- Factional heads emerge
There is tension among Igbo leaders in the South-East and others parts of Nigeria over the election of a new president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and other executive members of the group scheduled to hold today, January 10, 2021.
Already, opposing interests are said to have elected or are warming up to elect parallel officials of the organisation.
A former Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, Prof. George Obiozor, is favoured to emerge as the next PG of the group in the election holding today in Owerri, Imo State.
Obiozor’s chances became brighter when other top contenders for the office reportedly withdrew on allegation of irregularities in the process.
Before now, the electoral committee set up by the outgoing executive led by Chief Nnia Nwodo had thrown up six aspirants jostling to take over the baton of leadership from Nwodo when his tenure ends on January 21. They include Prof George Obiozor, Dr Joe Nworgu, Dr Chris Asoluka, Prof Chidi Osuagwu, Chief Goddy Uwazurike and Prof Nnaemeka Obiaraeri.
It is said to be the turn of Imo State to produce the next PG of the organisation. So, all the known aspirants for the top position are from the state.
An indication that all is not well came on Saturday when Uche Okwukwu led a faction to elect a parallel executive.
Also on Saturday, a report came that a former commissioner in Imo State, Engr Chidi Ibeh, had emerged the factional President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
According to the report, Ibeh emerged during a parallel election organised by the Prince Richard Ozobu-led election committee.
They also claimed to have elected Dim Uche Okwukwu as the Deputy President General and Mazi Okechukwu Isiguzoro, from Abia State, as the Secretary General.
Okwukwu from Rivers State was the Secretary-General of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation who had resisted his alleged suspension.
Many other aspirants have also reportedly disassociated themselves from today’s main election.
A top contender, Prof Chidi Osuagwu, said today’s election would outcome amount to a nullity.
He stated this at a press conference on Saturday in Owerri, the Imo State capital, adding that the Ohanaeze Ndigbo election process did not follow constitutional guidelines.
He said, “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.”
According to him, the election will be held outside the constitution, adding that any election held in contravention of the provisions of the constitution is illegal, null and void.
He said, “I’ve 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.”
A former Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr Joe Nworgu, was quoted as saying, “I am disassociating myself from the election because it is fret with irregularities and capable of putting Ohanaeze Ndigbo into crisis. I wouldn’t want an organisation we have laboured so much over the years to build to go down.”
But Nwodo has maintained that “no amount of innuendos and blackmail will deter Ohanaeze from bequeathing a virile leadership to Ndigbo.”
He once also said through his Media Adviser, Emeka Attama, “Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, under the leadership of Chief Nwodo, is committed to the inviolate tradition of conducting a free, fair and transparent election to usher in its successors in January 2021.”
Just in: Wike. four other PDP govs meet in Enugu
Five governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) met behind closed doors on Sunday in Enugu State.
Governors at the meeting are Samuel Ortom (Benue), Nyesom Wike, (Rivers), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, (Enugu), Seyi Makinde, (Oyo), and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia).
According to a statement by the Enugu State Government, the governors held a “crucial meeting in the Enugu Government House to discuss matters of public interest”.
The meeting that lasted for several hours came amid a crisis in the party over calls for the party’s national chairman Iyorchia Ayu to step down.
The five governors were also absent at the inauguration of the PDP presidential campaign council, which held on September 28.
Allies of Wike have insisted that they will not work for the party in the 2023 presidential election if Ayu fails to resign as chairman.
The calls for the resignation of Ayu is said to be on the grounds that the party chairman and presidential candidate cannot be from the same region.
South-East leaders blast Atiku over Igbo president, demand apology
South-East leaders have taken a swipe at the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, over a statement credited to him that Ndigbo should wait until after his tenure as President to have a shot at the presidency.
They also demanded an apology from him as they described Atiku’s comment as an insult to the collective sensibilities of the entire Igbo race.
The former vice president last Tuesday during the PDP South-East Zonal Stakeholders’ Meeting in Enugu said he would actualise the Igbo presidency if elected in 2023.
“So, why do you say I will not give Igbos a fair chance to lead the country after my tenure as president? I did that in 2019 when I brought Obi and another Obi in 2011 and for 2023, I chose Ifeanyi Okowa, another Igbo man as my running mate, even when Ohaneze said no Igbo should contest for Presidency under PDP”, he had stated.
However, the comment by the PDP’s standard bearer did not go well with many Igbo leaders who berated him for being insensitive to the political marginalisation of Ndigbo.
Recall that Chief Raymond Dokpesi had, in January 2022, during a consultation parley with the PDP leaders in Umuahia, the Abia State capital, said Atiku would only do a single term and hand over to an Igbo person.
Dokpesi, who was then the leader of the Technical Committee for Atiku Abubakar’s Presidential Campaign, assured that if Atiku was elected for a single four-year term, it would pave the way for the South East to produce the president in 2027.
Recall also that similar promises were made to Ndigbo by the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, during the electioneering for the 2019 general elections.
In December 2018, the Secretary to the Federal Government, SGF, Mr Boss Mustapha, restated APC’s resolve that President Muhammadu Buhari would hand over power to an Igbo person in 2023.
Mustapha, while speaking in Umuahia, at the inauguration of the South East chapter of the Presidential Support Committee, PSC, assured Ndigbo that the shortest route to producing a president of Igbo extraction was by supporting and voting for APC in 2019.
Note that since the return of democracy in 1999, the gentleman agreement was that power would be rotating between the North and the South. In that order, the South got the first shot at the presidency with Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, from the Southwest. After him, the presidency went to the North with Umaru Musa Ya’adua emerging as the president. Unfortunately, Ya’adua died on the seat and his vice, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan from the South-South filled in as acting president and then substantive president.
Going forward, the presidency returned to the North with Buhari almost rounding up his second tenure. Therefore, by the gentleman agreement operational, the presidency ought to return to the South once again.
But since the Dokpesi statement of January 2022 that Atiku will do a single term if elected in 2023 is not a direct commitment from the PDP presidential candidate, it can then mean that Igbo will have to wait till 2031 to be President if he decides to seek re-election in 2027 and succeeds.
The Igbo leaders argued that out of the three geopolitical zones, namely, South-West, South-East and South-South, the South-South and South-West have had their time at the presidency, leaving the South-East.
They believed that if equity, justice, fair play, and most importantly, owing to the tenets of the gentleman agreement which is in tandem with the federal character principles, the geo-political zone should have been supported by the other southern blocks who already have had their take at the presidency, but it became a tug of war, one which has generated a lot of bad blood.
Those who spoke to Sunday Vanguard noted that Atiku, who is at the centre of the problem, rather than supporting a candidate from the South-East, threw his hat in the ring to be allowed to succeed a fellow northerner who just did two tenures.
According to them, it is ironic that Atiku is now the one telling Igbos to support him becoming the president so that he would assist the region to get their turn at the presidency.
The implication of Atiku’s promise, the South-East leaders noted, is that if the ex-VP wins the 2023 presidential election and decides to go for a second term, the Igbos will have to wait until 2031 to have a shot at the presidency.
Atiku can’t be trusted – OYC
Reacting, the National President of Ohanaeze Youth Council, OYC, Comrade Igboayaka O. Igboayaka, regarded Atiku’s statement as a mere political chorus.
He said the PDP’s presidential candidate cannot be trusted. “We know politicians that can keep to their words and Atiku is not one of them. So what he’s doing is just to manoeuvre to get the opportunity to become the president of this country and continue his private and personal agenda.
“Again, nobody that is reasonable will ask Ndigbo or South East to support them to get power in 2031, no. It’s an insult to Ndigbo and unacceptable. I blame some so-called Igbo stakeholders in PDP that stood there and watched him making such a caricature statement against Ndigbo.
“Ndigbo have waited for more than 57 years to have a position of the number one citizen of this country. No person from South East has become the president of this country. So when you ask our people to wait, it is an insult to us.
”So the South East is politically marginalized and this is part of the things that are fueling the agitation in the old Eastern region. So it’s morally, socially, and justifiably the time for South East to produce the next president of this country. It is non-negotiable, we cannot negotiate it for any reason”, Igboayaka stated.
Also speaking, a socio-political analyst and convener, Ikoro Ndigbo Assembly, Ugochimereze Chinedu Asuzu, cautioned Atiku not to denigrate the Igbo race further, by such an “insulting and patronizing statement, as the presidency is not his to give.”
Asuzu said: “While Atiku is at liberty to say whatever he wants to say because there’s freedom of speech, I’ll only advise that he shouldn’t for any reason whatsoever, denigrate the Igbo race further, by such insulting and patronizing statement. The presidency is not Atiku’s to give to anyone, therefore, giving a promise that obviously is above his actualization is only being unnecessarily mischievous.
“This same patronizing statement we heard before the advent of the present occupier of the office of the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari. It was part of their campaign statements during the period of the campaigns, and it’s been observed in the breach already because the APC ticket has been ceded to a southwesterner already.
“Therefore, it’s becoming increasingly a pattern of a sort that the sensibilities of the Igbos are continually being insulted by politicians of other ethnicities who believe dangling such carrots at the faces of the Igbos will earn them votes.
“We say enough of the insults because the Igbos aren’t second-class citizens or is it that we aren’t aborigines of Nigeria that we’re being placarded in that manner? Will the heavens fall if an Igbo person rules Nigeria, or is there an unwritten or hidden code that forbid the Igbos from becoming president?
“Therefore, all these fire brigades’ promises to the Igbos during campaigns of supporting them next time to be president should stop, because it’s glaring becoming utterly nonsensical and demeaning. We have our people in contention too who are qualified to be president now. So we won’t wait for that beggarly presidency Atiku will give to us, because Nigeria is not his to give to anyone, and he’s not more qualified than our people who already offered themselves for that position which if following logically, morally, ethically and otherwise, it’s the rightful time for a president of Nigeria of Igbo extraction to become a reality, and that is where we stand now.”
I pity Igbos supporting Atiku – Nwodo
Former President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Dr Nnia Nwodo, while contributing, said that he pities any Igbo political elite supporting the presidential candidate of the PDP at a time many Nigerians from other tribes are supporting the candidacy of Mr Peter Obi, an illustrious Igbo son.
According to Nwodo, “Atiku has been there as vice president and has contested for the presidency severally and he thinks we should wait after several times the North has occupied that position. I don’t support that statement by Atiku. I also pity those of them who had earlier supported the struggle for the Igbo presidency and now saying another thing. I don’t know what will be going through their minds.”
Continuing, he wondered why the Igbo political elite would not sacrifice political correctness and party interest on the altar of regional interest.
The former Information Minister said that apart from the fact that Obi hails from the South East that should by equity and justice be allowed to produce the president in 2023, the former Anambra governor towers higher above other presidential contenders.
“All I feel for those Igbo, including my state governor and my brother, Dr Okwesilieze Nwodo, now supporting Atiku to be president after eight years of the presidency of another Fulani man when entire Nigeria is saying that Peter Obi who happens to be Igbo is the best candidate in the race, is a pity. But they are entitled to their opinion.”
Also reacting, the President of Igbo National Council, INC, Chilos Godsent, said the group was sad about Atiku’s statement and viewed it “as a total insult to the Igbo nation.”
He called on the PDP’s presidential candidate “to endeavour to study history as that may help guide his utterances in this electioneering period.”
“Consequent upon the above, the INC, therefore, request Atiku to immediately apologize to the Igbo nation for that reckless and unguided statement or we shall declare a political fatwa on him and the PDP state governors in the Igbo land”, Godsent warned.
Igbos still unhappy with PDP
Adding his voice, the leader of the Coalition of Southeast Youth Leaders, COSEYL, Goodluck Ibem, expressed disappointment over the statement by Atiku especially, at a time when Ndigbo were still unhappy about the outcome of the PDP presidential primary election.
He said, “It is very wrong for Atiku to make such a statement in Enugu when the people of South East are still unhappy with the outcome of the PDP presidential primaries that failed to zone her presidential ticket to South East after many years of unalloyed support to the party.
“Whoever may have advised him to make such statement in Enugu did not advise him rightly. Enugu remains the capital of Ndigbo and it is not complementary for him to have made such a comment there.”
– Vanguard story, apart from headline and intro
Disquiet in PDP over Atiku’s presidency pledge to Wike, South-East, others
Stakeholders in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are worried by alleged offer of the party’s 2027 presidential ticket to certain individuals and the Southeast by the PDP flag bearer in the February 2023 presidential race, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Party chieftains, especially in the Southeast and Southwest, are said to be displeased with the former vice president for allegedly taking it upon himself to decide who will fly the party’s ticket in 2027 in the event that he (Atiku) wins the next polls.
Atiku had reportedly offered to back Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike for the presidency in 2027 when the two of them met on Thursday in the latest efforts to reconcile them after falling out over the presidential candidate’s decision to overlook Wike in his choice of running mate.
The Acting chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Adolphus Wabara, yesterday led a delegation of BoT leaders to meet with the PDP vice presidential candidate, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, in continuation of moves to resolve the crisis between Atiku and Wike.
Only 48 hours before the former vice president’s alleged offer to Wike, he had promised PDP stakeholders in the Southeast during a meeting in Enugu that he would ensure that he was succeeded by a candidate from the zone if he won next year.
He said his love for Ndigbo was so great that in the 2011 and 2019 elections he chose Igbo men as his running mates. Atiku added that he had chosen another Igbo man in Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State as his running mate for the 2023 election.
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“So, why do you say I will not give Igbo a fair chance to lead the country after my tenure as president? I did that in 2019 when I brought Obi and another Obi in 2011. And for 2023, I chose Ifeanyi Okowa, another Igbo man, as my running mate, even when Ohanaeze said no Igbo should contest for presidency under PDP,” he said.
He had implied in June, while rationalising his choice of Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as running mate, that it was informed by his desire to have someone who has what it takes to replace him at the appropriate time.
Atiku had reportedly offered Wike his support to become president if only he (Wike) and his supporters could work with him to win the coming election.
Wike currently enjoys the support of five of the 12 state governors elected on the platform of PDP, leaving Atiku with seven as the crisis rocking the party festers.
Although Wike, according to sources, prefers to have the PDP presidential candidate show commitments to the need to have some changes made in the leadership structure of the party before the 2023 general elections, the decision of the PDP flag bearer to offer Wike support in 2027 has angered many chieftains of the party, especially in the southern part of the country.
A former national vice chairman of the party, who craved anonymity, said: “This is not the time to start talking about who will succeed Atiku. It is a distraction that is worse than whatever Wike and his people have been doing before.”
Some PDP members in the Southwest who are miffed by the alleged offer to Wike perceive it as a threat to party cohesion.
A group in the party – PDP Volunteers Forum – declared yesterday that while “it is a good thing for Atiku to offer to do just one term as president and leave office in 2027, to openly concede the right of succession to Wike is not a good move at a time like this.”
“If not properly managed, the resultant anger from other zones of the southern region will harm our chances in the presidential election,” the group said in a statement by its convener, Comrade Gerald Arikawe, and Secretary, Comrade Ilemobade Oke.
The Nation also gathered that associates of the Rivers State governor are not particularly excited by the Atiku offer and have advised Wike against taking it seriously.
To them, the former Vice President may just be buying time with the offer in his desperation to secure Wike’s support for his ambition to win the 2023 presidential election.
A source in Wike’s camp said: “It is true that Atiku came to beg Wike again. He wanted Wike to urge his group to join the PDP campaign train. He threw up the card of supporting Wike in 2027.
“By this, Atiku is agreeing to do only one term if elected and leave office for Wike to succeed him. The same Atiku who has several times denied promising to do a single term of four years in office before now? Why the sudden change of mind? Is he not the same man who promised that Ndigbo would produce his successor?
“He has also being assuring the Southwest of the same thing. We have told Wike to beware of Atiku and his Greek gift. We are very sure this is a ploy to get our support and renege on all the promises after the presidential election.”
We’re still discussing peace with aggrieved PDP members, says Atiku
Atiku himself said yesterday that peace talks are continuing in the PDP to resolve the disputes with aggrieved members.
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“We have realised that we made mistakes and we are working to correct those mistakes, and we believe that Nigerians have trust in us,” he said in Gombe during the opening of a campaign office donated to him by a leader of the party in the state, Alhaji Jamilu Isiyaku Gwamna.
He said once the crisis was resolved, the party would have no problem winning the 2023 election.
Wabara, BoT leaders parley Okowa, Wike’s loyalists
The Acting chairman of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Senator Adolphus Wabara, yesterday led a delegation of the board to meet with the PDP vice presidential candidate, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa.
The meeting, which took place at Okowa’s Abuja residence, also had Chief Shuaibu Oyedokun, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Tanimu Turaki, Mrs. Inna Ciroma and former Kogi State governor, Ibrahim Idris, on the entourage.
Wabara, who spoke with newsmen shortly after the parley, said the meeting was part of the moves being made to resolve the party’s festering leadership crisis.
Wabara said: “We came as a special reconciliation committee of the Board of Trustees to visit our vice presidential candidate, Governor Okowa on the ongoing crisis, and also to proffer solutions to those issues.
“We were properly briefed by His Excellency the vice presidential candidate on these issues.
“The committee is enlightened now on the issues and we are moving forward. Like I said the last time, we have been going around and we met most of the governors.
“In the coming days, we will also meet with the principal, the presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar. From there, we will proceed to meet with Governor Wike.”
Wabara said the BoT team had held a similar meeting with four other governors in the camp of the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike earlier.
He listed the governors to include Samuel Ortom (Benue), Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia).
Wabara also hinted that the team had also met with the Adamawa State Governor, Ahmadu Fintiri, who is an Atiku loyalist.
The BoT chairman however said his team had not been able to meet with Governor Wike.
Wabara said the team of BoT leaders had what it takes to resolve the crisis, expressing optimism that the issues would be resolved sooner than expected.
Okowa, who also confirmed the meeting in a statement, said the PDP leaders have never relented in their efforts to resolve the crisis.
Okowa said: “We are talking amongst ourselves as governors realising that there are several leaders within our party from across the country. We have been talking with ourselves.
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“I believe that there is still a little work to be done, but a lot has been done. We are largely reconciled. There are still issues to be dealt with. That’s why you see some of the leaders of the party here today.
“We have had very useful discussions on what they could do and what we ought to continue to do as a party. But because the PDP is a very large party, we understand that yet there is some level of disagreement. But we will continue to stay in touch with ourselves to resolve the issues.
“Last Tuesday, on the 27th, we were in the Southeast. Our brother, the governor of Enugu State, hosted us very well. That’s a very positive step forward. We had very useful interactions with all our leaders in the Southeast and I think that is a great plus for us as a party.
“And I believe too that you are aware that we were in the Southwest where we were very well received by Governor Seyi Makinde and the stakeholders of the party.
“The few issues are still left on the table. I am sure we will come to discuss it and in the next few days, we are convinced that we will be largely reconciled.”
Okowa said he was sure that Governor Wike and the four other aggrieved governors in his camp would still work for the PDP in the 2023 elections.
He said: “They are not going to destroy their home. So, we will allow it together. I do believe that we will continue to talk with ourselves and resolve the little issues that are left.
“Where we are at the moment is quite a difficult situation for this country. The country has never been as divided as this. The level of insecurity has not been this bad.
“Our economy is worse hit we have never gone this bad. When you look at the issues of education, look at the state of affairs in the various states there are obvious issues. Atiku is the only one who is best positioned to truly deal with the issues of Nigeria at the moment.
“We don’t want those who are going to come to the office to learn on the job, because we are in a critical position. So we need a man who has the experience who also has the level of humility and calmness, who is detribalised and ready to keep Nigeria together.
“Because until we understand that we need to trust ourselves and work together as a nation, whether you are a Christian or Muslim, until we get to that level of understanding, we may not be able to take Nigeria out of where it is at the moment.
“I believe that Atiku Abubakar is the answer to Nigeria. He has committed himself very clearly in his document to Nigeria, ‘My Covenant with Nigerians’. Others are still thinking of what they are going to do. They have not been able to commit themselves so that we can truly see of a truth if they have a pathway to solving the problems of Nigeria.
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“Atiku is the man that is prepared for the job. He’s not going to learn on the job and he is one man that is acceptable across the six geo-political zones of this nation. There is no other person that has the kind of credentials that he has.
“Atiku is the right person, Nigerians should think deeply and let us be guided that we need to work collectively to take Nigeria out of the decay that we have found ourselves.
“It is important that Nigerians work and support the PDP to deliver the Nigeria of our choice as we move into the future.”
Ortom won’t work against PDP interest, says Atiku campaign chieftain
A Benue PDP chieftain, Chille Igbawua, is optimistic that Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom would not work against the interest of the PDP in the 2023 general elections regardless of his absence at the inauguration of the party’s presidential campaign.
Igbawua, who is a member of the Atiku/Okowa presidential campaign, said in Abuja that Ortom would work for the success of the PDP in all state and federal elections, including the presidential election.
He said since Ortom himself is a PDP candidate for the Benue North West senatorial district in the 2023 election, working against the PDP would affect his own electoral fortune also.
The PDP chief recalled that Governor Ortom has consistently declared his acceptance of Atiku as the presidential candidate.
Igbawua appealed to PDP stakeholders in Benue not to misconstrue the governor’s criticism of the party leadership to mean a rejection of Atiku as presidential candidate.
He said: “Governor Ortom’s recent utterances may be misconstrued, but he is fighting for greater peace in the party.
“From my constant interactions with him, both at personal and political group levels, I am confident that Benue will deliver at all levels, including the Presidency.
“Perhaps I should say that we have the National Chairman, a former Senate President in the person of Chief David Mark.
“We also have three serving PDP senators, including Gabriel Suswam and a host of other stalwarts. There is no cause for alarm regarding PDP victory in Benue state.”
Fani-Kayode: PDP leaders under probe over shared money
Former Aviation Minister Femi Fani-Kayode said yesterday that a criminal investigation had begun into what he called funds misappropriation in the PDP.
Fani-Kayode, an APC member, said on Twitter that beneficiaries of the shared funds who have not retuned theirs should do so immediately.
He accused PDP’s officials and leadership of sharing money among themselves like ‘Father Christmas’.
“Never have we seen party officials sharing money amongst one another like Father Christmas as the leadership of the PDP has just done,” he said.
“I advise those on their NWC that have not done so already to return the money they collected, because a criminal investigation has already begun.”
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