Ohaneze, at Kano blast scene, backs amnesty for Boko Haram
By HENRY UMORU
Igbo prominent group, Ohaneze Ndi- Igbo, has thrown its weight behind the proposed amnesty for Islamist group, Boko Haram, by President Goodluck Jonathan.
Speaking when he led a delegation of Igbo leaders and lawmakers on a visit to the scene of the recent bomb blast in Sabon-gari, Kano as well as to the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero, President General of Ohaneze Ndi-Igbo, Chief Nnachi Gary Igariwey, hailed the Federal Government for setting up a committee that will, among others, look into the feasibility of granting amnesty to members of Boko Haram.
‘’I express total support for the renewed efforts by the Federal Government to put an end to the challenges of security in the country including the amnesty deal for Boko Haram,‘’ he said.
The President General, who took strong messages of peace, tolerance and harmonious co-existence for a united and indivisible Nigeria to Kano, described the suicide bomb attack at a luxurious bus park in Kano as an attempt to cause disunity among the people of the country.
On the visits were the Chairman of South East Traditional Council, Eze Ilomuanya; and Chairman, Senate Committee on Aviation, Senator Hope Uzodinma, PDP, Imo West representing the South East Members of the National Assembly.
Meanwhile, leaders of Orlu Zone in Imo State under the aegis, Orlu Stakeholders Forum, have passed a vote of confidence on Uzodinma, just as the senator urged the people of the senatorial district to put their acts together, speak in unison if they must attract Federal Government presence.
Uzodinma noted that the people of Orlu had been without any clear direction and clear leadership.
Speaking further, Igariwey, who urged the Igbo community in Kano and other parts of the country to cultivate and sustain the spirit of mutual respect, understanding, trust and love with their host communities, insisted on the indivisibility of Nigeria.
At the palace of Bayero to sympathise with him over the attack on his convoy, the team encouraged him to remain steadfast in his efforts to solidifying the pillars of unity across the ancient city and Nigeria at large.
The emir, however, commended the Igbo leaders for demonstrating high sense of responsibility and patriotism, even as he assured them that peace will return to Kano.
Source: Vanguard, 14th April 2013.
Looming Ohanaeze crisis:
How the election committee disagreed
From CHIDI NNADI, Enugu
With the caliber of the Igbo leaders who attended the January 12 Ohanaeze Ndigbo national election in Enugu, many believed that Ndigbo had spoken in one voice in the election of new executives for the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation.
The January 12 election was a roll call of who is who in Igbo land; from former President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof Joe Irukwu; former Anambra Governor, Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife; Senator Uche Chukwumerije; Chairman of the South-east council of traditional rulers, Eze Cletus Ilomuanya;
Rear Admiral Allison Madueke; former Health Minister, Prof A.B.C. Nwosu; Elder Bob Ogbuagu; former Ohanaeze President-General, Eze Ozobu; former Secretary General, Joe Achuzie; Prof Anya O. Anya; Leader of the MASSOB, Ralph Uwazurike; Amb. Eddy Onuoha, among others. But no sooner than the newly elected officers were inaugurated by Justice Ozobu as former president general than his nephew, Prince Richard Ozobu, who served as the secretary to the electoral committee called the January 12 a sham, saying he was going ahead with a fresh election scheduled to hold tomorrow in Ebonyi State.
Richard Ozobu is being followed by some aggrieved members of Ohanaeze like Chief Emma Okocha from Delta State who claimed they were not given nomination forms in his state. But a member of the electoral committee who served with Richard Ozobu told Daily Sun that the national election has been concluded with Chief Gary Nachi Igariwey from Ebonyi State emerging President General and Dr Joe Nworgu from Imo State, beating five other contestants from the state to emerge as secretary general.
Nze Nkama also revealed that out of the 16-member Ohanaeze electoral committee that conducted the January 12 election, only Richard Ozobu declined to participate. Also Chief N. A. Anakwenze, chairman of the Igbo World Assembly who led the Diaspora people to participate in the January 12 election said it was free and fair. But Daily Sun gathered that a fresh election is scheduled to hold tomorrow in Ebonyi State which is likely to produce Amb Aja Nwachukwu or Emmanuel Agboti as parallel president general to Igariwey as confirmed by Richard Ozobu.
Daily Sun brings you excerpts from interviews with the election committee members, the new secretary general, the leader of the Diaspora and Okocha on how the Ohanaeze got to this cross-roads:
Source: Sun, 18th January 2013.
Confusion as Ohanaeze Elects New President
By: Sam Egburonu and Chris Oji, Enugu
Faction alleges manipulation of election by PDP
There was confusion yesterday in Enugu as Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, elected its new national executive, with Nnachi Enwo-Igariwey from Ebonyi State, emerging as the President-General. He was returned unopposed as the other two contestants for the position were not available.
But while the election was going on in Enugu, there were reports that traditional rulers of certain stakeholder states like Ebonyi, Imo and Delta and some other leaders rejected the exercise, alleging that it was manipulated by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the out-going President-General, Ambassador Ralph Uwechue.
Although proceedings at the venue of the election appeared peaceful, signs of disagreement were first noticed shortly after the commencement of the voting, when some prominent leaders and elders of Ohanaeze present at the election, left the venue rather abruptly. Among the leaders that left long before the end of the election were Senator Uche Chukwumerije and Professor A. B. C. Nwosu, who were alleged to have left in anger, and to have proceeded to another meeting on the affairs of Ohanaeze.
A source at the venue of the event, who is one of the contestants for a national position, told The Nation in a telephone chat yesterday that the elders actually walked out of the venue because they were not satisfied with the way the out-going executive handled the election.
But in a telephone chat last night, Nwosu said: “I didn’t walk out. I left the venue because I had some other function to attend.” Asked if he was satisfied with the Ohanaeze election, he said, “I am not in a position to answer that question now. But all I can say is that the elders of Ohanaeze will certainly hold a post election meeting with the aim of ensuring that there is no rancour in Ohanaeze, ensuring that the governors, the traditional rulers and Ohanaeze work together harmoniously.”
Emma Okocha, who was contesting for the position of National Publicity Secretary, however, told The Nation yesterday that the election was in bad faith and cannot stand. He corroborated the allegation that the election was manipulated by the out-going leadership and the PDP. Okocha alleged that the PDP took over the election, flooding the election venue with policemen armed to the teeth.
He contended that the election was “illegal, one, because of the court injunction restraining Uwechue from holding such election and, two, because the Ime Obi, the highest organ of Ohanaeze, had earlier put the election date for January 17. It is therefore curious that Uwechue suddenly rescheduled it for the 12th without adequate information and approval. We are hereby rejecting this election and will hold the real election on 17th, the real date”
But when The Nation called Uwechue’s number yesterday, an aide, who refused to give his name, he was still at the centre of the election. He, however, denied that Ime Obi slated the election for 17th, alleging that it was slated for between 12th and 17th.
Investigation by The Nation, however, shows that some traditional rulers from Imo, Ebonyi, Delta states and others were not aware of yesterday’s election and may soon send their petitions, as most of them are alleged to have sworn to adhere only to Ime Obi’s timetable.
Also, when contacted on telephone yesterday, it was obvious from his responses that the former President-General of Ohanaeze, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, was not aware the election actually. After confirming from our reporter that the election actually held and after making enquiries over the results, he declined giving his reactions. He said simply, “Please, I will need to study the whole thing before commenting.”
In spite of the confusion, however, it is on record officially that a new executive of Ohanaeze Ndigbo emerged yesterday with Enwo-Igariwey, elected President-General.
The position of secretary general was won by Dr. Joe Nworgu, who defeated two others with 211 votes to their 43 and 10.
Elected also were O. A. U. Onyema from Enugu State as deputy president general; I. N. Wonwu from Rivers State as the deputy secretary general; Mrs. Selina Adibua from Enugu, financial secretary and Emma Ajoku vice president, Rivers State.
In attendance were Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife; former chairmen of Ohanaeze, Igwe Eze Ozobu; and Prof. Joe Irukwu, MASSOB leader, Ralph Uwazuruike; and former military governor of Imo state, Joe Aneke.
Also in attendance were representatives affiliates of Ohanaeze Ndigbo such as Aka Ikenga, Igbo World Assembly, Igbos in the North and South West and Igbos the Diaspora.
The chairman of South East traditional rulers council, Eze Cletus Ilomuanya and other traditional rulers were similarly in attendance.
Meanwhile, MASSOB leader, Ralph Uwazuruike, yesterday endorsed the election of new executives for the Ohanaeze Ndigbo. He said he was optimistic that the incoming executive would improve on the achievements of their predecessors.
Source: The Nation, 13th January 2013.
Igariwey now Ohanaeze leader
.Nworgu emerges Secretary General
From CHIDI NNADI and PETRUS OBI, Enugu
The Igbo apex socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, yesterday in Enugu elected new national officers with Chief Nachi Gary Igariwey emerging its new President General. Chief Igariwey will be taking over from the immediate past President General, Amb. Raph Uwechue, whose tenure expired last November.
Igariwey’s brother and sole opponent in the election, Chief Aja Nwachukwu, did not show up for the election held at the Enugu Ohanaeze Ndigbo Secretariat. Dr Chris Asoluka, chairman of election transition committee of the group, who acted as returning officer, therefore, declared Igariwey unopposed and duly elected as President-General, while Dr Joe Nworgu polled 211 votes to beat Mr. Peter Orji, who scored 43 votes, to the second position for the post of Secretary General.
Also, Engr I.N. Nwonwu was returned unopposed as Deputy Secretary General, while Emmanuel Ajoku was declared National Vice President, Rivers State. Mr C.J. Ihemedu was also declared unopposed for the post of National Deputy Legal Adviser, just as Mrs Celina Adibua emerged the new National Financial Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
Source: Sun, 13th January 2013.
Ohaneze Meets Jonathan Over Aba Power Project, Others
BY MUHAMMAD BELLO
The socio-cultural organisation of the people of the South-east geopolitical zone, Ohaneze Ndigbo, has asked the Federal Government to wade into the stalling of the Aba power project in order to fast track its completion and ensure that the people of the region benefit from it.
President of the association, Prof. Anya O. Anya, who led members of the group to meet with President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday, told journalists that the thrust of their meeting was the Aba power project and other developmental matters.
These according to him, include roads construction and rehabilitation and upgrading of the railway networks linking the South with the northern part of the country.
Last year, before his exit, the former Minister of Power, Prof. Bart Nnaji, had pledged that the Aba 140 megawatts (MW) independent power project (IPP) being constructed by Geometric Power Systems Limited, would soon commence operation.
He also stated that the company was planning expansion of the project by additional 48mw by 2013, adding that this would be extended to 688mw by 2014 or early of 2015.
The late President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua performed the foundation laying ceremony of the project in November 2007 at Osisioma in Aba, Abia State.
Geometric Power Limited had clinched the contract to construct a model power plant in Aba in May 2006, but since then, the project is yet to materialise.
Although Anya did not disclose what his group thought stalled the project, he stated that their fear is that it may not be completed as a result of the alteration of the terms of contract.
Explaining that the president has assured them that the terms of contract will not be breached, Anya said: "We wanted to be sure that there is no modification to the issue of the Aba Power Project in terms of the agreements reached and changed to destabilise the company and investors because that project is ready in the next three months to be finished," he said.
He added that: "So, when you start tempering with a project that is being finished, you are saying that perhaps in the next three years nothing will happen. And we don't want that to happen. Not in the area of power. And Mr. President has assured us. And he anticipated us before we came and had a thorough study of everything that we were going to raise. The Attorney General was there. The DG BPP was there and all those who had a role to play were there. We are quite satisfied."
He commended the president for his giant strides in developing the nation saying: "If Nigerians got to know that the responsiveness of Mr. President is like this, may be people will recognise that perhaps a lot more is being done, because I must confess that most of the things we were told were ongoing, we didn't know were there. So, there is a need to be a lot more flow of information between we the governed and those who govern us."
Source: This Day, 12th January 2013.
OHANEZE CRISIS AND THE AUCTIONING OF IGBO PRESIDENCY (Part1)
By Obinna Akukwe
12th October 2012
Ohaneze Ndigbo the apex Igbo Social, cultural and political rallying point is enmeshed in crisis over allegations that some of the leaders have auctioned the Igbo presidency 2015 project due to presidential largesse estimated to run into billions of naira. This amount includes various sums allegedly released by the presidency for the purpose of settling Ohaneze chieftains in support of 2011 presidential bid and the second tranche released in appreciation for the role Ohaneze played in garnering Igbo votes for president Goodluck . There is wide belief among the protesting Ohaneze chieftains known as the transparency group that other sums, contracts and appointments are being obtained secretly to auction and scuttle any attempt by the Igbo people to present a common front for 2015.
Presently, Ohaneze President General, Ambassador Ralph Uwechue is at loggerheads with the Secretary General, Chief Nduka Eya and Deputy President General, Chief Nnachi Enwo Igaliwey , Chief Chukwuemeka Onyesoh among others. Uwechue and his loyalists including Chief Joe Nworgu, Chairman of Igbo Day Organizing Committee among others are insisting that no such largesse was ever received from President Jonathan. This crisis have become so protracted that Ambassador Uwechue runs the Ohaneze Secretariat from his African House Residence in Asaba and has not visited the secretariat more than thrice in 2012.
Chief Nduka Eya has been insisting that transparency must be the watchword in Ohaneze Ndigbo financial dealings to avoid a situation where Igbo interests are sabotaged. He insists that whatever largesse from anybody, group, forum and even the presidency must as a matter of policy be tabled before the Ime-Obi Ohaneze so that the forum would decide whether to accept the gift or not, and on what condition. Chief Igaliwey claimed that he rejected his own share of Ohaneze national cake of N20 million naira which was an attempt to bribe him. He claims that since he rejected and exposed the dealings, his life is being threatened from unknown sources including sources claiming to come from within the presidency. Therefore, the man lives a life of hiding for safety purposes.
The accusations and counter- accusations which started as unsubstantiated reports have now grown to the point that the documented evidences are volumes and the chieftains are threatening to expose the entire dealings if the leadership fails to confess and ask for forgiveness. Since the once secret affair blew open, a lot of Igbo youth organizations and opinion leaders have been going on pilgrimage to Asaba to know whether they can collect their own share from the Ohaneze leader and reports have it that some of these groups did not go home empty handed.. Chief Rochas Okorocha called a meeting at Government House, Owerri in early September 2012 to settle the rift but the two parties stuck to their guns. Three days later he paid an unscheduled visit to Ohaneze Headquarters but met a disillusioned workforce.
Chief Nduka Eya , Chief Igaliwe and Chief Emeka Onyeso are leading the group which insists that Ohaneze Ndigbo is not a one man show and that Ambassador Uwechue must consult widely before any critical decision. They posited that neither the exco meeting nor the Ime Obi meeting has been called in the past twelve months. When the new National Security Adviser , Sambo scheduled to talk with Igbo leaders on the state of the nation at the Ohaneze Headquarters on the 13th of July 2012,, they accused Uwechue of scuttling the meeting because of personal differences with Senator Chukwumerije.
They pointed out that Uwechue set up a personal outfit, the Ohaneze Foundation, which he allegedly used to collect billions of naira from the Goodluck Jonathan team under the guise of Igbo interest with the assistance of a presidential aide, Mr Akachukwu Nwankpa. This Ohaneze Foundation as part of its business venture is a transport outfit known as Ikenga Express with a fleet of about 30 buses. They insisted that Uwechue has been hijacked by the presidential aide and both of them are doing business with the name of Ohaneze and deceiving Jonathan. They claimed that he has cancelled the monthly Ime Obi meeting and Executive Council meeting, which has not held more than four times since the inception of his tenure in 2008.
The Uwechue group insists that the Ohaneze leader have been running the secretariat from his personal finances since he came on board as the leader ,including payment of secretariat staff salary without any help from the disgruntled group, therefore they should hold their peace. They also insisted that there was no such business transaction and that Uwechue have used personal finances to support Ohaneze since the South East Governors failed to support the body financially. They also believe that Uwechue have not betrayed any Igbo interest if he collected some money to run Ohaneze when other ethnic nationalities were collecting theirs.
Various traditional rulers and elder statesmen in Igboland have tried to mediate on this crisis since the past eleven months to be able to forge a common front to present Igbo interests but the two groups have stuck to their grounds. This crisis almost took the shine off the 2012 Igbo day celebrations held at Asaba, Delta State. Many Ohaneze Chieftains boycotted the Igbo Day celebration at Asaba, Delta State in September 2012. However Governor Peter Obi graced the occasion while Governor Rochas Okorocha came after the end of the event.
It is obvious that other ethnic nationalities are repositioning themselves for 2015 while Ohaneze Ndigbo is bickering over presidential largesse which informed sources said was also extended to leaders of other ethnic nationalities, including the O’dua People’s Congress(OPC), Arewa Consultative Forum(ACF), South South Peoples Assembly (SSPA), Middle Belt Forum, among others before, during and after the presidential elections.. The sharing of this national cake has not brought any conflict within other nationalities. They have swallowed their share and cleaned their mouth.
The other ethnic nationalities are repositioning their people in preparation for 2015. The Buhari- Tinubu alliance is a strong South West agenda to recapture power after the turn of the north. The Middle Belt Forum (MBF) is looking seriously in the direction of Senate President David Mark. The Core North in the ruling party,PDP, still has Vice President Sambo as a joker if Boko Haram succeeds in frightening President Jonathan into the creeks. Former Vice President Atiku is still breathing around the corner and incumbent president Jonathan is being prepared by his South South and Ijaw people to recontest in 2015. It is only the Ohaneze that is still at the level of speech making while others nationalities are strategizing ahead of 2015.
The situation in Ohaneze, if not checkmated will greatly imperil Igbo Presidency project 2015. The two elephants are fighting and the grasses, the hardworking Igbos are being massacred by Boko Haramists and other enemies at the slightest provocation. Their means of livelihood is being destroyed with nobody to help them. The state of infrastructural decay in Igbo land is monumental and is seems the war is not yet over.
A cross section of Igbo leaders including Dr Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu, Dr Dozie Ikedife, Col Joe Achuzia, Chief Charles Okereke among others have canvassed support for Igbo presidency severally with the mindset that the apez Igbo body is working assidously towards it. The optimism may be misplaced because this crisis have taken the front burner and the task of repositioning Ndigbo has been limited to fine speeches and rhetorics without any serious strategizing
Ohaneze cannot continue to chase rat while the house is on fire. They should settle this rift urgently and not allow this distraction from sabotaging the uphill task of reaching out to other nationalities ahead of 2015 or risk being appropriately labelled turncoats who have auctioned Igbo their people for a bowl of presidential porridge.
Anambra Oil: Ohanaeze Media Forum Cautions Against Violence
BY ONYEDIKA AGBEDO
As Monarch Insists President Was Right
AS debates and distractions continue to mount over the declaration of Anambra as an oil-producing state by President Goodluck Jonathan during a recent visit to the state, the Ohanaeze Media Forum (OMF) has called for caution amongst the several communities interlocked in the argument to avert any act of violence.
Rising from a National Executive Meeting in Lagos yesterday, the Forum noted that great care should be taken to forestall any form of violence as evil-minded politicians may be strategising to cash in on the situation and cause crisis.
Meanwhile, the traditional ruler of Nteje in Oyi Local Council Area of Anambra State, Igwe Roland Odegbu, has said that President Goodluck Jonathan was right in declaring Anambra an oil producing state.
Odegbu, who is also the Chairman of Anambra North Traditional Rulers Council, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Awka that there was no need to create tension over the matter, adding that the President was well informed about boundaries and oil activities in the area before pronouncing Anambra an oil producing state last August.
In a statement signed by its National President, Peter Anosike and Secretary, Ngozi Emedolibe, respectively, the Forum regretted that something that should ordinarily be a thing of joy to the communities and entire country has become a source of conflict.
“It is a sad development that something like oil that should be a source of joy for these communities that have co-existed peacefully for centuries could deteriorate to this war of words being championed by some politicians with evil motives. Some evil-minded politicians have been lending their voices to the issue to unnecessarily heat up the polity in order to perpetrate violence. The people of Aguleri in Anambra State, Ibaji in Kogi State and Uzo Uwani in Enugu State have been relating well in the past and must not allow themselves to be used at this point by evil elements that can go to any extent to achieve their evil purpose by fomenting trouble. Violence will only leave the society, especially the youths who are most vulnerable, worse off,” the statement noted.
The Forum, however, urged dialogue and active involvement of the National Boundary Commission in resolving the seeming imbroglio.
Source: The Guardian, 22nd September 2012.
Uwechue and Murderous Efforts to Kill Ohanaeze Ndigbo
Written by Chukwuemeka I. Onyesoh
07 September 2012
1. Ohanaeze Ndigbo is the apex socio-cultural organisation of Ndigbo world-wide.
2. Ohanaeze Ndigbo by a deliberate decision of its Imeobi is an un-registered non-governmental organisation like other major ethnic NGOs namely Afenifere and Arewa. Its main objects are the promotion and protection of Igbo rights and heritage.
3. In Sept. 2008 Dr. Dozie Ikedife, President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo appointed an eleven-man Election Committee to conduct Ohanaeze national elections since the two-year single tenure of his executive was to expire on 4th Nov. 2008.
4. Sir Onyeso Nwachukwu, 85 year- old, former Chief Whip of the former Eastern House of Assembly (1960-1966) and who lives in Aba, was appointed Chairman and Prince Chukwuemeka I. Onyesoh was appointed Secretary.
5. The 2002 Ohanaeze Constitution zoned the four top positions of President-General & the Deputy, the Secretary-General and Deputy, in a prescribed order in Ohanaeze Constitution, to the the five States of the South-East and the Igbo-speaking areas of Delta and Rivers States. The Constitution had further stipulated the order in which those four positions must be rotated.
6. According to that order, it was the turn of Anioma (Delta State) to produce candidates for the position of President-General for a two-year tenure commencing in Jan.2009.
7. It was difficult to find a candidate from Delta State duly qualified by active participation in Ohanaeze affairs and attendance in meetings & by November 12, 2008 when the situation seemed desperate since failure to get a suitable candidate for the position of President-General from the constitutionally designated are,a would have plunged Ohabaeze into a constitutional crisis, Prof. Pat. Utomi – a political activist from Anioma, was approached by me & he offered to assist in finding a suitable candidate.
8. Prof. Utomi later phoned several days later to inform the Election Committee through the Secretary (me) that Anioma leaders had decided to propose Chief Raph. Uwechue as President- General and that the election committee was being invited to Anioma to supervise Ohanaeze election meeting in the palace of Asagba of Asaba on 22nd Nov. 2008.
9. The committee was aware that the proposed nominee, Chief Uwechue had never attended any Imeobi or General Assembly meeting of Ohanaeze since 2002 and thereforeknew next to nothing about Ohanaeze affairs and was unlikely to be a suitable material for the position he was being nominated for but had no choice since there seemed no alternative. In strict law, the tenure of Dr. Ikedife had expired by 4th Nov. 2008. A lot of hope was therefore put on Chief Uwechue's age, experience & exposure.
10. On 22nd Nov, the Election Committee represented by the chairman, the secretary and Chief A.I. Nwankwo – the representative of Anioma in the Election Committee, attended Anioma election meeting in the palace of Asagba of Asaba and in the meeting, following were nominated as candidates for the position of President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo – Chief Raph Uwechie, Chief Dan Okenyi and Dr. Joshua Enueme. Anioma leaders however made it very clear that their preferred candidate was Chief Uwechue but the other nominees were made to fulfil constitutional requirement of a minimum of three nominees.
11. On 29th Nov. 2008, in a national General Assembly Election Meeting in Women Development Centre in Awka, Chief Uwechue was returned as duly elected President General, the other two contestants having given notice of their withdrawal from the contest a day before the election. All other officers of the national executive committee were elected except for the posts of Secretary General, National Vice-President Enugu State and Assistant National Legal Advisers – three slots zoned to Enugu State over which there were serious disagreement among Enugu delegates. I was the Returning Officer for the election.
12. On Friday 30th Jan 2009, the Election meeting reconvened at the same venue in Awka, and the three outstanding slots belonging to Enugu State, was filled up. Chief Uwechue and all the elected officers were sworn in by Hon. Justice GU Ononiba (retired Chief Judge of Anambra State) assisted by me, as the Returning Officer, for a 2-year tenure.
13. On 31st Nov. 2009, the faction of Enugu Sate Ohanaeze locked up the national secretariat of Ohanaeze, thereby locking out the newly elected executive. From that day on, it became difficult for Chief Uwechie to take off as President General of Ohanaeze.
14. It was after the election swearing-in that the Committee found that Chief Uwechue was still an active member of a political party in violation of Article 11(ii) e of Ohanaeze 2002 Constitution. The odious signs of today’s problems with Chief Uwechue became glaring but it was too late to start another fight so soon after the one against Prof. Irukwu’s tenure elongation imbroglio.
15. In furtherance of the commitment of the Election Committee to stabilise the troubled waters of Ohanaeze polity, the committee again consulted with the immediate past President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo - Dr. Ikedife and it was agreed the committee should do a letter forwarding the Report of and Notes on the 2008 National Elections to the Chairman of the South-East Governor’s Forum, all South-East Governors and the current President General of Ohanaeze and that the letter should be signed by the immediate-past President-General.
16. On 26th Feb. 2009 at the Anambra Elders’ Advisory Council meeting in the banquet hall of Governor’s lodge at Amawbia, Dr. Ikedife signed all the letters listed in 15 above and there and then HE Mr. Peter Obi – the Governor of Anambra State was handed over his own letter and the one for the Chairman of South-East Governors’ Forum, since he is the current chairman. The Administration Secretary of Anambra State Ohanaeze, some days later, delivered the official copies of the said letters to HE’s office and got acknowledgement.
17. On 27th Feb. 2009, a copy of the letter in 16 above, was dispatched to Chief Uwechue through the national Admin. Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo – late Nnanyelugo Annie Odunze. The same day letters to the rest of South-East Governors were dispatched.
19. As soon as the Report & Notes were released, the occupation of Ohanaeze headquarters in Enugu by Enugu State dissidents became an item of daily comments in the social media world-wide and that all commentators apparently blamed Enugu State Governor for not calling the Enugu dissidents to order.
20. The committee was informed by Chief Nduka Eya – the duly elected Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo - otherwise rejected by the dissidents, that on 20th March 2009, the Governor of Enugu State invited him and the leader of the dissidents who locked Ohanaeze out of its headquarters and ordered the dissident leader to hand over the keys of the national secretariat to him as the Secretary General.
21. On Wednesday 25th March 2009, the I was invited and I joined the Secretary General and others, in entering the Ohanaeze national head-quarters for the first time since the lock-out that commenced on 31st Nov. 2008.
22. The Election Committee has course to believe that the release of and publicity given to the Report of & Notes on the 2008 National Elections contributed, immensely to the resolution of the Ohanaeze lock-out crises.
23. Till today, not a word of acknowledgement for the above task came from Chief Uwechue to the Committee.
24. The spirit of the 2002 Ohanaeze Constitution envisages collegiate leadership involving wide-ranging consultations and meetings of Igbo elders, traditional rulers, top former public office holders, youths and women groups from across the seven States of Nigeria in duly constituted statutory meetings before anymajor decision is made on any affair that affects Ndigbo world-wide.
25. In furtherance of that collegiate leadership as articulated in paragraph24 above, article 10 (v) and (vi) vest in Imeobi and the National General Assembly of Ohanaeze, the supreme powers of Ohanaeze.
26. From 1999 till Chief Uwechie became President General of Ohanaeze, Imeobi and National General Assembly of Ohanaeze routinely met monthly - Imeobi first to exhaustively discuss and draft policies/resolutions on issues which are normally subsequently sent up for consideration and ratification by the National General Assembly meetings usually held the day after such Imeobi meetings. To emphasise the brotherhood among Ndigbo, these monthly meetings used to be rotated from one State capital to the other within the five South-East States, Delta and Rivers States of Nigeria.
27. As ssoonas Chief Uwechie assumed office he stopped summoning the monthly meetings of Imeobi and National General Assembly of Ohanaeze and ran Ohanaeze as his personal estate.
28. For the first 20 months of his 24 month’s tenure, he summoned only two Imeobi meetings and no national General Assembly meeting.
29. By not summoning the National General Assembly for 21 of his 24 months tenure, he violated Ohanaeze Constitution in whatever major action he took in the name of Ohanaeze since Article 10(c) of the Constitution, under Powers and Functions of the NationalGeneral assembly vests in the National General Assembly the power “To make and review policies, rules, regulations and programmes” of Ohanaeze being “…the supreme organ of Ohanaeze Ndigbo”.
30. Inspite of his grave mismanagement of Ohanaeze, sometime in Sept 2010 Chief Uwechue started canvassing for extension of his tenure, arguing that since it is the wish of the powers that be in Abuja to work with him, he would be in a better position to get equitable share of Igbo patronages for Ndigbo after the 2011 presidential elections in April. He was admonished by right-thinking & patriotic Ndigbo including me, not to insult the psyche of Igbo elite by mischieviously dragging Abuja into his disastrous failure of leadership of Ohanaeze but leave office by Jan 29, 2011 when his tenure was due to expire.
31. Most otherwise out-spoken Igbo elite, for reasons best known to them, seemed to have swallowed Chief Uwechue’s asinine propaganda since most were unwilling to oppose that morbid bid to extend his tenure beyond constitutional limits.
32. Chief Uwechue only summoned two more Imeobi meetings before the 29th Jan. 2011- the expiry date of his tenure but only for the sole purpose of extending his tenure.
33. In the Imeobi meeting of 30th October 2010 in which members opposed to his agenda were present but fraudulently denied speaking and or listing in attendance (including me), nothing in that meeting happened as to have changed the express provisions of article 11(i) “There shall be a President General of Ohanaeze elected by the General Assembly for a period of two years“. The communiqué issued by Chief Uwechue’s NEC as advertised in the Sun newspaper of Friday Nov. 5, 2008 testifies to this. Prior to this meeting, his agents definitely lobbied Igbo elite in the normal Nigerian fashion. Furthermore, during that meeting, all members who were likely o oppose Chief Uwechue’s sit-tight agenda were denied right to speak despite repeated raising of their hands for recognition.
34. Chief Uwechue summoned only one National General Assembly meeting on 6th Nov. 2010 when his tenure remained barely 3 months for the sole purpose of extending his tenure and brought no proposal to legitimise all his infractions of his 21 months’ in office.
35. Chief Uwechue flooded the 7 Park Avenue, GRA, Enugu Head-wuarters of Ohanaeze & the venue for the said General Assembly Meeting of 6th Nov 2010 with over 90 combat -ready Mobile Police men in over 15 vehicles. Members of the National General Assembly who wished to oppose Chief Uwechue’s illegalities, reign of impunity and arbitrariness, were intimidated into silence or withdrawal from the meeting.
36. Some, like me, stayed put in the National General Assembly meeting of 6th Nov. 2010 only to observe first hand, Chief Uwechue’s high-handedness.
37. No resolution of that National General Assembly meeting of 6th Nov. 2010 could be construed by any stretch of imagination to have met the unambiguous provisions of article 11(i) referred to in 33 above stipulating that the tenure of the President General shall be….for a term of two years. The Communiqué issued by the Chief Uwechue’s NEC on the 6th Nov. 2010 National Assembly, is an unassailable testimony to this assertion.
38. Up to date, 15th August 2012, Chief Uwechue has called no other Imeobi or National General Assembly meeting of Ohanaeze Ndigbo apart from the four Imeobi meetings and one National General assembly meeting referred to above. He has continued to run Ohanaeze arbitrarily as if the organisation is his personal estate. Recently he went to submit a proposal to the Senate Committee on Review of the 1999 Constitution without the knowledge of Imeobi or National General Assembly.
39. As stated in 2 above, Ohanaeze has until Chief Uwechue took over its leadership, wittingly remained an unregistered non-governmental organisation whose main objective is promotion of Igbo interest.
40. Sometime in 2009 Chief Raph Uwechue, conniving with some people in the corridors of power in Abuja, conspired and registered OHANAEZE FOUNDATION without any authorisation, whatsoever from Ohanaeze National General Assembly since the Foundation was registered sometime in 2009 and the only National General Assembly meeting summoned by Chief Uwechue met on 6th Nov. 2010 with the sole purpose of extending his expiring tenure and nothing about the said Foundation was presented to the Assembly for ratification.
41. Chief Uwechue unilaterally made himself chairman of the board of trustees of the said Foundation, with his other unilateral collaborator as Secretary and only other member of the board of trustees of the said foundation without any reference to Imeobi or National General Assembly of Ohanaeze.
42. Not even Imeobi Ohanaeze authorised the registration of this Foundation since the matter was never presented to any Imeobi meeting held within his legitimate tenure.
43. By registering Ohanaeze Foundation as his private trust, Chief Uwechue has appropriated and cornered Igbo commonwealth – the name Ohanaeze - to himself since according to Corporate Affairs Commission rules, as long as the name Ohanaeze Foundation remains in their register, the name Ohanaeze cannot be registered again, should Ohanaeze Ndigbo decide anytime in the future, to register.
44. Chief Uwechue has raised huge sums of money running into over a billion naira, in the name of the said Ohanaeze Foundation & has disbursed same as it pleases him without reference to any Ohanaeze organ. Not even his Nationl Executive Committee!
45. From the fore-going sequence of events, it is obvious that even if Chief Uwechie amended the Ohanaeze Constitution in his lone National General Assembly meeting of 6th Nov. 2010, which he did not, he cannot legally benefit by such amendment, having taken his oath of office for a 2-year tenure on 29th Jan. 2009, since Nigeria's laws forbid retroactive legislation.
46. In summary, Chief Uwechue has committed heinous crimes against the Igbo Nation and owes Ndigbo, where-ever they may be, unreserved apologies.
OkpalaEzeNri Chukwuemeka I. Onyesoh
Ohanaeze Transition Committee,
Secretary, 2002 to 2008.
GAAICOM , OHANEZE AND THE RACE FOR IGBO EMANCIPATION
The quest for the Igbo race to be politically, economically and spiritually emancipated from all the conspiracies and betrayals bedeviling their existence since after the Biafra Genocide led to the formation of General Assembly of all Igbo Christian Organisations and Ministers (GAAICOM). This divine mandate was corroborated and adopted on the 4th of April 2002 by clergy men cutting across all denominations at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium Enugu. GAAICOM comprising clergymen, church workers and leaders cutting across all denominations have been working since 2002 behind the scene towards idolatrous, cultural, social, political and economic emancipation of Igbos.
Presently in Nigeria, Igbos are allowed to fend for themselves. All the estates, businesses and industries that litter Igbo land are mostly due to individual efforts. The Nigerian state finds it expedient to use the intelligence and ingenuity of the Igbo but deny them the much needed federal presence. The activities of Igbo saboteurs who prefer the crumbs from the masters table are another source of self marginalization. The timidity and slavery mentality of Igbo Public Servants when opportune to attract federal projects and attention to Igbo land is another source of concern.
During the build – up to the 2011 presidential elections, GAAICOM decided to throw weight behind the candidacy of a South –South candidate in the person of Goodluck Jonathan with the understanding that after his tenure in 2015, the Igbos will be given the slot. In addition, GAAICOM requested, in a written document, that the constant killings of Igbos be terminated in the North. GAAICOM also demanded that the 2nd Niger Bridge, Onitsha seaport, Enugu – Onitsha Expressway, Enugu – port –Harcourt Expressway, and Enugu – Abakaliki Road be repaired to open up the region for commercial activities. The demand included an international airport in the South East, non – interference in electoral processes in the South East so that Igbos can hold their leaders accountable. The agents of the president agreed to all these and were on the verge of signing a written agreement as a reference point when the idea of involving Ohanaeze was mooted.
In order to avoid the treachery associated with Nigerian political climate, GAAICOM took the documented requests to Ohaneze leadership under Ambassador Ralph Uwechue, who expressed his handicap on the premise that his tenure remained only three months, expiring in July 2010. GAAICOM decided to lobby and pressurize Ohanaeze Chieftains to grant the present leadership tenure extension to enable them complete the assignment of repositioning the Igbos for posterity. The Ohaneze Chieftains grudgingly yielded to the demands of GAAICOM.
Today it is obvious that the South East is yet to benefit much from this administration. Apart from the military high command under an Igbo man, the rest of the agreement is yet to be given attention. Book Haram Jihadists are killing Igbos all over Northern Nigeria and security agencies have not contained the situation. Igbos are out in the cold, wandering like sheep without shepherd.
Igbos cannot rely on the magnanimity of the North, West and South South before taking their rightful place. The progressive element in the North and South - West are creating formidable alliance for 2015. The South South is gearing for a second term; the Middle Belt is agitating for another chance while the Northern Oligarchy is positioning their candidate in the event of President Jonathan being pressurized out of the race using Boko Haram. Where is the place of Ndigbo in all these schemes and maneuvers?
Therefore, the leadership of the GAAICOM took far reaching decisions at the 2-day pre-convention meeting which held at the Ohaneze Ndigbo National Headquarters on the 12th and 13th of July, 2015 aimed at repositioning the Igbos politically, socially and economically. These decisions will be ratified by the Patriach Ecclesia Council meeting scheduled for the 15th of September, 2012. Therefore, all Igbo sons and daughters should stand behind this divinely mandated move under the leadership of Apostle Dr. P.C.J. Macjossy, Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma, Rev.Fr Alphonsus Okoh ,Archbishop Austin Nwodika , Rev Obinna Akukwe , Bishop Obi Onubogu among others to ensure that Igbos spiritually strategize for total emancipation through the proposed "3 Day Walk into the Presence of God" or risk monumental consignment into the political dustbin of Nigeria.
All state coordinators should inform their chapters accordingly ahead of the Patriach Ecclesia Meeting.
Director of Media and Communication, GAAICOM
Ohanaeze urges FG to disband Kano Hisbah
FROM MURTALA MUHAMMED, KANO
PAN-Igbo group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has asked the Federal Government to abolish the Kano State Hisbah Board, which it claimed is already assuming the status of state police in disguise.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo contends that despite the position of the Northern governors over the establishment of state police, non-indigenes are no longer safe in the hands of the government agent in Kano.
In a statement issued at the weekend, President Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Kano State Chapter, Chief Tobias Michael Idika lamented the pains and devastation suffered by many Igbo business moguls whose goods and property worth billions of naira have been confiscated by the Hisbah guards.
“We have pragmatic evidence of the victimization of our people by armed Hisbah guards who were given powers to waylay, arrest, fine and prosecute their victims. In Kano alone, Igbo business men have lost billions of naira on the several attacks by the Hisbah Guards targeted at their lives and business concerns.
“The situation is the same in Minna, Kaduna, Bauchi, Maiduguri, Zamfara and other parts of the North where the Hisbah guards are holding sway. It is also pertinent to note that northern governors fund Hisbah guards with tax payers’ money,” Idika said.
He added: “In as much as Ohanaeze Ndigbo would not want to dabble into the politics of state police, we call on President Goodluck Jonathan and the National Assembly to, as a matter of urgency, enact a law abolishing Hisbah and other militant organisations being sponsored with government funds.”
The Igbo traditional society noted that the further the national debate on state police would amount to needless wastage of productive time and resources and agitating for adequate funding of the existing police force.
“The best thing to do at this critical time of the nation’s history is to overhaul all the security agencies with a view to repositioning them to better wage, meaningful war against terrorism,” he said.
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo equally suggested possible solutions to the current insecurity in the country. “We strongly submit that it will be to the best interest of the country if the Presidency, Inspector General of Police and the Police Service Commission deem it right to post non-Muslim police commissioners to states where the Boko Haram insurgents are reigning supreme so as to do away with the syndrome of compromise. We say this because there have been cases where bad eggs within the security agencies are aiding terrorists to carry out their nefarious activities”.
The group challenged President Goodluck Jonathan to leave up to responsibility in fulfillment of his statutory task of securing lives and property of citizenry.
Source: The Guardian, 3rd September 2012.
Ohanaeze Denies Alleged Pact with Jonathan Over 2015
FROM LAWRENCE NJOKU, ENUGU
Chief Nduka Eya
CONTRARY to speculations that it entered a pact with President Goodluck Jonathan to relinquish power to Ndigbo in 2015 should they vote for him in the 2011 general election, Ohanaeze Ndigbo said yesterday that there was no such agreement.
It said that her quest for a president of Igbo extraction in 2015 was based on the promise by Jonathan that he would rule for four years, explaining that the four years he craved for would elapse in 2015.
Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nduka Eya, in an interview in Enugu, said that the massive support Ohanaeze mobilised from the Igbo people for Jonathan during the 2011 election was based on the belief that the South-South where he hailed from was part of the country and deserved a shot at the highest political office in the land.
He stressed that it was in the spirit of justice, equity and fair play to allow the South-South zone, which had not tested the Presidency to do so, especially when by providence they were nearer to power than any other zone of the country.
He said, “this is the trouble with Ndigbo, they are always speculating on the wrong issue. Ohanaeze didn’t have any agreement with Jonathan. The support of Ndigbo for Jonathan is based on the fact that if we are running a federation and master key should be tested by all concerned. The argument of Ndigbo and for which we supported Jonathan is that we are now working on six geo-political zones and going by the rulership for over 50 years, the South-South which produces the golden egg has not had a test of the number one slot in the country. This man (Jonathan), we didn’t make him, he became a Vice President, his principal died, he acted as the President and the Senate came up with the conditionality of necessity.
Asked what will happen to Ndigbo should Jonathan refused to quit by 2015, he said the Ohanaeze had a way of doing things and would certainly go back and review the situation with a view to taking a stand on it.
He stated that what was obvious now was the fact that nobody could remove from the Igbo people the fact that they worked and was instrumental to the election of President Jonathan, stressing that it could be difficult for him to win an election without the support of the zone.
Source: The Guardian, 31st August 2012.
Prof. Joe Irukwu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and former President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, shares his experiences with 'NONYE BEN-NWANKWO
You are a lawyer, chartered insurer, teacher, author and publisher; which of these professions gives you more joy and satisfaction?
They all give me great joy and a lot of satisfaction.
Why didn't you stick to one?
I don't know. It just happened. I was prompted by my passion and interests. Law was my first profession. When I was in my final year as a law student in England, I developed interest in insurance by going to the library of the Chartered Institute of Insurers. I found out that insurance is not appreciated in Nigeria and in most developing countries in Africa. I also found out that many countries have used insurance to transform their societies. I decided to take an interest in insurance. I had to take the insurance exam and I qualified as a chartered insurer. I came back to Nigeria probably as the first African insurance lawyer. Because the subject was largely misunderstood in Nigeria, I started propagating and teaching it. I taught in The College of Insurance in Liberia. When it was introduced to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaira and University of Lagos, I started teaching in these institutions. Then I developed an interest in insurance law and I started writing books. It was a passion for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I didn't train to be a teacher or writer, but they are a fallout from the passionate interest I had in the subject.
Were you not discouraged by the fact that insurance is not quite appreciated in the country before going ahead to study it?
You are perfectly right in saying that insurance is not as popular in Nigeria as in most of Africa and the rest of the world. There are several reasons for this unfortunate situation. Although the insurance concept has been used by many developed and developing nations to revolutionise their social and economic conditions, this is not the case in Nigeria. Despite our large population and other endowments, we still have a poor national insurance culture to the extent that we have the lowest level of insurance awareness and penetration in Africa and indeed the world. I am certainly disappointed that insurance has yet to achieve a decent level of acceptance in my own country. Most of my established colleagues in the insurance profession share this feeling of disappointment. At present only about 10 per cent of our population have any form of insurance, whereas some developed nations have attained a level in the region of 80 to 95 per cent.
What was your experience as a teacher?
I enjoyed it a lot. I had many students who were slightly more mature than the students we have in the regular colleges. The current president of Sierra Leone was my student. He was one of the most brilliant students we had in the College of Insurance in Liberia. He was a first class student. He was an insurance broker. When he decided to run for the presidency, I gave him my blessings. He came here to see me and I encouraged him. I am happy he is one of the best presidents we have on the continent. I still keep in touch with him. He sees me whenever he comes to Nigeria.
How did you rise to the position of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria?
I was called to the English Bar in 1962 and on my return to Nigeria, I was enrolled as a Solicitor and Advocate of the Supreme Court of Nigeria when Justice Adetokunbo Ademola was the Chief Justice of Nigeria. I specialised in insurance law practice and wrote and published some awards winning books on different aspects of insurance law. These books are being used as reference books on this subject in most institutions in Nigeria, Africa and some other parts of the world. For almost three decades, I was a consultant and resource person to the United Nations' Conference on Trade and Development on insurance related matters. Also, I served other international agencies in these areas. At home in Nigeria and in other parts of Africa, I lectured on insurance law matters in colleges, universities and insurance institutions. As a lawyer, I appeared in the court as counsel in major insurance law matters. About 20 years ago, I became the first Nigerian professor of insurance. In 2003, I was elevated to the status of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria by the appropriate legal authorities. This is a brief summary of how I rose to the status of a SAN.
How did you feel when you were appointed SAN?
The happiest day of my life was the day I was called to the English Bar in 1962. But the next happiest day was when I became a SAN. This is the highest ambition of a lawyer. Every young man who becomes a soldier aspires to be a general. Everyone who becomes a lawyer wants to become a SAN unless he is going to the judiciary where he wants to become a judge. I was very happy.
Something must have motivated you to become a lawyer. What was it?
As a little child, I liked people a lot. My obsession was to get a job that would make me useful to other people. When I was eight years old, I thought the average policeman was the most powerful person who had the authority that he could use for the benefit of his people. So I wanted to be a policeman. But by the time I turned 12, I had abandoned the idea and decided to be a lawyer. I just liked the profession. One day, we came back from the North on holidays and when we were playing around the court in Aba, I saw a group of lawyers. I liked the way they looked and the authority they seemed to exhibit so I decided to become a lawyer. That was how I got fascinated and I have no regret.
Can you recall the first time you appeared before a judge?
I remember vividly. It wasn't actually a judge but a chief magistrate. There was a young man I liked very much. He was a brilliant boy. He knew the rule of law was the order of the day. He was the personal assistant to an English friend of mine who was called George Fox. He was the managing director of an insurance company here in Nigeria in 1963. This young man was charged by the police with stealing postal orders valued at £14. I liked him a lot and I was hired as a counsel to defend him in court at the Igbosere Chief Magistrate's Court. The late Justice Atake was the Chief Magistrate then. That was my first appearance in a criminal matter as a young lawyer. I defended the boy, but, unfortunately, he was found guilty and he was going to be sentenced. For the first time, I broke down. That was the first major case I had appeared in. I couldn't imagine that young boy going to jail. I would never forget that event. I won some civil cases and lost some. But this boy's case was the first criminal case I handed and I lost it. I remember it vividly because of the impact it had on me.
Why did you have to go to England to qualify as a lawyer? Why not in Nigeria?
Yes. In the 1950's when I embarked on my mission to study law in England, there was no university or law school that provided legal studies in Nigeria. At that time, there were only three universities in the whole of West Africa, one each in Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra-Leone. As a result, all the Nigerians that wanted to study law between 1950 and 1960 had to do so in the United Kingdom.
Was it the first time you travelled outside Nigeria?
Not really. Before then, I had gone to Ghana and to Sierra Leone. In fact, I was admitted to Fourah Bay College, which was the only university in Sierra Leone and one of the three in West Africa as of that time. But I was admitted to study Economics. But because I had limited resources, I thought that if I studied Economics in Sierra Leone, I would only achieve two things: return with a degree in Economics and possibly, a Sierra Leonean wife. I have nothing against their women, but I thought that wasn't my ambition. I wanted to be a lawyer. So I gave up the Fourah Bay College admission and went to England.
How was growing up?
I was born into a modest Christian family during the 1930s and I was the first child of my parents. Although my parents were from what is now known as Abia State in South-Eastern Nigeria, we grew up in Zonkwa, a small railway town in the present Kaduna State. We had a very simple and happy childhood in an environment in which all Nigerians, from different ethnic and religious backgrounds, lived happily together in peace and harmony. As there were no elementary, primary or secondary schools in Zonkwa in those days, we had to go to Kafanchan and Jos for our schooling.
How did you survive the Nigerian Civil War?
I have written several articles and books about different aspects of the tragic Nigerian Civil War of 1967 to 1970. Wars are evil and Civil Wars are the most evil of all wars. The Nigerian Civil War was most destructive. Apart from the human and material losses, it destroyed most of our national values, including our traditional respect for human life. Unfortunately, most of our divisive political hawks do not seem to have learnt any lessons from the Civil War. Some of us, who were direct victims of the Civil War, survived it only by the grace of God.
At what point did you get married?
I returned to Nigeria in 1962 from the UK where I had studied law, insurance and business administration. I got married two years after I returned home to a brilliant and attractive young lady, Eno Maria Etuk, the product of a respectable Christian family in Akwa Ibom State. She was working as a distinguished broadcaster in Radio Nigeria.
Most people who travelled abroad in your time came back home with white women as wives. How come you did not follow their example?
My parents pleaded with me not to marry a white woman. They were worried about my marrying a non-Nigerian wife. I promised them that I wasn't going to do that and luckily, I was able to keep my promise.
What was their reaction when you brought home a non-Igbo wife?
That was the problem. When I came back, they were not keen on my marrying a non-Igbo. I reminded them that I promised them I wasn't going to marry a white woman and I kept the promise. But I told them that if I found any woman anywhere in Nigeria, I was going to marry her. So, I met my wife when I returned to Nigeria. I knew the family very well before I travelled. It made it a lot easier for me. I don't think my parents were very enthusiastic about it at that time, but they had to get used to it.
Can you tell us how you met your wife?
I met my wife at a reception given in my honour in October 1962, at Ikoyi by my Uncle Dr. O.K. Ogan, who was then the chief gynaecologist at the Island Maternity Hospital in Lagos. Like I said, I had known my wife's family in my younger days. Her brother, Dr. Ebong Etuk, was a great friend of mine and her mother, a great lady, was a mother to all of us when she was the boss of the Government Catering Guest Houses in Eastern Nigeria. Until we saw each other for the first time in October 1962, she was the only member of the Etuk family that I had not met. So, when my uncle introduced her to me as the daughter of the highly respected Mrs. Grace Etuk, it just clicked. About two years later, we got married. The marriage produced five brilliant and successful children: Agu, Ikechi, Chizor, Chioma and Ola. We thank God that these children have become useful adults and good citizens projecting our country's image in a positive way as they carry out their work in their respective disciplines in Nigeria and abroad. Agu, our first son, was recently reported by the world media as having been voted, in a contest sponsored by the Lord Mayor of London, Mr. Boris Johnson, as the most inspirational black person in the United Kingdom.
How did you end up as president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo?
I accepted the Ohanaeze leadership position because of my belief that it would provide an excellent opportunity for me to work with other ethnic and national leaders in the promotion of national unity and a better understanding of Ndigbo in the Nigerian context, which was disrupted by the Civil War. I assumed, perhaps rightly, that the goodwill arising from my national exposure and contacts would help in building bridges of understanding between Ndigbo and other Nigerians. Despite the many challenges we encountered, I believe that this primary objective was largely achieved during our tenure. It was certainly a useful learning experience, which gave me an opportunity to understand our people and the challenges of nation building in a multi-ethnic and multi religious African nation. Some of these experiences were later documented in my book, Nations and Ethnic Organisations, published in 2006.
Some people assume that the Igbo are not politically organised. As a leader of the Igbo, what do you say to that?
Those who say this are right because of certain inherent attitude exhibited by the Igbo, especially after the Civil War. Before the Civil War, Igbo people were united and less quarrelsome among themselves. But after the war, our values, like the value systems of other Nigerians, changed drastically. Nowadays, the only thing that matters to us would appear to be things like money and wealth. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to matter to us how that wealth is acquired. This wasn't so before, at least, not to the extent that it is now. Before, the Igbo used to say that Eziokwu bu ndu meaning, truth is life. Now, nobody cares about truth or a good name. All that matters is wealth, irrespective of how it is acquired.
Do the Igbo have any hope in 2015?
I don't know. But the way I see things, the kind of disunity and individual ambition that I see nowadays makes it difficult for me to be positive in my thinking. My study of Africa leaves me in no doubt that the most hard-working, the most creative race on the continent is the Igbo. In 1975, I was in Tanzania and I spoke with a highly respected African leader, Julius Nyerere, and his brother Joseph. We were in one group. Everyone of us in the group came from different parts of Africa. We were firmly of the view that the most enterprising of Africans were the Igbo. Unfortunately, that thing which is our strength is also our greatest weakness. Every Igbo man believes in himself. Every Igbo man is a king and leader. I experienced this when I was leading our people. It is unfortunate because it makes it difficult for us to have a rallying point.
During your leadership of Ohanaeze, some people were not happy with your style. What did you do wrong?
Even if you make Jesus Christ the leader of the Igbo today, some people will not appreciate him. But they will appreciate it when you are gone. Now that I am gone, they come back to me to say they didn't understand this was what I was doing. But my greatest problem, and that is the greatest problem I have had all over Nigeria, is that if you are in a group of people that are looking for how to extort a nation, to make money or steal money, and you say they shouldn't steal, you will become their enemy. Unfortunately, I was brought up to believe in selfless service. I was not a poor person when I went to lead Ohanaeze. In fact, instead of getting money from Ohanaeze, I was putting my money into it. When I discovered that we didn't have a suitable venue for our meetings in the whole of Enugu that could accommodate about 1,500 people at once, I decided to go round and raise money among Igbo leaders who I thought would afford it. I tried to do this for a long while. After a year, I found out that I couldn't raise the money. So I had to use my own money to build a hall which takes 1,500 people. I knew that if I had tried to raise money to build the hall, I would never have built it because our people no longer give generously these days. The day I dedicated that hall was the day I resigned my leadership of Ohanaeze. You cannot be popular with everybody.
Why did you resign as leader of Ohanaeze Ndigbo?
I had finished what I came to do in Ohanaeze. I had succeeded in building all the things I wanted to build. I don't like controversies and I don't like to waste my time. One of my heroes was Dr. Akanu Ibiam. I met him when I was a teenager. He was a medical practitioner. I got to know him and I thought he was a wonderful person. When he died and we went for his funeral, I told his family that I would toe his line if I became the president of Ohanaeze. He was the first president-general of Ohanaeze after the Civil War.
Does it mean that you knew you were going to become the President of Ohanaeze?
I didn't ask anybody to make me the president of Ohanaeze. In fact, my children didn't like the idea. They said to me that I am known as a national leader and an international figure, how then would I descend to become the leader of an ethnic group. They told me that I know that the Igbo people don't believe that anybody is king. They asked me to leave the ethnic group alone and concentrate on my profession and academic works and the other things I was doing. I argued with them. I told them that after the Civil War, the Igbo who used to be on top in Nigeria, went down and that they were not getting a fair deal because of the division among them and lack of selfless leadership. I thought that since I was relatively well-known in Nigeria, successful professionally, fairly comfortable and not greedy, I could use the opportunity to give Nigerians a better image of the Igbo man and build bridges of understanding among the Igbo people. So, when some groups of successful young Igbo men based in Lagos started camping in my house and pleading with me to come and become the president of Ohanaeze, I refused at first. But they harassed me and persisted. Some of them were very stubborn people. One of them asked me that if I refused this and went ahead to work for the international community, what would I tell our people? Eventually, I was convinced that it was better for me to accept than to reject it. Surprisingly, three of us contested the position. On the day of election, the others withdrew from the race. They said I was the better person to lead them. It was a very emotional experience for me. Naturally, there are some people that will not like you. Those who detest me said that I was an establishment person and not a fighter. They said I was more of a gentleman and that they didn't need a gentleman to lead them. They wanted somebody who was aggressive. But what you might consider my weakness might be my strength and it was proved right. When we were dealing with national issues, I found out that people preferred people who are not aggressive.
Why are you not involved in partisan politics?
I think the first duty that every human being owes himself is to understand himself. When I came back to Nigeria in 1962, my political idol was Dr. Micheal Okpara because of what he was doing in Eastern Nigeria. I liked him a lot. He tried very hard to persuade me to join partisan politics, but I refused his offer. I didn't want to do something that I cannot justify. I said to him that if he wants to get into politics in Nigeria, he has to be prepared to tell lies and make promises you have no intention of keeping. At that time, politics in Nigeria was even cleaner and tidier than it is today. Because I couldn't tell lies and couldn't misrepresent situations and because I thought it was ungentlemanly to make promises that you had no intention of keeping, I decided that my personality wasn't suitable for politics. And as politics got worse, I became even more certain in my belief that I shouldn't be a politician. You don't need to be a politician to serve humanity. I believe I have done quite well.
In Rejection of the Ohanaeze Constitutional Review Draft document
Written by Oguchi Nkwocha, MD
19 July 2012
OHANAEZE Draft Submission to NASS Committee on Nigerian Constitution Review – A Response from BIAFRA FOUNDATION on behalf of Igbo People
We have studied the “OHANAEZE Draft Submission to NASS Committee on Nigerian
Constitution Review” (supposedly on behalf of “Igbo-speaking People of Nigeria”) of July 2, 2012 and respectfully submit as follows:
We disagree with the basic premise of the document which is its continuing belief in the concept of “One Nigeria”.
Nigeria is a hopelessly flawed political arrangement that will never succeed, survive or thrive. British colonialists forced our people into this unworkable political union with Nigerians whose different values, beliefs, philosophies of life, worldviews, attitudes, cultures, and religions are totally conflicting and often clash with our own.
Since 1945, our relationship with Nigerians especially Northern Nigerians has been marked by conflict, havoc, hostility, extreme violence, and now, terrorism directed at our people, all resulting in the slaughter of millions of innocent Igbo men, women, and children and destruction of billions of dollars worth of their property by Nigerians.
The reality of the un-workability of Nigeria as a nation is now clearly confirmed in the public declaration by the terrorist organization, Boko Haram, that all our people who are overwhelmingly Christian must convert to Islam or be killed. Boko Haram has backed this threat up with terrorist bombing of our churches and businesses and massacres of thousands of our people living among them in Northern Nigeria.
It will only be a matter of time before these terrorists unleash terror on our people in our own homeland, bombing churches, businesses, markets, industries, hospitals, schools, colleges and universities and slaughtering our innocent people in thousands. Is this what OHANAEZE wants our people to wait for as OHANAEZE pursues its fantasy of “one Nigeria”?
The threat of forced Islamization of our people by Islamic Northern Nigeria is real and our people must see it as such. It will be foolish not to do so and tragic not to quickly begin the process of separating our people from the murderous terrorists.
Countries in which the federating nations are not well-suited predictably dissolve. In the recent times, former Soviet Union broke up into fifteen different countries; Yugoslavia split into seven different countries; Czechoslovakia divided into two sovereign countries, and just last year Sudan broke up into two countries. All of these countries now live side by side as neighbors, and for most of them, peacefully; instead of pretending to be one when it actually means being perpetually engulfed in internal war, creating chaos and slaughtering millions of their people unnecessarily.
OHANAEZE should therefore be asking for nothing other than what the whole of our Igbo population and other people of the Eastern Region are asking for, which is Self Determination, leading to the establishment of our own sovereign independent state of Biafra where the freely participating federating units will exercise the highest degree of autonomy and freedom to govern themselves in a truly democratic framework. This is the wish of the Igbo people of Biafra and if OHANAEZE is truly representing the Igbo as it claims, then this is what OHANAEZE should be asking for and working towards, on behalf of Ndigbo.
The suggestion of constitutional review under the umbrella of “One Nigeria” is unsound, silly and deceiving at best; we want to remind OHANAEZE as to why:
a) Nigeria is so basically structurally defective that anything short of dissolution is an ongoing murderous exercise in madness and senselessness.
b) Patchwork constitutional amendments—even if the exercise succeeds—have never worked and will not now. Such cannot help Nigeria today or in the future.
c) According to known facts, no constitutional arrangement upholding “One Nigeria” has ever worked. This is because all such constitutions try to “force square pegs into round holes”: it just won’t happen.
d) It is not just that it’s better to stay apart and live and prosper rather than be forced together to rot and die; it is in fact the Natural Order. The Igbo and other Biafrans want and will stay APART from Nigeria; what other Nigerian peoples do about themselves is entirely up to them and we respect that.
e) Therefore, the issue today is not Nigeria’s constitution and how or what the Igbo can contribute to its amendment. The issue is Self-Determination for the Igbo and other Biafrans.
July 18 2012
Oguchi Nkwocha, MD. email@example.com
THE POSITION OF THE IGBO NATION AS SUBMITTED TO THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY CONSTITUTION REVIEW COMMITTEE BY OHANAEZE
ON 28TH JUNE 2012
There should be Six REGIONS corresponding with the present six geo-political zones as the federating units to be headed by elected Governor Generals. Each REGION to enjoy the same powers and autonomy as was the case at independence in 1960, shorn of the distortion that came with military rule and to determine the number and responsibilities of the States and Local Governments in the REGION.
At independence, revenue sharing formula was 50% on derivation to the region of origin, 20% to the Federal Government and the balance of 30% was shared equally among the regional governments including the region of origin. This formula was reconfirmed in the 1963 Republican constitution.
To make more funds available to the Six Regions, Ohanaeze Ndigbo recommends as follows:
30% based on derivation.
70% to be shared by the Federal Government and the Six Regions taking into account the reduced responsibilities of the Federal Government and the increase in those of the Regions. The agreed allocation for the Six Regions to be shared equally among them.
TENURE OF CHIEF EXECUCTIVE AT FEDERAL, REGIONAL AND STATE LEVELS
A president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall hold office for a single tenure of six (6) years and shall not be eligible for another term of office as president of the Federal Republic. The president shall be assisted by a vice president of his own choice as running mate, whose role shall be defined by the constitution.
Apart from stopping the inevitable distraction from the time and attention of the office holder in the quest for a second term, a single tenure eliminates the crucial and unfair advantage enjoyed by an incumbent with access to vast official facilities, which are not available to his or her co-contestants in the conduct of electoral campaigns.
The tenure of the president shall commence from the date when he was sworn in as President.
The office of the President shall rotate among the Six Regions. When a vacancy occurs by whatever cause (demise, incapacity on health grounds, impeachment, resignation) the Governor General from his/her Region shall assume the office of the president of the Federation for the remainder of the six year tenure allotted to that Region.
Ditto for States within a Region.
NON ADOPTION OF OFFICIAL NATIONAL, REGIONAL/ STATE RELIGION
Ndigbo endorse fully, section eleven of the proposed constitution by the 1994 constitutional conference which states:
“The Government of the Federation, or of a State, or of a Local Government shall NOT adopt any religion as State or Local Government religion”. The same shall apply to the Six Regions.
Keenly conscious of the danger to national cohesion, unity and social political stability caused by the destruction of lives and property in ethno-religious incidents in the recent past and at present, Ndigbo consider it absolutely necessary to have Citizenship Rights clearly specified, guaranteed and defended by both the Federal and Regional governments.
RE-ORGANIZATION OF THE NIGERIA POLICE
We recommend National police and Regional police, with clearly defined areas of responsibilities.
RE-ORGANIZATION OF THE NIGERIAN ARMED FORCES
There shall be one Nigerian Army one Nigerian Air-force and one Nigerian Navy. It must be ensured that the composition of their officers and men reflect a balance between the six Regions. The Army and Air-force should have National and Regional sub-commands.
STATE SECURITY SERVICES
There should be a National Security Service with Regional sub-Commands.
CIVIL SERVICE REFORM
Appointments must reflect a balance of Regional representation.
Ditto for States at Regional levels.
POLITICAL PARTY REFORMS
Ndigbo support a MULTY- PARTY system which allows free play of political views and policies.
Ndigbo support an independent judiciary with its budgeting allocation on “first charge”. Following the restructuring of the polity into six Regions there should be a Regional tier in the judiciary. The Supreme Court of Nigeria is the final arbiter in the nation’s judicature and therefore its composition should reflect equality of the Six Regions.
Ndigbo consider the question of census as the veritable base for the enthronement of democracy in the nation’s political life and call for an early credible exercise. We recommend that the constitution should clearly state the followings:
That Census delineation exercise MUST include:
Region of origin
State of origin
iii. Local government/ town of origin
iv Language Group
v Ethnic Group
vi Religious Affiliation
vii Gender and Age
The information in the National Identity Card regarding Region/ State/ Town of Origin should be in tandem with census data.
Right Groups Disown Ohanaeze’s Memorandum on Single Term
By Tony Edike
ENUGU—THE Coalition of Human Right and Prodemocracy Activists in South East geopolitical zone of the country, Tuesday dissociated itself from what it described as the “unpopular campaign” by the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo for tenure elongation.
The group said Ohanaeze’s endorsement of a single term of six years for the president and governors, coming in the face of the current instability in the country, was diversionary and very insincere.
Ohanaeze had in a memorandum dated June 28, 2012 and submitted to the National Assembly Committee on Constitutional Review on behalf of the Igbo Speaking people of Nigeria, called for the adoption of a six-year single tenure for the president and governors.
It insisted that “apart from stopping the inevitable distraction from the time and attention of the office holder in the quest for a second term, a single tenure eliminates the crucial and unfair advantage enjoyed by an incumbent with access to vast official, which are not available to his or her co-contestants in the conduct of electoral campaigns.”
But reacting to Ohanaeze’s position in a statement signed by its Coordinator, Chief Chris Echukwu, the coalition noted that the call for six-year tenure tantamount to tenure elongation which is “most unfortunate.”
“This position is diversionary and very insincere with due consideration to the issues of instability at the moment. Whereas the current situation calls for sober reflection on the state and structure of the nation, it is curious that Ohanaeze or any group for that matter, instead of finding lasting solution to the structural imbalance and the security dilemma of the country will start pursuing shadow by campaigning for tenure elongation as if to say that it is a very important issue for now that is capable of solving the current problems of the country,” the group stated.
“To be nearer home”, it continued, “we don’t see how this solves the problem with the marginalization of the Igbos. We have been consistent with the demand for Sovereign National Conference in the first instance and the restructuring of the country in order to have meaningful and stable power devolution and not power rotation and all sorts of hackneyed self serving tenure elongation.”
“What do we stand to gain as Ndigbo with six-year tenure and all these insincere arrangements that have skewed out the Igbos in the scheme of affairs? We warn that no group of people should make any pronouncement whatsoever for Ndigbo without due considerations of the people,” the coalition added.
Declaring that the position submitted by Ohanaeze was not the stand of Ndigbo in any form, the Human Right and Prodemocracy group said that Ndigbo had not changed their stand and focus from the time they started fighting for independence.
Drawing the attention of the Constitution Review Committee to “A Memorandum on Behalf of the Igbo-Speaking people of Nigeria submitted to the National Constitutional Conference Commission (NCCC) dated Tuesday, February 8, 1994”, the coalition pointed out that the issues canvassed in that document remained the position of Ndigbo.
“It will be necessary for Ohanaeze fellows and entire Nigeria to take that document to observe that the 1994 Memorandum Ndigbo submitted was not just done on mere interest, but National and International desire,” the group stated.
Source: Vanguard, 3rd July 2012.
Ohanaeze Draft Submission To NASS Committee On Nigerian Constitution Review
(on behalf of the Igbo-Speaking People of Nigeria)
( Monday, July 2, 2012 )
- Send Comments -
"TABLE OF CONTENTS"
1. BACKGROUND Page 2
2. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF THE POSITION OF NDIGBO Page 6
i. Restructuring of Nigeria into Six Regions Page 6
ii. Powers of Federal, Region (and States) Page 6
iii. Citizenship Rights Page 8
iv. Form of government for Federal Republic of Nigeria Page 8
v. Tenure of Chief Executive at Federal, Region/State Page 8
vi. Revenue-Sharing (“Fiscal federalism”) Page 9
vii. Reorganization of the Police Page 10
viii. Reorganization of the Nigerian Armed Forces Page 11
ix. State Security Services Page 11
x. Civil Service Reforms – Federal Character Principle Page 12
xi. Political Party Reforms Page 12
xii. Judicature Page 12
xiii. Population/Census Page 12
xiv. States Creation and Boundary Adjustments Page 13
xv. Role of Traditional Rulers Page 13
xvi. Non – Adoption of State Religion Page 13
3 CONCLUSION Page 14
From Ohanaeze Ndigbo
(on behalf of the Igbo-Speaking People of Nigeria)
28th June, 2012
MEMORANDUM FROM OHANAEZE NDIGBO
For our country, with its colonial stamp of 'made in England', the three hundred odd ethnic and sub-ethnic units in this land, brought together by the force of British Imperialism to forge a modern nation, have good cause to thank God for the astonishing abundance of human and material resources bestowed on us. We are still in the process of nation building, struggling to blend together and harmonize our various very rich but differing traditions, customs and cultures.
The recognition of the significance of ethnicity was clear at the birth of an independent Nigeria in 1960. The larger ethnic units of Hausa/Fulani-Igbo-Yoruba formed the basis of the three Regions North-East-West. Ethno-based agitations aimed at asserting the separate identity of the smaller groups, promptly sprouted in the three Regions. These include the United Middle Belt Congress (UMBC) Movement in the North, the Calabar-Ogoja-Rivers (COR) State Movement in the East and the Midwest Movement in the West.
The current concept of six geo-political zones is also ethnically based, with three zones accorded to the larger ethnic groups and, to balance them out, three also to a conglomerate of the smaller ethnic units. The simple lesson from this structural arrangement is that the ethnic units are recognized and accepted as the veritable building blocks in the on-going construction work and nation building process in Nigeria.
In our socio-political and economic intercourse, all groups (big or small) must be allowed free-play and equitable access to our country's resources and strategic political command posts, including particularly the presidency. Sustained imbalance in sharing responsibilities and the 'national cake' could conceivably induce in those units aggrieved a rethink of the value to them of our much vaunted national unity. The break-up of ethnically composite countries, some very powerful and prosperous, like the former Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia, took place along ethnic lines. Nearer home, the Republic of Sudan has just split up after decades of fratricidal conflict. These are unsavory examples that we must strenuously strive to limit in Africa, already politically over-fragmented. The needed unity in diversity of our country and its political stability are best guaranteed via an equity-oriented formula that creates a comfortable sense of belonging for all Nigerians.
At independence in 1960, what our founding fathers settled for was a full-blown Federal Structure, with three Regions, East-North-West, as the federating units of our nation. All three regions were constitutionally equal in status. A fourth Region, the Midwest, was created by regular constitutional amendment in 1963.
Thus, the 1963 “Constitution of the Federation” (Republican Constitution), Chapter 1, Section 5(1) states:
- Subject to the provisions of this constitution the Constitution of each Region shall have force of law throughout that Region, and if any other law is inconsistent with that Constitution, the provisions of that Constitution shall prevail and the other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency be void.
- Almost thirty (30) years of military rule has transformed our Federation into a quasi-unitary state bringing along with it political instability. It is important for the “Constitution Review Committee” to admit that the Federation upon which Nigeria was born and founded no longer exists. What now exists is an over-centralized Central Government called “Federal” Government.
For the sake of the FUTURE OF STEADY AND SUSTAINABLE NIGERIA as ONE COUNTRY and ONE NATION; AND FOR THE SAKE OF DEVELOPMENT; AND FOR THE SAKE OF FUTURE GENERATION OF NIGERIANS, and for the sake and benefit of ALL Nigerians; we must face the FACT that the STATUS QUO is untenable. This generation of Nigerians must, therefore, steer the ship of State along the course on the basis of which our country was founded by REAFFIRMING TRUE FEDERALISM as the best system of Government for Nigeria.
A reaffirmation of TRUE-FEDERALISM is CRITICAL to the success of political reforms as it provides the correct platform for strengthening the foundation of ONE COUNTRY and ONE NATION called NIGERIA. TRUE-FEDERALISM eliminates the fear of domination by one or a combination of groups of Nigerians over others and reduces ethno-cultural tension, thus releasing the positive and creative energies of Nigerians to the building of a nation that will be a pride to all black people on earth. The “Amendments” to be recommended by this Committee should aim at achieving this objective.
The various political crises in Nigeria from 1959 to date, underline the FACT that ethno-cultural pluralism is ineffective in a country which permits the domination of other ethnic nationalities by one or a combination of them.
In other words, NIGERIA HAS A BRIGHT FUTURE AS ONE COUNTRY AND ONE NATION, ONLY TO THE EXTENT THAT THE CONSTITUENT COMPONENTS ALSO HAVE A FUTURE. Consequently a primary challenge that we have in Nigeria today is to reduce ETHNIC and SECTIONAL potential conflict areas to the SAFEST MINIMUM.
This means a sincere affirmation of True Federalism by all Nigerians. This implies appreciable Decentralization of Power and Responsibilities from the Centre (Federal) to Federating Units. This implies greater Financial Resources to the Federating Units in tandem with increased responsibilities etc.
One of the most important advantages of TRUE FEDERALISM is the equilibrium between the CENTRE (Federal) and REGIONS (Federating Units). In a country like Nigeria with multi-ethnic nationalities, the constitutional balance required by TRUE FEDERALISM should limit the tendency towards over-centralisation.
In decentralization and devolution of powers from Centre to Federating Units, the OVERRIDING PRINCIPLE is not to use “tea cups” (States) to receive water from an overfull “drum” (Federal Government) of water - at least “buckets” (Region) are required for a meaningful exercise. Furthermore, the major Danger and Risk of imposing a Strong Central Government (over-centralization) is that it can only be achieved only by those who control the levers of power. An all powerful Federal Government controlling the bulk of NATIONAL PURSE and economic development is not desirable. It cannot endure and will not be tolerated indefinitely by the disadvantaged sections of the country, and there shall be several attempts to reverse it leading to serious and constant disequilibrium in the polity.
There can be no doubt that Nigeria was making more progress in national development in the early years of its independence when it practiced a true federalism of four regions with more extensive powers devolved from the centre to the regions. Those were the days of the significant export of groundnuts, hides and skins, and the tin ore from the North; of cocoa from the West; of rubber from the Mid-West; and of palm produce and coal from the East of Nigeria. They were also the days of such achievements as the free universal education in Chief Awolowo's Western region, and of the burgeoning industrialization of Dr. Okpara's Eastern region.
To return to true federalism, we need a major restructuring of our current architecture of governance. We would need six federating units, instead of our present 36 units which not only sustain an over-dominant centre, but also compel the country to spend not less than 74% of its revenue on the cost of administration. If the existing 36 states must be retained in some form, they could be made cost-effective development zones with minimal administrative structures within the six federating units.
WITH THIS BACKGROUND NDIGBO STRONGLY ADVOCATE THE RESTRUCTURING OF NIGERIA INTO SIX (6) REGIONS BASED ON ETHNIC/LINGUISTIC GROUPS (and other related parameters) NAMELY:
a. SOUTH-EAST REGION OF NIGERIA
b. SOUTH-WEST REGION OF NIGERIA
c. SOUTH-SOUTH REGION OF NIGERIA
d. NORTH-CENTRAL REGION OF NIGERIA
e. NORTH-EAST REGION OF NIGERIA
f. NORTH-WEST REGION OF NIGERIA
With ABUJA as the FEDERAL CAPITAL TERRITORY
These regions will constitute the Federating Units, with greater emphasis on derivation in revenue allocation; and equality of the six regions with regard to revenue distributable to the Federating Units.
However, national cohesion and stability should not be jeopardized by giving undue encouragement to centrifugal forces - a potential risk in giving UNLIMITED POWERS to Federating Units.
The objective of the Constitutional Review must be to keep Nigeria as a whole (not a group or section) strong. Accordingly, the Centre (Federal Government) should have all that it genuinely requires to keep the country together, with minimum risk of abuse of power by the Central Government.
Finally we note that whichever way a True Nigeria Federation evolves, FISCAL and FINANCIAL RELATIONSHIP between the Center and Federating Units; and the economic development cum financial independence of the Federating Units are of crucial importance.
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY OF THE POSITION OF NDIGBO
The position of Ndigbo on Nigeria has remained constant: i.e TO HAVE A TRULY FEDERAL NATION called NIGERIA with an effective CORRUPTION-FREE EQUITY ORIENTED GOVERNMENT, whose primary objectives shall be the welfare and well-being of the peoples of Nigeria irrespective of creed or culture.
Accordingly, Ndigbo at this point desire nineteen (19) constitutional provisions.
Restructuring of Nigeria Into Six Zones
TO RETURN NIGERIA TO TRUE FEDERALISM
Specifically Ndigbo advocate that Nigeria should be RESTRUCTURED INTO SIX REGIONS namely:
a) SOUTH-EAST REGION OF NIGERIA
b) SOUTH-WEST REGION OF NIGERIA
c) SOUTH-SOUTH REGION OF NIGERIA
d) NORTH-CENTRAL REGION OF NIGERIA
e) NORTH-EAST REGION OF NIGERIA
f) NORTH-WEST REGION OF NIGERIA
Each Region of Nigeria shall have its own “Regional” Constitution. The States of the present Federation that shall constitute each Region are as presently constituted in the zones with boundary adjustments where necessary.
Each Region shall have the right to determine the number of States, Local Governments, and District/Community Councils that shall constitute the Region, according to the limits of their resources.
Federal (Central) Government shall not be involved in State, Local Government, and District/Community Councils matters.
Powers of Federal, Region (and States)
Power shall be decentralized. The powers of the Central (Federal) Government shall be drastically reduced in favour of the REGIONS AS Federating Units. Details shall be worked out by the Review Committee bearing in mind the 1963 Nigerian Constitution, and devolution of powers as recommended by the 1994 Conference. (see Draft Constitution 1995).
As a guide we recommend that FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FUNCTIONS shall not exceed those exercised by the Center (Federal) at Nigeria's Independence in 1960 and shall be enumerated to include such matters as foreign Affairs, Monetary Policies, Citizenship, National Security, Defence etc.
THE FEDERATION OF NIGERIA SHALL HAVE A FOUR-TIER STRUCTURE, namely:
REGIONS (FEDERATING UNITS);
STATES (to be determined by the regions and not by the center according to the will of the constituent peoples of the region and enshrined in the regional constitution), and
LOCAL GOVERNMENT. (to be determined by the States).
Over-centralisation removes power and resources from tiers of Government that are nearest to the citizen and promotes inefficiency, incompetence, corruption, alienation and loss of faith in Government. It ALSO PROMOTES INEQUALITY IN NUMBERS OF STATES AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS PER ZONE/REGION.
THERE SHALL BE SUBSTANTIAL DEVOLUTION OF POWERS FROM THE CENTER (FEDERAL) TO THE FEDERATING UNITS (REGIONS).
a. Each Region shall have EXECUTIVE, Legislative, and Judicial Functions. The Executive powers shall be vested in the Governor General of the Region (or by whatever name the Committee may decide)
b. The Legislative powers of each Region shall be vested in the Assembly of the Region (Regional Assembly).
However if any law enacted by the ASSEMBLY OF A REGION is inconsistent with the provisions of the CONSTITUTION OF NIGERIA or with ANY LAW VALIDLY ENACTED BY THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY, the law made by the ASSEMBLY OF THE REGION shall be VOID to the extent of the inconsistency.
c. There shall be for each Region, a Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal of a region shall to the exclusion of any other court in Nigeria have jurisdiction to hear and determine appeals from decisions of the State High Courts, and State customary Courts of appeal and state Sharia Courts of Appeal situate in that Region and such other court as may be prescribed by a law enacted by the ASSEMBLY of that REGION.
d. There shall be a FEDERAL COURT OF APPEAL. The Federal Court of Appeal shall to the exclusion of any other court in Nigeria have JURISDICTION to hear and determine appeals from decisions of the FEDERAL HIGH COURT; the Court of the Federal Capital Territory; the Customary Court of Appeal of FCT, Sharia Court of Appeal of FCT; and such other courts or tribunals as may be prescribed by a LAW ENACTED by the National Assembly.
KEENLY conscious of the danger to national cohesion and unity caused by the destruction of lives and properties in ethno religious incidents in the recent past and at present, Ndigbo consider it absolutely necessary to have Citizenship Rights clearly enumerated and guaranteed; by both the federal and regional governments.
The 1963 Constitution and the Draft constitution 1995 are explicit on the fundamental rights of the Nigerian Citizen.
iv. FORM OF GOVERNMENT FOR FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
Ndigbo recommend the Presidential System of Government for a restructured Nigeria.
There shall be ONE PRESIDENT elected: nationally” with a SINGLE VICE-PRESIDENT.
a. The Vice-President shall be assigned specific responsibilities by the Constitution.
b. Ditto for Chief Executives of the Regions (including States) with their Deputies.
v. TENURE OF CHIEF EXECUTIVE AT FEDERAL, REGIONS/STATE
a) A PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA SHALL HOLD OFFICE FOR A SINGLE TENURE OF SIX (6) YEARS AND SHALL NOT BE ELIGIBLE FOR ANOTHER TERM OF OFFICE AS PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC.
Apart from stopping the inevitable distraction from the time and attention of the office holder in the quest for a second term, a single tenure eliminates the crucial and unfair advantage enjoyed by an incumbent with access to vast official, which are not available to his or her co-contestants in the conduct of electoral campaigns.
The tenure of the president shall commence from the date when he was sworn in as President.
b) WHEN A VACANCY OCCURS BY WHATEVER CAUSE (DEMISE, INCAPACITY ON HEALTH GROUNDS, IMPEACHMENT, RESIGNATION) THE GOVERNOR GENERAL/PREMIER FROM HIS/HER REGION SHALL ASSUME THE OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERATION FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE TERM.
c) DITTO FOR STATES WITHIN A REGION.
ROTATION OF THE POSITION OF CHIEF EXECUTIVE AT FEDERAL AND REGIONAL GOVERNMENTS
a. The office of President of the Federal Republic shall rotate among the six Regions in turn
a. Ditto for States within a Region.
iv. Revenue-Sharing (“Fiscal Federalism”)
Revenue-Sharing Between The Centre And Federating Units Must Be Comprehensively Reviewed To Reflect “Fiscal Federalism”.
There are two facets to the revenue issue.
(i) What should go to the Federation Account; and
(ii) How the money in the Federation account will be shared between the central and regional governments
At Independence under the Raisman formula, 50% of revenue was paid to the regions of origin on the basis of derivation, while 20% was paid to the Federal Government as a contribution by the region for maintenance of the integrity of the nation, and the balance of 30% was shared equally among regional governments including the region of origin. In the same vein, the 1963 Constitution of the Federation States in Sec. 140(i): “There shall be paid by the Federal to each Region a sum equal to fifty percent of the proceeds of any Royalty received by the Federation in respect of any minerals (including mineral oil) extracted in that Region”.
Over the years, the percentage kept by the region on the basis of derivation has been progressively reduced to the level of 3-5%. As a first step to redressing the present distortion, we recommend an increase in the weighting given to the derivation factor to 30%.
a) We recommend that the amount to be retained by the Central (Federal) government be drastically trimmed down based on a thorough study of the financial requirements for accomplishing its reduced function; that the balance thereafter be shared equally between the six regions. We further recommend that the formula for sharing revenue within the regions shall be the same as recommended for the central (federal) government. However, derivation should be extended to all local governments or states that are environmentally impacted by the resource exploitation.
b) Ownership of resources must be by the areas where these are located.
Most importantly these recommendations will reduce the “CAKE-SHARING MENTALITY” in Nigeria and lead to faster growth and development of the Nigerian economy by encouraging PRODUCTIVITY AND EXPLOITATION OF THE VAST NATURAL RESOURCES OF EACH OF THE SIX REGIONS OF NIGERIA.
iv. Reorganization of the Nigerian Police
An effective and efficient Police Force is essential for the development of democracy in Nigeria.
However past abuses, including frequent incursions of military into rulership, underline the necessity for avoiding a Constitutional arrangement which provides the TEMPTATION and the MEANS to the Federal Government (via Army and/or police) to toy with matters of vital Local interest to the people of any Region or State of the Federation.
Accordingly, Ndigbo recommend:
a. That there be established a two-tier Police structure, to wit: REGIONAL POLICE whose jurisdiction shall be limited to the geographical areas of the Region, and National Police which shall have inter-regional jurisdiction.
b. THE TWO POLICE FORMATIONS VIZ FEDERAL AND REGIONAL POLICE FORMATION shall have clearly delineated JURISDICTIONS, RESPONSIBILITIES, MODUS OPERANDI and “INTERPHASE PROTOCOLS” to minimize areas of friction, whilst emphasizing integrity, efficiency, and effectiveness.
c. The NIGERIA (NATIONAL) POLICE shall draw a good portion of its personnel in each Zonal Command from the Region.
v. Reorganization of the Nigerian Armed Forces
There shall be one Nigerian Army, one Nigerian Air-Force and one Nigerian Navy.
There shall be a comprehensive review of the numbers and equipment of the Armed forces in the light of the nations objectives and resources.
The Nigerian Army and Nigerian Air-Force shall be reorganized in ZONAL COMMANDS. Accordingly, there shall be in each Region a a. Zonal Command of the Nigeria Army and Nigerian Air-force.
b. With regard to the Nigerian Navy, it must be ensured that the composition of their officers and men reflect a balance between the SIX Regions.
iv. State Security Services
There shall be one State Security Service in Nigeria, and it again shall be organized in Regional Commands.
v. Civil Service Reform - Federal Character Principle
There shall be for Nigeria, and for the Regions, a Civil service appropriate for the discharge of responsibilities assigned to each tier by the Constitution.
a. The emphasis in Civil Service Reforms shall be to streamline Federal/ Regional bureaucracies so as to REDUCE COST OF GOVERNANCE whilst infusing efficiency in the system. Civil Service Review exercises at all levels will necessarily accompany the restructuring of Nigeria based on the principles of TRUE FEDERALISM.
b. An appointment to the Head of Service of the Federation, Region shall not be made except from amongst the Permanent Secretaries or officers of equivalent rank in the Civil Service of the Federation or Region.
c. In exercising powers of appointment into the Federal, Regional and State Civil Service for the ranks of Director and Permanent Secretariats, the President, Governor-General and Governors shall have regard to the diversity of people in the country and in the Regions and the need to promote unity and balanced development.
FEDERAL CHARACTER PRINCIPLE
a. An essential objective in Civil/public Service Reforms shall be to enforce the Federal Character Principles. This should be made justifiable and aggrieved individuals/groups should be able under the NEW constitution to take the matter to court.
b. Ndigbo also advocate that the “Federal Character Principle” should not be restricted to man power only but expanded to include project citing and budgeting as well as execution by the federal Government. Thus there must not be undue disparity between the six Regions in Annual Budget.
iv. Political Party Reforms
Ndigbo advocate MULTY-PARTY system as a panacea against abuse of democratic practice and process. Given time to develop, truly National Parties shall emerge based on shared ideologies.
v. The Judicature
A strong and independent judiciary is indispensable for a stable polity. Consequently, Budgetary Allocations for the Judiciary shall be on “FIRST CHARGE”. Other recommendations on Regional Judiciary, consequent upon the RESTRUCTURING OF THE POLITY INTO SIX REGIONS have been, outlined earlier.
a. THE SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA SHALL HAVE JURISDICTION TO THE EXCLUSION OF ANY OTHER COURT OF LAW IN NIGERIA TO HEAR AND DETERMINE APPEALS FROM:
i. THE FEDERAL COURT OF APPEAL
ii. THE COURT OF APPEAL OF A REGION.
b. THE COMPOSITION OF THE SUPREME COURT SHALL REFLECT EQUALITY OF THE SIX REGIONS
Ndigbo consider the question of census as an important recurring issue since pre-independence. This subject was therefore passionately and extensively discussed as a matter that should be addressed in a comprehensive manner by the proposed Review.
We recommend that the Constitution should clearly state the following:
1. “That Census delineation exercise MUST include the followings:
i. Region of origin
ii. State of Origin
iii. Local government/Town of origin
iv. Language Group
v. Ethnic Group
vi. Religious Affiliation
vii. Gender and Age
These data are necessary for effective scientific and demographic analysis as is obtained internationally”
2. The information in the National Identity Card regarding Region/State/Town of Origin should be in tandem with census.
iv. States Creation And Boundary Adjusments
Ndigbo specifically have been unfairly treated in this matter (ref. Igbo presentation at the Oputa Panel).
The Igbo position is that:
a) The inequities and injustices of previous exercises need to be redressed.
b) This should become part of the delineation exercise for the new six regional federal structure.
v. Role Of Traditional Rulers
Ndigbo advocate constitutional roles for traditional rulers based on their closeness to the “grassroots” and rural development. It is the view of Ndigbo that harmony between the traditional and democratic forces at the grassroots level, will help to bring most of Nigerians into mainstream development.
We recommend that traditional rulers be constitutionally empowered to participate effectively in the responsibility of maintaining communal peace.
iv. Non-Adoption Of State Religion
Ndigbo ENDORSE FULLY SECTION ELEVEN OF THE PROPOSED CONSTITUTION BY THE 1994 CONSTITUTIONAL CONFERENCE WHICH STATES:
“The Government of the Federation, (or of a region), or of a State, or of a Local Government shall NOT adopt any religion as State, or Local Government religion”.
Ndigbo have given so much in spirit and material resources to the concept and construction of a truly united, prosperous Nigerian nation and deserve demonstrable appreciation from their fellow citizens. To the Nigeria project, Ndigbo are still doing much more to offer our eminently endowed and great country via their contribution in a true federal character setting of six equal geo-political zones.
WE AFFIRM OUR FAITH IN THE FUTURE OF NIGERIA anchored on GOOD GOVERNANCE, JUSTICE and EQUITY.
CULLED FROM NIGERIAN MASTERWEB - CHIEF CHARLES OKEREKE
Dispora Igbo Leaders Met with Two Special Gusts: Dr. Dozie Ikedife and Amb. Ralph Uwachue
DIASPORA IGBO LEADERS MET WITH TWO SPECIAL GUESTS AND LEADERS FROM NIGERIA INVOLVING DR. DOZIE IKEDIFE (EX-PRESIDENT GENERAL OF OHANAEZE NDIGBO) AND PRESIDENT GENERAL OF OHANAEZE, AMBASSADOR RALPH UWACHUE AT AN INTERACTIVE SESSIONS LED AND FACILITATED BY IGBO WORLD ASSEMBLY (IWA). THE DIASPORA IGBO LEADERS STRATEGIZED WITH OUR SPECIAL GUESTS ON POLITICAL AND SECURITY MATTERS IN NIGERIA.
An interactive session of Igbo community leaders and organizations in Diaspora, from countries across five continents met on Saturday, June 03, 2012 to strategize on political and security matters in Nigeria.
The meeting which was called to order at approximately 8:27 AM (EST) was initiated by the leadership of Igbo World Assembly (IWA) and facilitated by IWA Chairman, Dr. Nwachukwu A. Anakwenze. Dr Anakwenze in his opening remark noted that “ Igbo World Assembly(IWA), as you know, is an inter-continental, Igbo Advocacy group which represents a committed attempt to truly perfect a global Igbo Union. IWA is founded on the twin principles of Njikoka and Igba Izu (synergy and collaboration).
IWA is committed to working with, collaborating with, partnering with all, by presenting a platform to leverage Igbo Diaspora as a strategic partner on Igbo issues, aimed to advance the aims and objectives of genuine Igbo political, economic and social expression. Our goal is clear. Ndi-Igbo must speak with one voice and one accord; we must seek to do and be done equitably, by all means
Meeting was called to order at 8:27 AM after a prayer by Ticha Jack Akuma-Njoku.
Prior to the segment with Dr. Dozie Ikedife (ex-President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo):
Council of Igbo State America (CISA) leadership was encouraged to accelerate the mailing of the letter of invitation so that guests from Nigeria will have enough time to resolve visa issues before the planned CISA Retreat in Staunton, VA.
SEGMENT WITH DR. DOZIE IKEDIFE:
Dr. Dozie Ikedife reiterated an Ohanaeze position that should President Jonathan be constitutionally cleared to run for re-election in 2015, Ndigbo will take firm position
Whether the Igbo campaign for Presidency of Nigeria will be in 2015 or 2019 is not known yet. It will be hinged on the constitutionality of President Jonathan running for a second term. One thing we know for sure is that after President Jonathan, the next President of Nigeria must be from the SouthEast political region.
On whether the Nigerian Presidency of South East extraction should be on 2015 or 2019? Dr. Dozie Ikedife responded that that’s irrelevant for now. As Ndiigbo, we shall cross that bridge when we get there.
Dr. Dozie Ikedife finalized the discussion on the campaign for Southeast Presidency by saying that any other region that attempts to undercut Ndigbo in either 2015 or 2019 (whichever is applicable) definitely needs a “lecture on equity and fairness.”
Dr. Dozie Ikedife suggested that Southeast region should not wait for 100% agreement by the Southeast states before going ahead with the ideas and innovation of South Eastern Nigeria Economic Commission (SENEC). According to him, the South-south region has copied, almost verbatim, the SENEC ideas and has already started implementation, while the Southeast is still waiting for 100% buy-in by all of the SouthEast States(SE). He suggested that the Southeast states that agree with the program should start now and that any southeast state on the sidelines can play catch later, at their own expense.
Dr. Dozie Ikedife spoke of the need to have an Igbo think tank group that will focus on the SE Presidency. According to him, Ohanaeze is a socio-cultural in its make-up and action, and may not have the capability to solve all the political needs of Ndiigbo, thus the need for the political think tank group.
Dr. Dozie Ikedife said that the political think tank group will be complimentary to Ohanaeze which will be structured to work alongside Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo. According to him, the think tank group will be solely political and heavily dependent on such diaspora organizations such as Igbo World Assembly (IWA), Council of Igbo States America (CISA), Council Igbo Communities (CIC) UK, World Igbo Congress (WIC) and others. Dr. Anakwenze, IWA chairman will be delegated to coordinate the Diasporas aspect of the think tank.
The said that the political think tank group which will work with Ohanaeze Ndiigbo synergistically. It will strive to work with other pro-Igbo organizations to enhance Igbo Unity in Nigeria and abroad. It shall be structured to hold community leaders accountable for wrongs, such as kidnappings, armed robbery, political killings etc. in their community.
On campaign promises by President Jonathan, Dr. Dozie Ikedife informed members that he might not have all the information. He said that he’s sure that there are meetings happening on a regular basis that he might not be aware of, even with President Jonathan, aimed at fulfilling campaign promises to Ndiigbo. Those campaign promises as upgrade to River Niger Bridge and the inland port in Onitsha might already have been discussed at other levels with President Jonathan.
On his being quoted in the news lately for defending retired General Buhari, he reaffirmed that he was not misquoted on the issue regarding conducting free and fair election in Nigeria, where One Man, One vote is exercised. But other statement made by Buhari was a matter of Buhari’s opinion that is not shared by Dr. Ikedife.
An oral invitation was extended to Dr. Dozie Ikedife to the CISA/WACHET/IWA sponsored Igbo retreat at the Igbo Village in Staunton, VA. He responded with a “maybe”. He said he would love to be at the retreat but that once he receives the invitation he’ll see if he can work it into his current US immigration visa.
Dr. Dozie Ikedife applauded the IWA leadership for their selfless and tireless effort towards the Igbo cause. He re-emphasized that Ndiigbo have to continually and consistently strive towards getting back to relevance in the Nigerian political equation.
SEGMENT WITH PRESIDENT GENERAL OF OHANAEZE, AMBASSADOR RALPH UWACHUE
Ambassador Uwachue category stated the position of Ndi Igbo on 2015 Presidency as folllows: If President Goodluck Ebere Jonathan wants to contest in 2015, and if the Nigerian constitution allows him to do so; the Igbos will strictly review the situation and take a firm stand - thus we will cross the bridge when we get there.
Ambassador Uwachue was of the opinion that for Ndigbo to make a viable stride in Nigerian politics today, all pro-Igbo organizations has to gravitate towards a unifying organization, and that Ohanaeze Ndigbo meets the requirement of such an organization.
Any other Igbo organization aimed at usurping or neutralizing the authority of Ohanaeze will be counter-productive – in Ambassador Ralph Uwachue’s own words, “it won’t work.”
All Igbo organizations and leaders need to work together with Ohanaeze to further the cause of Ndigbo, leading to 2015 and beyond.
To work together, Igbo leaders must strive to accord respect to each other and not undercut each other’s leadership. Igbo leaders should not allow petty goals derail their mission and goal for Ndigbo.
The Ohanaeze President General reminded members present that he does not have a dog in the fight, that he is from south-south region and that his passion for Ndigbo and Igbo presidency is unallied and untainted.
Ohanaeze Ndiigbo will allow a level playing field for every Igbo leader interested in the Presidency. Ohanaeze will not endorse any one leader early in the game. Ohanaeze will allow all Igbo leaders from Southeast region to showcase what they’re capable of doing before endorsing a candidate. Endorsing a candidate early will marginalize a viable candidate whose full potentials are not known yet.
Ohanaeze Ndiigbo was verbally invited to the CISA sponsored Retreat on Igbo Agenda in Staunton, VA, USA on August 3 – 5, 2012. Letter of invitation will be sent out soonest. Due to schedule conflict, Ohanaeze President General, Ambassador Ralph Uwachue will be unable to make the Retreat. Ohanaeze Ndiiigbo will however, send a high level official/representative to the retreat.
Long Live Ndiigbo
Dr. Nwachukwu Anakwenze IWA Chairman(USA)
Chief Christian Onuorah IWA First Vice Chairman(UK) Region 2
Dr Osadebe Anam IWA Vice Chairman(USA) Region 1
Chief Oliver Nwankwor IWA Secretary General (Netherland)
Chief Udechukwu Chime IWA DSG Publicity (Finland)
Ohaneze Ndigbo to S’East govs: Tackle security challenges or quit
By COSMAS OMEGOH
The Igbo apex socio-cultural group, Ohaneze Ndigbo, has warned governors in the South-east to tackle the spiraling security challenges in the region or vacate their positions.
The groups made the statement over the weekend at the wake keep organised in honour of its late patron, Chief John Nwezi at his residence in Lagos. Nzewi who was a former member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), was allegedly kidnapped in Ihiala, Anambra State, during the senatorial re-run election in Anambra South. His captors allegedly collected a whopping N30 million ransom from his family but still killed him.
Speaking to Daily Sun, the spokesman of Ohaneze Ndigbo in Diaspora, Sonny Louis Okafor, said the security situation in Igboland at the moment had become a matter of concern that needed to be speedily addressed. He said it behoved on the governors of the region to arise from their slumber and tackle it head on. Failure to do this, he said they should quit their positions and allow genuine people who would address the problem to step into their shoes.
“The security situation in the whole of South-east now is alarming,” he said. “Ndigbo in Diaspora now hardly can travel to their homelands without fear of being kidnapped. Our brothers and sisters living outside in Europe, America and other parts of the country and elsewhere around the world now can’t go home either to embark on meaningful development projects or enjoy their homeland. Worse still, some of us are giving our daughters out in marriage in foreign land. This is an abomination. This is never heard of.
“Regrettably, our governors are keeping silent over this extremely dangerous trend as though they are enjoying the unfolding scenario. Look at the way and manner Chief John Nzewi was abducted and killed after his abductors collected N30 million ransom from his family. This is a sad story. If our governors know that they cannot tackle this growing tumour, let them resign honourably and allow others come in and face the challenge. Every month, our governors cart away huge sums of money as security vote yet crime and criminality are spiraling every passing hour. We can’t continue like this. This trend needs to be tackled with all the seriousness it deserves before it kills genuine development initiatives in Igboland.”
Source: Sun, 14th May 2012.
2015: Jonathan’s spanner in Ohanaeze’s works
APRIL 30, 2012 BY EMMANUEL OBE
EMMANUEL OBE examines the rotational presidency and chances of the South-East as political actors begin intrigues for the 2015 elections
The principle of rotational presidency was propounded at the 1995 Constitutional Conference by former Vice-President Alex Ekwueme, who in his minority report advocated restructuring the country into six geopolitical zone.
He spoke passionately about the need to evolve a spirit of accommodation if the country must move forward. He had said, “National integration can be fostered by deliberately evolving a policy of accommodation, compromise and give-and-take.”
Latching onto this new spirit of accommodation, Nigerians used the opportunity of the Fourth Republic to advocate power shift, which culminated in the three political parties that emerged then to field all their presidential candidates from the Sout-West. The region at that time needed to be appeased based on the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by Chief M.K. Abiola (now late) from the South-West.
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the elite umbrella body of the Igbo speaking people of Nigeria, expressing a strong feeling that the Igbo were yet to be appeased along this new line of political accommodation, had in October 2011 made it clear that the Igbo would not compromise their quest to produce the President in 2015.
According to the President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Dr. Raph Uwechue, “What is most important now is for the Igbo to take their turn in the presidency. The Igbo must take their turn before any ethnic region thinks of pursuing a second term. The cruel act to Ndigbo is in contrast to the support we have always given to other zones of the country.
“With the treatment the Igbo are getting in Nigeria, it is obvious that the Nigeria/Biafra war is not over. The only thing that can show it is over is for our brothers to help us achieve Igbo presidency. All hands must be on the deck to make it a reality,”
Uwechue was speaking at a public lecture at the Federal Polytechnic, Oko, Anambra State to mark the 79th birthday of Ekwueme.
The seriousness of this declaration can be taken from the position that Ohanaeze has in recent years restored its legitimacy and firm control of the corporate opinion of the Igbo. To further bolster the organisation’s authoritativeness, its present leadership is not bogged down by divisions or factions, which crippled the past leaderships.
However, this resolve of Ohanaeze has since run into trouble after the March 2 burial of Chief Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the Biafran leader, who before his passing had become the undisputable leader of the Igbo.
The leadership of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra has since told Ohanaeze point-blank that the realisation of or its support for the Igbo Presidency in 2015 will only depend on President Goodluck Jonathan’s decision not to run for a second term.
The movement, whose primary concern had been to get the Igbo to have their own sovereign state, has since played down this aspect of its campaign, and its antagonistic stance against the Federal Government.
And MASSOB is not a group in Igboland, whose position on corporate matters of the people can be taken lightly. MASSOB has obviously been carried away by the support the Jonathan administration gave for the burial of Ojukwu, who contrary to expectation was granted a state burial by the Federal Government in spite of his role in the Nigerian Civil War.
Jonathan had used the burial of Ojukwu to score a political point and restore his popularity with the Igbo at a time when the people had begun to wonder if their massive support for him in the 2011 election was not misplaced. This was because, one year after, Jonathan had not fulfilled his promise to the people to fix major infrastructure in the zone like roads, the Second Niger Bridge, power and the Niger Port at Onitsha.
Apart from the dividing position of MASSOB, the governors of the South-East states, who by virtue of their offices, are legitimate leaders of the zone, do not seem to be sharing the sentiments of Ohanaeze.
Though he has not spoken about the Igbo Presidency project, the body language of Mr. Peter Obi, the Chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum, appears to indicate that the governors will go with Jonathan if he decides to run for a second term rather than support the quest for an Igbo Presidency that will antagonise Jonathan’s ambition.
Obi, who has since been named an honorary adviser to Jonathan on finance and appointed to Jonathan’s economic team, spends more of his time in Abuja attending to Jonathan’s affairs these days.
Besides, Jonathan penetrated the Igbo elite by offering them plum appointments. He has handed over the economic sector of the country to the Igbo as reflected in the appointment of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the Minister of Finance and Head of the Economic Management Team. Other top appointments in the economic sector include headships of the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Nigerian Stock Exchange, ARCOM and a key appointment of a deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
These appointments are in addition of the appointment of an Igbo as the Chief Army Staff, Minister of Aviation, Health and Education.
Ohanaeze, which came against all odds in 2011 to declare support for Jonathan will be expecting Jonathan, who had declared that he would not go for a second term to reciprocate the gesture he received from the Igbo in April 2011.
Ohanaeze’s support for Jonathan even stood against the stance of some political elite from the zone led by Ekwueme, Nwobodo and Prof. Chukwuma Soludo. They had urged for what they considered the respect for the gentleman agreement the Peoples Democratic Party had in 1999 to rotate the Presidency between the North and the South.
With the support Ohanaeze got from the South-East Governors’ Forum, a lot of sentiments were played up to favour Jonathan’s aspiration based principally on the fact that Jonathan’s zone, the South-South had never had a shot at the Presidency since 1960 when Nigeria became independent and the fact that Bayesla State, Jonathan’s home state was an integral part of the former Eastern Region.
Jonathan eventually won, garnering more proportion of votes in the South-East than even in the South-South where he comes from.
The Igbo presidency has become a running political project in Nigeria since 2002, when the political elite from the South-East came together to demand that the zone be allowed to produce the President in 2003.
The mobilisation for the project was phenomenal, and it preyed on the perceived political marginalisation of the Igbo that manifested in poor infrastructure in the zone, dearth of Igbo personnel in top and sensitive political positions in the country and fewer political constituencies. Above all, the Igbo had come to the conclusion that allowing their own to become President would give them a psychological relief in the sense that they would now feel that they have been fully reintegrated into the Nigerian polity since the civil war ended.
The response of the political elite and even the ordinary Igbo to the project was quite high. This resulted in more than a score of top Igbo politicians signifying their intention to run for the Presidency.
The list of presidential aspirants included Ekwueme, who eventually lost the PDP primaries to Olusegun Obasanjo; Ojukwu; former Senate President Chuba Okadigbo and former Governor of old Anambra State Jim Nwobodo.
The only opponents of the Igbo presidency then were appointees of the Federal Government, who had to save their face with the Obasanjo administration.
Ohanaeze took over the project at the height of the agitations but failed to pick a consensus candidate from the pack. So, everyone left went his way to try his luck. The result was that they were roundly thrashed by Obasanjo. So, the realisation of the project was further postponed to 2007.
The campaign for Igbo presidency returned in 2007 when four of the five former governors of the South-East states had finished their tenures. They all threw their hats into ring for the Presidency. They were Orji Kalu (Abia), who founded the Progressive Peoples Alliance to execute his ambition; Sam Egwu (Ebonyi), Chimaroke Nnamani (Enugu) and Achike Udenwa (Imo). Apart from the governors, the All Progressives Grand Alliance presented Ojukwu again for the presidential election.
But what is on the ground to realise the Igbo Presidency? Are the Igbo serious and can they be united in this project? Joseph Okonkwo, a member of the PDP in Anambra State says the election year is still far away. “But the strategies to realise this aspiration must start now,” he said.
Okonkwo says the Igbo political leadership must get the other zones to back its aspiration, and then move on to get the political parties to field only candidates from the zone.
Senator Uche Chukwumerije has suggested what he called the guerrilla approach in which the Igbo must prove that they could create a crisis if they are not given the chance to produce the President. He cites what the Oodua Peoples Congress did in the South-West to attract the President, what the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta did to attract the post to the South-South and what Boko Haram is now doing to attract the office to the North again.
Source: Punch, 30th April 2012.
Top Ohanaeze continues...