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Anxiety over parallel polls as Ohanaeze picks new leader Sunday

Published by The Nation on Sun, 10 Jan 2021

By Sam Egburonu, Associate Editor; Chris Njoku and Damian Duruiheoma, OwerriNworgu, Osuagwu, Asoluka, other aspirants back out Parallel electoral committee elects Chidi Ibeh as PGThere were uncertainties on Saturday over the outcome of the election of a new President-General and other top executive members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, scheduled to hold today, Sunday, January 10, 2021 as opposing interests get set to elect parallel officials of the apex socio-cultural organisation.The Nation checks confirmed on Saturday that in spite of the controversies, former Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Professor George Obiozor, appears to be cruising to victory as the next President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo as some of the major contenders in the race slated for today in Owerri, Imo State, allegedly withdrew from the polls over what they termed irregularities.On the platform of the electoral committee, set up by the outgoing executive led by Chief Nnia Nwodo, six top aspirants are contesting to take over the baton of leadership on January 21 when Nwodos tenure ends. They include Prof George Obiozor, Dr Joe Nworgu, Dr Chris Asoluka, Prof Chidi Osuagwu, Chief Goddy Uwazurike and Prof Nnaemeka Obiaraeri.In line with the alphabetical rotation policy adopted by the seven Igbo speaking Southeast and South-south states that make up Ohanaeze Ndigbo, it is the turn of Imo State to produce the next President General of the organisation. So, all the known aspirants for the top position are from the state.However, by yesterdays evening, it became obvious that the cries to reconcile the warring factions before todays election may have fallen on deaf ears. Aside the Uche Okwukwu-led faction which went ahead yesterday to elect a parallel executive, all is not well for the electoral committee set up by the outgoing Nnia Nwodo-led executive.As at Saturday, some of the leading aspirants have disassociated themselves from the election.Speaking to The Nation, Prof. Osuagwu said his decision to disassociate himself from the election was because the poll would not be valid because the organisers have not been following the constitution.Read Also: Ndi Igbo, forget 2023 presidency; its a trapActually having received the intervention of elders of Igboland who met on Saturday and resolved that the election should be discontinued; they said that the present executive should hand over to a Caretaker Committee for two months within which to organise a true election.So, I subscribe to that position.Also, the former Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr Nworgu disassociated himself from the election because of what he termed irregularities.I am disassociating myself from the election because it is fret with irregularities and capable of putting Ohanaeze Ndigbo into crisis. I wouldnt want an organisation we have laboured so much over the years to build to go down.He blamed the new entrants into the organisation for having no commitment about the wellbeing of the organisation.I care very much about the organisation. I served the organisation for two decades with passion and full emotion. I sacrificed immensely.Consequently, I will not partake in the election today. I have overviewed what has been occurring and my overview has resulted in my decision and conclusion not to partake in the poll, he said.Dr Asoluka said the organisers of the election have not shown any preparedness as far as he is concerned.1 am yet to receive the delegate list as at Saturday. If you are going for an election, you dont know who is voting and who is not, how can you appoint an agent' As far as I am concerned, they are not prepared.Prof Chidi Osuagwu, another top aspirant, also dismissed Sundays election, saying its outcome would amount to a nullity.Osuagwu made the comments at a press conference on Saturday in Owerri, the Imo State capital, where he said that the Ohanaeze Ndigbo election process did not follow constitutional guidelines.According to him, there are no official guidelines as well as no information on venues for the election at all levels.There is no official statement on nomination forms, yet some people have paid and names drawn up for LGA elections that did not hold anywhere. There are no official lists of national General Assembly statutory members and the ones that are associated with states, as required by the Ohanaeze Constitution, he said.This development, he added, had practically nullified the polls, because, according to him, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Election is conducted according to law. Ohanaeze has a Constitution which has copiously been ignored and violated. Obviously, the election will be held outside the Constitution and any election that is held in contravention to the provisions of the Constitution is illegal, null and void. Thats exactly the fate of Ohanaeze Ndigbo election tomorrow (Sunday), Osuagwu said, adding,Ive bought the forms for the candidacy at N500, 000 which is very strange considering that this is a socio-cultural organisation that service should be voluntary.Unfortunately, they have turned the exercise to a political party thing. We have a situation where people no longer distinguish between Ohanaeze Ndigbo as a socio-cultural organisation and political parties.Theres no guidelines which is why some of us cant be part of that, he said.But Prof Obiozor has expressed happiness with the organisation of the election process so far.The Local government election was successful; we have no problem; the whole process is going very smoothly across the country and across the Southeast.I went to some of the states like Ebonyi, Enugu, Abia, Anambra, the states are very supportive of my candidacy, in fact, they supported the consensus candidate from Imo State which is me very well and I am optimistic of victory.According to him, what is important is that I am prepared to engage with the problems facing Ndigbo in Nigeria; the problem of security, revival of education, economy, whole issue of reconciliation, and reorganisation of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and general reconciliation of youths within Ohanaeze and outside.We must have peace and security in Igboland; we must move forward with what we are known for -industrious and peaceful people; we must have visible achievements for our people; we must secure our people. Igbo seem to be the most vulnerable people in Nigeria in terms of violence and loss of lives and property. We have to take serious look at these matters either to control it or curtain it, he said.The picture of the impending confusion becomes clearer when some reports yesterdays evening said a former commissioner in Imo State, Engr Chidi Ibeh, has emerged the factional President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.According to the reports, Ibeh emerged during a parallel election organised by the Prince Richard Ozobu-led election committee.Also elected in that exercise were Dim Uche Okwukwu as the Deputy President General and Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, from Abia State, as the Secretary General. It would be recalled that Okwukwu, from Rivers State, was the Secretary-General of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation who had resisted his alleged suspension.Ozobu reportedly told journalists on Saturday that the election was held in Enugu under strict observance of COVID-19 protocol.
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