By Izunna Okafor, Awka
It was a gathering of who is who, as past and present governors, governors-elect and other dignitaries from southeastern Nigeria gathered to witness the swearing-in ceremony of Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu as the new President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide.
Ohaneze Ndigbo the Apex Pan-Igbo socio-cultural group, with branches all over the federation and in different parts of the world. The immediate-past President of the group, Chief Judge Obiozor, passed on on December 26, 2022, months after which Chief Iwuanyanwu was unanimously endorsed as his successor.
The 80-year-old Iwuanyanwu was endorsed and sworn-in on Sunday at the Enugu’s Banquet Hall, during a meeting of Ohanaeze Imeobi, which is the highest decision-making organ of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
Speaking shortly after taking oath of office with Bible, Mr. Iwuanyanwu expressed delight over his endorsement as the president-general of the Igbo group, saying that providence and the love of Igbos propelled him to the position.
He said he never nurtured the idea of becoming president-general of Ohanaeze, and that he had only sought to become Nigerian president three times in failed attempts.
“I thank you all for giving me the opportunity to lead Ndigbo at this time. With our collective efforts and support, Ndigbo will rise again.
“I, therefore have a duty to valiantly defend the Igbo course and I promise Imeobi and all Igbo people that by the grace of God, I will not fail them,” he said.
He also revealed that he had done his best to serve Igbos both in time of war and time peace, adding that, as a young boy, he learnt determination to serve Igbos from his father.
On his agenda for the southeast, the new Ohaneze PG said he would make a special appeal to outgoing President Muhammadu Buhari to release the detained leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, before leaving office in less than one month from now.
He said: “Nnamdi Kanu is very crucial for any discussion (on security) and it is not possible to negotiate any peace while Nnamdi Kanu is in prison.
“There is also a report that his health is deteriorating. I feel it is important that he is released to have access to his medical doctors so that he does not die in prison.”
Further on his agenda for the southeast, Chief Iwuanyanwu vowed to ensure that the zone gets an additional state, as the zone is the only region with five states in Nigeria.
“Several political conferences have recommended the creation of additional state in the South-east to bring the number of states to six. So far, this has not been actualised.
“I will make sure that during my tenure (as Ohanaeze president-general), an additional state is created for the South-east,” he said.
Among the dignitaries present during the event were the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, five governors from the South-east: Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) Charles Soludo (Anambra), Dave Umahi (Ebonyi State, represented by his Deputy, Kelechi Igwe), Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia, represented by his Deputy, Ude Chukwu) and Hope Uzodinma (Imo, represented by his Deputy, Placid Njoku).
Also in attendance were former President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Adolphus Wabara; former Governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim, the governor-elect of Enugu State, Mr. Peter Mba, among others.