‘It is illegal for anybody to assume leadership of Ohanaeze through the backdoor’
By Valentine Amanze
Fresh crisis is set to consume the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide with the appointment of elder statesman, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, to succeed the late President General, Chief George Obiozor, who died in January 9, 2023.
Already, a chieftain of the pan-Igbo organization, who contested the position along with Obiozor, Mr. Valentine Oparaocha, has condemned the appointment of Iwuanyanwu as the successor of Obiozor by loyalists of Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State.
He described the appointment as unlawful and unconstitutional, stressing that Iwuanyanwu was not qualified to lead the organization.
Oparaocha pointed out that the late Obiozor was elected by Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, with membership cutting across the entire Igbo speaking states from within and in the Diaspora, stressing that presenting Iwuanyanwu to Governor Hope Uzodinma for ratifications by few Igbo leaders from Imo State was laughable and would not stand.
Oparaocha, who spoke in Minna, Niger State capital, alleged that Iwuanyanwu came from “backdoor” and is also more than 70 years against the stipulated age range of 50 and 70.
He narrated: “In the first instance, Obiozor was elected when the entire Igbo race came together either by proxy or sending a representative from within and outside Nigeria. I came second after Obiozor.
“It is illegal for anybody to assume leadership of Ohanaeze through the backdoor.”
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Oparaocha, who is from Imo State, where the seven others, including the late Obiozor, who contested the seat hailed from, argued that it did not just make sense for some people to just announce a replacement for late Ohanaeze leader without due process or constitutional provision.
“We were eight that showed interest in the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide presidency, but only three of us participated in the contest, including the late George Obiozor who eventually won. If there is anything to do with replacement, it has to be done through same process else it would be a mockery of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo presidency seat.
“All the contestants went through the electoral process, including the screening in accordance with constitutional provisions. It would be a great injustice if few Igbo leaders from Imo State could present Iwuanyanwu, a man I have so much respect for, as a replacement to the late Obiozor just like that.”
Oparaocha also lamented that a respected man of Iwuanyanwu pedigree would allow himself to be used by some self-seeking Igbo leaders from Imo State alone for personal gains even when it is clear that age is not on his side as provided in the Ohanaeze Ndigbo constitution.
He called on those supporting Iwuanyanwu to retrace their steps to avoid causing chaos in Ohanaeze.
According to Oparaocha, “Iwuanyanwu is more than 80 years as at today; why would anyone want to foist him on us? Why wouldn’t they allow him to enjoy his old age after serving the Igbo race at different fora and capacities?
In Ohanaeze constitution, it is stated, “The President-General should be between the ages of 50 and 70 years old, but Iwuanyanwu is above the age limit. By rotation, it is still the turn of Imo State indigenes to produce Obiozor’s replacement to complete the tenure that is expected to last between 2021 and 2025”.
Oparaocha also argued, “Going all out against constitutional provisions of ascension to the seat of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Presidency by some Igbo leaders in Imo state and accepting to do their biddings by Governor Hope Uzodinma are clear indications that some people deliberately want to create crisis in Ohanaeze.