The time table for the election of new Ohanaeze Leadership was released during the first week of January and duly signed by Prince Richard Obiroa Ozobu and Chris Asoluka as Secretary and Chairman of the Electoral Committee respectively.
The election was slated for Saturday, January 19, 2012 and the position of President-General zoned to Ebonyi state since it is rotational. However, it has been the convention that the State whose turn it is to produce the President-General normally hosts the delegates for the election. Therefore, the lot fell on Ebonyi State government to indicate interest which they discreetly did.
Contenders to the seat
Having released the time table and zoned it to Ebonyi, four aspirants were said to have signified interest to run for the coveted leadership stool of Ndi-Igbo. They include Chief Garys Enwo, Senator Emmanuel Azu Agboti, Senator Ayim Ude and Ambassador Aja Nwachukwu, all from the Southern Senatorial District of the State. The contenders were said to have bought nomination forms, filled and returned to the Ohanaeze secretariat in Enugu.
Besides, in line with the Ohanaeze constitution, each state is expected to produce 3 aspirants to the national level for election. The three applicants would be forwarded by the affiliate states after they had gone through screening and clearance by the state committee.
The bubble burst
However, the bubble was said to have burst when a powerful clique within the leadership of Ohanaeze started indicating serious interest on how to plant their candidate by fair and foul means.
This, of course, didn’t go down well with some progressive minds which insisted that this is the auspicious time to right the wrongs of the past by conducting at least for once a fair, free and credible election devoid of its usual “carry-go-and collect cash from politicians.”
It was also the contention of the progressive-minded personalities that Ndigbo in this nick of time need a leader with guts, vision and the integrity to re-unite all and sundry rather than running an exclusive administration.
But these arguments were seen by the “powerful hawks” as not only stupid and an old fairy tale, but a ploy by the so-called “progressives” to install their cronies in readiness for 2015.In order not to give way to chance, the Gariwey Enwo-led faction, with the tacit support of the Chairman of the Electoral Committee, Chris Asoluka, met before the fixed date, and rescheduled the election for last Saturday, January 12, 2013 at Enugu.
Even after fixing the new date, Igarwey-Asoluka group went into works to mobilize their loyal supporters and delegates without giving out adequate notice as regards the change in time table. They also did not inform the other three Presidential aspirants from Ebonyi state and other delegates ostensibly to hijack the processes.
Worried by the conflicting dates, the ‘Ime Obi’ was said to have met on that fateful Saturday, January 12, 2013 and agreed that the election should still hold on Saturday, January 19, 2013 as earlier stated. The Secretary of the Electoral Committee was also said to be against the election holding last Saturday, stressing that a proper thing must be done this time.
But determined to foist their men on Ndi Igbo, the Chairman of the ELECO went ahead to conduct election even after some dignitaries decided to leave the hall.
Shortly had Amb. Ralph Uwaeche dissolved the last Executive of the Socio-cultural body than Asoluka-Igariwey group took over the proceedings and elected the new leaders.
Inside sources hinted that the Chief Garys Enwo contested against his younger brother Barrister Idume Igariewy and Hon. Friday Isu, the immediate past member of the State House of Assembly and Idume die-hard loyalist. The duo were said to have stepped down for Garys to emerge.
Protests greet the election
Sensing foul play with regard to change in the election date, some states including Ebonyi, Rivers, Enugu, Delta and Imo boycotted it, just as the 3 aspirants from Ebonyi State equally shunned it.
Unlike before, when some Governors use to grace the event, this year was completely boycotted by all the Governors of affiliate states, perhaps as a protest to the undemocratic process applied in the elecetion.
The ‘Ime Obi’ members were said to be piqued with the entire processes, describing it as a “kangaroo election” and have vowed to do the right thing.
They are equally worried at the desperation of the chairman of the Committee and Igariwey Enwo. Some are said to have confided in some Governors that they were not party to the purported election, wondering how he wants to lead Ndi-igbo without the support of the Governors who are the political heads of the states and the financial backers of Ohaneze.
There are also assurances that the proper election will be conducted as scheduled on Saturday, January 19, at Abakaliki. Though it is still hazy whether Governor Elechi will sanction it, but feelers from the government House in Abakaliki have it that Chief Elechi may cave in only if due processes are followed.
Already, as at press time it was gathered that processes for the conduct of the state screening and clearance are on, and would be done on Thursday, January 17, 2013, while the election will hold on Saturday at Abakaliki. Circulars to that effect have been sent out to the presidential aspirants including Garys.
Power players behind the scene
Again, 2015 is at the centre of the controversy and as usual the Abuja-based Igbo politicians are not giving up on who controls Ndi-Igbo. And Gary being their ally, they want to use this election to test their strength and strategy so far.
However, the new fight in Ohanaeze is said to be anchored by Senator Ayim Pius Ayim, the SFG, Governor Theodore Orji of Abia and MASSOB leader, Chief Ralph Uwazuruike. While Ayim and Orji were said to have sponsored Igariwey faction, Uwazuruike was said to have provided heavy security.
Besides, the silent war between Ayim and Governor Marthins Elechi is now snowballing into a big one as the ‘masquerades’ are discreetly plotting to hijack power in Ebonyi in 2015. The SFG is said to have not forgiven the government of Ebonyi State for all the fights against him and attempts to decapitate his political carreer especially during the Dr. Sam Egwu-led administration with Elechi as the offspring.
So, for the former senate President there is urgent need to eat with the present government with long spoon. Thus, he opted to sponsor and bankroll Chief Garys Enwo for the exalted President-General position without the knowledge of Elechi.
To achieve this, he has employed all available political strategies to ensure that Enwo’s election holds sway. And knowing his pedigree, his group is fully out to engage whosoever in the unfolding drama. Sources close to his faction confided in DAILY SUN that his “new political recruits” made up of the likes of Idume Igariwey is out to even dare Governor Elechi if he tries to upturn the apple cart.
MASSOB leader and his team were said to have been heavily mobilized to act also as delegates to those states that boycotted the election to give semblance of free, fair and participatory election.
Outside Ebonyi politics, the SFG is said to be out to hijack the Ohanaeze leadership to feather his political nest and the first place to test his strength is to plant Garys as his eyes and ears within the Igbo polity. As the “number one” political Igbo leader, in government he and his kitchen cabinet have started plotting to plant their “boys” in strategic positions in readiness for the “big fight” ahead.
Governor Orji of Abia is said to be working in tandem with Ayim to build a new political structure for 2015. He equally gave Garys total backing without liaising with his colleague, Governor Elechi, and this is said to be already generating bad blood between them, as the later feels offended that such plot could be hatched at his backyard without anybody caring a hoot about his own interest.
Sources close to government House in Abakaliki revealed that Elechi is keeping his game plan close to his chest and is said to be discreetly behind one of the candidates from Ebonyi.
It was equally learnt that he has been reaching out to some of his fellow Governors to ensure that the last election will not count and is mobilizing available logistics to launch what one of his political boys described as a ‘political fusillade” to tell his critics that after all he is not a political neophyte as being bandied about.
Elechi is equally said not to be against anybody emerging since, head or tail the position has been zoned to Ebonyi. His grouse is the process adopted; the plot to use some personalities in Ohanaeze to fight his government; the grand design to impose leaders on him; the discreet plot by one of the Governors in collaboration with Abuja-based politicians to install a governor in Ebonyi in 2015.