Magnus Eze, Enugu and Stanley Uzoaru, Owerri
Imo Stakeholders, yesterday, unanimously presented a consensus candidate ahead of the forthcoming general election of Ohanaeze Ndigbo as tenure of President General of, Dr. Nnia Nwodo winds down.
Professor George Obiozor, former foreign affairs minister, was presented to Governor Hope Uzodimma at the Government House, Owerri.
Chairman of the stakeholders, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, who led the team comprising the clergy, traditional institutions, religious bodies and the youth wing of the Igbo apex body to the governor, said so many aspirants were screened for the purpose before the former ambassador to the United States of America, who he described as the best and most qualified for the position, was chosen.
Iwuanyanwu, who is also chairman of the elders council of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, said: “Before selecting him, we had tested and trust in him. Obiozor is up and doing, he has the intellectual capacity to transform Igboland to economic hub of Africa.”
State chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Revd Eches Eches, described Obiozor as a man chosen by God to lead Igbo to the Promise Land. He said all religious bodies in the state repose confidence in him to lead Igbo aright.
Eze Samuel Ohiri, who represented the traditional institutions said. “From the traditional institution, the Oha and Ndieze seek who will match Nwodo’s achievement. It became quite simple because Imo, as a peaceful state and looking at their CVs, all had intimidating qualification but after everything we found out that Professor Obiozor is the best.”
Deputy National youth leader, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Kingsley Dozie, who also endorsed Obiozor said: “We thank Imo for selecting him because Ohanaeze is a serious organisation, he’s a credible person and we’re solidly behind him and would deliver him at Enugu.”
Obiozor, in his acceptance speech, maintained that the decision to select him was not based on self-aggrandisement.
While promising to address the injustice meted to the zone, he said: “Office of Ohanaeze is not a carrier job. I assure Imo that the decision to chose me is a challenge and I will do it to the benefit of Ndigbo and to the glory of God.”
Governor Uzodimma said the decision of the state chapter of Ohanaeze to present a consensus candidate was laudable.
“I was taken unaware by your actions. I had no choice but to follow their part…He would seek justice for Ndigbo not by confrontation but by persuasion. Our tomorrow is still bright.”
He advised Igbo to go about seeking 2023 president with diplomacy and shun confrontational means.
“Ndigbo must navigate with wisdom of Solomon to achieve this. We must be diplomatic and accommodating. A point can be achieved without firing a shot in the air. Yoruba did it without war. They did it with diplomacy. Igbo will not go to war but will pursue it with diplomacy.”
Meanwhile, Chief Nwodo has vowed that his leadership would handover to a new set of credible leaders.
Modalities for the election slated for January will be released next week after a meeting with the Imeobi, its highest decision making organ.
In a statement, yesterday, Nwodo dismissed as spurious, mendacious and malicious, news making the rounds that a candidate had already been chosen to occupy the post of President General of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, which by rotation, is the turn of Imo State.
He, therefore, urged people to ignore such insinuations, disclosing that no amount of blackmail would derail the ongoing process.
The statement read in part: “Ohanaeze Ndigbo has the responsibility of organising election for all those who indicate interest and buy forms for the election. It is therefore, preposterous and the height of mischief for anybody to write or in any way infer that Chief Nwodo went for an Imo State stakeholders meeting in Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyawu’s office.
“Chief Nwodo couldn’t have been at a meeting of Imo State Leaders Thought for the purpose of choosing a candidate for President General when he wasn’t invited and Ohanaeze didn’t organise it.
“Moreover, the decision at the meeting will not stop Ohanaeze from conducting the forthcoming election.
“As a matter of fact, Chief Nwodo has not visited Chief Iwuanyanwu since the latter’s birthday celebration last year. They only met recently at a meeting with governors of the South East over other matters.
“It is wrong for people to listen to an illegitimate, sponsored and disgruntled group of people masquerading as the Youth Wing of Ohanaeze.
“As to the conduct of the election, an announcement will be made by Ohanaeze Ndigbo after the meeting of the Imeobi next week.
“Any current information or story about the forth-coming election remains the figment of the imagination of its purveyor. Any such story is therefore, false, void and puerile.
“No amount of innuendos and blackmail will deter Ohanaeze from bequeathing a virile leadership to Ndigbo.”
•Asoluka advises caution
A former vice president General (Imo) of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Chris Asoluka, has decried the heat and controversies generated by rumoured endorsement of some persons as candidates for soon-to-be vacant offices in the leadership of Igbo apex socio-cultural organisation.
Asoluka, who was president of Aka Ikenga the Igbo Think Tank, co-chairman of South East/South-South Professionals (SESSP) as well as Chairman/member of Ohanaeze Election Committee for the 2012 and 2016 elections consecutively, emphasised that there were no candidates yet until an election committee and the guidelines have been approved by Ime-Obi.
This, he asserted, marks the commencement of the process for holding elections to the leadership positions in the organisation.
When reminded that a group referred to “Imo Stakeholders Forum” has endorsed Prof. Obiozor, Dr. Asoluka, who holds the chieftancy title of Okwuruoha, said any group of individuals is free to adopt anyone, stressing that it is only their preference, which neither binds the election committee nor determines who is eligible to contest the forthcoming elections.
On the tenure of the Chief Nwodo-led administration, the former Co-chairman of South East/South-South Professionals (SESSP) commended the outgoing PG and his team for their achievements.
“We must all commend the team for the numerous sacrifices in the pursuit of the interests of Ndigbo in Nigeria”.
However, Ndigbo and all organs of Ohanaeze, he cautioned, must ensure that the transition to the next administration should is handled carefully, transparently and constitutionally.