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.