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Asoluka raises alarm on Ohanaeze Ndigbo President-General race

Ohanaeze Ndigbo

Sam Nzeh

Leading contender in the upcoming election to the post of the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Dr. Chris Asoluka, has raised the alarm on the midday drama going on in the name of electoral process, insisting that for the poll to be transparent, credible, free and fair, he aligns himself to the call by eminent leaders of Ndigbo under the aegis of Concerned Members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo for the postponement of the exercise for two months.

Asoluka made the call in a statement on Friday, just as he threw his weight behind the demand by the Concerned Members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo for the convening of an immediate Imeobi meeting via Zoom to review the request for postponement of the elections for two months.

According to him, the midday drama going on in the name of electoral process is capable of threatening the future of Ohanaeze Ndigbo as well as having a negative impact on Igbo race.

He noted that as of Wednesday, January 6, 2021, there were are no official guidelines as approved by Imeobi; No information on venues for elections at all levels; No official statement on costs of nomination forms, yet some people had paid and names drawn up for LGA elections that did not hold; and there was absence of official lists of National General Assembly statutory members and the ones that are associated with the states, as required by the Ohanaeze constitution, two days before the so-called National General Elections scheduled on 10 January, 2020.

Asoluka, who said he had been involved in two previous consecutive electoral processes, in 2012/13 as the chairman of the Electoral Committee and 2016/7 as a member of Prof Anya O Anya-led Electoral Committee that produced the incumbent President General, said: “Never have I witnessed the manner and magnitude of brazenness including total disregard for stakeholders’ sensibilities and basic dictates of transparency and fairness as being perpetrated by the current electoral committee.

“For example, how can the apex Igbo organisation announce its electoral committee on 20 December 2020 wait nine (9) days to inaugurate it on the 29 December and then expect to deliver a credible election in two weeks?

“Similarly, how can the chairman of the Committee now act on his own for the whole committee? Given that the committee’s inaugural virtual meeting was on 2 January 2021, who approved that terse Press Release on General Elections 2021 issued on 30 December 2020, promising further publications which never were fulfilled?

How can an Ad hoc committee issue a regulation for elections without reference to, and approval as required in Article 10 VI which outlines the powers of the General Assembly “to make policies, rules, regulations and programmes”? It is only the Imeobi of Ohanaeze Ndigbo that can act temporarily in this behalf as it “shall be responsible for rapid response of urgent issues”.

How then does a so-called guideline proposed in a one-page release outlining “schedule of elections and delegate’ composition” see the light of the day without emanating from neither a committee meeting nor with Imeobi approval to guide electoral conduct? It is an infringement and violation of Constitution, and I do not subscribe to this”.

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Though he had procured and returned nomination formalities, Asoluka said this cannot make him blind to willful illegality, insisting that he supports the demand by the Concerned Members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo for an immediate Imeobi meeting be convened via Zoom to review its request for postponement of the elections for two months.

The recommendation, he added, “is in the best interest of Ndigbo and offers a solid resolution of the looming impasse”.

The statement reads: “In light of the troubling series of events that tend to contravene the fairness, transparency and independence of the upcoming Ohanaeze Ndigbo National General Elections scheduled for January 2021, I would like to appreciate and be guided by the tireless advocacy of a number of Ndigbo organisations and stakeholders, including a strong coalition of organisations, home and in the diaspora including World Igbo Congress (WIC), Igbo World Assembly (IWA), AlaIgbo Development Foundation (ADF), Nzuko Umunna, Aka Ikenga and others under the umbrella of Global Igbo Leaders, for a transparent, credible and free/fair elections in a way that unites rather than divide and embarrass the Igbo nation.

“In the effort to achieve trust and faith in the electoral process, I also entirely align to the call for the standard tests of credible process espoused in recently released statement by some of our most eminent leaders in Imeobi under the aegis of Concerned Imeobi Members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, who among other recommendations, advised for the postponement of the exercise for two (2) months. The reasons are germane, urgent and edifying as the collective future of Ndigbo could be at stake.

“I also humbly join my own voice to raise public awareness on activities of the electoral committee in the midday drama going on in the name of “electoral process”. This hastily contrived and corrosive act is capable of threatening the future of Ohanaeze Ndigbo as well as having a negative impact on the Igbo race.

“I have been involved in two previous consecutive electoral processes, in 2012/13 as the chairman of the Electoral Committee and 2016/7 as a member of Prof Anya O Anya-led Electoral Committee that produced the incumbent President General.

Never have I witnessed the manner and magnitude of brazenness including total disregard for stakeholders’ sensibilities and basic dictates of transparency and fairness as being perpetrated by the current electoral committee.

“For example, how can the apex Igbo organisation announce its electoral committee on 20 December 2020 wait nine (9) days to inaugurate it on the 29 December and then expect to deliver a credible election in two weeks?

“Similarly, how can the chairman of the Committee now act on his own for the whole committee? Given that the committee’s inaugural virtual meeting was on 2 January 2021, who approved that terse Press Release on General Elections 2021 issued on 30 December 2020, promising further publications which never were fulfilled?

How can an Ad hoc committee issue a regulation for elections without reference to, and approval as required in Article 10 VI which outlines the powers of the General Assembly “to make policies, rules, regulations and programmes”? It is only the Imeobi of Ohanaeze Ndigbo that can act temporarily in this behalf as it “shall be responsible for rapid response of urgent issues”.

How then does a so-called guideline proposed in a one-page release outlining “schedule of elections and delegate’ composition” see the light of the day without emanating from neither a committee meeting nor with Imeobi approval to guide electoral conduct? It is an infringement and violation of the Constitution, and I do not subscribe to this.

“As succinctly reported in the Concerned Imeobi Members’ statement, “the fundamentals for open, free, fair, credible and transparent elections have been breached brazenly”. I agree completely with its observations on the following situation as at Wednesday, January 06, 2021:

“There are no official guidelines as approved by Imeobi; There has been no information on venues for elections at all levels; No official statement on costs of nomination forms, yet some people have paid and names drawn up for LGA elections that did not hold; The absence of official lists of National General Assembly statutory members and the ones that are associated with the states, as required by the Ohanaeze constitution, two days before the so-called National General Elections scheduled on 10 January, 2020; and The “elected delegates” lists will come up at the earliest on Saturday January 09, 2021 with under a day to go, one wonders when the contestants will receive the delegates’ lists?

“Our elders say that one should speak the truth and call a spade a spade lest our silence be misconstrued for tacit endorsement. Though on my part, I have procured and return nomination formalities, it cannot make me blind to willful illegality. What is wrong is wrong.

I support the demand by the Concerned Members of Ohanaeze Ndigbo for an immediate Imeobi meeting be convened via Zoom to review its request for postponement of the elections for two months. The recommendation is in the best interest of Ndigbo and offers a solid resolution of the looming impasse. A stitch in time, they say, “saves nine”.

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Augustine Aminu

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