Posted by News Express | 23 April 2022 | 616 times
Prominent Igbo leaders recently gathered in Owerri, capital of Imo State, to celebrate the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. George Obiozor. They also articulated the Southeast agenda for next year’s elections.
It was a meeting of political juggernauts. They converged to accord honour to the leader of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Prof. George Obiozor. The banquet hall of the Imo State Government House, Owerri, was filled with dignitaries, statesmen, government officials, politicians, captains of industry, diplomats, army generals, senior citizens and royal fathers. They came from across the Southeast and the South-South geo-political zones to join associates of the former Ambassador, of the United States and State of Israel Prof. Obiozor, for the reception organised for him by the Imo State Government.
Obiozor, whose country home was burnt by yet to be identified hoodlums recently, appeared at the reception like the biblical Jeremiah chosen to lead his people but had to fight both internal and external aggressors to a point of exhaustion that he had to weep to God Almighty that he might leave his people and go from them for they are adulterers, assembly of treacherous men. But, the fact that the cream of Igbo leaders could find time to be at the reception suggests that the former director-general of the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs (NIIA) truly believes in the Igbo cause.
They gathered in solidarity to ask him to continue to lead them. They acknowledged that he is fighting for them day and night even when they are sleeping and partying, he is awake, thinking, strategising and lobbying to defend and protect their interests.
Governor Hope Uzodimma aptly captured the situation when he said: “I am happy to behold the cream of Igbo leaders who could find the time to be here today for this solidarity reception we have organized in honour of our father and son, our leader and servant and, indeed, our cross-bearer, Prof George Obiozor, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide.
“When I scan the faces of the distinguished compatriots who have come to join me to honour Professor Obiozor with their esteemed presence, I see real love, genuine love that transcends party politics. I also perceive a degree of commitment tinged with anxiety and concern over the future of the Igbo race. Also palpable in the house today is a genuine concern about the political fate of Ndigbo in project Nigeria. By your presence here today, you have assured me that I am not the only one who thinks Professor Obiozor deserves our respect, appreciation and best wishes,” he said.
The governor explained that it was a huge sacrifice for the professor to accept to be at the forefront of Igbo interest even when his own people conspired to burn down his house. He added: “This is because he is the arrowhead of an organisation at the forefront of the battle to defend and protect the socio-economic and political interests of Ndigbo. In my opinion, it was a huge sacrifice for Professor Obiozor to accept to serve the Igbo race in this capacity. As a former ambassador to the United States, Professor Obiozor is a household name across the country and beyond. It is to our advantage that a man of such pedigree accepted to serve us in this capacity. It is heart-warming that Igbos have turned up in good numbers to honour and celebrate him. It beats my imagination, therefore, that those who conspired and burnt down his house were also Igbos. What a paradox!”
Reflecting further, he said: “I have often tried to understand the true meaning of politics and political power. I understand we need political parties as a means to attain power based on our ideological persuasions. I understand also that we need political power to impact positively the lives of the people. In other words, political parties and political power are vehicles to achieve an end. They are not the end themselves. If we understand it in this elementary context then we should shun violence, bitterness and divisiveness. After all, are we not supposed to use politics for sustained progress and development?
“In the over a decade that I have been in public office, first as a senator and now as a governor, I have devoted a lot of time to ponder on the Igbo agenda in the Nigerian federation and what we as leaders should do to realize it. As most of you may already know, I have written a book on the subject matter. In the book entitled, ‘Reflections on the Igbo Question’ my position had been that we Igbos need a united Nigeria to vent our God-given talents. This is because Nigeria provides us with the space and opportunities we need to actualise our political and socio-economic destiny.
“This is why I am deeply appalled by the raging spate of violence currently ravaging the Southeast. At the risk of repeating oneself many times over, dialogue, and not violence is the vehicle that will lead us to our desired destination. There is no evidence in history to show that any race had ever become great through violence and self-destruction. When a man begins to urinate into a well which he drinks from, it only proves that he is on a suicidal mission. I think that as a people who have endured and survived a turbulent and brutal past, we should be wiser than that,” he stated.
The governor said that the people of the Southeast are patriotic and committed to the oneness of Nigeria. He said: “Our people can be found in every nook and cranny of Nigeria. Igbos are the most dispersed of all the ethnic groups in the country. Unlike other tribes, Igbos have investments in the 36 states and Abuja.”
On why Igbos are disenchanted with the present situation of things in Nigeria, he said: “In the aftermath of the unfortunate events of the civil war and considering the immediate post-war discriminatory policies against Ndigbo, many of our people felt sidelined and marginalised. Over the years, many pan Igbo groups and intellectuals have tried to get this message across to the rest of Nigeria. While some have done so with a great sense of patriotism, a few may have gone off the cuff to do so in a temperamental and unconventional manner. My worry is that while the Igbos have an unassailable case over their post-civil war treatment and plight in the Nigerian federal project, the logic of that case may be compromised by the temperamental actions of non-state actors, to the peril of everyone.”
Governor Uzodimma agreed that the time has come for every patriot to rise and address the Igbo question for the people have cried enough about their marginalisation. He said the same love extended to the Southwest during the annulment of June 12 in 1999 should inspire this group of patriots to do the same for the Southeast in 2023. He added: “What cannot be taken away is that for too long Igbos have cried out profusely over their plight. This plight is comparable to the plight of the Southwest over the annulment of the June 12 elections. Following that annulment, the Southwest felt short-changed. They cried out for justice. While some groups did so responsibly, others resorted to violence.
“The instructive thing here is that at a point the patriotic zeal in the political class in Nigeria was touched and they rose in unison to acknowledge that the Yorubas had cried enough and that it was time to wipe their tears. That was why the two major political parties in Nigeria fielded only Yoruba candidates for the 1999 presidential elections. Of course, even a political neophyte knew that this was not accidental, but a well-planned act by a group of patriots who had placed the unity of Nigeria uppermost in their minds.
“It is now obvious from every indication that Ndigbo has also cried enough about their marginalisation. It should also be clear to the political class that the time has come to wipe these historical tears of Ndigbo. What is more, most of the patriots who engineered the plan that made the Southwest produce the presidential candidates for the two major political parties in 1999 are still alive and active in politics. That same undying love for the country that inspired them to do what they did for the Southwest in 1999, should inspire them to do the same for the Southeast in 2023.”
Prof. Obiozor expressed profound appreciation and gratitude first to Governor Uzodimma for the reception. He said that the gathering came against the backdrop of the terrible battering that the country has taken at the hands of bandits, kidnappers and terrorists, which has become heightened by the brazenness of their relentless assault unleashed on the nation in the last three weeks.
“The state of the Nigerian nation, is regrettably, precarious, delicate and the sensibilities of our citizens, as a people, numbed by the callousness and the carnage that is now a daily occurrence across the country. A year ago, our Southeast zone was considered the most peaceful zone in the country. Although it had its own peculiar challenges given the agitations of its restive youthful population, this was peaceful and non-violent. Their protestations were in the form of prayer sessions and gatherings, a right guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution.
“Consequently, we highly recommend that the federal, as well as state governments, engage the restive Igbo youths in some form of dialogue towards the peaceful resolution of the present crises. In this context, we equally appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to exercise his prerogative of mercy for Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and other Igbo youths in detention in various places,” he explained.
Obiozor also appealed to the leaders of IPOB, sons and daughters, not to unwittingly add to the burdens of the people. He noted that the state of Nigerian economy which was one of the leading economies in Africa has taken a major hit as a result of many national events, including the security challenges which have shaken the confidence of major investors in the economy.
This state of affairs, he said, has compounded the situation in the Southeast; “pushing the region into the vicious circle of unemployment, poverty and restiveness”.
The Ohanaeze president-general said the diversity of Nigeria has been mismanaged and that next year’s general election provides an excellent opportunity to redress any sense of exclusion or marginalisation felt by the people of the Southeast over the years. He added: “It is for this reason that I call on all political parties in the country, to zone the presidency to the Southeast. Our diversity should be turned into our strength and this can only come from an inclusive arrangement in which all groups have a sense of belonging, feel welcome and respected for their invaluable contributions to the nation’s development.”
Prof Obiozor commended the Southern and Middle Belt leadership forum for their support of the idea of zoning the presidency to the Southeast during the next election cycle. He said a Southeast presidency in 2023 will have a healing effect on the conscience of the nation. “It is politically defensible and morally justifiable in maintaining Nigerian unity,” he added.
Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Gen. Ike Nwachukwu (rtd) urged Ndigbo to rally around Obiozor for him to succeed.
Minister of Aviation in the First Republic, Mbazuruike Amaechi appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to release the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu to stop the ‘sit at home’ and other forms of agitation in the zone. He added: “I begged Buhari last year, told him with Bishop Onuoha that he should release Nnamdi Kanu, If you don’t release him, what is happening will continue, more groups may come on board, we must stop that in Igbo land if they release him 70 per cent of these crises will stop.”
Other dignitaries that graced the occasion include the Deputy Governor Prof. Placid Njoku, former Governor Ikedi Ohakim, Amb. Okey Emuchay, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, Chief Igari Igariwey, Emmanuel. Iwuanyanwu, Lt.Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika Rtd, Amb. Tom Aguiyi-Ironsi, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Kennedy Ibeh, Amara Iwuanyanwu, Igwe Nnachebe – the Obi of Onitsha, Chief Chuku Wachukwu, Sen Adolphus Wabara, Sen Frank Ibezim, Dr Uche Ogar, Chief Chekwas Okorie, Prince Bob Njemanze, Prince Marcon Nlemigbo, Amb Eddy Onuoha, Chief Chikwem Onuoha, Bishop Sunday Onuoha, Chief Simon Okeke, Amb Ozo Nwobu, Mrs Margaret Mbam Nwoba, Dr Peter Mbam, Princess Ivor Ajanwachukwu, Lady Frances Mgbada, Lady Victoria Akanwa, Chief Nnia Nwodo and Dr Peter Aneke.
Also at the event were Prof Charles Nwekeaku, Prof Fred Eze, Prof S.C. Ugwu, Dr Mrs. Selina Ugwuoke-Adibuah, Eze E.C. Okeke, HRH Eze C.I. Ilomuanya, Amb Greg Mbadiwe, Nze Fidelis Ozichukwu, Chief Jerry Chukwueke, Chief Charles Ahize, Chike Okafor, Rev David Onuoha, Bishop Divine Eches Divine, Prof Maurice Iwu, Evang Ebere Ekeledo, Eze Duruiheoma (SAN), Chief Tony Chukwu, Chief Charles Orie, Dr Uju Onwudiwe and Prince Charles Amadi. (The Nation)
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