The Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo, an apex Igbo socio-cultural group, has called on youths to shun violence and hooliganism throughout the electioneering period in the country.
The President of Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo Enugu State Chapter, Chief Alex Ogbonna, gave the advice while receiving the Governorship Candidate of United Progressive Party, Ekele Uzodinma, in Ohanaeze National Secretariat, Enugu on Tuesday.
Ogbonna noted that the body wanted youths to embrace tolerance and peace in this period, adding that political parties must stick to issue-based campaigns and “not campaign of character assassination and hatred”.
He added: “We are appealing to all candidates, especially their youthful followers, to conduct themselves with dignity and shun violence, thuggery and hooliganism in all forms.
“We are working towards a peaceful and development-oriented electioneering in the entire South-East.”
According to him, for now, Ohanaeze only know that two candidates are contesting the governorship seat in Enugu State; and they are Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Peoples Democratic Party and Ekele Uzodinma of UPP.
Ogbonna said: “It is only these two candidates that have deemed it fit to notify us of their ambitions and seek our prayers as an apex body and highest Igbo collective authority, with the ‘offor Ndi-Igbo’ (staff of prayer and authority of all Igbo-land).”
Ogbonna noted that he was impressed with Uzodinma’s articulated programmes to revamp and reposition Enugu State, adding; “I can see you have good layout of programmes, which can be followed practically”.
He said: “You should publicise your programmes the more so that other people and Ndi Enugu can learn and borrow ideas from it for the collective betterment and development of the state.”
Earlier, Uzodinma said that he came to Ohanaeze to make know his ambition and intention to the body as well as seek their advice and prayers to reposition Enugu State, when elected.
The UPP candidate noted that he would resuscitate all abandoned projects, especially those that can generate income, create jobs and provide essential services to the people.
He noted that he had well-thought-out plans to engage youths in agriculture and agro-allied businesses to further create jobs in the state.
Uzodinma said: “We are having huge unemployment challenge. Over 60 per cent of youths are unemployed in the state and in the next 20 years, they will turn to be jobless adults, with a lot of attendant social problems emanating from this development.
“As we are already observing, there is no laid down plan to solve this challenge; even as we have churned out about 10,000 fresh graduates from over 15 higher institutions in Enugu State yearly.
“So, my government will solve the pathetic unemployment issue of youths in the state through workable employment plans.”
Uzodinma, however, appealed to Ohanaeze to organise a debate for the various political parties’ candidates for them to come and tell the residents of the state how they plan to solve their socio-economic, education and health challenges.