Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
The youth wing of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, has challenged the Vice Presidential candidate of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, to first clear the backlog of unpaid dues of Delta State to Ohanaeze Ndigbo, before parading himself as VP candidate of Igbo extraction.
The challenge was thrown by the President of Ohanaeze Youth Council, OYC, Mazi Igboayaka. O. Igboayaka, in a press statement he issued in Asaba on Wednesday.
Igboayaka, regretted that Gov Okowa, had since his emergence as a Governor, bluntly refused to pay the monthly statutory levy which every Igbo-speaking state pays to Ohanaeze for its activities.
The immediate-past President General of Ohanaeze, Chief Nnia Nwodo, had also while speaking at the monthly Ikengaonline Town-hall meeting, expressed surprise at Okowa’s sudden claims of a true Igbo, whereas he never paid a dime for the running of the Igbo apex body.
Nwodo had in fact revealed, that when he led a delegation of Ohanaeze leadership to engage and interface the Governor on the need to pay his state’s financial obligations to Ohanaeze, Okowa told them that “Delta is heterogeneous, and not only an Igbo state.”
Piqued by Okowa’s non-committal to Ohanaeze Ndigbo while on the other hand, claiming to be a patriotic Igbo, OYC, advised the PDP presidential running mate to toe the path of honour.
OYC recalled that Anioma, Okowa’s home town, is a core Indigenous Igbo community which had also produced a former President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the late Gen. Joseph Achuzie (retd.).
Igboayaka further advised Okowa to learn from his fellow Governors of Northern extraction how they promote and champion Northern interest and agenda irrespective of their party affiliations.
He noted that for any Igbo politician to expect the support of Ndigbo, such a politician should be ready to show how he had championed Igbo cause in the past and supported others who needed his support.
The statement read: “It’s very unfortunate that Gov Ifeanyi Okowa who boasted of being Igbo has failed to take active responsibility in Ohanaeze Ndigbo affairs since the past seven years.
“Even as a Governor which made him a statutory member of ‘Ime Obi,’ one of the highest decision-making organs of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Okowa has failed to attend Ohanaeze Ndigbo meetings.”
This, according to Comrade Igboayaka, has raised suspicions in the minds of Ndigbo over his recent public statement where he reaffirmed his origin as an Igbo man.
It further read: “Right now, Ohanaeze Ndigbo as a body is skeptical about what their fate would turn out to be if they go ahead to support him to be Vice President of Nigeria. They are worried whether his position will ever be beneficial to Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Ndigbo at large.”
Igboayaka called on Gov Ifeanyi Okowa to prove some sense of integrity and responsibility by paying his outstanding whooping sum of N200m he owed Ohanaeze Ndigbo since his assumption of office.
“It’s sad that a lot of projects is going on at Ohanaeze Ndigbo secretariat Enugu under Prof. Amb. George Obiozor’s administration, but Gov Ifeanyi Okowa, the PDP Vice Presidential candidate has not donated a bag of cement or a chair to support the apex Igbo Socio-cultural organization,” Igboayaka regretted.
He, therefore, challenged the Delta State Governor to turn a new leaf if he truly wants the support of Ndigbo both at home and in the diaspora.