By Obinna Akukwe
It is obvious to informed political strategists that the Igbos have schemed themselves out of possible presidency for 2015 for a probable paltry sum of N5billion naira (subsidy thieves stole N1.7 billion naira). Since the Ohaneze crisis started in February 2012, various versions of how much was released to the body through various guise, means and reasons was rife. A news media (247ureports ) reported that ’’ Jonathan’s N5billion bribe tears Ohaneze Apart ‘’and went on to publish together with another media site ( Elombah) one of the secret bank accounts used to siphon the funds, but since the South East Governors set up a committee to look into the matter, facts before them suggested that the amount surpasses the N5 billion reported in the news. Some Committee members were availed of some secret account including the Diamond Bank account where over N275 million naira was withdrawn over a period of about two years without the knowledge of Ohaneze Secretariat. Informed sources have explained that the South East Governors were shocked when they realized that the presidency have been bombarding Ohaneze with cash, contracts and businesses and some Reconciliation Committee Members were so ashamed that they buried their heads in and sought an exit strategy. That is why a two-week assignment turned to over eight weeks and was concluded just before the Easter week. Their assignment is likened to a doctor called to cure malaria fever only to discover that the patient had acute Hepatitis B and needs complicated medication.
Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma , at the peak of the Ohaneze crisis , put a call through to Governor Peter Obi, and asked what Igbo Governors were doing to checkmate the spiraling crisis. Peter Obi responded by scheduling a meeting of the five South East Governors at Government House, Enugu, and they responded within 24 hours to deliberate on the matter. The five governors of the South East set up 11 man committee to look into the Ohaneze crisis after the controversial January 2013 elections, unify the aggrieved chieftains and make Ohaneze stronger. The committee members include Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma, Rev Prof Obiora Ike, Senator Uche Chukwumerije, Senator Ben Obi, Prof Joe Irukwu, Hon Ohuabunwa and among others, but the extent of shit oozing from the place was such that even the Governors were reluctant to call for speedy conclusion of the report.
Among the revelations which shocked them, though not new to the informed observers was that the Ime Obi meeting of Ohaneze was called only four times throughout the four year tenure of the immediate past leadership. Ime Obi meeting is like the council of elders and they hold monthly meetings during which they review situations that concerns Igbos with a view to taking appropriate positions. The aggrieved parties alleged that the organization was run front Asaba without due consultations to forestall any attempt for Igbos to rally in pursuit of common agenda.
Another revelation was that the past leadership had audience with President Goodluck Jonathan 21 times and there was no infrastructure in Igbo land to show for the meetings. They alleged that he never attended any of the meetings with President Jonathan in the company of any member of Ime Obi nor member of the National Executive Council, therefore nobody knows whether Igbo interest is being sold during the meetings. However, the immediate past president Ambassador Ralph Uwechue had countered that the president had always requested to see only himself and as such he cannot be expected to carry crowd to the Sate House.
The committee were told that all the monies collected on behalf of the group was never lodged into the account and that the organization as at the time of swearing in of new executives, had less than N100,000 naira in the account. They were informed that if not for the magnanimity of Governor Theodore Orji of Abia State who came to the rescue of Ohaneze with N2million naira , the elections would not have held, wandering why the deliberate starving of funds to the organs when the members know that Ohaneze had excess cash in secret accounts. The committee was told that the reason for the starvation of funds was to frustrate a free and fair election and impose some presidency anointed candidates on the Igbos .Uwechue countered the starvation of funds argument by explaining that he personally released N1million naira to the body for conduct of the said election , describing the taunted intervention of Orji as a blackmail.
The committee members were told that there was never any agreement between President Jonathan and Ohaneze that the former will support an Igbo man for president either in 2015 or 2019 and that Ohaneze’s blind endorsement of Jonathan 2015 is motivated by personal and business interests and they revealed some multi billion naira business interests of some Ohaneze Chieftains championing Jonathan 2015 projects.
The committee members also discovered that the presidential aide on Subsidy Reinvestment Programme, Nze Akachukwu Nwankpa was not acting alone in the bribery scandal. They were told that some people, who returned their bribe cheques issued through a proxy company, were given cash equivalent of between $120,000-150,000 dollars to shut up their mouth while Igbo interests is being sold. Nze Akachukwu on his own part have threatened to expose anybody that tries to drag his name to the mud and reportedly told some Igbo elders that he did everything with the consent of Ohaneze leadership.
Ambasador Uwechue had always maintained that the Ohaneze foundation was run by the Akachukwu in concert with the past publicity secretary, Chief Ralph Ndigwe, who was managing the Ikenga Express fleet of buses and that he was denied vital information and access to the funds. That was his submission to the earlier committee set up by Ohaneze to investigate the matter and that was the stance he maintained while speaking with some members of the committee.
The committee was told that the new leadership of Ohaneze has already foreclosed any support for Igbo presidency in 2015. The statement by the Ohaneze spokesman Prince Tonnie Ogonna that ” If President Jonathan declines to run in 2015, it then makes it quicker for the Igbo. The bottom line is that Ohanaeze supports Jonathan in whatever decision he takes in 2015” was tendered as evidence that the new leadership have sold off without any concrete agreement. This stance of the new Ohaneze leadership is already yielding dividends of financial transformation for some members.
Some Committees members, together with the Governors were disappointed that all the hues and cries that Ohaneze lacked funding was all lies and that Ohaneze was swimming in billions. Some of them expressed disappointment that the group had acquiesced to the President Jonathan second term agenda cheaply while others believe that Ohaneze is in order.
Governor Martins Elechi of Ebonyi State felt slighted that a president was elected for Ohaneze from his state and he was not allowed to either make input. He demanded a new election whereby according to the Ohaneze constitution, three persons must be presented from the state from which the General Convention can chose one.
The Committee had concluded its reports, however, informed sources revealed that while Governors Obi and Orji of Anambra and Abia States respectively are in support of the continuation of the present executives, Okorocha and Elechi favours fresh elections . It is expected that the Governors will harmonize their positions and probably appease the aggrieved parties.
Whichever way it goes, through acts of sabotage, it is obvious that Igbo presidency has been sold and those expecting the Igbo to preside over Nigeria in 2015 should blame their leaders for sacrificing their desting for paltry appeasement of a few billions.