- Reveals key agenda, vows to revive Nigercem before Dec
Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
The new President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, has provided insight why the new leadership of the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation under his watch would prioritise the release of the Leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
According to the new Ohanaeze helmsman, the release of Kanu is sacrosanct to the restoration of peace in the troubled South-East zone.
Chief Iwuanyanwu who spoke Monday morning on Arise Television, also unveiled his vision and development agenda for Ndigbo.
Iwuanyanwu who was sworn in on Sunday after Imeobi Ohanaeze ratified his nomination by the Imo State Government, will be completing the tenure of Imo State following the death of the late Professor George Obiozor.
He identified some of the focal points of his leadership to include education and economic revival of the South-East geo-political zone; youth empowerment and power generation for industrialisation.
Chief Iwuanyanwu said that the continued detention of the IPOB Leader would remain a major threat to the peace and stability of the South-East considering the large followership Kanu commands among Igbo youths home and abroad.
He, therefore, urged the Federal Government to heed the appeals for Kanu’s release in compliance with court judgments ordering his unconditional release .
Iwuanyanwu who said he had planned to convene a peace summit in the South-East, noted that the proposal might not work if Kanu remained incarcerated.
He appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari, to release Kanu as his parting gift to Ndigbo before the expiration of his tenure on May 29.
“Our position as Ohanaeze on Nnamdi Kanu is that justice should take its course. But now that the courts have tried him and discharged him, we feel there is no justifiable reason to still keep him in detention.
“In fact, it’s a problem for us when Kanu is not released because he has a very strong followership. A lot of our young people who believe we are not getting what we should get from Nigeria support the agitation by Kanu.
“So, if Kanu is released, it will reduce the security problem we have in the South-East.
“It’s my intention to organise a peace summit where Ohanaeze will invite all the groups agitating for one thing or the other and make them to embrace peace.
“But we can’t organise peace summit if Kanu is still in detention. It won’t work especially when the courts have said he should be released.
“It is, therefore, our appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari to release Nnamdi as a gift to us before leaving office.”
Chief Iwuanyanwu commended President Buhari for some of his infrastructural interventions in the South-East, explaining that contrary to misconceptions among some people, Buhari is not an enemy to Ndigbo.
“We know that Buhari loves Ndigbo. I’m in touch with our state governors and they told me many of the things he has done in their states.
“Buhari has done the Second Niger Bridge; Enugu-Port Harcourt expressway; he has approved the dredging of Ugwuta Lake which is a joint venture between the Imo State Government and the Nigeria Navy.
“So, I thank him and appeal to him to do us this one favour which is to release Nnamdi before leaving office on May 29. Every Igbo will be happy if he does that.”
Iwuanyanwu who said he had commissioned a study on power generation in the South-East, identified youth unemployment as a major challenge Ohanaeze under his watch would aggressively tackle in collaboration with state governors in the zone.
“Unemployment causes social unrest. We will work together with state Governors to address it.
“After the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914, by 1960, Igbo had come top in education, economy, military science and technology and so many areas.
“We have never had political power, yet we are highly advanced. So, I’m going to set up a council on education to find out what makes us strong in education and to improve on it. I will also set up a council on business to ensure our businessmen and women succeed.”
Iwuanyanwu further said he would set up a committee to revive, the moribund Nigercem Cement Industry Nkalagu, to begin production before the end of 2023.
“The major raw materials for cement is limestone, and we have it in abundance in South-East. So, I will set up a committee to ensure Nigercem Nkalagu begins production before the end of this year.”
The Publisher of Champion Newspapers further shared his vision to facilitate the industrialisation of Igboland.
“I commissioned a study on power, and I got an amazing report that we can generate cheap power through coal. We have coal in abundance in Enugu. It’s one of the best in the world. So, we will explore that especially now that power has been brought to the concurrent list.”
Iwuanyanwu further cleared the air on his alleged anti-Yoruba remarks in Awka which he said was manipulated by mischievous elements to instigate crisis between Yoruba and Ndigbo.
He said his fair comment was twisted by mischief makers, and denied ever referring to the Yoruba as political rascals.
Iwuanyanwu insisted that those behind the orgy of unprovoked attacks against Igbo interests in Lagos before, during and after the general elections, were the ones he referred to as political rascals.
“Before the elections we had complaints from Igbos living in Lagos who felt threatened and unsafe, telling us that even in schools their children face hostilities because they are Igbo.
“So, I called some Yoruba Leaders who even condemned the action. I was convinced that there was no problems whatsoever between the Igbo and Yoruba but the people I describe as political rascals are the ones causing the problem for personal motives.
“As a leader, I told them: Don’t be afraid. Stay in Lagos; Yorubas are our friends and brothers. Chief Awolowo showed love to a lot of Igbo. As a young man, I visited him when I was nursing my presidential ambition, and he blessed me.
“Yorubas are good. The late Moshood Abiola was my very good friend. I knew Tinubu through him. So, I was surprised to see that somebody manipulated the story out of mischief.
“If you listen to the video you will discover there is a gap between Yoruba and political rascals. Somebody who wanted to cause crisis between Yorubas and Igbos, mischievously cut off part of my remark to twist the comment.
“It was Shehu Sani who first discovered this and drew the attention of people that it was fabricated. I thank him for that.
“People should be careful what they hear. Fraud has reached advanced stage in Nigeria. Mischief makers twist people’s fair comments to implicate them, and this is very sad.”
The new Ohanaeze helmsman condemned the senseless and unwarranted attacks against Igbo interests in Lagos.
He called on Government to take action against those behind the nefarious acts.
According to him, nobody has the right to pursue Igbos from any part of Nigeria.
“It’s a very embarrassing situation that at this time in 2023, after so many years of independence, that a Nigerian citizen should be told that a particular place where he had lived for a long time that he should quit.
“Yoruba Leaders have come out to condemn it. Those behind it are political rascals and not Yoruba people.
“Ohanaeze has a lot of respect for Yoruba people. Before the amalgamation of 1914, Igbo people have been living and investing in Lagos. Igbos don’t cheat their hosts. Even in America and London they acquire property and contribute to the development of their host. That’s why they are respected.
“Ohanaeze believes this will be the last time anybody should tell an Igbo man or woman to pack out of his house in any part of the country.”
Chief Iwuanyanwu, however, said that the Governor of Lagos State had not been hostile to the Igbo living in Lagos.
“Igbo living in Lagos told us that the Governor has been good to Igbo and not against them. I want politicians to be careful of those they engage as aides to avoid creating problems for them.
“If you recruit a thugs who is a criminal and he is working for you. You should be able to take responsibility for his crimes.”
Chief Iwuanyanwu promised not to betray the confidence reposed in him to lead the Igbo nation.
“I have made up my mind to do my best. People who knew me in the past have confidence in me.”
Iwuanyanwu who said his emergence was the first time Ohanaeze PG was elected without rancour or acrimony.
“Governors or their Deputies from the five South East states were present for the first time. They all came together to pledge their support for me.”