Politics

Ohanaeze: How Obiozor emerged president

 

 

  • He must not sell Igbo on the altar of national politics, says Ogaziechi

 

On January 10, 2021, the pan-Igbo socio-cultural organisation,
Ohanaeze, had her election where a new National
Executive Committee with Prof. George Obiozor
emerging as President General. He replaced Chief Nnia
Nwodo who had been on the saddle for the last four years.
The election, which took place at Owerri, Imo State capital,
was the culmination of a long winding controversy even as
controversy still trails the election.

 

Starting from when the then outgoing President General
Nwodo named a 40-man electoral committee in November
2020, there were opposition to the list especially the chairman
of the committee, Sen. Ben Obi.

 

When Nwodo called a meeting of Imeobi (Inner caucus) of
Ohanaeze on December 6, 2020 to inaugurate the electoral
committee, the controversy blew open with the likes of Minister
of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige kicking
vehemently against the choice of Sen. Obi as chairman of the
committee.

 

At the well-attended meeting in Enugu, Nwodo assured
that he had no intention of working against the interest of
Igboland. He said that his administration would not impose
a successor that did not emerge from an election in line with
the constitution.

 

“I have no desire to nominate or choose my successor contrary
to wide spread reports in the media. My administration
cannot undermine the unity of Igboland no matter the pressure
by anybody.

 

“What we have done so far is to set the template for a peaceful
transition and whatever anybody has done to suggest that we
are working towards a consensus candidate and in the process
rob Ndigbo of ideal leadership is not true. We are committed
to credible process that will be accepted by Ndigbo,” he said.

 

 

He had proposed that Chief Ben Obi from Anambra State
should head the electoral Committee while Chief Ferdinand
Agu from Enugu State would serve as the secretary. But no
sooner had the names been reeled out than discordant tunes
set in. Many had insisted that the list was defective and was
not drawn in good light.

 

Dr. Chris Ngige had dismissed the list as improperly procured,
stressing that he was not consulted before the names
from Anambra State were chosen. He stated that the list was
“full of practicing politicians,” insisting that a proper Imeobi
should be constituted to enable Anambra nominates its members
to serve on the committee.

 

“I am a former governor. I have served the leadership of
Aka Ikenga and Ndigbo Lagos. I was a Senator of the Federal
Republic and now a serving minister. I am eminently qualified
to nominate those who should be at the committee and
there is no way this can be done without our input,” he said.

 

Arguing along the same line, former governor of Imo State
and now Senator, Owelle Rochas Okorocha stated that Imo
State had no consensus candidate for the President general
position allocated to the state.

 

Expressing disappointment that “Prof George Obiozor could
condescend to the level of becoming a consensus candidate
with all his exposure,” Okorocha insisted that such action was
not known in Ohanaeze constitution.

 

However, General Obi Umahi (rtd), Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu
among others appealed that the meeting should uphold
the list, stressing that the committee was only working to
produce the next executive for Ndigbo and had until January
to conclude the process.

 

They said there was never a time every Igbo person would
agree to the list, stressing that Anambra State for instance “will
never agree even if you give them up to year 2023 to produce
their members”. They had therefore adopted the list as submitted
by Nwodo.

 

At the meeting were Ministers of Science and Technology,
Ogbonnaya Onu and that of Environment, Mrs. Sharon
Ikeazor; former Senate Presidents Ken Nnamani and Adolphus
Wabara, former governor Chimaroke Nnamani, Anthony
Anele, Osita Ogbu, Ralph Obioha, Igwe Nnaemeka
Achebe among others. The meeting also appointed Chief Emmanuel
Iwuanyanwu, Ken Nnamani and Igwe Nnaemeka
Achebe to look into the misunderstanding between Ebonyi
State Governor, Dave Umahi, former Senate President Pius
Anyim and others.

 

Following the growing opposition to the electoral committee,
Nwodo once again convened another Imeobi meeting
on December 20, 2020 in Enugu. At the meeting Ohanaeze
resolved the major controversy surrounding the election, as
the Imeobi, (inner caucus) of the body nominated and elected
former President- General, Chief Garry Enwo Igariwey to
replace Sen. Ben Obi as the chairman of the electoral panel.

 

Imeobi also resolved to hold the election in Imo State.
The inner caucus resolved that henceforth election of
Ohanaeze Ndigbo will hold in the state where President General
is zoned to, except in special circumstances.

 

At the rescheduled Imeobi meeting at Nike Lake Resort Hotel
Enugu, the impasse regarding the membership and headship
of the electoral panel was resolved as Sen. Obi voluntarily
stepped down, paving the way for nomination of Igariwey
by President General of Ohanaeze, Chief Nnia Nwodo and
his unanimous approval by the Imeobi as replacement for Obi.

 

Meanwhile, there was mild drama midway into the Imeobi
meeting as one of the contestants to the position of the President
General, Prof. George Obiozor fell unconscious and had
to be rushed away in an ambulance.

 

He was said to have started feeling dizzy in the meeting room
when he was assisted outside the lobby before he slumped and
had to be carried away to the ambulance.

 

Some of the personalities in attendance were Governor Hope
Uzodimma of Imo state; Barr. Kelechi Igwe, deputy governor
of Ebonyi state; former Senate President, Pius Anyim; Sen.
Ngige; Maj. Gen Obi Umahi (rtd); Minister of Science and
Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu; Sen. Osita Izunaso, Chief Chekwas
Okorie; and Sen. Ben Obi among others.

 

With that major huddle crossed everybody thought the election
would be smooth and less controversial. But that was not
to be as more opposition grew. The suspended Secretary General
of Ohanaeze, Barr Uche Okwukwu kicked and alleged
that the Imeobi meeting convened by Nwodo was improper
as he was not carried along. He went ahead to announce a
parallel list of electoral committee headed by Richard Ozobu.

 

Other voices of opposition including contestants to various
positions called for postponement of the election and setting
up of a neutral electoral committee that will be made up of
members of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

 

When it appeared the election was not going to be shifted.
Some of the contestants withdrew from the race in protest for
what they called manipulations and hijack of the election by
the governors.

 

Also some members of Imeobi, including Igbo elder statesmen
such as Chief Mbazulike Amechi, Pa Onyeso Nwachukwu,
Prof Ben Nwabueze, Adm. Ndubuisi Kanu, Rtd (now
late), Prof T. U. Nwala, Prof Elo Amucheazi, etc as well as very
respected Igbo organizations such as Ala-Igbo Development
Foundation (ADF), World Igbo Congress (WIC), Igbo World
Assembly (IWA), Global Igbo Leaders (GIL) all advised that
the election be shelved so as to address critical concern pertaining
its conduct.

 

On January 9, a day before the scheduled election, the Uche-
Okwukwu group announced that they had conducted their
own election with former commissioner in Imo State, Engr
Chidi Ibeh factional President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.

 

Ibeh, a holder of national award, Member of the Federal
Republic (MFR), emerged during a parallel election organized
by the Prince Richard Ozobu-led election committee.

 

Also elected were Dimm Uche Okwukwu, Deputy President
General, from Rivers State; and Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro
from Abia State was elected Secretary General.

 

Ozobu in a statement in Enugu, where the election purportedly
held said: “A new leadership of Ohanaeze has emerged
and it was in compliance with the constitution of Ohanaeze.
We met all the requirements.

 

“We are still collating results for other seats, but the key leadership
positions are ready. It started late last night and was
concluded this morning. Many delegates participated through
zoom because of ban on large gathering owing to COVID-19.
“The rest of the National Ohanaeze Executive election results
will be released after further verifications to ensure that the
constitutional provisions were fully met.”

 

But on the D-day, January 10, the main election held at Owerri
with a broad spectrum of Igbo leaders in attendance.

 

The new Obiozor leadership has its job cut for it. First is to
work hard to unite the Igbo and bring everybody on board,
including those who boycotted the election. Obiozor in particular
has to prove that he was not a puppet of anybody but
a renowned diplomat and technocrat that he is who can steer
the ship of Igbo sociocultural, political and economic destiny
onto a safe harbor.

 

A Political Columnist/Writer, Nnedinzo Ogaziechi, wants
the new leader of Ohanaeze to emulate the leadership qualities
of late Akanu Ibiam, a great legend who was committed to the
welfare of Ndigbo beyond personal honour.

 

“Akanu Ibiam renounced and returned to the British head
of state the three insignias of knighthood that both she and
her father, King George VI had earlier conferred on him as an
outstanding missionary physician for services to church and
state for the role Britain played during the Nigerian Civil war
against Ndigbo.

 

“The is leader Ohaneze needs now is someone with the
hallmark of love, service and leadership, like late Prof. Chinua
Achebe who twice rejected Nigerian National honour in
protest against the conspiratorial acquiescence during the time
of the locust in Anambra politics. These to me are undeniably
the altruism that defines leadership and commitment to a
people beyond self.”

 

Ogaziechi in a piece shortly before the election said the leadership
Ohaneze should learn from the combined qualities of
late Dozie Ikedife and Dr. Ralph Uwechue for their commitment
to the Igbo causes, and that of the leadership of Prof. Ben.
Nwabueze (SAN) which spanned almost 20 years.

 

“These few were by no means perfect but one can glean leadership
from their history and actions. Make no mistake about
it, the regional body cannot be averse to national politics and
all its intrigues and politicking, no, that is part of it, a voice for
the group, for the region, for the people. But we do not want
a leader that would sell the people on the altar of national
politics. “We want an articulate, committed non-mercantile
human that would not fit into the false stereotype of ‘just give
an Igbo man money and he can sell even his mother’! No we
want a leader who understands that leadership is not about
power but about influence and integrity. We want a leader
whose altruism is an open book.

 

“The Igbo leader we want must, in the words of Achebe, not
be the bastard that points to his father’s Obi to the stranger with
the left hand! He must be an articulate and strong strategist
that understands that leadership is not an ego trip, not for
grandstanding but to serve the people and lead by the finest
examples.

 

“We do not need a Saint but we need a sincerely honest man
that knows how to build, how to unite and how to galvanise
the ‘Igwe bu ike’ spirit and the ‘Onye aghala nwanne ya’ spirit
of Ndigbo. We want onye ndu uzor, one that does not have
a price. We want a leader that stands alone but for all of us at
all times, a leader whose life and pedigree represents the Igbo
spirit of community, care and industry.

 

 

 

 

“Nothing less can be a starting point to a region so broken by the perennial presence of selfish political opportunists! We want a strategist that knows that the third tripod in the Nigerian project must not be treated as a mere voting bloc and ignored in the leadership process after elections.

 

We want a chief strategist not a garrulous rabble-rouser.” In the meantime, the Uche Okwukwuled faction of Ohanaeze Ndigbo has proceeded to the Federal Capital Territory High Court sitting in Bwari Abuja to restrain Professor George Obiozor-led executive. In a motion on notice number FCT/ HC/BIU/M/14/21 brought against him and the Incorporated Trustees of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the applicants sought an order restraining the former envoy and his proxies or any other parading himself pending the determination of the substantive suit.

 

The suit, which has Chief Uche Okwukwu and Prince Richard Ozuobu as the 1st and 2nd claimants respectively, also has the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Incorporated Trustees of Ohanaeze Ndigbo as 1st and 2nd defendants.

 

The claimants want the court to make an order restraining the defendants, its agents and servants from further holding or summoning any meeting whatsoever of Ohanaeze Ndigbo without consultation with the Secretary General as the constitution demands.

 

They are also asking for an order restraining Professor Obiozor from parading himself as the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo. In their estimation, Obiozor is a product of an illegal election held in Owerri on January 10, 2021.

 

In their originating summons, the Okwukwu faction is asking for the interpretations of articles 10, 11, 14 and 21 of Constitution of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, brought pursuant to Order 2 Rules 1, 3 and 4 of the Federal High Court of the Federal Capital Territory (Civil Procedure) Rules 2018 and Section 6(6B) of the 1999 Constitution.

 

But a source knowledgeable on the matter who pleaded anonymity said the case by Okwukwu and his group would fail. He pointed out that the group instituted the case at FCT outside the jurisdiction of the matter which was South-East. He also pointed out that Okwukwu is also contesting his suspension as Secretary General of Ohanaeze when his tenure had already elapsed

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