Awka – The Anambra President of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Damian Okeke-Ogene has maintained that the apex Igbo socio-cultural group was not handed the mandate to ensure the realization of an independent country for Ndigbo from Nigeria.
Secessionist group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) has consistently accused Ohaneze of not doing enough to support its cause especially when the Federal Government announced its proscription.
The IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu has also called out the Ohaneze leadership over alleged silence in the face of marginalization of people of the race.
But Okeke-Ogene while speaking with TNC correspondent at Nanka in Orumba North Council Area of Anambra on Thursday, explained that Ohaneze is charged with harmonizing Igbo interests and pursuing the attainment of better bargains for Ndigbo across the seven Igbo states of the country.
“Our mandate is not to pull out Igbos from Nigeria. Our mandate is to ensure that Igbo interest is protected in the country Nigeria. That is why we are championing the cause for the election of a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction. We are talking with our brothers across various political parties to work towards ensuring the nomination of an Igbo man in their political parties. While we are not a political group and cannot also nominate candidates for the race, we still believe that through dialogue and persuasion, we can achieve this dream of ensuring that an Igbo man becomes the President of Nigeria come 2023,” he asserted.
On the upcoming Ohaneze Ndigbo leadership elections, Chief Okeke-Ogene said what the apex Igbo group is most concerned about is to bring out a credible candidate that will consolidate on the achievements of the outgoing President Chief John Nnia Nwodo in guaranteeing the people’s continued march towards socio-political and economic growth.
Debunking rumours that Imo state Governor, Hope Uzodinma has plans to hijack the Ohaneze elections scheduled for early January 2021 to favour his preferred candidate, the Anambra Ohaneze leader made it clear that Ohaneze presidency rotates alphabetically among the seven Igbo states and it is now the turn of Imo state.
“Ohaneze has a constitution which says that the Presidency will rotate among the Igbo states. We have even taking it a little further to say that any state whose turn it is to produce the president will host the elections. While you cannot remove the fact that as a human being, he may have an interest, it is important to state that Uzodinma cannot dictate for Ohaneze,” the Anambra Ohaneze President emphasized.
Chief Okeke-Ogene who also spoke on sundry issues, made it clear that Ohaneze Ndigbo is not at loggerheads with Anambra state government.
According to him, that the group has divergent views to issues of national and state concerns, does not mean there is rift between the government and the body.
“Anambra governor, Willie Obiano has shown friendly disposition towards Ohaneze. In 2014, he hosted the Igbo Day. In the first month of his second term, he hosted the first Southeast Summit which gave birth to the clamour for restructuring. Enugu and Anambra are the only the two states that have maintained consistency in payment of their stipends to Ohaneze to support their activities. It is also important to state that the governor never interferes with Ohaneze affairs and we in Anambra Ohaneze relate with all Ndi Anambra irrespective of party affiliations,” he revealed.