Lawrence Nwimo, Awka
Vice President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Damian Okeke-Ogene, has lamented increasing roadblocks across states in South-East.
He said the proceeds from the roadblocks which were mostly extortions, were enough to construct third Niger bridge in the region.
Okeke-Ogene spoke on Thursday at the 2024 General Assembly of Association of Past Presidents General of Anambra State (APPAS) of the Association of Anambra state Town Union (ASATU)
He regretted that ASATU was founded when people in the state suffered maltreatment during the military administration in the state, harassments, intimidation and extortion.
He said, “When we started this organisation, that was during military regime, the Igbos had no voice to speak for themselves.
“From Onitsha to Ekwulobia, you’ll encounter not less than 10 road blocks.We confronted the then military governor and he assisted to dismantle the roadblocks.
“Today the roadblocks have increased, even to your houses and nobody is talking. The level of extortion at these roadblocks is enough to build a third Niger bridge.
“You can’t imagine how much they make from those roadblocks. And these are done by intimidation, not voluntarily. But we must continue to fight against it.
“Yes, they always claim they are after criminals, but they’ve never arrested any one on those roadblocks.”
Referring the body as his main constituency, Okene-Ogene recalled the sacrifice he made as founding father of the union, including settlement of issues.
He expressed satisfaction that the body which had little beginning is now made of responsible, respected and mature individuals.
“It’s too demanding to be a PG. During my time, we beg people with money to attend meetings because of lack of interest. Yet challenges were enormous, with little or no resources.
“We had those who don’t contribute anything, but at the same time are professional editors, accusing the leadership of embezzlement, efforts targeted at tarnishing their images.
“No government gave us one naira. You’re here to be the voice of Ndigbo better because you’re independent of anybody. I can see the essence of Igbo union among you. I’m proud of you.
“Part of your responsibility should be to organising seminars for the current PG’s through your wealth of experience. They must appreciate the foundation you laid.
“You must carry yourselves with some level of carriage. Don’t allow yourselves to be humiliated. Your independence is important. You should be envy of all.
“Any government that wants to progress must work with the PGs. You need to engage the government with constructive criticisms. We’ll work hard to support you.”
The Ohanaeze boss who was among those conffered with awards of excellence, described the award as deserved.
“I commend the leadership for the recognition. The award is not based on money but self recognition. Due process was followed because I’m the most senior both past and present, outside ikeazor,” he added.
Earlier, National President of Association of Past President General of Anambra state (APPS), Mazi Omife I. Omife, had announced that the body lost 13 members between August and December last year.
He said 64 members out of 782 strong members are incapacitated due to old age and other associated health problems.
He noted that APPS is not a political association, but works and cooperates with the Governor Charles Chukukwuma Soludo administration and any government in power in Anambra State.
Other awardees were the Commissioner of Police, Aderemi Adeoye, Presidential candidate of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Peter Umeadi, Senator Representing Anambra Central, Sen. Victor Umeh, Engr. Emeka Okwuosa, among others.