The apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has finally endorsed the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Atiku Abubakar was endorsed on Thursday during a meeting of Imeobi, the highest decision-making body of Ohanaeze.
According to a statement issued after the Ime Obi meeting of Ohanaeze and signed by its President General, Chief Nnia Nwodo, Ndigbo all over the country would support the PDP candidate who the organization said had shown commitment to addressing the myriads of problems facing the country.
Some of the reasons for the endorsement included Atiku’s promise on restructuring and his choice of Peter Obi as his running mate. The statement reads:
“After a critical and dispassionate appraisal of the issues and the visible fault lines in our polity, including the analysis of the election manifestos of the various contesting parties, especially with regards to the restructuring of the federation and continued relevance of our people in the Nigerian geopolitical space, the meeting resolved as follows:
“That Ohanaeze remains the apex socio-cultural organisation that works for the interest of the Igbo in and outside Nigeria. It attempts to aggregate the views of all other Igbo platforms;
“Ohanaeze notes particularly that a major political party (PDP) by the nomination of our son, Peter Obi, as the vice presidential candidate has given Ndigbo an opportunity for inclusivity. Ndigbo must seize the moment;
“That the presidential candidate of PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has made an avowed commitment to restructuring of the federation and reconfirmed same during his recent visit to the United States in his meetings with high-level US officials;
“In consideration of the above and other relevant existential factors pertaining to the treatment of the Igbo in our polity, the Ime Obi Ohanaeze, therefore, hereby ratify the decision reached at the Ohanaeze National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held in Enugu on January 22, 2019, to adopt the Atiku Abubakar/ Peter Obi ticket in the 2019 presidential election. Ime Obi therefore endorses and embraces fully, this ticket without equivocation, especially with regards to the position of Ndigbo at the Awka Declaration, which insisted on a complete restructuring of the Nigerian polity.
“Ohanaeze urges Ndigbo to see their PVCs as their most potent tool to ensure a restructured polity and for a better society.
“The meeting further called on the international community to help to ensure a free and credible 2019 elections in Nigeria. Ohanaeze also urged all Igbo to come out and vote.
Following the endorsement, the Anambra State Government washed its hand off Atiku endorsement, describing the development as a divisive trajectory capable of destabilizing Ndigbo.
Addressing a press conference late Thursday night, the Secretary to the Anambra State Government, Prof Solo Chukwulobelu, who led a delegation of the State to the Imeobi, said they were not part of the exercise. He said:
“In compliance with the directive by the Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, a delegation of the Anambra State Government arrived at Nike Lake Hotel in Enugu early enough to participate in the meeting of Ime Obi of Ohaneze Ndigbo scheduled to start at 7pm, as agreed on by the Chairman of the South East Governors Forum, Engr Dave Umahi, and the President General of Ohaneze, Chief John Nnia Nwodo.
“The delegation led by the Secretary to the Anambra State Government, Professor Solo Chukwulobelu, was surprised to learn that the meeting had been held earlier and lasted for a mere 30 minutes. The representative of the Ebonyi State Government, Dr Eric kelechi Igwe, who arrived at the venue before the time the meeting was scheduled to start was also surprised that it had already taken place. The same goes for others like the Minister of Science and Technology, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, OON.”
“We are, indeed, surprised that the Ime Obi meeting could hold today of all days. We had expected Ohaneze leaders to participate actively in the commissioning ceremony of the Zik Mausoleum, Onitsha, Anambra State. The Mausoleum, which was started by the General sani Abacha government, took a whole 23 years to complete.
“We have read bits of the communiqué purportedly issued by the Ohaneze leadership. We regret that they do not reflect the position of the people and Government of Anambra State.
“The position of the Anambra State Government is that Ohaneze should remain a united organization umbrella for all Ndigbo, and should not take sides with any party. There are major leaders in all political parties, including the three major ones in Nigeria, namely, APGA, APC and PDP.
“It is deeply regrettable that the Ohaneze leadership has chosen to go down a divisive trajectory capable of setting back Igbo unity for several years.”