Last Minute Intrigues as Nwodo, Ejike Battle for Ohanaeze President-General

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  • Nwabueze, others allege plot by politicians to hijack the organisation

By Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu

Ahead of next Tuesday’s national election of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the major candidates are locked in last minute intrigues with a view to outwitting each other.

At the moment, the three major candidates for the position of President-General of the organisation are former Minister of Information, Chief John Nnia Nwodo; a former Vice Chancellor of Anambra State University of Science and Technology, Prof, Chiweyite Ejike, and Admiral Allison Maduekwe (rtd). All the candidates are from Enugu State where the position was zoned.

While Nwodo enjoys the endorsement of Enugu State Government, Prof. Ejike, on his part, has been endorsed by a former Secretary General of the organisation and renowned Constitutional lawyer, Prof. Ben Nwabueze, technocrats, youth groups and Umuada Ndi-Igbo.

Also, some of the candidates for other positions have raised the alarm over alleged moves by the outgoing leadership of the organisation led by Chief Enwo Igariwey to impose some candidates on the organisation. Okpani Nkama who is running for the position of National Publicity Secretary which was zoned to Ebonyi State accused Igariwey of pandering to the decision of the state government to railroad a particular candidate to the position.

Another group, Igbo Progressive Movement (IPM), yesterday accused some politicians in the South-east of planning to hijack the leadership of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo “apparently for their selfish interests.”

The group in a statement by its leader, Ozo Emeka Ezue, warned that should the plan of the politicians materialise,  it would deal a huge blow to the organisation in the long run.

Meanwhile, Prof. Nwabueze and some groups that endorsed Prof. Ejike insisted that Ejike remained the best candidate for the apex body’s president-general.

They were unanimous that at a time when the organisation is in shambles, and in some kind of disarray inflicted on it by lapses on the part of the leadership in recent years, the need for someone “with great integrity, impeccable character, outstanding sagacity and intellect, principled and disciplined, someone imbued with a passion and a vision for the promotion of the interest of Ndigbo, especially in the context of Nigeria.

Former Ohanaeze leaders in a statement personally signed by Prof Nwabueze explained that “Professor C. Ejike seems to be such a person. He possesses, in an eminent degree, the qualities mentioned above.”

Nwabueze who frowned at any form of imposition stressed that: “In terms of educational/academic qualifications, experience and other credentials, Ejike has been a university professor in the field of Zoology for some 23 years at various universities–Ife, Ibadan, UNN and UniJos – Dean, Natural Sciences, UniJos Vice-Chancellor, Anambra State University of Technology.

“From working closely with Professor Ejike as my Deputy in the Igbo Leaders of Thought (ILT), I know him to be a good manager of men and resources, however small the resources, an exemplary leader, a man of outstanding intellectual endowment, with an affable personality and a high sense of responsibility.”

Stressing that Ohanaeze should respect it’s constitution, the foremost constitutional lawyer noted that “the office of president-general belongs to the entire Ndigbo, not to any one particular state, as to bestow on it the right to impose a sole candidate on the organisation, which he said would stultify the idea of a healthy contest or competition, as the guarantee for a credible and competent choice.

“The forthcoming election provides an opportunity to revitalise Ohanaeze; to inject into it the spirit; vision and dream that led to its founding some 40 years ago and to create, as it were, a new Ohanaeze Ndigbo,” he stated.

He stressed the need for the emergence of “strong but humble personalities that could take the organisation, and indeed the entire Igbo race, to the desired height,” adding that “Prof. Ejike is topmost.”

  Also, a former Director-General of the defunct Nigerian Maritime Administration (NMA), Mr. John Egesi, stated that while all the candidates could do well, the organisation needs a person of outstanding “capability” like Prof. Ejike.

Egesi, who opined that the Ohanaeze had so far maintained an “unimpressive record” due to political meddlesomeness, stressed that the body “should not be cast in the hue of a political party or perceived as an extension of a political party by the generality of Nigerians.” Likewise, its president-general should not be “a dye-in-the-wool politician.

“As a vice chancellor and university lecturer, the development and advancement of young people all over the country have been his life-time career.”

Equally, Igbo Ga-adi Mma Youth League lent their weight behind Ejike, describing him as a man of unassuming integrity and unparalleled manager of men.

National Chairman, Prince Ugochukwu Oranaemeze, noted that “Ejike is most respectfully endorsed and recommended to the delegates to be voted for to become the next Ohanaeze president-general because he has exhibited humility, unparalleled candour, immutable pedigree and capacity to weather political pressure.”

Umu Ada Ndi-Igbo on its part noted that Ejike, more than the other candidates, had the capacity to keep Ndigbo more united especially now that some forces are struggling to tear Ndigbo apart.

Chief Nwanyijiuno Onyeama, President of the body, pointed to Ejike’s “deep analytical skills and dynamism and ability to properly appreciate Igbo culture, and operate without external influence” as his cardinal quality.