Ohanaeze in make or mar election – Magnus Eze
Aspirants to the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo all agree that this is yet another critical moment in the life of the Igbo.
For far too long, Ndigbo have been objects of stereotype and profiling which ended in being misunderstood and misrepresented before other Nigerians.
This has been the Igbo albatross everywhere in national politics or business, academia or among artisans.
Negative profiling has been an Igbo cross to carry since Nnamdi Azikiwe’s emergence in Nigeria politics in the 1940s.
So, the world is waiting for January 10, to see, particularly, who emerges the President General of Ohanaeze, to lead the next phase of Igbo struggle as the curtain falls on the Chief Nnia Nwodo leadership of the apex Igbo organisation.
Recently, the Ohanaeze Electoral Committee 2020 released guidelines for elections into the national, state and local government branches of the body.
A timetable by the Committee led by former President General of Ohanaeze, Chief Gary Enwo-Igariwey, slated the national election to hold in Owerri, the Imo State capital on January 10.
The 50-man electoral body approved at an emergency meeting of Imeobi Ohanaeze in Enugu on December 20, 2020, has Bishop Goddy Okafor as Deputy Chairman and Chief Ferdinand Agu as Secretary.
“On the same date, the High Court issued an order restraining Okwukwu and Ozobu and their cohorts from ‘interfering in any manner whatsoever with the election of officers of Ohanaeze and/or in any manner conducting a parallel election of the officers of Ohanaeze.’
“The suit and the related injunction were, as was ordered by the court, served by an advertorial published in The Sun of 6th January, 2021 (Wednesday). The publication was intended to accomplish prompt notice to all parties due to the high urgency of the matter and to pave way for the Gary Igariwey-led properly constituted Electoral Committee to conduct the Ohanaeze elections without any let or hindrance.”
Daily Sun investigation showed that similar situation had occurred when two divisions led by Justice Eze Ozobu, then President-General and Prof Ben Nwabueze, his Secretary-General, emerged just before the 2003 elections.
It is the timely intervention of Dr. Sam Egwu, then Governor of Ebonyi State that prevented parallel elections and two Ohanaeze factions from coming on stream.
Egwu as the Chief Security Officer of Ebonyi State had ordered every Ohanaeze person out of his state where a faction came to organise election and directed the security personnel to arrest anyone or persons that came into Ebonyi to organize elections in the name of Ohanaeze.
He also travelled to Owerri, Imo State, where the President-General had gone for the purpose of conducting the national elections.
Meanwhile, some people believe that the Ohanaeze election organisers should have made provision for online or mail voting in line with the COVID-19 protocols instead of gathering large number of people in Owerri.
Former Chairman, Strategy and Planning Committee of Ohanaeze, Chris Okoye, an engineer, spoke strongly against organising local government and state chapter elections at this period.
He argued that the timing was not auspicious but instead suggested that the national election should hold while the incoming executives organised elections into the local government and state branches in due course.
So far, some persons in expressing concerns over the ongoing process have wondered why there was secrecy attached to the public presentation of the Imeobi and Council of Elders lists as outlined in the Ohanaeze constitution.
They also wanted to know when the list of the Ohanaeze delegates will be made public and the opportunity to interact with the contestants before the D-Day.
People also want to know the list of the General Assembly members, the constitutional body charged with the responsibility of voting for the executive officers.
In fact, an Igbo chieftain said that “Elections in all the States in the federation in five days without the basic information and requirements is a recipe for confusion and destruction of Ohanaeze.”
Regardless, a school of thought alleged that taking the election to Owerri at this period was designed to influence the outcome. Even at that, how the contending issues are resolved would determine the future of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
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