Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, has accused the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) of conniving with the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to exclude the South East zone from the leadership of the country especially the National Assembly.
In a statement in Abuja on Wednesday and signed by the President of Ohanaeze, FCT Abuja chapter, Odozi Nwodozi, claimed that the withdrawal of certificates of return of some Igbo persons by INEC was a part of the plot to ensure any Ndigbo does not emerge as presiding officer of the 9th National Assembly.
The statement which was entitled, “This deliberate systemic exclusion of Ndigbo from the governance structure is unacceptable,” among other things, demanded the immediate release of Certificate of Return of the Governor Okorocha of Imo.
It read, “Ndigbo have watched with mixed feelings the deliberate systemic attempt by the ruling APC and its agents in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to exclude Ndigbo from the governance structure of the Nigerian state.
“These attempts which have been made manifest by the disdainful manner of allocation of Principal Offices in the National Assembly by the Adams Oshiomole-led APC where Ndigbo were blanked out, an action further amplified by the orchestrated attempt at excluding the South-East from contesting for any of the offices in the 9th Senate through the deliberate connivance of INEC in withholding the certificates of Return of Igbo persons who possess the capacity, qualifications and wherewithal to challenge their malicious impunity.
“Elected legislators like the Imo State governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha and the highest and most experienced Igbo senator in the APC, Senator Benjamin Uwajimogu have been denied their certificates of Return on unconstitutional grounds. Actions aimed at crippling the Igbo attempt at a shot in the leadership of the 9th Assembly.
“It is common Knowledge that despite the exclusion of the Igbo nation from the Executive arm of government, amplified by our been veiled off from the entire security apparatus of Nigeria, the post-election actions of both the APC leadership in out-zoning Ndigbo in the distribution of offices of the 9th National Assembly, and the collaborative actions of their INEC appointees have shown that there is a deliberate attempt to perpetuate the exclusion of Ndigbo from governance in the current dispensation.
“We demand the immediate release of the Certificates of Return of both Governor Ohkorocha and Senator Uwajimogu, to enable them participate in the inauguration and election of officers of the 9th Assembly.
“Furthermore, it is sad and disheartening that experienced legislators from the South-East like Hon. Chike Okafor and Nkiru Onyejocha are overlooked in the allocation of offices in the House of Representatives, not minding the fact that they passed through the needle’s eye to win their elections and the qualities they have exhibited in their previous legislative tenures.
“To achieve an all-encompassing and unity government as espoused by the APC leadership, they should return back to the drawing board and ensure the inclusion of the Igbo nation in their planned 9th Assembly leadership; while calling their agents in INEC under Prof. Mahmud Yakubu to without further delay ensure the immediate issuance of Certificate of Return to both senator Benjamin Uwajimogu and Owelle Rochas Anayo Okorocha.
“INEC should follow the institutional procedure of allowing aggrieved candidates to approach the electoral tribunals to sort out themselves and not the crude and banana republic style of withholding the certificates of return of persons already declared winners, with the intension of caging them till the inauguration of the 9th National Assembly and the election of its officers.
“To the Igbo National Assembly members of the APC divide, your exclusion have shown you that you are strangers in the party which has shown much disdain and scorn to all that you represents.
“It is also the wish of Ndigbo that there should be a synergy and coordinated institutional approach in your quest for offices in the 9th Assembly rather than the prevailing individual approaches that have you unserious, and consequently placed you outside the favored corridors.
“The deliberate exclusion of Ndigbo in the recent zoning of offices in the National Assembly is unacceptable to Ndigbo. It is also a confirmation of the fact that the APC as a party does not have a place for the Igbo nation, and as such does not deserve the vote of Ndigbo.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo can’t be more right and visionary in rejecting the party, which have exhibited unhindered disdain for the restructuring of the Nigerian state and equitable distribution of patronages, the pillars of the prevailing Ohanaeze Ndigbo idealogy.”