- Nnamani, Ngige, others kick
From Magnus Eze, Enugu
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has come under attacks following its endorsement of the candidature of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Thursday. President General of the association, Chief Nnia Nwodo, in a communiqué of the Imeobi (inner cabinet) meeting, held at the Nike Lake Resort, Enugu, on Thursday, adopted Atiku while his opponent, President Muhammadu Buhari, was visiting the state.
Since then, several prominent Igbo people, including APC chieftains have kicked against it, describing the endorsement as a nullity even as they argued that Nwodo’s tenure had elapsed.
Former Senate President, Chief Ken Nnamani, Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama and former Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prince Richard Ozobu dismissed the decision as baseless.
At a press conference in Enugu, Ngige said what was released by Nwodo was the decision of “PDP Ohanaeze,” adding that the “APC Ohanaeze and others” rejected it in its entirety.
The minister wondered what pushed Ohanaeze into “this ignoble path of repudiating the good intentions of the president on the day he was in the zone to honour one of Africa’s greatest and most illustrious son of Igboland”, the late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe by inaugurating Ziks’ mausoleum in Onitsha, Anambra State.
He said: “We are going to react because we belong to a political party; I belong to the APC and all of them that held this meeting at Nike Lake Hotel belong to the PDP stock. So, it will be Ohanaeze PDP versus Ohanaeze APC and others; we’re ready for the war.
“We are not mincing word about it; we have factionalised our organisation and we had warned them not to factionalise Ohanaeze. Endorsements have not brought anything good to the Igbo since 1979.”
Also, Secretary to the Anambra State Government, Prof. Solo Chukwulobelu, who claimed to have arrived the venue of the meeting with the state’s delegation only to be told that the meeting was over, said that the Nwodo leadership has destroyed the bond of unity binding the Igbo, with that decision.
“We have read bits of the communiqué purportedly issued by the Ohanaeze leadership,” he said. “We regret that they do not reflect the position of the people and Government of Anambra State.
“The position of the Anambra State Government is that Ohanaeze should remain a united organisation umbrella for all Ndigbo, and should not take sides with any party. There are major leaders in all political parties, including the three major ones in Nigeria, namely, APGA, APC and PDP.
“It is deeply regrettable that the Ohanaeze leadership has chosen to go down a divisive trajectory capable of setting back Igbo unity for several years.”
Reacting on the issue, APC senatorial candidate for Enugu West, Mrs. Juliet Ibekaku-Nwagwu, regretted that Ohanaeze has joined the political fray.
She described it as an unfortunate development without any political weight, adding that “it is now clear that the organisation has stopped representing the common interest of Ndigbo and, as such, ceased to be the mouthpiece of the Igbo nation. It is now a political arm of the PDP. I would have preferred that it maintained its neutrality in the polity in line with the aims and objectives of its founding leaders. But since its current leadership has politicised it, so be it.”
Miffed by the endorsement, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has warned the South East geopolitical zone to be wary of the machinations of ‘conmen’ masquerading as ‘messiahs’ in the garb of politicians.
Speaking during a media parley in Abuja yesterday, APC National Publicity Secretary, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, quipped that the antecedents of both the opposition party and its presidential candidate do not synchronise with the image they purport, describing it as dangerous.
“We find it curious that the presidential candidate of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar has tactically avoided speaking on his touted restructuring plans during his campaigns. Our observation comes against the backdrop of the now disputed “communiqué” issued by some members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo on the 2019 general elections.
“With a few members of Ohanaeze falling for Atiku’s antics, it has now become clear that the purported endorsement of Atiku’s presidential ambition does not enjoy the support of most of the Igbos. One of such proofs is the statement by the Anambra State Government’s dissociating the state from the dubious endorsement of Atiku contained in the equally disputed communiqué.
“It would now seem that few people in Ohanaeze are trying to misrepresent the interest of the Ndigbo and we wonder whether these people are part of Atiku’s friends that he has promised to make rich as a cardinal policy of his government? Many questions beg for answers. Besides the deceitful restructuring promise, what else do the Igbo stand to gain from an Atiku presidency? Nothing!
“Could it be that Atiku and the PDP’s restructuring rhetoric is selective and bespoke for specific audiences? The answer is yes! Atiku’s restructuring rhetoric is simply a convenient, simplistic and populist gimmick aimed at whipping up and exploiting perceived sentiments ahead of the 2019 elections.
“Ndigbo and indeed all Nigerians must be wary of Atiku and his PDP ilk, who in their desperate quest for power are ever ready to play fraudulent political games and parade themselves as ethnic champions to the gullible. We must protect the sanctity of our nationhood.
“Atiku has refused to speak on the nature of the restructuring that he is cashing in on. But little wonders because he is transactional in nature. Atiku has no plan for this country and he is not pretending about it. He has said it clearly and on many occasions that he is seeking power to be able to sell off national assets to make his friends and himself rich. There is no doubt that Atiku only intends to use and dump the Igbo people,” he said.
Warning against the consequences of sticking with such a fellow, the party spokesperson noted: “Ndigbo should not forget that it was during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and Atiku as vice that Nigeria’s political history witnessed the frequent manipulated changes to the Senate Presidency and setting of Igbo brothers against one another for political gains.
“Without playing to the gallery, the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC administration has pursued a deliberate policy of probity, inclusive governance and national spread in the allocation of our national resources and developmental projects across the country.
“In particular, about 69 verifiable road and bridge projects are ongoing in the Southeast. This is unprecedented in the history of our nation. Although the contracts for many of the roads were awarded by past PDP administrations, they were either poorly funded or not funded at all, hence work on the road and bridge projects were previously stalled.
“The APC remains the most sincere political platform working to ensure better inclusion and mainstreaming of all geo-political zones in the governance of the country. We have held constructive, purposeful, countrywide and multi-sectorial conversation on core issues of true federalism and devolution of powers in line with the party’s Change Agenda.
Why I left APC –Jim Nwobodo
From Raphael Ede, Enugu
Chief Jim Nwobodo, former governor of old Anambra State has said that he left the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to toe the line already taken by Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
Nwobodo, a onetime senator and Sports Minister, announced his return to PDP at a ceremony in his Amechi Awkunanaw country home in Enugu on Friday.
According to him, “I have no option than to toe the line already taken by Ohanaeze Ndigbo when they had genuine worry about the fate of Ndigbo in Nigeria. As you can see, they are here today in a larger number, after their meeting with Ohanaeze.
“It is difficult for me to ignore their call and turn my back on them when they have a genuine worry about the fate of Igbos in Nigerian polity.
“I will do the same for any other zone that feels excluded because I am a true Nigerian in all sense of it,” he said.
Nwobodo said he could not pretend that all was well in the country today with the escalating crisis, ranging from the economy, insecurity, and tension among the three arms of government comprising executive, legislature and judiciary.
He decried the existence of divisions along tribal and religious lines, and different militant groups arising from the hues and cries of marginalisation.
“What we are seeing are symptoms of deep-rooted issues that should be brought to the table for discussions on how to address them.
“I am a democrat and a strong believer in democracy. Those of us who claim to be democrats have a duty to tell the president the truth and advise him appropriately,” he said.
“I was born in Lafia, spent my childhood and my early education there. Thereafter, I moved to Kafanchan in Kaduna State, where I had part of my education before going to University of Ibadan and thereafter taught at Kings College, Lagos.
“From Kings College, I went to work for Shell BP in Port Harcourt. I have friends and relationships across all parts of Nigeria.
“As a governor, I worked hard to reconcile the late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe and the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, who had not sat together since after 1952 as a result of their political differences.
“I succeeded in bringing the two great leaders of blessed memory to my private residence in Enugu and they sat together, had lunch and discussed at length.
“Thereafter they communicated and attended political meetings and rallies together under the progressive alliance we had in the Second Republic,” he said.
Nwobodo said at this stage in his life, he sees himself more as an elder statesman than a partisan politician and spoke from the standpoint.
He recalled that he had served the country both at the state and the federal level and in the course of his political journey from Second Republic till date, had his fair share of ups and downs.
“I made mistakes and learned from my mistakes, I qualified to speak on burning issues confronting us as a nation.
“My expectation had been to see an inspiring new hope and values for the younger generation of leaders in our country.
“But a situation where current leaders of political parties and public office holders disparage former presidents and former leaders in the media shows we have learnt nothing from history.
“Is that how we intend to groom and mentor the “not-too-young-to-run” and prepare them to take over the mantle of leadership?”