One of the frontline contestant for the position of Worldwide President , ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Valentine Oparaocha has rejected the emergence of Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, publisher of Champion Newspapers, as replacement for late Chief George Obiozor.
Late Obiozor was elected by Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo Worldwide, with membership cutting across the entire Igbo speaking states from within Nigeria and in the diaspora.
Dr. Oparaocha spoke to journalists in Minna against the backdrops of reports that some Igbo leaders from Imo state presented Iwuanyanwu to Imo state Governor as the President of Ohaneze after the death of Chief George Obiozor on the 9th of January, 2023.
He said, “In the first instance, Obiozor was elected when the entire Igbo race who came together either by proxy or sending a representatives from within and outside Nigeria. I came 2nd after Obiozor”, Oparaocha insists, adding that “it is illegal for anybody to assume leadership of Ohanaeze through the backdoor”.
Oparaocha argued that it doesn’t just make sense for some people to wake up one day and announced a replacement for late Ohanaeze leader without recourse to due process, rules or constitutional provision.
“We were eight (8) of us that showed interest in the Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo Worldwide’s Presidency, but only three of us participated in the contest, including 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 Ndi-Igbo Presidency seat”.
He noted that all the contestants went through the electoral process, including the screening in accordance with constitutional provisions, stressing that “it would be a great injustice if few Igbo leaders from Imo state can present Iwuanyanwu, a man I have so much respect for as a replacement to late Obiozor just like that”.
Oparaocha who said he least expected that a respected man of Iwuanyanwu pedigree would allow himself to be used by some self-seeking Igbo leaders from Imo state alone for perceived “personal gains” even when it is clear that age is not on his( Iwuanyanwu’s side as provided in the Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo constitution just as he called on the culprits to retrace their steps to avoid causing chaos in Ohanaeze.
According to Oparaocha, “Iwuanyanwu is more than 80years old 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 forms and capacities in the past ?
Consequently,Okparaocha said, “In Ohaneze constitution, it is stated that, 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 that, “Going all out against constitutional provisions of ascension to the seat of Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo 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.
While calling on all stakeholders to wade in and stop those he regarded as ‘enemies of Ohanaeze Ndi-Igbo Worldwide’ in Imo state from creating chaos within the pan-Igbo group, Oparaocha who is a retired security expert told journalists that he will not accept deliberate violation of the Ohanaeze constitution which Iwuanyanwu himself was instrumental to.
“We the obediently obliged and went through the entire electoral process, no compensation for transportation, hotel accommodations paid, feedings, advertisements/campaigns, no refund of monies spent for the purchase or form. So it is now wrong to obey the constitution or to do the right thing?, Oparaocha queried.