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Thursday, July 25, 2024

ALONG CAME A TIGER: Chekwas Okorie Brings the Message and Mission of the UPP to the US – By Policap Odoemene



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Chekwas Okorie and Dr. Ugorji
Chekwas Okorie and Dr. Ugorji



By far one of the highlights of the ill-fated and unorganized convention of the hobbled World Igbo Congress held in Houston, Texas this year, was the arrival of Ojeozi Ndigbo, Chief Chekwas Okorie at the Saturday political forum. Clad in his now trademark white Igbo suit with a red cap,  Okorie’s arrival and presentation about his United Progression Party (UPP) brought to a halt the audience’s march towards an endorsement for a would-be-candidate for president of Nigeria who had not yet declared his interest. The UPP, Okorie thundered, will nominate an Igbo for president in the upcoming election in Nigeria. “How do I know?” the founder and chairman of UPP asked. “I know this because we in the UPP have zoned the presidential ticket to the South East of Nigeria. So, come what may, there will be an Igbo for president flying the UPP flag in 2015.” The audience went wild in jubilation and salute.

Ojeozi said he had nothing against President Jonathan for whom some political operatives had come to secure an endorsement, but he asked “what does it say of us that we would endorse a man who has not told us he would be a candidate?” By the time Okorie was done, the audience, including Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, agreed that aga akpa ya akpa.


After he left Houston, Okorie travelled to Willingboro, New Jersey where he took the message of the UPP to a private dinner held in his honor on Friday, September 5, 2014. The Deputy Mayor of the township, who had also served as Mayor, the Honorable Jackie Jennings, welcomed the visitor from Nigeria and his entourage and asked them to consider Willingboro as home away from home. The closed door event was hosted by the Scholar-activist, Dr. Ugorji Okechukwu Ugorji and his wife, Uche at their Willingboro Casa-La-Uche home.

Speaking after dinner, Okorie said he was happy to be in the company of accomplished activists and leaders of the Black world. Recalling that the founding father of modern and independent Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe returned from America to influence the political liberation of Ghana, Nigeria and other African nations, Okorie said “I have come from the UPP to invite another generation of Nigerians in the US to return and join hands with us to restore the dreams of Zik and others. When you do, I submit that you will find the UPP to be the most appropriate political party, ideologically and spiritually. A village broom is too archaic for our comtemporary challenges and won’t get us anywhere; the umbrella is full of holes with rain beating like a drum on our heads; and the roaster has since been sold and slaughtered for stew,” he said. “The tiger is now awake, and the UPP is its home.” The tiger is the symbol of the UPP.

Attendants at the event included Chief Austin Egwuonwu, a former Chairman of the World Igbo Congress (WIC), and Ms. Reva Foster, the Chairwoman of the New Jersey Black Issues Convention (NJBIC). NJBIC is an amalgam of over 40 civil rights and community service groups in New Jersey, affiliated with the National Black Leadership Roundtable. Others in attendance were Dr. and Mrs. Azubuike Ezeife, Mrs. Uche Eze, Chief Charles Chikezie (a former two-term Secretary General of WIC) and Dr. Ugo Anusionwu, Chairman of the Philadelphia Branch of Peoples Club of Nigeria International.



The Nigerian-owned International Village Square located on Elizabeth Avenue, Newark, New Jersey served as the venue for a town hall meeting between Chief Chekwas Okorie and the Nigerian community on Saturday, September 6, 2014. The outfit is owned by Chief Chris Awobuo, who provided refreshments.

In his presentation to an audience of Nigerians, Okorie went down memory lane to describe the role ethnicity and religion have played and continue to play in the history of politics and political party formation in Nigeria. A tripod had always existed, he claimed, between Igbo-controlled, Yoruba controlled, and Hausa/Fulani-controlled national parties. The UPP, he asserted, is the only chance of restoring that tripod in the 2015 general elections. “Just by the mere strategy of zoning the presidential ticket to the South East, the UPP has been elevated to be among the top three parties in Nigeria because only three parties will field presidential candidates in 2015,” Okorie said. According to the UPP founder and chairman, the parties that will field presidential candidates next year are the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP – whose symbol is the unbrella), the All Progressives Party (APC -whose symbol is the broom), and the United Progressive Party (UPP – whose symbol is the tiger).

The Igbo, Okorie said, constitute the largest ethnic group in Nigeria, have the second largest population in all states outside Igbo land, are present in every local government in Nigeria and will ultimately choose to be masters of their own destiny when the UPP presidential candidate emerges. The UPP, he said, “would be open to a post-election alliance for governance once we demonstrate our latent strength at the upcoming polls.”


This report is brought to you courtesy of the global resources of WWW.Talldrums.com. 

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