From Magnus Eze, Enugu and Okwe Obi, Abuja
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo, yesterday, advised the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) not to take as serious any statements from people bent on belittling the apex Igbo body by faking it.
Reacting to a statement credited to the Director of Publicity of NEF, Dr. Hakeem Baba Ahmed to the effect that “Ohaneze Ndigbo is threatening the North with Igbo Presidency,” Ohanaeze was emphatic that the said Okechukwu Isiguzoro quoted to have issued a statement as secretary general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo was an impostor.
National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Dr. Alex Ogbonnia, in a statement dissociated the Igbo group from the purported comments, emphasising that the leadership of the body was not in doubt.
Ogbonnia said: “Dr Ahmed alleged that the threat came from Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, whom he addressed as the Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide.
“For the umpteenth time, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and indeed the eminent sons and daughters of Igbo land have pleaded with Mr Isiguzoro to desist from lowering the hallowed image of Ohanaeze Ndigbo to his level. He has been reminded to no avail that Ohanaeze represents the Igbo history, consciousness, unity, spirit and solidarity. He has been told that Ohanaeze is far above him and should not always place the Igbo on line with his unguarded youthful impetuosity.
“It is inconceivable that at a point the Igbo collective aspiration has gained an irresistible momentum, a wary transgressor would in the name of Ohanaeze, issue incediary statements that have negative ethnic valences. My brother, Dr. Ahmed and indeed the NEF are advised that the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide led by an erudite scholar and diplomat, Ambassador Professor George Obiozor dissociates itself from the statement under reference.”
NEF’s Director, Publicity and Advocacy, Baba-Ahmed, while reacting to Isuguzoro’s threaten that Nigeria would not be secured and united unless an Igbo president emerges, said the threat was unwarranted, adding that people should be circumspect and disciplined in the manner they interact with the electoral process. He described Isiguzoro’s remarks as ‘juvenile utterances’ that should be condemned in the harshest terms. According to him, Isiguzoro only succeeded in de-marketing the South East region with his uncouth remarks.
“Northern Elders Forum is shocked at the statement released by Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Mazi Okechukwu Isuguzoro, in a language that is both irresponsible and damaging to its own interests.
“At a time when wise counsel dictates that Nigerians should be circumspect and disciplined in the manner they interact with the electoral process, the juvenile utterances of Mr Isiguzoro must be condemned in the harshest terms.
“Mazi Isiguzoro singles out the North as the bastion of ethnic and religious politics while he unashamedly campaigns for Igbo presidency, complete with the threat that Nigeria will not be secure and united unless an Igbo President emerges.
“This damaging de-marketing of the prospects of an Igbo President will be hard to surpass.Nigerians, and Northerners in particular, will not be impressed or blackmailed into making choices that are not informed by their own interests.
“On the contrary, they will notice that the apex Igbo organization is virtually subverting one of its own, and blaming the rest of the country for the postures of political candidates.
“For the purposes of clarity, it should be emphasized that Northern voters will not be stampeded or threatened by Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
“The North can identify ethnic and religious politics, and will see it clearly in this reckless statement coming from Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
“Northern Elders Forum appeals to leaders and elders to show maturity and leadership as we embark on campaigns that are, in themselves, fraught with threats and dangers.