The leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo over the years by establishment men and conventional politicians has occasioned some intractable and protracted internal rivalries, partisanship, bickering, factionalism and even litigations that has plagued the organization till date.
This parlous state of affairs has opened up Ndigbo to self-seeking, opportunistic leaders who are unable to suppress their narrow interests for the common good of Ndigbo.
These leaders have used the organisation for their personal gains and to consolidate their sphere of political influence leading to the failure of Ndigbo to succeed in the pursuit of her collective aspirations to produce a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction. The scenario is about to repeat itself as 2023 draws nigh and the search for new leadership of Ndigbo is foreshadowing the nature of politics to come.
It is, therefore, not totally unexpected that political interest groups in the various political parties with their unscrupulous godfathers and gadflies have started congregating to appropriate to themselves the wisdom of declaring some persons as the anointed consensus candidate for the office of the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
The Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu sponsored political group, a gathering masterminded by the paymaster governor of Imo State should leave no true Igbo man in any doubt that the caliphate has infiltrated the electoral process of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and planted one of their own from the Nigerian establishment to emerge. This must be resisted by all well-meaning Igbo patriots.
This writer has long known and admired the person of Prof. George Obiozor. Right in the early days of 1992, when this writer was learning the ropes of courtroom advocacy under the tutelage of the no-nonsense British trained consummate litigation lawyer, Chief K. H. C. Nwokolo (Ide Obosi) who was the lawyer to the retired ambassador.
This writer had a close encounter with him in Chambers and formed an esteemed view of him. Therefore, ordinarily, this writer would have thrown his weight of support behind his candidacy. But in the indelible words of Brutus in William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”, I declare that ” Not that I loved Caesar less but that I loved Rome more”.
Personal considerations of affection and respect for Prof. Obiozor should never outweigh the collective aspirations of Ndigbo. More so, from recent events, it is sadly all too obvious that the Prof. is not in good health. We must collectively pray for his recovery and good health, and for him to remain alive to play other roles that he is most suited for.
Truth be told, he is not the man for a time like this, and as we say in strict legal jargon “equity is past the age of child bearing.” More instructively, he is a man of the Nigerian establishment for whom the maintenance of the status quo is of more value than the radical and uncompromising pursuit of the collective aspirations of Ndigbo.
The foregoing argument holds true for all the other candidates save two: Chief Godwin Anayo Uwazurike and Prof. Chidi Gideon Osuagwu. Chief Godwin Anayo Uwazurike is a successful lawyer who has no identifiable record of political service and partisanship, or any establishment service either at the State or federal level. He has been engaged in advocacy under a socio-cultural group of Aka Ikenga. Prof. Chidi Osuagwu on the other hand is a former chairman of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Imo State Chapter between 2007 and 2009, an academic and professor of biochemistry.
He is the author of the book, Truth and Chaos, a masterpiece on the Igbo race. His pedigree as a professional thinker and champion of the Igbo cause is unquestionable. Already steeped in knowledge of the workings of Ohanaeze Ndigbo at the primary shopfloor without the stains of the contentious rivalries and controversies.
This writer has had late-night sessions of dissection of topical issues and detailed analysis of Igbo leadership crises, Igbo cosmology, the struggle to achieve Igbo aspirations within the Nigerian state and the very fundamental issues of restructuring the political and economic architecture of Nigeria to pave way for the fulfilment of the manifest destiny of this nation and its constituent parts in a balanced federal republic.
Prof Osuagwu has demonstrated during these sessions that he has the profundity of thought to assert that a radical departure from the usual templates of engagement of the adversaries of Ndigbo both within and outside Igbo enclave and the hegemonic caliphate predators of the Nigerian establishment is required to achieve a paradigm shift and to navigate the Nigerian statecraft away from the looming iceberg of destruction and disintegration.
It has been noted already that the caliphate and the northern political leadership is well disposed to the candidacy of the retired Nigerian ambassador, Prof. George Obiozor, and their Western counterparts have aligned themselves with former Nigeria Police boss, IGP Mike Okiro, retired. These are thoroughbred Nigerian establishment people who will not serve any utilitarian and altruistic Igbo purpose but to continue with the status quo that will shortchange Ndigbo to serve their class interests and to cheat the Nigerian masses of the desired changes that will end their oppression.
The other candidate is Dr. Joe Nworgu, a former Federal Civil Service director in the Department of Estates in the Federal Capital Development Authority, Abuja. He was also a commissioner for works, housing and transport in Imo State from 1994 to 1996. The fact that he was a former Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo does not distract from bearing the same burden and albatross of the elements of the Nigerian establishment and conventional politicians.
The last and by no means the least is Dr. Chris Chigoziri Asoluka, a multidisciplinary academic and one time elected honourable member of Nigeria’s House of Representatives and deputy chairman of Committee on Appropriations, National Assembly, NASS, in 1992, and a leader of the Bipartisan Caucus of NASS. He was also a commissioner for finance and economic development, Imo State; and chairman, Committee of Finance Commissioners in Nigeria, between 1994 and1996.
Dr. Asoluka had also served as the national vice president general (Imo) of Ohanaeze Ndigbo between 2009-2013 and headed several NEC committees of the apex body, including the Election Committee, 2012/13; and a member of the Election Committee of Ohanaeze, 2016/17, which conducted the electoral process that led to the emergence of the Nwodo-led NEC/Ohanaeze.
Dr. Asoluka is like the other two establishment candidates X-rayed above. He is yoked and encumbered with the lethargic burdens of the carpetbaggers of the Nigerian establishment.
Almost all these eminently qualified candidates for the leadership of the apex organisation of Ndigbo, with fantastic résumé of qualifications and services, are laden with deficits and liabilities that render them incapable of effective service delivery.
The uncertain times we live in and the expectations of Ndigbo does not admit of the leadership of these men because they are players who are likely to have some yellow card bookings that would render them incapable of engaging the entrenched ruling class and their sponsors who must be uncompromisingly confronted for the effective change that would liberate Ndigbo and by extension, the masses of this country.
Ndigbo must shine their eyes and not be deceived by those masking as their leaders. Men who have compromised their integrity by serving themselves in the Nigerian establishment.
The emerging scenario calls for a hard-nosed man who would brook no reputation of any demagogue, a man who will entertain no fear of any yellow card bookings for which he would trade away the interests of Ndigbo on the tables of negotiations to save himself from a dangling red card over his head. Prof. Chidi Gideon Osuagwu is the man for the job at this particular point in time.
He has crafted a radical agenda for a fresh visionary engagement which is time-tailored to milestones and is set to trigger a transparent nonpartisan process to throw up Igbo presidential materials that will man the Nigerian statecraft and carefully navigate it away from the cataclysmic iceberg that threatens the corporate existence of our nation.
This stoic academic will make Ndigbo proud by the untainted Igbo presidential materials that will be thrown up by his leadership, the kind of materials that would address the foundational issues of our failed federal structures.
IHEKE SOLOMON, ESQ., is from Ugep in Cross River State with proud Igbo maternal roots in Igbere, Bende LGA of Abia State; he is a litigation lawyer, the Principal Partner of Chancery Chambers (Abuja/Umuahia) and a Minister of the gospel of Christ Jesus with Bible Believing Ministry Inc, aka, the dwelling place of the God of Talknado.
He was Deputy Governorship Candidate of Alliance For Democracy (AD)1999; Governorship Candidate of Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) 2007; the Director, Legal Services to the Ibrahim Shekarau Presidential Organization 2011; a legal resource person representing ANPP in the subcommittee of Constitution and Registration of the Merger Committee for the formation of APC; Iheke has longed quit APC after its registration. He is not a card-carrying member of any political party.