From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Ndubuisi Orji, Abuja, Okey Sampson, Umuahia, Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri, Chukwudi Nweje
More goodwill messages have continued to pour in for newly elected President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, George Obiozor, Secretary General, Okey Emuchay, and other members of the executive of apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
The latest among the messages came from President Muhammadu Buhari, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, former Anambra governor, Peter Obi, and former foreign affairs minister, Tom Ikimi.
President Buhari, in a statement by his media aide, Garba Shehu, welcomed the new position of Nigeria’s former ambassador to the United States, Israel and Cyprus, urging the eminent diplomat and scholar to deploy his immense experience within and outside government to forge greater unity of the country.
“Given Obiozor’s rich background, especially in international affairs and pan-Nigerian commitment, I have little doubt that his election is well-deserved and will serve not only the interest of Ndigbo, but also that of his fatherland.
“We need all hands to be on deck for this country to move forward in peace and unity,” he said.
Buhari while wishing the former Nigerian Institute of International Affairs director general, a successful tenure, enjoined him to be a “unifying force beyond his immediate constituency.”
The PDP, in a statement, by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, extolled the leaders and the people of the South East for the successful election of a new leadership of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation.
The party commended the immediate past leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, led by John Nwodo, for a very fruitful tenure.
The opposition party charged Obiozor to use his new office “to further rally compatriots in our collective determination to rescue our nation from misrule and return it to the path of peace, national cohesion, mutual respect, adherence to the rule of law, social justice, credible elections, economic prosperity and political stability.
“Obiozor is a seasoned administrator, excellent diplomat, courageous nationalist and a firm voice in the fight for the entrenchment of democratic tenets of the rule of law, social justice, equity, fairness, mutual respect, true federalism and a credible electoral process in our country.
“His choice to lead the Ohanaeze Ndigbo at this critical time in the history of our nation, particularly given his doggedness in fighting for constitutional all-inclusiveness as well as elimination of all forms of social injustice, divisiveness, nepotism, sectional marginalisation, constitutional violations and disregard for the sensibilities of the Nigerian people,” he said.
This came as Ikpeazu described Obiozor’s election as a ‘watershed’ in Igboland judging from the overwhelming support he enjoyed at the election.
“Obiozor’s election comes at a time when the Igbo are in desperate search for consistent strong leadership which will galvanise us into a solid voice in national affairs.
“His 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, Obiozor is well suited for the challenges that face the Igbo in a united Nigeria,” the governor said.
Ikpeazu urged the new secretary general, who is from Abia, to be good ambassador of the state at the organisation.
The governor assured the new leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo of the continued support of the people and government of Abia State in their assignment and thanked Nwodo for his services to the Igbo nation.
Ngige said Ndigbo could not have made a better choice than “a diplomat of very high pedigree and intellectual background, who is imbued with vast experience in the public service.”
A statement from the minister’s media office in Abuja, described Obiozor’s election as a new dawn for Ndigbo in the Nigerian project.
Extolling the administrative and managerial abilities of the new Ohanaeze helmsman, Ngige recalled that Obiozor, at different times in the past, distinguished himself as Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Cyprus and ambassador to Israel from 1999 to 2003, ambassador to the United States from 2004 to 2008 and NIIA director general.
“It is our hope his huge knowledge and wealth of experience, garnered from both the academia and public service, will be brought to bear on the affairs of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and by extension, the Nigerian nation in general,” Ngige said.
Ngige also solicited the support of the new Ohanaeze president general for the next level agenda of President Buhari, geared towards achieving a united, economically viable and prosperous Nigeria.
Ikimi said Igbo made the best choice in electing Obiozor to lead the apex pan-Igbo socio-cultural organisation in this crucial period of the nation’s history.
Ikimi, a PDP chieftain, said Igbo nation’s quest to play a significant role in Nigeria will find appropriate leadership in Obiozor, who, he said, has, over the years, established very robust contacts across the country.
He also congratulated Nwodo on completion of an exciting and eventful tenure
Former deputy Senate president and leader, South East caucus, Ike Ekweremadu, said the new Ohanaeze leader has what it takes to lead Ndigbo.
Ekweremadu, in a statement by his media aide, Uche Anichukwu, described Obiozor as a man of uncommon pedigree, unimpeachable integrity as well as a bridge-builder with national and international clout and appeal.
“I believe Obiozor, Emuchay and others, constitute a formidable and dependable team for harnessing and advancing Igbo interest worldwide at this crucial time in our history.
“They have proved their mettle over the years and we trust them to bring their antecedents of quality leadership, national and international reach, and diplomatic finesse to bear in advancing the Igbo course in Nigeria and globally,” Ekweremadu said.
A former deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Kingsley Moghalu, urged Obiozorto to foster effective partnerships with other ethnic nationalities.
“Obiozor is eminently prepared for this challenging leadership role by virtue of his distinguished track record as a scholar and public servant of our country,” Moghalu said.
PDP vice presidential candidate, Peter Obi, said Obiozor and Emuchay elections were as a result of their hard work and commitment to the service of God and humanity.
He urged them not to rest on their oars but continue to work harder for the good of society, spiritual and temporal.
Obi called on them to avoid all forms of corruption, abuse of office, greed and self-aggrandisement which has continued to destroy the Nigerian society. He urged them to use their new positions in life to touch more lives positively.
One of the contestants, who withdrew from the race at the election venue, Goddy Uwazuruike, has also stated his reasons for his action.
Uwazuruike said: “The success of Ohanaeze is more than anything and the continuation of the body motivated me. I was in the battle from the beginning; I put up my heart in it, but there are some things you see in the end and you say okay, let us give up, let the other man continue. The Igbo are the winner and not Ohanaeze.”