs. This is a time bomb that drives Igbo extremism.” It was also urged that the Igbo needed to invest in public and private education in the East because only those with competitive education would stand out in the emergent Nigeria.
However, those opposed to the Obiozor leadership advised him to be more concerned with how to resolve his legitimacy issues than making “unguarded scripted utterances” about Ndigbo as according to them, nobody speaks for Ndigbo without their consent. They said Obiozor needed to connect with the grassroots to provide him the needed legitimacy.
For peace to reign, they advised him to “reach out to the four candidates who bought election forms and boycotted the exercise, and then remorsefully ask Ndigbo to please give him a chance. It is then that the pathway for a new beginning would have started.”