By Izunna Okafor, Awka
A chieftain of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), Chief Ralph Obioha, has dismissed as an incoherent diatribe, the press statement recently issued by the presidential candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), Ahmed Bola Tinubu against a staunch member and supporter of NADECO, Chief Lloyd Ukwu.
Tinubu, had, in a statement issued through his aide, Dele Alake on Thursday, described Chief Ukwu as an impostor for announcing his expulsion from NADECO USA, over what he described as a ‘fraudulent electoral process’ that led to his declaration as the winner of the 2023 Nigerian presidential election. He group also said the expulsion will be formalised in an international news conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
Aleke, in the statement issued on Tinubu’s behalf, said it was he found it insulting, fraudulent and laughable that a platform he was a part of during the military era to emancipate Nigeria is now being used against him.
He alleged that Ukwu is an impostor, hellbent on hoodwinking unsuspecting Nigerians in the diaspora and the international community to further a sinister agenda on behalf of the Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Mr Peter Obi.
Among other claims, he also claimed that Ukwu is attempting to fraudulently exploit the NADECO platform in favour of Obi.
However, reacting to Tinubu’s comment, the Head of NADECO in North America, Chief Obiorah said he (Tinubu) was wrong to refer to Ukwu as impostor, even as he insisted that the NADECO Executive Director and his activities are legitimate.
Chief Obiorah who reacted through a press vstatement he captioned “NADECO and Lloyd Ukwu: Right of Reply to Dele Alake”, also faulted many of the claims by Tinubu and cleared some of his allegations against NADECO.
His statement read, “My attention has been drawn to a Press Statement titled: “PUBLIC ALERT ON NEFARIOUS AGENDA OF NADECO IMPOSTOR, LLOYD UKWU IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”, dated 9th March, 2023 and signed by one Dele Alake, the Special Adviser to Bola Ahmed Tinubu. In my capacity as a NADECO chieftain and its former Head in North America, and having read this diatribe by Dele Alake and being aware of the ignoble intentions behind it, below therefore is my considered response to it.
“First, Prof. Wole Soyinka was never a member of NADECO. At the time, he had contemporaneously formed his own group which he called NALCO and which, according to him, was aimed at forming a Nigerian Government in Exile. Soyinka’s role in NADECO was limited to occasional collaborations because NADECO saw him as someone who was generally pursuing goals somewhat similar to that of NADECO.
“Attorney Lloyd Ukwu (the person disparaged by Dele Alake in his Press Statement) was a major pillar in the NADECO struggle, especially in the American continents, comprising of the United States, Canada and some South American countries. When NADECO had no kobo, Dr. Ukwu sponsored three air tickets to Ottawa, Canada, one to Haiti and funded costly outreaches to many countries, including Taiwan.
“Initially, Dr. Ukwu donated a befitting office space for NADECO in the prestigious Georgetown area of Washington DC, USA and he went on to later secure an exclusive-use office for NADECO directly opposite the headquarters of the FBI. This was deliberately done to ensure that NADECO and its principal officers like my humble self are completely protected by our proximity to the seat of United States apex security agency.
“This Dele Aleke is a johnny-come-lately who does not have any factual knowledge of what he is talking about in the said Press Statement. He cleverly but clumsily avoided talking about me, even as it is in the public domain that I was the head of NADECO USA and Canada. He did not even have the basic decency of mentioning Chief John Oyegun who, who like Lloyd Ukwu, played a diverse mix of pivotal roles.
“In the same vein, this Dele Alake minimized the major roles of our heroes past, such as Chief Anthony Enahoro, Rear Admiral Ndubisi Kanu, Air Commodore Dan Sulueman, Chief Ralph Uwaechie, etc. Needless mentioning the names of high foreign officials who went beyond the call of duty to carry our burden for us, and, through NADECO, helped us restore democracy in Nigeria.
“For the record and because Alake was indirectly playing the ethnic card, let me state that Dr. Lloyd Ukwu is married to a Yoruba lady by name of Remi, a prominent pharmacist in the United States. His children are therefore half-Yoruba. It is a gross injustice to the contributions of Ukwu to our noble struggle to enthrone civil rule in Nigeria to suggest that he or NADECO, as presently constituted, are working for Peter Obi. For the record, we worked for and are still working for enthronement of true democracy in Nigeria based on the popular will of Nigerians, as expressed through free and fair elections.
“In conclusion, let it be clear that Attorney Lloyd Ukwu is legitimate; his NADECO activities and credentials are legitimate; and he has the inalienable right to hold his political opinion, especially when geared to helping our democracy to flourish through a credible electoral process. We indeed need more activists like him.”