By Lawrence Enyoghasu
The new leadership of the Igbo apex group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has said that the mandate handed over to them is to produce a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction in 2023, adding that all parties who lost the election should cooperate to achieve the objective.
Speaking with Saturday Sun, Alex Ogbonna, the newly elected spokesman of the body, said that they were optimistic about achieving the mandate. He added that the Igbo should give the new President General, Prof. George Obiozor a chance, calling on those who think Obiozor is a stooge in the hands of President Muhammadu Buhari, Governor Hope Uzodinma, and All Progressives Congress to give him a chance.
“The only aim is to convince Nigerians to consider Igbo for 2023 because we have been tasked to carry and portray the awareness and consciousness of the Igbo. Fortunately, the consciousness is to produce Igbo president. There is no need to delay or coming up with a new mandate. It was an election and some people lost, it will take time for them to come around but they will when they see our achievement. There is no time to be negative about the goal. We are very hopeful that we will achieve it. The mandate is an already started one and it is very clear to all of us. It is an unwritten agreement that must be achieved,” he stated.
He also said that Prof Obiozor is not a stooge of President Buhari. “Tell me any Igbo politician who started with PDP and has not crossed to APC or vice versa. His romance with Buhari and Uzodinma is not important, what is important is the goal. Obiozor is a respectable man who has worked with the government at different levels and that gives him an edge. His relationship with Buhari should not stand as the test for his potentials. I don’t see poor funding distracting us from our goals. There is a wrong notion that money makes everything work and has made people put money ahead of everything. We are here to push ideas and not consider the money. We are a representative of the people, we have the backing of the people who trust us enough to give us the mandate; to take a position when necessary. It is about representing the people like when Peter Obi was nominated, we took a position to support him and PDP because it was the only party to consider the Igbo worthy of being at the helm of affairs of the country, invariably, Igbo supported us. We didn’t need money for that to happen,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Chief Omenazu Jackson, chairman Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Rivers State chapter, and a BoT member, Ohanaeze worldwide has said that the new leadership can’t attain the mandate given to them because they don’t have the credibility.
“Igbo deserve a shot at the presidency of Nigeria but Ohanaeze should put their house in order, what happened in Owerri is a show of shame and has brought a very serious moral burden on our shoulders that if we within ourselves can go this length in manipulating ourselves, then it places a very big burden on us. We will be standing on the weak moral ground to question the larger society. The newly elected leadership can’t achieve the Igbo mandate. This current leadership does not have the credibility and the followership. This is the time we should be standing shoulder high proving to Nigeria that we have what it takes to lead this country.
“My position is that the election should be voided. Ohanaeze is a family affair and such an act should not have happened. If we allow what happened in Owerri to stay, then we don’t have any say in what happens in the nation generally,” he stated.
Meanwhile, former president of Igbo think-tank group, Aka-Ikenga, Goddy Uwazurike has called for a truce adding that it is a time to focus on the goal.
Uwazurike, who also contested for the post of President General in the last Ohanaeze election, condemned the format of the election stating why he withdrew from the race at the last minute.
“I withdrew because the delegates didn’t emerge until the morning of the election because one has to introduce himself to almost all the delegates and have a chat with them. I didn’t have the resources to meet all of them. I mean the men who matter. By the time I realized that, there is already a gap, I withdrew because there is no way these people would be brave enough to queue behind a man they didn’t have time to meet. The second was option A4. Yes, it was not the best but it was what they have decided to use and we must also respect that as an Igbo man. Lining up behind the candidate of your choice is what is known as Option A4. It has passed beyond the talking and convincing them.
“What is important now is 2023. The president-general had promised that an Igbo man will be elected president in 2023 and we will give him a chance. It will be bad to start with negativity. We all just need to play our part,” he stated.