By Deji Elumoye, Chuks Okocha and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar; Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday felicitated with the new President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Professor George Obiozor, with a call on him to promote unity between Ndigbo and other ethnic nationalities.
Obiozor, a former Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Israel and Cyprus, became leader of the Igbo socio-cultural group after an election held in Owerri, the Imo State capital, on Sunday.
Buhari, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, urged Obiozor to deploy his immense experience within and outside government to forge greater unity in the country.
“Given Prof. Obiozor’s rich background, especially, in international affairs and pan-Nigerian commitment, I have little doubt that his election is well-deserved and will serve not only the interest of Ndigbo, but also that of his fatherland.
“We need all hands to be on deck for this country to move forward in peace and unity,” he added.
Wishing Obiozor a successful tenure, Buhari enjoined him to be a “unifying force beyond his immediate constituency.”
In his congratulations, Atiku, in a statement he signed, said: “By electing such a tried, tested and reliable figure, Ndigbo has demonstrated their readiness to play the frontline role expected of them in Nigeria.”
Ngige, on his part, described the election of Obiozor as a new dawn for Ndigbo in the Nigerian project.
While congratulating Obiozor on his election, Ngige urged him to apply his administrative and managerial abilities to reposition the fortunes of Ndigbo.
According to him, Ndigbo could not have made a better choice than “a diplomat of very high pedigree and intellectual background, who is imbued with vast experience in the public service.”
A statement from the minister’s media office in Abuja yesterday, described Obiozor’s election as a new dawn for Ndigbo in the Nigerian project.
Extolling the administrative and managerial abilities of the new Ohanaeze helmsman, Ngige recalled that Obiozor at different times in the past distinguished himself as Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Cyprus and ambassador to Israel from 1999 to 2003, ambassador to the United States from 2004 to 2008 and Director-General of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), among others.
“It is our hope that his huge knowledge and wealth of experience, garnered from both the academia and public service, will be brought to bear on the affairs of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and by extension, the Nigerian nation in general,” Ngige said.
The PDP, in congratulating Obiozor on his election, also extolled the leaders and the people of the South-east for their democratic credentials demonstrated in the successful election of a new leadership of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation.
In a statement by the National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, the party said: “Prof. Obiozor is a seasoned administrator, excellent diplomat, courageous nationalist and a firm voice in the fight for the entrenchment of democratic tenets of the rule of law, social justice, equity, fairness, mutual respect, true federalism and a credible electoral process in our country.”
The PDP praised the choice of Obiozor to lead the Ohanaeze Ndigbo at this critical time in the history of the nation, particularly given his doggedness in fighting for constitutional all-inclusiveness as well as elimination of social injustice, divisiveness and nepotism.
“Our party therefore urges Prof. Obiozor to use his new assignment to further rally compatriots in our collective determination to rescue our nation from misrule and return her to the path of peace, national cohesion, mutual respect, adherence to the rule of law, social justice credible elections, economic prosperity and political stability,” Ologbondiyan said.
Also, the Minority Leader of the Senate, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, applauded the emergence of Obiozor as the president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
In a statement by his Media Adviser, Uchenna Awom , Abaribe described the choice of Obiozor as heart-warming, saying that it will sustain the progressive trajectory, which the immediate past executive built.
He expressed optimism that Obiozor, who is widely acknowledged for his track record of excellence, honour, intellectual capacity and courage in public service, will inject such attributes to further reinvigorate and build an activist-driven Ohanaeze in the face of current realities in Nigeria.