By Salawudeen Olawale
The Director General of Voice of Nigeria, Mr. Osita Okechukwu, has urged leaders of Ohanaeze Ndigbo to avoid a repeat of the ‘mistakes’ the association made during the 2015 presidential election.
Ohanaeze endorsed then incumbent, Goodluck Jonathan of the People’s Democratic Party, in the poll which was eventually won by Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress.
Speaking in Enugu, Okechukwu disclosed that Ohanaeze Ndigbo, then led by Chief Gary Igariwey, turned down Buhari’s request for a meeting with the body, few months before the election.
According to him, the proposed meeting would have been an opportunity for Ohanaeze to present the demands of the Igbos 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 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 had not replied the letter Buhari wrote to Ohanaeze on 7th November 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 Ndigbo will be discussed.
A strategic meeting which could be the decider of whether to support Buhari or Jonathan.”
The VON boss, who is equally an APC chieftain in the South-East, urged Nwodo to compile the grievances of the Igbos, and seek an audience with Buhari, instead of attacking the President names in the media.
He noted that Buhari congratulated Nwodo immediately after his election as President General Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
Okechukwu stressed that Buhari was committed towards the fulfillment of his promise to revamp the coal mining industry in Enugu.
He disclosed that the revitalization of the coal industry would create massive job opportunities in the South-East.
Okechukwuu declared that the next presidential election, in 2019, would afford Igbos the opportunity to make ‘amends’ for the mistake of 2015 by voting massively for Buhari.
According to him, Igbos stand the chance of actualizing the dream of a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction by the time Buhari’s tenure expires in 2023, a development which he disclosed that would be their (Igbos) reward for supporting Buhari in 2019.
“There are two contending issues in the political domain. One is the law with its legal teeth, it is written. The other one is the convention. It is not written.
“1999 to 2007 is eight years. Forget that something happened with the death of Umaru Musa Yara ‘dua, otherwise, it would have been another eight years by the North. So, there is a convention.
“So, for Igbo presidency to be germane, we must key into the convention, so that we could harvest the goodwill on our side,” he said.
Okechukwu, in the same vein, 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 during Soludo’s tenure as CBN governor, commercial banks, which belong to less than one percent of the Nigerian population, grew ‘astronomically’, while 99 percent of the people went into abject poverty.