By the pronouncement of Chief John Nwodo’s led Ohaneze Ndigbo group endorsing and directing all Igbo people to vote for Atiku Abubakar who is the candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), as reported, the secretary-general of the group, Mr. Uche Okwukwu, gave a counter endorsement for President Buhari the candidate of All Progressives Congress (APC). The directives cannot be enforced. These moves continually make the group seem to be partisan which may be affecting its judgment and respect in the eyes of the people. The endorsements have divided the group making it not to speak with one voice.
Ohaneze Ndigbo is the apex socio-cultural group of Igbo people worldwide. The directives of the group carry weight but not unchallenged.
A people through the socio-political umbrella should not be compelled to be in one political party or the other. It is inconceivable to see all people to go in a particular direction thereby making the endorsements not to be fully taken to heart.
Many times the people have accused the apex body, asking what it has achieved for the people. Many times the youths have accused it of not considering the people but only considering themselves and their interests while appearing to speak the mind of the people.
Oha and Eze should be a constituent of the leaders and the people and one wonders how many people were present when the decision for the Oha; the people, was made by the Eze. They are 24 members of NEC, 22 attended the meeting while 21 voted in favour of the decision. Only 21 people deciding for millions of people? This cannot be adjudged a popular decision guiding millions of people at a time trust seemed to be lost on the group.
What concrete deal did Ohaneze secure to advance such endorsements? It is in my considered view that Ohaneze should adopt a neutral political posture while concentrating on “Igbo first” social, political and economic agenda.
Igbo people should be encouraged to belong to the existing political parties while securing Igbo interests from all fronts possible.
In defending the decision, the Ohaneze Chairman, Chief John Nwodo said, “He who is on the ground fears no fall, hence the decision. We are completely down; they cannot treat us worse than they are treating us now. Ohanaeze cannot be on the sideline.” He continued, the forthcoming election is a “war to change the status of Ndigbo in Nigeria, banish unemployment among youths in Igboland. It is a war to have sovereignty on our natural resources; it is a war to be recognised as equal partners.”
He said the organisation took the action because the PDP has given an avowed commitment to restructuring not only in its manifesto but by its presidential candidate and that Atiku chose one of their sons in the person of former Anambra State Governor Peter Obi, whom he said is not a bench warmer as his running mate.
Granted that the party and its presidential candidate are committed to restructuring in words as yet, is there any secured agreement that the Ohaneze could boast of or they just endorsed without extracting anything in the name of he that is down fears no fall?
Indeed, one of Igbo sons is the Vice Presidential candidate. What about other Igbo candidates who are the presidential candidates in other parties, are they not worthy enough to be endorsed? Are they, not Igbo sons too?
Is Ohaneze group trying to say there are better sons than the others? Are the endorsements miscarried personal interests?
There is no guarantee that the coming election will change the status of Igbo people by mere posturing. Ohaneze cannot be on the sideline but not by endorsing without strategical benefit for all.
In 2011, Ohaneze and Igbo people fully endorsed the Goodluck Jonathan’s election and government but at the end of his administration, most federal roads in the East were death traps. This time, Ohaneze is making the same mistake.
Instead of uniting the group, it is a subject of disunity as Chief Okwukwu has been suspended. Will he go and sleep after the suspension?