Phoney groups turn Igbo apex body to cash cow


From Magnus Eze, Enugu

There seems to be confusion on issues concerning Ndigbo. People believe there is discordance among the Igbo when they speak on any issue.


 The situation has been aggravated by the insidious activities of people parading as speaking for Ndigbo when in the real sense they do not.

First, there is a group led by Chief Chidi Ibeh with Okechukwu Isiguzoro as secretary general. They claim to be a faction of Ohanaeze Ndigbo arising from a purported election held at an undisclosed place in Enugu, on Saturday, January 9, 2021, a day before the election of the George Obiozor leadership at Dan Anyiam Stadium, Owerri, Imo State.


Others are Ohanaeze General Assembly, various factions of Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC) as well as Concerned Ohanaeze Youths Stakeholders. The two factions of OYC are led by Okwu Nnabuike and Igboayaka Igboayaka.  

These groups and their agents at every point inundate the media space with contradictory statements in their bid to outdo one another. While the authentic Ohanaeze Ndigbo maintained its position on certain national issues as they relate to the Igbo including its partnership with the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), on the 2023 general elections, these other groups dished out opposing views.

For instance, the two factions of OYC took different positions during the elections, with Nnabuike and his group declaring support for the Atiku/Okowa ticket. Also, some contradictory statements have continued to emanate from a faction of Ohanaeze with Isiguzoro as secretary general.

Recently, the media was awash with reports suggesting that Ohanaeze tabled 13 demands before President Bola Tinubu, but this actually came from the Isiguzoro camp. The same person also wrote that Ohanaeze was ready to participate in Tinubu’s government.

Similarly, Tony Obizoba, who claimed to be Director General, Strategic Planning and Implementations of Ohanaeze General Assembly also threw its weight behind Tinubu urging Nigerians to embrace the fuel subsidy removal.

Daily Sun investigation showed that the formation of what seemed like a parallel Ohanaeze did not just start. In the build-up to the 2019 presidential election, when the Nnia Nwodo-leadership endorsed Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), majorly ministers in the Muhammadu Buhari government including Dr. Chris Ngige, Geoffrey Onyeama, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu and Chibuike Amaechi allegedly floated a splinter group headed by Uche Okwukwu, from Rivers State.

People are inclined to the belief that those behind the on going show are portraying Ndigbo as a disunited and divided entity just because of the peanut they get from their paymasters.

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Stakeholders say the point the Igbo all over the world make is that; Ohanaeze Ndigbo is sacred and should not be sending conflicting signals to the general public. People wonder if those behind all these machinations against the race truly have Igbo blood running in their veins.

National Publicity Secretary, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Alex Ogbonnia, said while the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide led by Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu “embodies the Igbo consciousness for the 2023 general election, the other is issuing press statements, mobilising for Tinubu. This is a sad denouement for the Igbo, especially at this critical time.”

They have remained a thorn in the flesh of the apex Igbo body since Nwodo took over as the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in January 2017.  Even with Enugu State High Court injunction restraining him and his group from parading themselves as officers of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Ogbonnia said Isiguzoro continued to be obdurate, unremorseful and persistent in his avowals.

But, the new President General of Ohanaeze, Iwuanyanwu recently warned those pretending to be acting for the Igbo group to desist from such ignoble act. He persons and groups especially youths purportedly speaking for Ohanaeze were not representing the socio-cultural body. He categorically stated that the groups were driven by economic motives.

The PG had in Enugu on May 1, 2023, said: “Any Igbo man can form an association and come to Ohanaeze to be registered. They are free to form any youth association. We don’t have any problem. But you don’t have to call it Ohanaeze. They are only trying to steal the brand name of Ohanaeze. That is wrong if you do that.

 «If they make statements in the name of that association, we are not going to bother. But if you say it is Ohanaeze, we won’t accept that. Every time you open pages of paper, you will see Ohanaeze has said this, at times it becomes contradictory. It is a very big concern to anyone who loves Igbo land.

“I start to think that these things are done for monetary consideration. Enemies of Igbo use those who are vulnerable to financial inducement. We have talked about it and we have made it clear that nobody apart from members of NEC can talk only on issues that have been discussed.”

National Vice President, Ohanaeze Ndigbo (Anambra), Chief Damian Okeke-Ogene, accused some prominent Igbo particularly ex-governors of funding the alleged disunity in Ohanaeze. For him, the President General’s priority should be to instil discipline in the Igbo system, protect their interest in Nigeria and more especially, ensure security of Ndigbo. 

Iwuanyanwu seemed to have risen to the challenge as his administration reiterated its poise to rein in those that had continually embarrassed Ndigbo. He held a meeting of leaders of different Igbo organisations under the auspices of Anya Ndi-Igbo in Enugu last week to find common solution to the region’s problems.

Dr. Uma Eleazu led the delegation with representatives of the Association of Igbo Town Unions, Nzuko Umunna, Aka-Ikenga, Igbo Leaders of Thought, Alaigbo Development Foundation and Igbo-Amaka Traders Association, Lagos, in attendance.

He restated that some people in South East were using Ohanaeze’s name for merchandise at the detriment of the entire region, stressing that they were the agents hired to create problems for Igboland: “We are not going to allow those saboteurs who use Ohanaeze’s name to make money from people who don’t like Igboland to succeed.

“It is a fraudulent and criminal activity and it is sad that someone will collect money to destroy his own people by using Ohanaeze’s name. We have resolved today to fight those people as the action was against Igbo race.”

Matching words with actions, the apex Igbo organisation on Monday, issued a disclaimer stating that Isiguzoro, “who has been parading himself as the Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, is not and has never been the Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo. He is both a usurper and an impostor; an interloper who has no authority or mandate to act or speak on behalf of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.”

The statement signed by National Publicity Secretary, Ogbonnia, noted that since Justice Uchenna Mogbo of the Enugu State High Court in a suit marked E/878/2022 issued an injunction “restraining them from parading themselves as representatives of Ohanaeze Ndigbo,” Isiguzoro and others have continued to impersonate the Office of the Secretary General: “He has also refused to honour the several invitations from security operatives to answer to criminal complaints of impersonation and perjury.”

He appealed the media to be circumspect in what they publish about Ohanaeze and to seek clearance from the authentic leadership before going public.

Isiguzoro could not speak to Daily Sun having not been inclined to previous inquiries. But a source in his camp insisted: “Were the authentic leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.”