As the presidency begins to receive lists of delegates’ names for the national conference tomorrow, the apex Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has indicated that former Vice President, Dr. Alex Ekwueme, is likely to lead other 14 people from the region to the conference.
Ohanaeze Ndigbo Secretary-General, Dr. Joe Nworgu, who disclosed this to Daily Sun yesterday in Enugu, said it was a difficult task for Ohanaeze to select 15 persons out of the over 1,500 Igbo who are eminently qualified to represent the region.
He disclosed that as at Monday, they have the names of 30 persons from where the President-General of Ohanaeze, Chief Gary Igariwey, would narrow down to 15 after last minute consultations with critical stakeholders from the zone yesterday.
Nworgu, however, said that the group had carried out wide consultations before arriving at the 15 names, apologising to those who were not selected to bear with them.
He also said that Dr. Ekwueme, who is presently leading the South-East Peoples Assembly and had been interfacing with leaders of the South-South and South-West, is likely to lead the Igbo delegates.
He gave details of the Igbo preparedness for the conference, saying: “There are two aspects, the first is the delegates’ list, which should be presented by Thursday, February 20; the second aspect is the preparation for the conference proper; for the delegates’ list; Ohanaeze is having widespread consultations, especially with the pillars of Ohanaeze; past presidents-general, key members of Ime-Obi and all the organisations, Ndigbo Lagos, Aka Ikenga Lagos, Izu Umunna Jos, Igbo Delegates Assembly that leads all the Igbo in Northern Nigeria, then the Igbo in the Diaspora led by the chairman of Ohanaeze Committee on the Diaspora, Dr. Anakwenze.
“It is a painstaking exercise and we are having difficulties in selecting only 15 members from a region that is full of resource persons, people of high integrity, people of great achievements, to pick out only 15 when we can from this pool get 1,500 persons who are qualified to go to the conference. So, we are being careful because whoever you choose there is going to be a backlash. So with this difficulty we first of all brought out 30 names and from these 30 names we will bring it down to 15 because we will not have more than 15 names. So we are still consulting with our people, the governors, everybody.”
On the Prof Ben Nwabueze’s Leaders of Thought group, he stated: “Some members of Igbo Leaders of Thought, their names are among the 30 selected because they are members of Ime-Obi, the highest policy-making body of Ohanaeze, not because they are members of Igbo Leaders of Thought or whatever it is.”
He stated that the position of the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) that there should be no-go area in conference has nothing to do with Ohanaeze, as “Chief Ralph Uwazuruike, the leader of MASSOB, is a bona fide Nigerian with full rights to have his own ideas and to say them out. If that is his love, he can say it.
We are going to the conference ready. The Secretary to the Government of the Federation said there is no-go area; well, when we arrive there we shall see whether that can be maintained, but we shall go to the conference.”
From CHIDI NNADI, Enugu