FEATURE ARTICLE

Sunday, December 20, 2020
uokwukwu@yahoo.com

OHANAEZE 2021: OCHIAGHA UKIWE MUST INTERVENE

Introduction

here could be attempt to heat up Rivers State and get Governor Nyesom Wike out of office ahead of 2023. Wike is the most important Igbo governor controlling the biggest budget and so must be neutralised. In the next 30 months the 2023 elections would have been concluded and those who seem not to understand that Igbo presidency is site for contestation have naively taken sides.

Through Nnamdi Kanu, violence is being thrown at Wike who's catching it like a football. Wike is responding to Kanu's deliberate provocation instead of overlooking it. Their altercation made it possible for the Northern Elders Forum, NEF, to tag Ndigbo as bloodthirsty killers of northerners outside the north. I have also heard certain ignorant Igbos swore to ambush Wike in 2023. The whole truth, sorry to say, is that neither Wike nor Kanu knows what is really happening. They seem to be in control but they are only responding to external stimulus.

Ask yourself why Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is not responding to Kanu's provocation. Kanu openly claimed responsibility for burning down Asiwaju's hotel but his victim refused to respond or retaliate. Only Wike is responding and talking, why? Two Igbos, namely, Wike and Kanu, are on a shouting match today and the world is listening. By their own actions, the two have ignited the political fuse capable of blowing Igbo presidency to pieces. But the Wike Vs Kanu hazard is nothing compared to events associated with the Ohanaeze Ndigbo 2021 Election.

Importantly, I refrain from making comments capable of casting Ndigbo as a divided race. I diffuse Igbo misrepresentation whenever and wherever as we must never be seen as a people without leadership. But you will agree with me that our son, Nnia Nwodo, has taken dishonourable steps to destroy Ohanaeze and undermine Ndigbo. He violated the Ohanaeze constitution handpicking the 2021 Electoral Committee membership and I wish him luck.

As I have said time without number, we are at our lowest because those in the know chose to keep quiet. I can assure you that the average Igbo man is conscious, firm, resolute, peace loving, deep and resourceful. He will never allow the charade going on in the purported Ime Obi of 6th December 2020 to succeed because Ndigbo want a purpose-driven Ohanaeze.

What is Wrong?

The illegalities surrounding the action of some persons who met in the jamboree called Ime Obi could seal the fate of Ohanaeze. These include:

One, Nwodo violated the provision of Article 11, paragraph (8), page 14 of the Reviewed Ohanaeze Constitition of 30th November 2003. It states that the President-General, "Through the Secretary-General summon the general meetings of the National Executive Committee, the Council of Elders, Ime Obi and the General Assembly." Ohanaeze Ndigbo has only one Secretary General and that is me. With all sense of responsibility due my office, I never summoned the purported Ime Obi of 6th December 2020. It was illegal.

Two, assuming without conceding that there was an Ime Obi, Nwodo seriously erred on ethical and moral grounds handpicking Ben Obi to chair the Ohanaeze 2021 Electoral Committee. This is because Obi was the Vice Presidential candidate to Atiku Abubakar of Action Congress, AC, in 2007. Obi also played major role in Atiku's presidential campaign of 2019. His political past casts a long shadow over his neutrality.

Three, Nwodo seriously erred again handpicking Ferdinand Agu as Secretary of Ohanaeze 2021 Electoral Committee. Agu was Atiku Abubakar's presidential campaign coordinator for Enugu State in 2019. His neutrality is doubtful, also.

There is reasonable ground to suspect that Nwodo deliberately planted Obi and Agu in the Electoral Committee to work for Atiku/Nwodo 2023 presidential ticket. Kiss your 2023 Igbo presidency goodbye. Obi cannot be chairman of an impartial electoral body and he knows it. If I were him, I would decline Nwodo's Greek gift and walk away with my reputation intact.

Four, there are no electoral guidelines three weeks to the election. This is wrong. The lifespan of the present executive statutorily ends on or before 10th of January 2021; as we were sworn in on 10th January 2017. You cannot talk about credible, free and fair election without guidelines.

Five, voting delegates are unknown. This makes it impossible for candidates to campaign as they cannot be talking to the void. Even in national elections voters are known. But who are the delegates being talked to by candidates in the Ohanaeze 2021 elections? None.

Six, the deliberate delay associated with this election is dangerous. The Covid-19 challenge pauperised our people now battling to pay school fees and rents. Under this pressure the Ohanaeze election is secondary to them. Apathy will make a predetermined electoral victory possible.

And seven, we watched with shock as Nwodo sang and danced in Government House, Port Harcourt, without reaching Obigbo where 10,000 Igbos mourned their loved ones massacred by soldiers. I am careful with my figure because of our kindred structure. When a person dies, over 200 people related to him by blood mourn.

The media reported that over 40 Igbos were killed: 40 times 200 and you know what I mean. The dead and injured aside, Igbos were allegedly abducted and flown to prisons in the north. Nwodo's refusal to visit Obigbo, for on-the-spot investigation of what really happened, was a mark of poor leadership. It also sent out the wrong signal about Ohanaeze.

What to Do

To avert a clearly foreseeable, predictable but avoidable crisis in Ohanaeze, I prescribe the following urgent measures:

One, I respectfully call upon the Akajiofor Ndigbo, Ochiagha Ebitu Okoh Ukiwe, to graciously intervene. The Ochiagha should step forward now and assert his authority as the Igbo Supreme Leader. We're in a monumental crisis borne by crass injustice requiring his urgent attention. He should summon a pan-Igbo meeting from which a caretaker committee will emerge to conduct the Ohanaeze 2021 election in a free and fair manner. The Ochiagha is not to head the committee. He will only supervise the meeting that will produce the committee.

Two, the lifespan of the caretaker committee should not be more than six months. It must be made very clear that the President General must come from Imo State because it is their turn. Election must be held on or before the 30th June 2021. Worthy Igbos from Imo desirous of leading Ohanaeze as President General must be given equal chance to contest and not to be schemed out. Only the incorruptible Ochiagha can guarantee every candidate equal playing field.

Three, membership of the caretaker committee should be limited to credible Igbos with passion for doing the right thing. Permit me to nominate from Rivers State the Rt Hon Chibudum Nwuche. The committee should have more clergy and retired professors who can afford the time to do a good work.

Five, we must be careful with this election as it can heat up things and crack the already fragile Igbo nation. It has been alleged that candidates were adopted and those who objected were threatened with ostracism. That is undemocratic as there can be no free and fair election under an atmosphere of intimidation. A better arrangement must be evolved so that whoever emerges as President General will be acceptable to Ndigbo.

And six, I am a student of War and Peace. In war none wins. You vanquish yourself vanquishing others as defeating a part of humanity is defeating all of humanity. The English metaphysical poet, John Donne, said the death of any man diminished him because we were all interrelated as no man was an island.

Wike is our son. Kanu's threat against him is a threat against all Igbos. Equally so, when NEF wrongfully condemned Igbos as killers, ipso facto, it has also condemned Wike. I call upon the extremist Kanu and NEF to withdraw their threats against and condemnation of Wike. Ndigbo will strongly support Wike if he steps forward in 2023 to vie for Nigerian president as an Igbo.

Conclusion

I have been honest and altruistic defending the Igbo interests. When I supported Buhari in 2019, I had argued that Buhari's tenure must end in 2023 whether he liked it or not. That if we supported him we could on moral ground ask him and the All Progressives Congress, APC, to also support us in 2023 so that we too can have a bite of the cherry.

I took steps to save Ndigbo when I led a delegation of Igbo leaders to the Presidential Villa to say, "Mr President, not all Igbos are against you." Nwodo chose Atiku simply because he was angry with Buhari for not picking him as Vice Presidential candidate in 2003.

As I predicted, the anti-Igbo Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is in decline. It removed four senate presidents of Igbo extraction in eight years. Today, the Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi has confirmed that five years of APC government has benefited Ndigbo more than sixteen years of PDP lawlessness. The APC has managed well the Igbo interests not minding everything.

To salvage Ohaneze, I call upon those whose fathers sacrificed all to ensure that the organisation see the light of the day to rally round Ochiagha Ukiwe. Professor (Mrs) Uche Azikiwe must stand up and be counted. Frank Ellah, whose great father, Senator Francis Ellah, resigned from the 2nd Republic Senate over the Igbo question, must be seen now. The sons and daughters of the great Col. Joe Achuzia, Akanu Ibiam, Obi Wali, etc, must defend the Ohanaeze constitution.

But I want to state for the umpteenth time that there will be crisis in Ohanaeze if Igbos seeking to be elected as President General are blocked and schemed out. I can assure you that there will be crisis. Who told Nwodo and his co-travellers that they have the capacity to crush a parallel Ohanaeze and dominate the entire space?

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