The Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, says it has not endorsed any of the over 80 presidential candidates for next month’s general elections including the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidates, President Muhammadu Buhari and Abubakar Atiku, respectively adding that it will still “ventilate the shades of opinions after due consultations.”
Ohanaeze said that in a few days, its highest decision making organ, the “Imeobi” would meet during which it would decide the political direction Ndigbo will take – a resolution, it said, might not be made public for obvious reasons.
Spokesman and deputy national publicity secretary of Ohanaeze, Mr. Chucks Ibegbu, disclosed this in an interview with newsmen on Saturday in Enugu.
He explained that since adoption of any of the candidates borders on the political future of the Igbo and, indeed, the entire Nigerians, such decision should not be taken in a haste.
The group re-stated its resolve to strongly support any presidential candidate whose key agenda is to genuinely restructure the country so that it could make sufficient progress.
On the recent advice by the Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, that Ohanaeze should not endorse or adopt any candidate, Ibegbo said that actually Okorocha’s advice could not be easily dismissed due to certain factors.
He said: “We cannot dismiss that view because of so many existing factors; so many experiences of the past. You can’t dismiss Okorocha’s view on that and that’s why I told you that even if we don’t ….yes, if we don’t endorse openly it gives us room, a corridor to negotiate… but if we do it openly, probably the expectation fails to work out, it might have an unintended effect.”
It will be recalled that in 2015 general election Ohanaeze endorsed former President Goodluck Jonathan who was the PDP candidate but lost the election to Buhari.
On what would be the situation if history repeats itself in 2019, Ibegbu retorted: “ you don’t fail to take a decision because of the consequence. Once you take an informed decision which is for posterity; if we take a decision whether openly or secretly, and the decision didn’t favour our expectation, we will be proud that we took a decision.”
He denied the reported endorsement of Atiku by Ohanaeze in Enugu last year, and urged the media to always report Ohanaeze’s position on national issues accurately to avoid causing confusion.
It will be recalled that during a gathering organized by associates of Abubakar Atiku and his running mate, Mr. Peter Obi at Nike Lake Hotel, Enugu in November 2018, prominent Igbo leaders who attended the event reportedly endorsed Atiku for 2019 presidential poll, although Ohanaeze has insisted that it did not organized the event nor did it adopt any candidate.
Ibegbu said: “For example, what we emphasized was that the Nike Lake programme was not organized by Ohanaeze, and that Ohanaeze had not endorsed anybody, but that Ohanaeze will soon meet to analyse and decide.”