JONATHAN: WE'VE NOT DECIDED – OHANEZE
Apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohaneze Ndigbo, yesterday in Enugu, said it has not decided whether or not to support President Goodluck Jonathan's presidential bid in 2011.
President General of the group, Ambassador Ralph Uwechue, disclosed this at an interactive session with journalists after the Nzuko Ime Obi (meeting) of the group that lasted several hours, following an earlier open support by a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, for Jonathan.
Chief Iwuanyanwu, who left before the meeting ended, had enjoined the Igbo to support President Jonathan in 2011 so as to realize the presidency coming to the South East in 2015. But Uwechue countered him when he said that they cannot declare support for anybody without first consulting the Igbo people.
His words: 'Ohaneze has not taken any position for or against Jonathan. In all the interviews I have granted about Ohaneze Ndigbo, we cannot declare support for any person without first of all consulting Ndigbo to find out where they want to go. 'The Igbo nation has many people in different political parties; you must take cognizance of this fact. As individual Igbos, you may have your preferences. But I can tell you one thing, nobody can come to your house to harm you without coming through your neighbourhood.'
Uwechue also said the leadership of the Ijaw National Congress (INC) and Ohaneze met recently, saying 'we received them (INC) and had very fraternal relationship and discussions and we returned the visit.'
He said that the Igbo intend to help build up good relationship with their neighbours, adding that they have started with those who had come to them and hoped to expand from there.
'We are tired of Ndigbo being used and dumped at every given time because some of us go individually to seek office. If Ndigbo sit down first and analyze what they want as a people, then they can use it as a bargaining position to deal with any group they feel will make it easier for them to secure that objective,' he said.
Before Iwuanyanwu left, he had argued that Jonathan replaced the late President Umaru Yar'Adua and as such they have a joint ticket that would subsist up to 2015.
He said Jonathan would do only one term, which would elapse in 2015, after which it would be the turn of the Igbo to occupy the presidency. He expressed fear that if Jonathan is not allowed to continue in 2011, it would be difficult for the Igbo to occupy the seat in 2015 as any other person coming would like to do a second term.
'We should, therefore, adopt him (Jonathan). Let him know our problems and when it is our turn, he will support us,' Iwuanyanwu reasoned.
The meeting also discussed the two-year tenure of the office of its president general, with many of the attendees demanding a the review of the group's constitution to extend the tenure. The immediate past President General, Dr Dozie Ikedife, however, urged the incumbent to step aside before the review, a remark that did not go down well other attendees. The group is expected to meet in the weeks ahead to harmonize the issue of the office of its president general.