By Jude Atupulazi
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organization, Ohaneze, has expressed no regrets for supporting the presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and his running mate, Mr Peter Obi, against incumbent president, Muhammadu Buhari, declared winner of the February 23 Presidential Poll by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, reports Jude Atupulazi.
With a few weeks to the presidential election, Ohaneze, through its president general, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, had endorsed the presidential ticket of Atiku/Obi on the basis of Atiku’s favourable disposition to the restructuring of the country.
Although the endorsement had elicited an angry reaction from the Anambra State Government of Chief Willie Obiano, it had however enjoyed the wide support of Igbos at home and in diaspora who would go ahead to massively vote for the duo on Election Day despite a few frustrating experiences. However that could not stop Buhari from being announced the winner of that election by the nation’s electoral umpire.
But speaking exclusively to Fides in Awka, the Anambra State Chapter chairman of Ohaneze, Chief Damian Okeke Ogene, said that far from regretting the decision to support Atiku/Obi, the organization would rather commend the zeal of Ndigbo in voting for Atiku/Obi.
‘Their massive support and understanding in this election showed the spirit of restoration of Igbo dignity. We commend all and use this opportunity to also commend the doggedness of the Igbo leaders, Chief Nnia Nwodo, for uniting all Igbo groups to work together, including IPOB, MASSOB and all other affiliate groups. They all went to the elections with oneness, irrespective of the actions of some government functionaries in the Southeast,’ Ogene stated.
He said the leadership of the Igbo Nation had emerged and would stand under Nwodo, whose action, he said, united all Igbos in the Southeast more than ever before.
‘This election will bring changes in Igbo Land and our thinking on investing in other parts of the country. Some of the younger ones will make Southeast the Japan of Africa. It is not easy to begin but in the end it will be beneficial. The Think-Home Philosophy is now or never,’ he said.
Ogene advised Buhari to retrace his steps and be mindful of his utterances by regarding all parts of the country as one constituency where there would be equal opportunities or else Nigeria’s fortunes would continue to nose dive.
He however said Nigerians were disappointed with the conduct of the elections, especially in the area of card readers where some were stopped from voting, while others elsewhere were allowed to vote manually.
‘Because of the way the elections were conducted, many Nigerians received the news of the winner without enthusiasm,’ Ogene said, regretting that despite planning the elections for two years, INEC failed to improve on the 2015 performance under Goodluck Jonathan.