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Ohanaeze Ndigbo: the dawn of a new era —Amb. George Obiozor

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Being statement by Amb. (Prof.) George A. Obiozor, during a press conference after his election as the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo

Gentlemen of the press you are welcome. Ndigbo Ndewonu!

Let me first of all humbly thank Ndigbo at home and abroad for the interest, passion, sincerity of purpose and commitment they have demonstrated so far, onthe need for a leadership that would be truly reflective of the present and past aspirations and values of our people.

I must thank in particular the Chairman South East Governors forum, His Excellency Engr. Dave Umahi the Governor of Eboyi state, His Excellency Dr Victor Okezie Ikpeazu the Governor of Abia state, His Excellency Willie Obiano the Governor of Anambra state, His Excellency Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi the Governor of Enugu state and in a special way thank the Governor of Imo state, Distinguished Senator Hope Uzodinma as well as our brothers in DELTA AND RIVERS State.

The Imo state Governor merits commendation alongside Ohanaeze Ndigbo Imo state stakeholders, leaders and elders for my electoral victory. We equally thank him for successfully hosting the election of Ohanaeze Ndigbo World Wide on Sunday 10th of January 2021.

We also thank the outgoing P-G Nnia Nwodo and his executives as well as the electoral committee led by Chief Enwo Igariwey, Dr. Ferdinand Agu, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, Prof. ABC Nwosu. Special mention must be made of the contributions of His Excellency Dr. Ikedi Ohakim and others.

Following my emergence, there is an overwhelming encouraging support for Ndigbo as signified by congratulatory messages from the President Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces Muhammadu Buhari, Chief Olusegu Obasanjo former President of Nigeria, the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, the Chairman Nigerian Governors Forum Dr Kayode Fayemi on behalf of himself and the Nigerian Governors forum. I hereby express my appreciation on behalf of Ndigbo for that gesture of friendship and cooperation.

May I also profoundly express my gratitude to Chief Dr. Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu , Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe ,Rear Admiral Alison Madueke , General Ike Nwachukwu, Prof. Joe Irukwu, Dr. Paschal Dozie, Dr. ABC Orjiako, Chief Tom Ikimi, Senator Ike Ekweremadu ,Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe , Senator ken Nnamani , Senator Adolphus Wabara, Senator Ben Obi, Prince B.B. Apugo, His Excellency, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu , Senator Chris Ngige, Chief Achike Udenwa, His Excellency, Senator Orji Uzor Kanu, His Excellencies — Engr. Ebere Udeagu, Ambassador Tom Ironsi, Hon Uche Ogar, Dr. Douglas Acholonu , Prof Maurice Iwu, Chief Mike Okiro, Eze Cletus IIomuanya, Obi of Onitsha Eze Alfred Achebe,Eze Oliver Ohanwe, His Royal Highnesses, DIG Hilary Opara, Amb. LOC Agubuzor, Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo, Prof. Anya O Anya, Hon. Dubem Onyia, SN Okeke, CAN President Imo state, Bishop Athan Azubuike, other clergy men and numerous others.

To Igbo youths and women, I remain eternally grateful for the overwhelming support you gave me.

It is obvious that at this critical time in our history leadership of Ndigbo ought to transcend partisan politics, make-believe, rhetorics, propaganda and shadow-boxing. In other words, it is imperative that the primacy of Igbo interest, as opposed to self-seeking agenda and mere political ambition should be the bedrock on which Igbo desirable and ideal leadership today must be anchored. 6. Security and safety of Ndigbo will be our priority.

Speaking Frankly, my decision to contest for the office of President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo World Wide was a decision not based on self-aggrandizement, personal ambition or self-promotion. By my age and career history, I have long out grown all that. Indeed, my most compelling reasons were crucial service at one of the most critical time in Nigerian history with dire consequences, particularly for Ndigbo as a national entity. Generally, not only has governance become both difficult and complex in Nigeria but downright an EXISTENTIAL TREAT TO NDIGBO in particular.

The Igbo dilemma in Nigeria has finally come home at last and we must take critical, even delicate decisions and those problems need pragmatic solutions and quickly too. And the time requires careful and delicate skilled manager in the relationships between Ndigbo among themselves and other Nigerian nationalities especially the national power elites.

This requires a mature and experienced person with a capacity to build enough consensus among diversities of opinions and to define and fiercely but reasonably defend the interest of Ndigbo.

To my fellow Ndigbo , with all modesty, I have some idea of our needs, pains, griefs and expectations. Many others may have more. Together we shall bring to bear new narrative to salvage our vital interest. For me this is the second time the Igbo nation supported by five Governors of the South East decided to send me on a mission of critical national significance to Ndigbo.

The first was the 2014 National Conference when I was appointed the coordinator and Head of the Secretariat of South East delegates. Again on 10th January 2021, I was elected President-General Ohanaeze Ndigbo World Wide with the consensus of the five Governors of the South East. By the grace of God, just as I did not disappoint Ndigbo in 2014, I and my team will not disappoint Ndigbo in 2021.

We are aware of what is at stake, and will face the challenges and responsibilities with dedication, devotion and faith in God.

The new narrative must begin with being conscious of the lessons of history as ATILLA THE 8 HUN advised “choose your enemies wisely and your friends carefully” For far too long Ndigbo have been object of stereotype and profiling which ended in being misunderstood and misrepresented in national politics or business or academia. Negative profiling has been an Igbo cross to carry since Nnamdi Azikiwe’s emergence in Nigerian politics in the 1940s.

We are now at a point to REASSESS the IGBO DILEMMA in Nigeria. Every major group even the minorities are doing same today. Ndigbo in all indication see RESTRUCTURING as the most preferred option. However, whatever or whichever options others offer, what is real is that all the ethnic nationalities in Nigeria will sooner or later go into negotiations or debate over the future of Nigeria and we must be prepared.

Specifically, Ndigbo seek unity but not unity of slaves and masters and we seek peace but not peace of the grave yard. We seek justice because we know that throughout history those denied justice have had no interest in peace NDIGBO PRIORITIES SECURITY: The most urgent and imperative need of Ndigbo today is SECURITY.

SECURITY

The security of Ndigbo in Nigeria and beyond has become a compelling primary responsibility and of serious concern for Ndigbo. At home in Nigeria the story of insecurity of Ndigbo has reached incrementally dangerous level of EXISTTENTIALTHREAT. Ndigbo are indeed in 10 terms of security, the most vulnerable and victims of violence throughout Nigeria.

They are the most exposed to physical violence, attack and destruction of their houses or properties at the slightest crisis in any part of Nigeria. In fact, this “Victim syndrome”, Vulnerability and insecurity has gone beyond our shores, in Ghana, South Africa etc. There must be a solution to SECURITY problems of NDIGBO at home and abroad.

There are ways of doing this and there are certainly Ndigbo who are capable of either helping to “Contain’’ the propensity towards violence against Ndigbo or persuading the appropriate authorities to do so. In matters of this nature, knowledgeable leadership is ‘’sine qua non’’-a necessity.

ECONOMY

Of all the criticism of Ndigbo, nobody and no group has ever accused Ndigbo of laziness. Ndigbo instead have been associated with economic and business ingenuity. However, this too has had mixed response of praise, jealousy and envy. And also, the economic success associated with Ndigbo has always been individual achievements and successes. Hopefully, the NEW ERA of prosperity of Ndigbo as collective efforts is about to start with the laudable initiative of Ohanaeze Ndigbo , in terms of the ALAIGBO STABILIZATION FUND.

This is definitely going to enhance and promote the ‘’AKU RUO ULO’’ dictum currently also promoted by Ohanaeze Ndigbo and other stakeholders.

We must take the idea of building up the economic and industrial base of Alaigbo as a priority. Indeed, in general analysis Ndigbo have in comparison to other parts of Nigeria had successful economic managers and entrepreneurs. Thus we must encourage, support and advance the course of domestic and foreign investment in Igboland. We will and we must always be happy to know that what others deny us we can do for ourselves.

EDUCATION

If there is one palpable regrettable issue in Nigeria today, it is indeed the neglect or abandonment of education as a national priority. This has its worst impact on Ndigbo whose claim to modern education came relatively late but who within few years were catapulted to the highest level of the ladder of education in Nigeria.

Ndigbo even made history when two Igbo sons, Prof. Kenneth Dike and Prof. Eni Njoku became Vice Chancellors of two Nigerian pioneer Universities of Ibadan and Lagos. One remembers with nostalgia, stories of Igbo Union Schools across the country and the competitive establishment of private primary and secondary schools across Igboland. Ndigbo must return to education, give education its priority as the key that opened the door to Igbo prosperity and positive reputation.

Ohaneze Ndigbo under my watch, will promote the use of Igbo language in all schools in Igboland and beyond. In addition to our commitment to education, the cultural aspect of our people through the film and music industries will be strongly supported in view of its potentials in Tourism, Education and promotion of International Relations.

Nnamdi Kanu/BIAFRA

The Igbo nation is not at war with Nigeria and has nothing pending before any institutional authority that demands a separate existence from Nigeria. Nnamdi Kanu is one of us and he must listen to some of us for several reasons. The fact and reality are that the issues of Biafra are above and beyond his capacity to decide. He must listen because he is one of us and we are all in this dilemma together. And our mutual and collective responsibilities are sacred and must be respected.

Consequently, all actions or utterances that put Ndigbo in ‘’present and imminent danger’’ or ‘’harm’s way’’ must be avoided.

We must also understand what Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu meant by “the bones shall rise’’ He didn’t mean conflict, violence and war. Definitely the bones have arisen re-incarnated or resurrected but in Ojukwu’s idea the mission is creative and constructive. Ndigbo are builders and not nation wreckers/destroyers.

Ojukwu meant the return of the “’Can do ‘’spirit of Ndigbo that turns ‘’difficulties into dividends ‘’ and obstacles into opportunities. Therefore in this context and in the spirit of the times and collective interest of Ndigbo , I appeal to our son Nnamdi Kanu,‘’ act well your part for there your honour lies ‘’.

CONCLUSION

Ndigbo , believe me , we can have our people fairly united again , not really as Igbo state union days , but somehow closer . Many things unite us but we have given few things that divide us priority. That is our main problem and that can also change. But we must also once again ‘’invent’’ a well-defined common cause and a common sense of direction.

Therefore, there are huge tasks ahead of us and work that must be done urgently. We therefore call on all Igbo Diasporansto joinhands with us to bring about the accelerated development of Alaigbo. Principally, the goal of this administration is aggregating our individual successes into common action that will lead to a collective success.

Nothing unites a people more quickly than prospects for success and with a well-known Igbo spirit, this seemingly difficult task can be done. As Nelson Mandela said, ‘’it 17 looks impossible until it is done ‘’.

May I once again state categorically that my dream type of leadership is leadership/manager model using the most and available efficient persons and instruments to achieve IGBO COLLECTIVELY DEFINED OBJECTIVES.

I believe this can be done with diplomatic Dexterity, Decency, Candor and Decorum. Our position should therefore begin with efforts to effectively re-integrate NDIGBO into Nigerian political process effectively, significantly and relevantly. This requires a serious diplomacy and not confrontation or conflicts. Diplomacy’s great asset is to teach how to make your enemy your friend for specific objective.

In fact, in politics and Diplomacy, it is the identity of interest that are the surest of bonds between state and individuals 18 in critical circumstances and moments as we are now. Nigeria needs Re-alignment, Restructuring, Renegotiation, Decentralization or Devolution of power, choose the one you like.

It must be done to save Nigeria and we are ready to navigate the Igbo destiny through this precarious time of uncertainty, doubt, and general insecurity. And what actually is the irreducible minimum demand of Ndigbo in Nigeria?

Generally, to me, the demand is for Justice,Equity and Fairness. That is what we wish to achieve by RESTRUCTURING the Nigeria Political system, by bringing governance to a level playing field to all its citizens. And back to the country bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers ‘’where tribes and tongues may differ but in brotherhood we stand ‘’. Certainly, it is time for us to change the 19 narratives of the perennial and precarious debates on the future of Ndigbo in Nigeria.

In the present trying moments may we truly have a spirit of purpose, and nationalism that a common love for our freedom may override whatever other issues that do divide us. That a sense of mission may grow in all our hearts and we leave here today as a nation and people who care for each other and another regardless of all their differences. We must be reminded that a team does not win championship if the players have different agenda. Definitely we are united in grief and our history.

Ours is a righteous cause. Those who oppose us must reconsider their positions for unlike some of them, we do not seek to dominate, control or humiliate our fellow citizens or fellow humanity. 20 Instead, we seek and must at all times seek a world where justice and fairness for all prevail, charity to all and malice towards none.

The Igbo struggle justice and equity in Nigeria has been long and torturously agonizing, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. With our new narratives of courage without rancor, wisdom without arrogance and intelligence with humility, we will engage our fellow Nigerians with offers they cannot resist, and situations that will compellingly encourage them taking right actions for the right reasons.

Finally, may I assure NDIGBO that I accept as an obligation their decision to elect me the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo World Wide as a challenge and a responsibility that must by the grace of GOD be pursued with dedication and devotion. A Challenge that I must confront triumphantly with honour and dignity and a sense of mission.

Do I add, so help me God.

Thank you.

Amb. (Prof.) George A. Obiozor


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