Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, elder statesman, on Sunday assumed office as the new President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide shortly after the Imeobi Ohanaeze ratified his nomination.
The government of Imo State had nominated Iwuanyanwu to replace the former president-general of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Prof George Obiozor, who died in December 2022 after a brief illness.
The Imeobi meeting was held at the old Government House Lodge, Enugu, where Iwuanyanwu was presented and ratified as the new leader of Ohanaeze had serving governors and former governors, former leaders of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, leaders of the South-East traditional rulers council and senators among others present.
The governors were led by the host and Governor of Enugu State, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and his Anambra State counterpart, Prof. Chukwuma Soludo.
The chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum and Governor of Ebonyi State, David Umahi, his Imo and Abia counterparts, Senator Hope Uzodimma and Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, respectively, were represented by their deputies, Mr Kelechi Igwe, Prof. Placid Njoku and Ude Oko Chukwu.
Also present at the event was the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi; Governor-elect of Enugu State, Peter Mbah; former governor of Anambra State, former governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim; former president-generals of Ohanaeze led by Nnia Nwodo, former Minister of Health, Prof. ABC Nwosu, among others.
Iwuanyanwu in his acceptance speech, described the event as a remarkable day in his life, because it is a day when Providence and the love of his people, Igbo, propelled him to the position of president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide.
He noted that all through his life, he had done his best to serve the Igbo both in times of war and peace.
The elder statesman also disclosed that he did not nurture the ambition to be the leader of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, adding, “Instead I had the ambition of becoming the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“I contested the presidency on three occasions but I did not succeed. I took my losses in good composure knowing full well that as a Christian, all powers and promotion come from God.
“But today, destiny has placed squarely on my shoulders the duty of leading the Igbo as the president-general of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide. I, therefore, have a duty to valiantly defend the Igbo cause and I promise Ime-Obi and all Igbo people that by the grace of God, I will not fail them.”
He said he had carefully examined the present circumstances of Ndigbo and had decided among other things to focus on education, agriculture, industrialisation, electricity, power generation, and health among others as the core of his assignments during his tenure.
On the security situation in the South-East, Iwuanyanwu described it as very disturbing and expressed his belief that there is a very urgent need for a peace summit in Igboland.
He appealed to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), to release the leader of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, before the expiration of his tenure in office.
According to him, Kanu is very crucial for any key discussion and it is not possible to negotiate any peace while he is in detention.
“It is also important to note that the judiciary has discharged and freed Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. It will be the joy of many Igbo people and Nigerians to see Mazi Nnamdi Kanu released from detention.
“There is also a report that his health is deteriorating. I feel it is important that he is released to have access to his medical doctors so that he does not die in prison,” he warned.