Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, has commended the leadership of pan-Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, over its advocacy and strong support for justice and equity on national issues.
The commendation is coming on the heels of the recent communique by Afenifere wherein it sacked its National Publicity Secretary, Jare Ajayi; and the National Organising Secretary, Abagun Kole Omololu, for issuing an unauthorised statement in its name and constant denigration of the organisation.
The duo misconstrued a fair comment by the Chairman of Ohanaeze Elders Council, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, on the attacks against Igbo interests in Lagos.
Ohanaeze commended Afenifere for its swift response to avoid mischievous elements dragging Yoruba and Ndigbo into a needless confrontation.
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation in a statement by its Publicity Secretary, Dr Alex Ogbonnia, thanked Afenifere for its wisdom in handling the matter, and for its continued support for justice.
The statement made available to Ikengaonline read in part: “We commend Afenifere for its wisdom and maturity in discountenancing the handiwork of mischief makers in an attempt to misrepresent the remarks by our patriotic, charismatic and detribalised leader, the Chairman, Council of Elders, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu (Ahaejiagamba).
Ohanaeze said that “Iwuanyanwu is a thorough-bred cosmopolitan, inter-ethnic unifier with diverse national and international contacts; and a committed champion of the Nigerian unity.”
“It is therefore inconceivable for him to contemplate an uncomplimentary remark against any group in Nigeria.
“We want to place on record that when the history of Nigerian travails is written, Chief Ayo Adebanjo will feature most copiously on the side of justice, nobility, honour, courage, character and integrity.”
Recall that Afenifere after its monthly General Meeting, held at the residence of its Leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo at Isanya Ogbo, Ogun State, sacked two of its national officers for issuing unauthorised statements on the comments by Iwuanyanwu.
Their sack was contained in a communique issued and signed by Afenifere Leader, Chief Adebanjo; and the Secretary-General, Chief Sola Ebiseni, after the groups meeting in Ogun.
The sacked officers recently issued a statement warning Chief Iwuanyanwu to stop insulting the Yoruba race.
But displeased with the action of the duo, Afenifere in the communique, said “it received a message credited to Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu in a viral video alleging indictment of the Yoruba as political rascals on account of ethnic violence deployed by politicians of the ruling party in Lagos State.
“On the analysis of the video and information at the disposal of Afenifere by people at the Anambra State gathering, we are convinced that Chief Iwuanyanwu rightly asserted that the Yoruba and Igbo were not at war and truly condemned the shenanigans of some political rascals.
“Flowing from the above, Afenifere states that it never issued any statement and dissociates the Organisation from any such statement against Chief Iwuanyanwu.
“Observed the uncouth activities and unauthorised statements in its name and to the constant denigration of the organisation, by Jare Ajayi, the National Publicity Secretary and Abagun Kole Omololu the National Organising Secretary.
“After due consideration of the unending embarrassing conduct of the two officers, the Meeting resolved that they be and are hereby removed immediately from their respective offices and their membership be suspended sine die pending further decisions after their appearance before and recommendations by the Disciplinary Committee.
”We restate our position that in accordance with the hallowed Yoruba culture of civilised conduct, Afenifere assures all person resident in Yorubaland, indigenes and non-indigenes, of protection in the conduct of their lawful duties and thus warn all threats mongers and merchants of violence to desist therefrom.
Afenifere also, in the communique, reiterated its position that “the Presidential election held on the 25th of February 2023 was characterised by all forms of primitive manipulations and noncompliance with the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Electoral Act 2022 and the Guidelines and Regulations made pursuant thereto with concomitant legislative force.
“The results of the lawful votes at the Presidential election available to the Afenifere through credible sources confirm that Peter Obi, the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, won the said election and we, thus, support his decision challenging the contrary declaration by the INEC.”
Afenifere said that “for equity, fairness, national cohesion and peaceful corporate existence, the next President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria shall be a person of its Southern part and specifically the South-East.”
The pan Yoruba socio-political group further condemned in “the strongest terms, the campaigns of calumny and acts of ethnic violence deployed by some politicians and their hired criminal gangs in several parts of the federation during the gubernatorial election particularly Lagos State where the election was made to appear like an inter-ethnic war between the Yoruba and Igbo which greatly led to voter suppression and other forms of deliberate disenfranchisement through brigandage.”
Afenifere expressed its “belief in the judiciary as an integral part of the democratic process and expect that it proves itself in the election litigations now pending before it without fear or favour and in accordance with the judicial oaths of its members, in covenant with the Nigerian people.
It called on the “President and Government of Nigeria to restore the patriotic confidence and hope of the Nigerian people in the continued corporate existence of the federation which will guarantee their safety throughout Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, Ohanaeze Ndigbo in the statement, saluted “the courage, tenacity, dedication, robustness and unwavering commitment of Afenifere to the ideals of pan-Nigerianism and the continued existence of Nigeria without caring whose ox is gored.”
The statement read in part: “We applaud the resolutions of its meeting in its entirety and pray that God Almighty will continue to grant the Afenifere the wisdom and courage to always champion the cause of a better Nigeria.
“We are persuaded that the Afenifere’s resolutions as published are fundamental and foundational to the current socio-political crisis gnawing at the heart of Nigeria; and that those resolutions speak truth to the conscience of the powers that be in Nigeria.
“Ohanaeze supports those resolutions in all ramifications and join in calling on the President and Government of Nigeria to, as a matter of urgency, restore public confidence and hope in the Nigerian project.
“Afenifere’s unflinching stand on the side of equity and justice has not come to us as a surprise given that the organisation has, at various times, stood for truth each time Nigeria finds herself at the cross-roads.
“We are not unmindful of Afenifere’s role in restoring democracy to Nigeria through the platform of the National Democratic Coalition(NADECO). The Afenifere leaders, with alliances across the national divide and the international bodies launched the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), which eventually gave birth to the Committee for Unity and Understanding (CUU), among others.”
Ohanaeze applauded Afenifere for admitting that Peter Obi of Labour Party won the February 25 presidential poll but that his mandate was stolen.
“We thank the Afenifere for telling the world the true position on the February 25 Presidential election, which from available records was won by Mr. Peter Obi of the Labour Party.
“Furthermore, we commend the Afenifere for its reassurances of security and support to stranger communities in Yorubaland, particularly Lagos State and for reassuring our people that there is no war between the Yoruba and any other group in Nigeria, especially the Igbo.
“In addition, we commend the Afenifere for strongly condemning the “campaigns of calumny and acts of ethnic violence deployed by some politicians and their hired criminal gangs in several parts of the federation during the gubernatorial election particularly in Lagos State where the election was made to appear like an inter-ethnic war between the Yoruba and the Igbo; which greatly led to voters’ suppression and other forms of brigandage and disenfranchisement. Such rejection could not have come at a better time than this.”
Ohanaeze encouraged other ethnic socio-cultural organisations to borrow a leaf from the Afenifere in standing up for principles of equity and justice and to be counted each time Nigeria is confronted with political crises.