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Ohanaeze election: why the Owerri affront will not stand

By Okechukwu Nwadinobi

I write to narrate my sordid experience in my bid to serve Ndigbo, through Ohanaeze, as Secretary-General. After carefully reviewing every aspect and every stage of the Ohanaeze electioneering process, I have decided to withdraw my candidacy in the Ohanaeze elections scheduled for today, January 10, 2021.

I waited till today to go through every stage of the election process for the purpose of confirming the process, what was done and how it was done.

The projected population of Ndigbo is about 50 million people. It is extremely difficult to comprehend how a few persons will assault Ndigbo in such a brazen manner and expect to get away with it. I am proud to be an Igbo man.

Ndigbo are respected worldwide for their enterprise, objectivity, creativity, ingenuity, rational thinking and active participation in all things that are in the best interest of mankind. They have excelled worldwide in all aspects of human endeavor.

The most recent being our contribution to the development of Covid-19 vaccine to check the pandemic. History books will record for posterity the actions of the 2020/21 Ohanaeze Electoral Committee.

I am not an Imeobi Member, but attended its meeting which was held on December 06, 2020 during which an election committee was announced and approved. On December 20, 2020 , another Imeobi meeting was held to address some Electoral Committee leadership issues.

The Chairman of the electoral committee, Senator Ben Obi, resigned both as Chairman and from the Electoral Committee. Chief Igariwey was appointed Chairman to replace Senator Ben Obi while the South East head of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) was appointed as Deputy Chairman.

The Electoral Committee was inaugurated on December 29 and guidelines purported to have been signed by the Chairman were released on December 30. The dates for the elections and collection and return of forms were released.

I paid for the nomination form on Wednesday January 06, 2021, completed and returned it on Thursday January 07, 2021. No venues for any of the elections was announced.

Yet lists of local government executive officers, State executive officers and delegates lists have been generated from known offices, supposedly presented as elected. From Ohanaeze constitution, only General Assemblies (GAs), in the local government areas, States and National can elect Executive Officers.

I wish to request the Electoral Committee to publish the lists of members that participated in the GAs that elected those that are now presented as new Ohanaeze officers. A unity list for Ohanaeze National officers is now being passed around for today’s elections.

As at 10am today, the venue and time for the National Executive Committee elections are yet to be known. No delegates lists, both statutory and elected, have been released.

I was not informed of any screening for the candidates and yet screening started yesterday and scheduled to be concluded today, just before elections.

We were all moving around last night, supposedly to see delegates who don’t know us and non availability of a validated list to guide us. Information flying around indicates that today’s election may be, by option A4.

If there will be voting, every State will vote separately for ease of tracking votes and to enforce compliance. Random comments seem to suggest secrecy of availability or otherwise of the voting paper (no ballot paper sample has been seen by anyone, as the usual standard practice) and non sighting of ballot boxes.

It was after my interaction with some key stakeholders, that I took the inevitable decision to withdraw from the contest fraught with what seems predetermined to achieve known unsavoury objectives.

As always, I stand for good character and integrity and will never be associated with anything that will demean and denigrate Ndigbo. I will therefore, not want to be associated with a process that presents Ndigbo in a bad light and designed to create confusion and divide our people.

We must rise against this affront and respond appropriately.

This piece by Okechukwu Nwadinobi was published belatedly as it was meant to be published before the Ohanaeze Ndigbo election on Sunday, January 10, 2020.

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