Opinion (12/1/2020): Ohanaeze President: Before We Congratulate George Obiozor – By Steve Osuji

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Finally, the arch-establishmentarians have had their way. They managed to install Prof. George Obiozor as the latest president-general of the OHANEZE Ndigbo, the foremost sociocultural body in Igboland.
It’s nigh a ceremonial title of a largely toothless influence group. Let’s say that the position is as big as its occupier makes it.
The outgone PG, Nnia Nwodo elevated Ohaneze; probably the most activist if not the most successful in recent times. He imbued the body with his rich oratory and intellectual prowess.
If we overlook some minor shortcomings, his tenure was good for Ndigbo. Though his era was dogged by a Secretary-General by name Uche Okwukwu, a black leg and a shameless saboteur for most part of the time, but Nwodo stood head high. All that is over now.
Nwodo’s time expired yesterday after a controversial election in which George Obiozor was practically shooed in by entrenched interests much against proper procedures and popular will.
The PG slot had been allotted to Imo State and late last year, foremost Imo politician, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu had hijacked the moment by organising a kangaroo forum in which Obiozor emerged as the CONSENSUS CANDIDATE of Imo State.
It was anything but consensual as most of the other candidates were never consulted nor brought to the dialogue table.
While the other contestants kicked and screamed, Obiozor was being paraded and indeed endorsed by the two APC governors and other notables in the southeast.
He even had a photo occasion with Gov. Hope Uzodinma of Imo State. That was the ultimate let down for many Ndigbo. He could as well have been endorsed by Aso Rock just that there were no photos!
At the end of the day, other notable candidates like Dr. Joe Nworgu, Chief Chris Asoluka, Dr. Chido Osuagwu and Chief Goddy Uwazurike made appearances but the power clique had its way.
One would want to assert that in a fair competition, Obiozor may never have won. Many do not consider him the man to lead Ohaneze in this age.
A Columbia University alumnus, a former Nigerian ambassador to the US, and former DG of the once prestigious Nigeria Institute of International Affairs – this pedigree may have put him in high stead but the factors against him are more.
First, he is old and perhaps ailing with it. He toppled over the other day during a meeting and was rushed to a facility to recuperate. In the photo below he looks pale and seems of precarious health condition.
All this notwithstanding, Prof. Obiozor’s most damning negative is his establishmentarian bent.
He of course served the military junta with much gusto, especially in the Babangida era when he landed all his appointments.
He even did a hagio on the then number two man, Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, presenting him as a foreign affairs visionary in the book.
He is not known to be a man of strong convictions and one doesn’t remember him to have spoken up against the Igbo condition or any condition for that matter.
A notable intellectual, he sure is not an activist or campaigner for general good. He is imbued with the obduracy of a civil servant. Certainly not one to rock any boat.
One thinks Ohaneze would need a chatismatic, vibrant, young turk like Chris Asoluka for a change, to lead it on to 2023, Ndigbo’s very juncture with history!
In my opinion, Obiozor belongs to the IMEOBI, the conclave elder statesmen where his role is better defined…
Howbeit, this column wishes Prof. Obiozor well in his new job. We expect him to be upfront about Igbo matters as Nwodo exemplified. We expect him to be firm, reasonable and inspiring.
Most important, the rump of Ndigbo expect him to deliver on 2023. To put it blankly: PROF. OBIOZOR WOULD BE CONSIDERED A COLOSSAL FAILURE IF NDIGBO FAIL TO PRODUCE THE NEXR NIGERIAN PRESIDENT!

– Osuji is a respected journalist

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