In what looks like a confirmation that the leadership of the pan-Igbo socio-cultural organisation, the Ohaneze Ndigbo, may have been compromised by President Goodluck Jonathan, the group said it has begun consultations with prominent Igbo citizens to shed the ambition of contesting the 2015 presidential election.
The apex body said it was doing so in the interest of peace and unity, noting that a president of Igbo origin would emerge at the appropriate time.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo President, Gary Nnachi Enwo-Igariwey on Monday visited a former Governor of Abia State, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu, to urge him to drop his presidential ambition, saying the move was strategic and it would enable the Igbo to speak with one voice on the 2015 presidential election.
Enwo-Igariwey, who said he started discussions with Kalu about seven months back, said he was in Abuja to urge him to comply with the Igbo cause by reconsidering his plan to run.
“I was here about six months ago to actually discuss with him on issues concerning the Igbo nation. It was about rumours on presidential interest and I told him I will like to discuss that with him formally when he eventually decides on what to do.
“I have come in continuation of that discussion and to appeal to him to share my views with him. So, I have come here to rub minds with him and to tell him to join me in the discussions about Igbo unity so that we will speak with one voice.
“We no longer want a situation where we speak from different points and our agenda should be the same. I have talked to him about his views. I have appealed to him to shelve it in the interest of the Igbo nation. I have appealed to him to join hands with us and at the appropriate time when we make our statement, it will be with one voice as a people.
“That a great son like him should also join in that decision making and I have appealed to him to shelve that ambition in the interest of peace, until such decisions are made in Igbo land and he has given me his assurances that he will listen to Ohanaeze’s appeal so that we speak with one voice in the interest of the people.”
Asked if the decision would not jeopardise the rights of the average Igbo person to aspire to the highest post in the land, the Ohanaeze Ndigbo chief said other individuals should exercise their rights but the body has a target group and Kalu happened to be one of the prominent Igbo who should be persuaded to shelve their ambition.
On the threat by some Northern elders to sue former Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-Gen Azubuike Ihejirika, to the World Court, Enwo-Igariwey said the body condemned the statement, demanding its withdrawal. It is a known fact that there is bound to be some unfortunate casualties in the fight against terror by the authorities.
Responding to the request, an apparently unexcited Kalu said he would reconsider his decision to run for president.
“Mr. President (Enwo-Igariwey) was here and he advised that he would like the Igbo to speak with one voice. They said a tree cannot make a forest. If the apex organisation in Igboland wants to say, ‘well; we don’t want any of our sons to contest for election this time’, well, we will hold on and work with them to see what they will do. I will never be a scapegoat that will sacrifice my tribe.
“Whatever my tribe says is superior to what I will think. I believe they have their reasons and their reasons may be more superior to what I think. He was here six months ago and I told him we will discuss it between December and January and not only him, there are many of our Igbo elite who have been to me in Lagos, Abuja and in the Diaspora and I don’t know who I am to say no to them.