2023 Presidency: Why Ohanaeze has not endorsed Peter Obi

2023 Presidency: Why Ohanaeze has not endorsed Peter Obi

Reasons have emerged on the reluctance by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide in frontally endorsing the Presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, ahead next year’s general elections.

This is as Bitrus Pogu, leader of Middle Belt Forum (MBF), yesterday, said his people are supporting the Obi/Datti ticket because they are young, agile, and have all it takes to rescue Nigeria from the doldrums.  He added that Obi fits into the permutation and desire of his region for a President from the South East.

He disclosed that once the campaigns are declared open, the Middle Belt would unveil Obi/Datti in Jos, Plateau State, where they would let the world know that Obi is their candidate.

An allegation went viral during the week that the apex Igbo body had allegedly demanded payments from one of Obi’s promoters, Kennedy Iyere, as a condition to support a Nigerian President from the South East.

Ohanaeze had in the buildup to the 2019 general elections under the leadership of its former President General, Chief Nnia Nwodo, endorsed the standard bearer of the PDP, Atiku Abubakar with Obi as his running ma

Saturday Sun reliably gathered from Ohanaeze chieftains and Igbo leaders that the body would not want to pigeonhole Obi as a sectional candidate.

National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Dr. Alex Ogbonnia said Iyere’s claim was the most fallacious, mendacious and callous of all the falsehoods aimed at tarnishing the image of the Igbo as the Judas category that values money more than human conscience.

Ogbonnia noted that Ohanaeze and several other Igbo activists and interest groups such as Nzuko Umunna, had taken the advocacy for a Nigerian President of South East origin to all parts of Nigeria; including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, the Sultan of Sokoto, His Eminence, Muhammadu Sa’adu Abubakar III; Chief E K Clarke, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, and the British High Commission.

He stated that he had in separate letters to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and Atiku Abubakar, reminded them that it was the turn of the South East to produce a president for Nigeria, urging them not to contest the 2023 Presidency on the grounds of equity, justice and fairness.

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For Atiku, he said he clearly reminded the PDP candidate “that the current Igbo travail is as a result of our support to his candidacy in 2019.” 

Regardless, Ohanaeze lauded the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) led by Chief E. K. Clarke, and Chief Nnia Nwodo as the Coordinator General, for their irrevocable position to support an Igbo of the South East for Presidency in 2023.

According to its spokesman, the unwavering position of Ohanaeze Ndigbo has gained a global momentum and “found expression, resonance and traction in the irrepressible power that is inherent in the Nigerian masses.”

Yet, Ogbonnia explained that Iyere was blackmailing the apex Igbo body because the group declined to collaborate with the activist after an unpalatable experience they had with him in October 2020 in Awka, Anambra State, which bordered on a stench character deficit in his maneuvers.

Nonetheless, former Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo has urged Ndigbo to fully identify with Peter Obi as he is not just an Igbo man but the brightest among the other contestants.

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Nebo spoke in Enugu that posterity would never honour those who shy away from supporting a movement which has the potential to heal Nigeria.

For him, the strategic importance of Obi’s joining the Labour Party “is to give it a national structure in a way that nobody will say this is a party belonging to any ethnic group. Peter Obi just happens to be an Igbo man and he happens to be the best anywhere. We should not be ashamed to identify with the brightest and best. If we do, posterity will never honour us. We will be dumped with the dregs and those who diminish Nigeria.”

Ohanaeze has also condemned the campaign of calumny orchestrated by Mallam Mahdi Shehu, a Katsina-based activist, against Obi.

The Coalition of Northern Elders for Peace and National Unity (CNEFPNU) and the Conference of Northern Christians and Minority (CNCM), also called out Mahdi over a provocative video he made, saying it was capable of igniting ethno-religious tension.

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Mahdi propagated in a viral video clip that a vote to the Labour Partty presidential candidate was a vote for Biafra. He also alleged that a vote to Obi was synonymous with the destruction of the North while asking his listeners what they stood to gain by voting Obi, a southerner.

But the Ohanaeze in taking him on, urged the government to rein in such narrow-minded ethnic bigot that holds tenaciously to the grudges of the past.

“Instructively, the Igbo cosmopolitanism admits politicians of all persuasions to canvass for votes across the entire Igbo space without let or hindrance, bearing in mind that what Nigeria needs now is a transformative persona, a visionary with ideologically based programmes and a proven record of accomplishments,” Ohanaeze said.

CNEFPNU also accused Mahdi of hate speech laced with a lot of tribal and religious slur aimed at pitching Christians against Muslims.

Its National Coordinator, Prof Abdulkadir Gummi, and National Secretary, Hajiya Hadiza Gwazo, the Northern elders group, urged Northern voters to disregard Mahdi’s call and vote for presidential candidates of their choice, devoid of ethnic, religious, or political consideration.

National President of CNCM, Dr. Bitrus Yakubu, in a statement called on the international community to declare him a person of interest for breaching the UN charter on peace and harmony.

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