The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide rose from an emergency meeting of its National Executive Committee (NEC) on Friday in Enugu, asking Igbos in the South-East to resist the sit-at-home order by self-styled separatist leader Simon Ekpa.
Spokesman for the apex Igbo sociocultural body, Alex Ogbonnia, related in a post-meeting communique that the group resolved that it was the turn of the South-East to produce Nigeria’s next president. He said the group has found a suitable candidate in Labour Party’s Peter Obi and frowned sternly at attempts to scare Igbos away from voting massively at the February 25 polls.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo express shock and doubt that a true Igbo would unconscionably embark on a disingenuous duplicitous adventure aimed at denigrating, disenfranchising and decimating his people.
“The most disturbing is that the unscrupulous sit at home and total lock down order by Ekpa falls within the Nigerian general election.
“Ohanaeze stands firmly on natural justice and equity to proclaim that it is the turn of the South East of Nigeria to produce a president for Nigeria and by the irrevocable forces of providence.
“The right thinking Nigerians and the global community have embraced the virtues in Peter Obi as the most suitable, competent, visionary, inspiring and energetic presidential candidate for the forthcoming general election.
“It is therefore strange that at the very rare consensus and convergence of history, equity, public consciousness and expertise in Obi, an impetuous youth will engage in an unreflective drum-beat that draws his people to a macabre dance,” he said.
The meeting was presided over by Ohaneze Ndigbo, Secretary General, Ambassador Okey Emuchay.
Mr Ekpa, a self-acclaimed successor to the incarcerated leader of separatist group IPOB Nnamdi Kanu, has in recent weeks, ramped up campaigns against the conduct of the general elections in South-East. He ordered a compulsory sit-at-home during the polls, with dissenters risking fatal attacks.
But Mr Ogbonnia said Mr Ekpa’s proclamation is anti-Igbo. He said the Finland-based agitator move to lock down the South-East during elections was aimed at spoiling the region’s shot at Nigeria’s leadership.
“We are urging residents to disregard the rumoured order making the rounds by the Simon Ekpa,” and that “IPOB is only interested in the unconditional release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu,” he said.
“The Autopilot ignores the necessary landing permit by his people and Ohanaeze therefore urges the residents in Igboland to ignore the sit at home in its entirety,” Mr Ogbonnia reiterated.
The group lauded the interventions with the Finnish Ambassador to Nigeria, Leena Pylvanainen by Chief Geoffrey Onyeama, the Minister of Foreign Affairs; the Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Usman Baba, the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor.
Others were Igbo Union in Finland, the general public especially the youths and the reassurances of President Muhammadu Buhari with respect to security and a free and fair election in 2023.
The NEC used the opportunity to pass a vote of confidence on Mr Emuchay as Secretary General of Ohaneze and its National Publicity Secretary, Chiedozie Ogbonnia, for their selfless services for the Igbo nation.
Meanwhile, women from the South-East had on February 15 called on Mr Ekpa to leave the people alone and urged everyone to resist the sit-at-home order.