Fresh controversy has erupted in the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, following the purported endorsement of a former Nigerian Ambassador, Prof. George Obiozor, as its next President-General.
The Nnia Nwodo-led executive in collaboration with Chairman of Ohanaeze Elders Council, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, allegedly hatched the plot in Owerri, Imo State last week.
Following the development, the planned swearing in of members of the electoral committee for the January 2021 elections, nominated recently by the Nwodo-led executive billed for Friday last week was postponed.
This is to enable the Ime-Obi meeting of Ohanaeze Ndigbo to meet on December 6, 2020 to resolve some lingering issues associated with the elections among others.
The Guardian learnt that some persons under the platform of “Imo Stakeholders” had in a meeting convened by Iwuanyanwu in Owerri, endorsed Obiozor as Imo State consensus candidate for the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
In line with the rotational arrangement of the organisation, Imo State should produce the next President-General from January 11, next year, when Enugu State’s tenure now occupied by Nwodo would elapse.
However, Obiozor’s alleged endorsement, which was widely reported in some national dailies, did not go down well with some Igbo groups, describing the move as not only unconstitutional, but also a ploy to foist governors’ control on the socio-cultural body.
The Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC) also described the meeting as illegal and unconstitutional, stressing that in the history of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the contest for the office had never been narrowed down to the decision of a few stakeholders.
National President of OYC, Igboayaka O. Igboayaka in a statement cautioned the incumbent leadership against taking the Igbo people for granted, insisting that Obiozor had never attended the group’s meetings or participated in its affairs.
It alleged that the move was being calculated to stop Dr. Joe Nworgu, Prof. Chidi Osuagwu and Goddy Uwazuruike’s candidature and pave way for Prof. Obiozor’s smooth emergence as President-General.
While condemning the controversies generated by the development, a former Vice President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Chris Asoluka, insisted that there were no candidates yet until the Ime-Obi, the highest decision making organ, approved an electoral committee and election guidelines.
When reminded that the Imo Stakeholders had endorsed a candidate, he argued that any group of individuals was free to endorse anyone, stressing: “It is only their preference, which neither binds the electoral committee nor determines the eligibility of contestants for the position.
He cited article 11 (b) of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo constitution, which stipulated that “the President-General shall be elected by the National General Assembly from the state whose turn it is to fill the office, provided there are at least three candidates.”
But the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, in a statement issued by Nwodo, distanced itself from the plot to foist a candidate on the organisation, insisting that it was the responsibility of the state to nominate persons for the office.