PRESS STATEMENT BY THE VICE-PRESIDENT OF OHANAEZE NDIGBO WORLDWIDE, ICHIE DAMIAN AFAM OKEKE-OGENE ON EMERGING ISSUES AHEAD OF 2023 GENERAL ELECTION
Welcome gentlemen of the Press
Let me start by congratulating you for your successful election of your new State Executive of the NUJ, led by Comrade Odogwu Emeka Odogwu PhD early this year. You set an example of free and fair election without rancour which other professionals and sub-sectors in the State should emulate. I also want to commend your sustained efforts in reporting government activities and affairs of the State to the outside world and your cooperation with Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide in promoting issues concerning Ndigbo. I hope you will sustain good working relationship with the new administration of Governor Chukwuma Soludo to encourage it to achieve its vision for the State and win present fight against insecurity which demands that all hands should be on deck.
I want to use the opportunity of your courtesy call to brief you on issues affecting Ndigbo with regards to the upcoming General Election next year. It is about ten months before the elections and I won’t say things have worked out the way Ohanaeze Ndigbo has expected. Inspite of sustained efforts and advocacy to ensure that most political parties, especially the major political parties field candidates of Igbo extraction, as their Presidential Candidates. Things eventually did not work out that way, which I must say is very unfortunate for the country.
On the recently concluded APC and PDP Conventions, it is regrettable that the political class in the Southeast zone frustrated efforts of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in championing the course for presidency of Igbo extraction. It is sad to note that all the delegates to the conventions were more or less controlled by the leadership of their various political parties which was reflected in their voting pattern and was a slap on the expectations of Southeast geopolitical zone with exception of the Ebonyi State delegates who distinguished themselves as committed Igbo patriots and should be commended for their resilience.
I must, at this juncture, state that Southeast Governors Forum and Ohanaeze Ndigbo cannot be totally exonerated from the outcome of those conventions. Their actions made it clear that there is leadership vacuum in Southeast region because failure of Southeast Governors to have a united front at this critical time is quite regrettable. As far as I know, not for one day did I hear of their meeting to take a stand and position on the 2023 general elections. They were so individualistic in their approach towards this fundamental and decisive issue to the extent that information we received alleged that some Southeast Governors coordinated delegates for candidates from other geopolitical zones. For me, they failed Ndigbo.
Similarly, Ohanaeze Ndigbo leadership equally has some part of the blame because when it was obvious that the Governor’s were failing, Ohanaeze Ndigbo never met to discuss and invite the aspirants as we used to do before, to address them on the need to prone down number of aspirants. For this I apologise to Ndigbo for our failure to do the needful. When I fore-saw this coming, I made attempts to reach the chairman of Southeast Governors Forum who did not respond to my calls. I also made calls to Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State as well as sent message without receiving any response. For the past three months, I have been in contact with former President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo and Agariway for their intervention to save the Igbo agenda and unity of Igbo nation. Recently, I was also in contact with the Chairman of Elders Council of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu who I believe is making efforts to reach out to others to protect the future of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
On the recent outburst by Governor Dave Umahi to withdraw support to Ohanaeze Ndigbo, I think he has every reason to be aggrieved. I want to commend his courage and strong political will in standing firm at the APC convention and fought like a lion. Governor Umahi has equally provided purposeful and people oriented governance to the of people of Ebonyi State. I want to use this opportunity to call on Elders Council of Ohanaeze to quickly intervene and reach out to the Governor. I want to point out that for the past seven years, he has been the Governor of Ebonyi State and presently the Southeast Governors Forum Chairman, Governor Umahi has consistently been a great supporter of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and has never been found wanting on issues concerning Ndigbo. I appeal to him to calm down as the issue will be handled with all seriousness and respect it deserves. I want to remind him on the need not to allow his action to divide Ndigbo more than they have been divided before. I think as the leader of the Southeast Governors Forum, he should always be ready to pay the price of leadership and make sacrifice to ensure that Ndigbo remain united.
However, the unexpected emergence of Mr Peter Obi as the Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party has brought a new dimension in Nigerian Politics. He is a candidate that gained immediate national and to some extent international acceptance. This is not because of Presidency of Igbo extraction or rotational Presidency. Neither is it because of ethnic or religious reasons. Rather, it is because Peter Obi stands for those who want to enthrone a new political and social order that will end recycling of leadership that has become a burden to Nigerians. His emergence has engendered a mass movement that will have a similar if not stronger impact like the EndSARS Protests because people see in him a candidate that will evolve a new Nigeria with ability and capacity to change the way things are being done by upholding progressive ideology that is not based on tribe, religion or political leaning.
I also want to use this opportunity to comment on the antics of one Isiguzo who is claiming to be the Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo. I urge the public to ignore any report from the one-man Ohanaeze Executive called Isiguzo from Abia State. The Secretary-General of Ohanaeze is Ambassador Okey Emuche from Abia State who was duly elected by the seven states of Ohanaeze on 10th January, 2021 at Dan Anyim Stadium Owerri, IMO State capital. I urge Abia State Governor Dr Okezie Ikpeazu to call the said Isiguzo to order to stop embarrassing the Igbo nation. On this note too, I am calling on the Secretary-General of Ohanaeze, Ambassador Emuche to be alive to his responsibility and avoid leaving vacuum for Isiguzo to claim and exploit in the media space to mislead the public. I apologise to those he has embarrassed with his write-ups. The reports were certainly not the stand of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
I once again want to thank you for this visit and hope the partnership between the media and Ohanaeze Ndigbo will be sustained in the collective drive to reposition Igboland.
Vice-President Ohanaeze Ndigbo WorldWide
Ichie Damian Afam Okeke-Ogene