Why Okwukwu was suspended as General Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo
By Chief Emeka Attamah
For the avoidance of doubt, it has become pertinent to chronicle the process that led to the suspension of Barrister Uche Okwukwu as the General Secretary of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide.
In the first instance, Uche Okwukwu was present at all the meetings that culminated in the endorsement by Ohaneze Ndigbo of Vice-president Atiku Abubakar and Mr Peter Obi for the forthcoming presidential election. Though he objected to the endorsement, he was a lone voice as he had no supporter while the remaining majority of twenty-one members of NEC of Ohanaeze voted for the adoption. Therefore, while the minority may have his say, the majority in any democracy must have their way and that was what happened.
At the Imeobi meeting which he also attended, Mr Okwukwu neither raised his finger nor his voice to object to the unanimous decision taken to ratify the NEC position. As usual, the Imeobi was made up of prominent sons and daughters of Igboland, including past governors, ministers, commissioners, retired and serving top civil servants, the academia, business men among others.
To the utter consternation of other members of the National Executive Committee, Uche Okwukwu was copiously quoted in the press and social media as berating the NEC and Imeobi for purportedly endorsing Atiku/Obi ticket in a kangaroo Imeobi session and went further to tacitly endorse President Buhari at a rally in Aba contrary to the declared stand of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide.
The NEC allowed some days for him to retract the stories about him but none was forthcoming. It was left with no option but to convene an emergency meeting which was generously attended by twenty out of a twenty-four man committee, two being away on health grounds and Mr Okwukwu refusing to show up at the start of the meeting. After much discussion and on the verge of taking a decision on him, Mr Okwukwu stormed into the national secretariat with a convoy of about thirty heavily armed policemen in many hilux vehicles. Being the first time such would happen, this naturally created tension, except on the President General, Chief Nnia Nwodo, whose mien didn’t change but maintained his calm and calculated disposition and continued with the meeting as if nothing had happened.
Several questions such as if the Imeobi meeting held, if a quorum was formed, if there was any adoption made, whether it was unanimous or not, if he objected to the resolution and if he said the Imeobi was kangaroo were thrown at him. He was also asked if he alleged that 300 million naira was given to the President General to facilitate the endorsement, if he was planning to form a parallel Ohanaeze Ndigbo, if he was planning to take some people to the State House to see and endorse Mr President, if he had endorsed President Buhari on behalf of Ohanaeze in Aba. To all these questions, he answered in the negative. Furthermore, Mr Okwukwu was asked if he did not circulate invitation for the meeting, how did he come to be present at the meeting? Finally, was there any difference between what was agreed upon at the Imeobi, including himself, and what was put out in the communique, and he said none.
Having arrived at this point, Mr Okwukwu was asked by the President General to leave the meeting hall to allow members make their contributions and arrive at a decision on him but he refused to budge. It took the sagely intervention of the National Legal Adviser, Chief Chuks Muomah, a SAN, for him to reluctantly exit. Before then, he was asked his grouse which he said was that he was not the one that wrote the communique and didn’t sign it to which the PG replied that it was his prerogative to decide who did those at the meeting.
The decision was without any dissenting voice out of the twenty members present, that :
1. Barrister Uche Okwukwu is from this day, Thursday 31st January, 2019, suspended from his office as Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and membership of all organs of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
2. That having personally attended the meeting and denied all allegations against him is hereby given seven days to publicly retract and publish same in the mass media, failing which the matter would be referred to a Disciplinary Committee for further inquiries and appropriate action and subsequent referral to the Imeobi for a final decision.
3. In the prevailing circumstance, every member of Ohanaeze, branches and affiliate bodies, are advised in the interim, to take note and desist from dealing with Barrister Uche Okwukwu as the Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide.
It is therefore preposterous that Mr Okwukwu is going around spreading gross falsehood that the NEC of Ohanaeze Ndigbo has suspended it’s President General. There is nowhere in the constitution of Ohanaeze Ndigbo that provision was made for an individual to suspend anybody unless on the decision of the entire NEC having formed a quorum.
Like Chinua Achebe would say, ” the masquerade dancing in the middle of the road, has somebody beating the drum for it in the bush”. It is crystal clear that Barrister Uche Okwukwu has sold out to the ruling party. If not, how was he able to muster a force of about thirty policemen with government vehicles to attend a NEC meeting which he had never attended with a single policeman? When asked about that by NEC, he said that these are dangerous times, what with IPOB activities and kidnappers. He has suddenly come into a fortune that he requires police escort to guard him, not one, not two but thirty. Again, where did he derive the impetus from to stand before the NEC and not just defy the President General’s order, but to reject, dare and bellow out that” I, Uche Okwukwu, emphatically, emphatically remain the Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo ” before he stormed out with his troops?
These are hard times, no doubt, but one should be careful about the extent pecuniary lures could drive one to perpetually mark out oneself as a renegade, a betrayer of no mean proportion before one’s kith and kin. All the talk about Igbo solidarity and fighting to protect the interest of Ndigbo where has it gone? Evaporated just at the whiff of money?
This is however hardly surprising because an earlier entreaty by the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, to Governor Wike of Rivers State during a visit to him in Portharcourt to make the Secretary General, Mr Okwukwu be able to discharge his duties,and who is from Rivers State, attracted ten million naira from Governor Wike for Okwukwu to pay for accommodation in Enugu and buy a second-hand car to facilitate his duty. A committee of NEC was formed to help him carry this out but Mr Okwukwu neither rented an apartment nor bought a car. NEC in its magnanimity chose to ignore it and look the other way. So the lure of lucre would be it. Not too good a testimonial for future engagements in life. However, he still has a chance to redeem himself in the next seven days. But, I doubt.
Chief Emeka Attamah
SA to PG on Media and Publicity.