The apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has expressed regrets the support it gave to the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, in the 2019 general elections. The group identified such support as the cause of the current travails being faced by Igbos.
The National Publicity Secretary of the group, Dr. Alex Ogbonnia, in a statement denying a social media video clip making the rounds, claiming that the group demanded payments from one Comrade Kennedy Iyere as a condition to support a Nigerian Presidential candidate from the South East, dismissed the claim as the most “fallacious, mendacious and callous of all the falsehoods aimed at tarnishing the image of the Igbo as the Judas category that values money more than human conscience.
Dr. Ogbonnia said that the Ohanaeze Ndigbo took the advocacy for a president from the South East of Nigeria to all parts of Nigeria, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Muhammadu Sa’adu Abubakar III; Chief E K Clarke, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the British High Commission and so many other places.
He said that the delegations comprised the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Ambassador Professor George Obiozor; the former President General, Chief Nnia Nwodo, former President General, Chief Gary Igariweh, the Secretary General, Ambassador Okey Emuchay; National Publicity Secretary, Dr. Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia.
Others included Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, HRH Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, Professor Anya O Anya, Chief Simon Okeke, Professor Charles Nwekeaku, among others.
He insisted that the next president should be of South East extraction, saying that he wrote to Atiku to remind him that their support for him in 2019 was the cause of the current travails of the Igbos.
“I also wrote Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, reminding him that the current Igbo travails are as a result of our support to his candidacy in 2019.
“A simple search on the internet will reveal that Ohanaeze had made numerous press releases urging Nigerians and the international community to lend support to the quest by the South East for presidency.
“Several other Igbo activists and interest groups such as Nzuko Umunna led by Senator Chris Anyanwu, Arc Ferdinand Agu, etc were also at the forefront in the advocacy.
“On December 13, 2021, I personally addressed an Open Letter to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, reminding him that it is the turn of the South East to produce a president for Nigeria and urging him not to contest the 2023 presidency on the grounds of equity, justice and fairness.
“The Ohanaeze Ndigbo further propagated the advocacy to the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders (SMBLF) led by Chief E K Clarke, and Chief Nnia Nwodo as the Coordinator General. Other leaders of the SMBLF include Chief Ayo Adebanjo, the Leader of the Afenifere; Dr Pogu Bitrus, Leader, Middle Belt Forum, among others. Our gratitude goes to the SMBLF for their irrevocable position to support an Igbo of the South East for presidency in 2023. Similarly, we thank Chief Olusegun Obasanjo for receiving us in his Abeokuta residence about three times.
“I am inwardly delighted that the unwavering position of Ohanaeze Ndigbo has gained a global momentum and unprecedented volcanic eruptions of human passions across the country. Above all, the Ohanaeze message has found expression, resonance and traction in the irrepressible power that is inherent in the Nigerian masses.
“In the social media clip making the rounds, orchestrated by one Comrade Kennedy Iyere, he alleged that the Ohanaeze Ndigbo led by Chief Nnia Nwodo demanded payments from him to attend a meeting at Awka for a Nigerian president from the South East.
“The truth of the matter: In October 2020, Chief Damian Okeke Ogene, former President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Anambra State chapter was contacted by Chief Iyere to invite the seven state presidents from the seven Ohanaeze states.”
Ogene explained to Iyere that members would be coming to Awka from distant places such as Port Harcourt, Owerri, Aba, Ebonyi and that it would not be possible for them to go back to their locations on thes same day. Iyere promised to secure hotel accommodation for the seven persons, and that he would also pay for their transport costs.
“At the meeting in one hotel at Awka, Iyere was seated with White men and he highlighted the unbearable injustice to the Igbo by the past Nigerian leaders and the equity in a South Easterner to become the president of Nigeria come 2023.
“Paradoxically, we were very delighted and also curious that a non-Igbo and White men were championing an Igbo cause. At the end of the meeting, he pleaded with us to manage seventy thousand naira (N70, 000.00); that is, ten thousand naira each, as transport costs.
“Some of us refused the money while some others reasoned that it could be misinterpreted if we rejected the N10,000 each. I am rather shocked by the depravity and a kindergarten shenanigan with which Iyere painted his encounter with the Ohanaeze Ndigbo; that Ohanaeze Ndigbo demanded payment from him in order to support an Igbo for presidency.”