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Ohanaeze Ndigbo crisis gets messier, as accusations reign ahead of likely parallel exco election

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30-DAY-ULTIMATUM: Be ready to defend yourself, Ohaneze tells Igbos

Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the apex sociocultural organisation of Igbos of the Southeast geopolitical zone, is no doubt a once very powerful powerhouse in the zone, just like the Afenifere of the Southwest and the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) of the Northern part of the country.

But just like the Afenifere and the ACF, politics and personal interests crept in to whittle down the influence of the organisation.

For ACF and Afenifere, the emergence of Northern Elders Forum and Afenifere Renewal Group (ARG), eroded the once larger than life image and power the group held in their respective regions.

Though, a parallel body is yet to come out from Ohanaeze Ndigbo, there is no doubting the fact that a faction already exists in the group that has always spoken and fought the cause of Ndigbo in the country.

A crack first became noticable in the build up to the 2019 presidential election, when the Secretary General of the group, Uche Okwukwu, openly went against the feeling and generally known stand of Ohanaeze Ndigbo by endorsing the candidacy President Muhammadu Buhari.

The general feeling had been that Ohanaeze Ndigbo was more sympathetic to the cause of former President Atiku Abubakar, who was the candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Okwukwu’s action, seen as going against the official direction of the group, earned him a suspension from the group.

Though suspended, Okwukwu had carried on unperturbed, issuing statements in the name of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and on different occasions, debunking or antagonising the official position of the mainstream faction led by the President General, Nnia John Nwodo, who Okwukwu claims had also been suspended from the group.

Those in the know will readily agree that underlining cause of the strife in the group is politics, politics of APC versus PDP, just as the case of Afenifere and the ARG in the Southwest.

Read also: Southeast govs, Ohanaeze disagree over security initiative

Curiously, Okwukwu, the arrowhead of those sympathetic to APC in Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has the loyalty and support of the youth wing of the group, Ohanaeze Youths Worldwide (OYC), a group that has consistently converse for Southeast politicians to team up with the APC in order for the zone to realise the much agitated president of Igbo extraction.

Okwukwu, in a statement on Wednesday, alluded to this when he said by the constituition of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the OYC is under the control of the Secretary General of the group, an office he still lays claims to, despite his suspension from office by the mainstream group.

The loyalty and support of OYC to Okwukwu, became even more obvious, as his statement was sent out to the media by Okechukwu Iziguzoro, the President General of OYC.

In the statement, he said: “Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide led by Mazi Okechukwu isiguzoro is on Course, as Youth Wing of Ohanaeze Ndigbo is traditionally under the supervision of the office the Secretary General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo.”

Also butressing the fact that the crisis is political and an extension of the PDP, APC rivalry, Okwukwu said: “I read with happiness the publication credited to my friend Mr. Uche Achi-Okpaga (the Pedestrian and uninformed ‘publicity secretary’ of the suspended President – General Nnia Nwodo’s Ohanaeze Ndigbo.

“In the said publication he claimed that I have been expelled from the Ohanaeze Ndigbo. I thank God for this false claim. Secondly, I am happy that the author rightly said that I opposed a purported adoption of Atiku Abubakar as the “adopted” candidate of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.

“I opposed the adoption of Atiku Abubakar in the greatest interest of Ndigbo as I knew that President Buhari and the APC will win the 2019 Presidential election.

“Let me state for record purposes that the suspended P.G. Chief John Nwodo is under pressure to refund the Three Billion Naira (N3BN) he collected from the PDP to endorse Atiku Abubakar. A mission that failed woefully. I urge him to refund the money to free himself physically and spiritually.”

Also in contention is the impending election of principal officials and the battle to control the soul of Ohanaeze Ndigbo. To this, Okwukwu alleged that Nnia Nwodo had planned to impose a successor in connivance with the sacked former Governor of Imo State, Emeka Ihedioha.

“Notably, Nwodo is deeply worried and frustrated with the outcome of the supreme court judgement on the Imo State Governorship election as he had earlier worked out plan with the sack Governor Emeka Ihedioha to install the next President General of the body.

“Finally, we are confident that Nwodo and his co-travellers will fail in their dream to install the next President General, the Deputy President General and Secretary General”, he said.

From the tone of Okwukwu’s statement, it may be safe to conclude that the election of new officers for the Ohanaeze Ndigbo will likely be the last straw to break the once united and powerful group.

A scenario, where full blown factions would emerge from Ohanaeze Ndigbo is envisaged as each faction may conduct parallel elections to elect officials that will lead them.

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