Ihuoma Chiedozie, Enugu
The Director General of Voice of Nigeria, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, has advised the leaders of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo to avoid a repeat of the mistake the association made during the 2015 presidential election.
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo endorsed former President Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party in the poll which was eventually won by incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress.
Speaking in Enugu, Okechukwu said on Tuesday that the Ohanaeze Ndigbo then led by Chief Gary Igariwey turned down Buhari’s request for a meeting with the body, a few months before the election.
According to him, the proposed meeting would have been an opportunity for the group to present the demands of the Igbo to the APC candidate, but instead, the association refused to even acknowledge the letter sent to it by Buhari.
Okechukwu expressed concerns that the newly-elected President General of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, might repeat the mistakes made by his predecessor.
He said, “Is this how to regain lost grounds? Chief Nwodo wants to repeat the costly mistake of Dr. Joe Nworgu (former Ohanaeze Ndigbo Secretary General) and the former President General (Igariwey), who up till date, have not replied the letter Buhari wrote to the Ohanaeze Ndigbo on November 7, 2014, requesting a meeting before the 2015 presidential election.
“I pleaded with them to simply or even with courtesy, reply him (Buhari) and set a meeting where the checklist of the Ndigbo will be discussed in a strategic meeting which could be the decider of whether to support Buhari or Jonathan.”
The VON boss, who is also an APC chieftain in the South-East, urged Nwodo to compile the grievances of the Igbo and seek audience with Buhari, instead of attacking the President in the media.
He noted that Buhari congratulated Nwodo immediately after his election as President General of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
Okechukwu stressed that Buhari was committed to the fulfilment of his promise to revamp the coal mining industry in Enugu.
He said the revitalisation of the coal industry would create massive job opportunities in the South-East.
Okechukwuu declared that the next presidential election in 2019 would afford the Igbo the opportunity to make ‘amends’ for the mistake of 2015 by voting massively for Buhari.
He disagreed with a former Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Prof. Charles Soludo, who said Buhari had worsened the country’s economy.
Soludo had said the Nigerian economy was in a bad state when Buhari assumed office, only to make it worse.
However, Okechukwu said that during Soludo’s tenure as CBN governor, commercial banks belonging to less than one per cent of the Nigerian population grew astronomically, while 99 per cent of the people went into abject poverty.
It will be recalled that the former Ohanaeze Ndigbo Secretary General, Nwaorgu, had explained that the association rejected Buhari because he had always been unfair to the Igbo.
Addressing journalists shortly before he left office, Nwaorgu had said, “We know him (Buhari) very well. During his first outing from 1983 to 1985, what did he do? Shagari, number one person (in the previous civilian administration) (got) house arrest; Ekwueme, the number two, who had no constitutional functions, was imprisoned. Igbo, took note.
“He (Buhari) came out again as the Executive Director, Petroleum Trust Fund, what did he do? Have you checked the allocations of PTF? Sixty-six per cent of all our petroleum money went to the North-West, his zone. He gave us (South-East) 6.2 per cent.” (Punchng.com)