…Two aspirants drop out of race, allege imposition
By Chinonso Alozie & Denise Agbo
As the apex Igbo group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, elects its President-General today, there is a division in its fold as some aspirants pulled out of the race, citing imposition of candidate by the outgoing executive led by Chief John Nwodo.
The days leading to today’s exercise were characterized by crisis following claims by some aspirants that South-East governors imposed Ambassador George Obiozor on them.
Obiozor had emerged as a consensus candidate at Imeobi meeting convened by the Nwodo-led executive, but his emergence was described as unconstitutional by some aspirants, who said he lacked the powers to summon the forum.
Apart from Obiozor, others who indicated interest in the job include Chief Chris Asoluka, Joe Nworgu, Prof Chidi Osuagwu, and Chief Gordy Uwazurike.
As of press time, Osuagwu and Nworgu had dropped out of the race while frontline Igbo group, Alaigbo Development Foundation, ADF, said the exercise should not hold as scheduled.
Giving reasons for his action, Osuagwu, who briefed newsmen in Owerri, said he took the decision following the decision of Imeobi members that the constitution of Ohanaeze was not adhered to by Nwodo.
He explained that the Imeobi asked Nwodo to quickly hand over to the South-East Christian Association, CAN, to run the affairs of the association for two months and conduct an election.
His words: “I have bought the form for Ohanaeze election, which was sold for a half a million naira. It is so strange that Ohanaeze expected to be serving the people’s interests is now being used for money-making like political parties.
“This is part of the problem at the heart of Ohanaeze. We saw that people could not differentiate their political interests from Ohanaeze election. It is good to tell you that some of the procedures did not follow the guidelines. That is why we are concerned about this whole thing.
“On Thursday the members of Imeobi elders met and said that this election cannot continue because it is going to be an embarrassment to the Igbo nation.
“They said Chief Nnia Nwodo should hand over to the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, South-East for two months so that a proper election can be organised. I am here to say that I am in of support this move. I endorse the Imeobi decision that things be done in the proper way.
“There are no guidelines. There is no venue. That is dubiousness. Ohanaeze has a constitution which stated the guidelines for the election and anything done outside the constitution is not valid.”
Similarly, Nworgu, who is a former Secretary-General of the body, said he dissociated himself from today’s exercise.
In a telephone conversation with Sunday Vanguard, he said: “I have dissociated myself from whatever they are doing. It is now confirmed that I am not in the race anymore. I have pulled out.
“I heard Uche Okwukwu and Richard Ozobu held their own election. I did not partake. I can’t be part of that kind of race. I am in my house.”
Meanwhile, ADF in a statement by its President, Prof Uzodinma Nwala, threatened to reject the outcome of the exercise if its warning against holding the election is not heeded.
According to the group:”If the views of Igbo groups and stakeholders are not respected, we will join forces with others to chart a way forward for the Igbo nation. We were briefed on the contending issues that appear to pre-determine the outcome of the proposed election and to render the outcome of the election null and void.
“Furthermore, it is suspected that the interest of the federal government, as well as the interests of other regions are behind the attempts to manipulate the 2021 Ohanaeze election.
”The ADF Working Committee noted, in particular, the views canvassed through several letters that have been addressed to Chief Nnia Nwodo and his executive by the Global Igbo Leaders comprising key pan-Igbo organizations including the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), World Igbo Congress (WIC), Igbo World Assembly (IWA), Nzuko Umunna, Aka Ikenga, and the Concerned Ime Obi Members comprising eminent Igbo leaders from the seven Igbo-Speaking States of Nigeria.”