Abuja (Sundiata Post) – The news filtered in on Tuesday, January 10, 2017 that a former two-time minister of Nigeria, Chief John Nnia Nwodo (Jnr), had won the election to become the new President General of apex socio-cultural body of Ndigbo, Ohanaeze, was not a surprise.Nwodo, a former presidential aspirant of the defunct All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), is not an obscure fellow in Nigeria (at least).
The third son in the respected family of Nwodo in Ukehe, Igbo Etiti L.G.A, Enugu State, Nnia Nwodo is a lawyer, an economist, a politician, and a renowned public commentator.
Prior to his appointment as the Honourable Minister for Civil Aviation in 1983, Nwodo was a Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on Information between 1980 and1981; he was also a Special Assistant to the President of Nigeria on Special Duties between 1981 and 1983.
Fifteen years later, Nwodo was called upon to serve his country in the capacity of the Honourable Minister for Information and Culture from 1998 to 1999.
The election, which was conducted at the national headquarters of the group at 7, Park Avenue, Old GRA, Enugu, was an easy victory for Nwodo, who pulled a total of 242 votes to defeat his only rival, a former Vice Chancellor of old Anambra State University of Technology (ASUTH), Prof. Chiweyete Ejike, who scored 13 votes, although six votes were voided in the contest for the President General.
Winning an election is one thing; facing the tasks ahead squarely is another thing. The tasks of leading the Ohanaeze Ndigbo are enormous.
Hopefully, Nwodo is aware of this fact when he declared he would die for Ndigbo, soon after winning the election to become the new President General of the styled cultural organisation.
Nwodo, who vowed to die for the cause of Igboland, if asked to do so, also pledged to dialogue with the Indigenous People of Biafra, (IPOB) so as to make the self determination group speak in one voice with Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
Akin to the above is the issue of the Movement for Actualization of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB). Apart from the need to cause the group to speak in one voice with Ohanaeze Ndigbo, there is also need to ensure that members of this group do not always take laws into their hands. This will go a long way to avoid the confrontation they have always had with the military and other law enforcement and security operatives.
Also, increasing the number of delegates for groups like MASSOB and IPOB should be looked into. For instance, a situation, where out of about 500 delegates for the election, MASSOB secured only five delegates may not go down well with such groups.
He also pledged to enthrone integrity and make efforts to repatriate Igbo business capitals scattered in diaspora back to Igboland.
“Money does not make a man, but integrity,” he said.
A very worrisome issue is the fate of the Igbos in the present Nigeria. The Igbos are, no doubt, one of the major ethnic groups in Nigeria. But they have been left out in the cold in Nigeria’s Federal politics since after the Civil War that lasted for nearly three years.
Chairman of the Election Committee, Prof. Anya O. Anya, reminded Ndigbo that 47 years, after the Nigeria/Biafra War, it was time for reflection and repositioning of Ndigbo in the country.
There is also the issue of speaking in native language, other than English or Pidgin. This issue was glaring during the election.
Report had it that there was commotion on the use of English language in the forum, with many preferring that Igbo language be adopted as a medium of speech.
The Ohanaeze Ndigbo is made up of the five Eastern states of the South-East (Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu and Imo) and some Igbo-speaking communities in the South-South. Therefore, adopting the Igbo language as a common medium of speech should not be a huge issue to resolve.
As a group, Nwodo should find a common ground to carry everybody along.
It was understood that candidates complained of high nomination fees such as N500, 000 for President General, N300, 000 for Secretary General, N250, 000 for Deputy President General and N100,000 for National Treasurer.
People, who have interests to contest for positions should not be scared away to their marrows with high nomination fees.
Nnia Nwodo is a man, who has seen it all in life. Born on December 11, 1952, he was married to late Justice R.O. Nwodo of the Federal Court of Appeal, Lagos, a union blessed with five children.
He had his primary education at St. Patrick’s School, Iva Valley, Enugu between 1957 and 1960; Holy Ghost Primary School, Enugu from 1961 to 1962 and St. Mary’s School, Uwani, Enugu in 1963. Thereafter, he attended the prestigious College of Immaculate Conception, Enugu from 1964 to 1970, bagging his WASC.
Going further, he gained admission into the University of Ibadan, Jos Campus from 1971 to 1972, and University of Ibadan, Ibadan from 1972 to 1976.
He left for the London School of Economics and Political Science, University of London from 1984 to 1987, heading back for a mandatory stint at Nigeria Law School, Victoria Island, Lagos in 1988.
On the work front, he was a Research Assistant, Federal Cabinet Office Lagos in1975; General Manager, Chief J.U. Nwodo & Sons Ltd. in 1978; State Secretary, National Party of Nigeria, Anambra State Branch from 1978 to 1980.
He was partner, Dr. J.N. Nwodo & Co. from 1989 to 1992; Chairman, Urban Development Bank of Nigeria Plc. in 1993; Principal Partner, Nnia Nwodo & Co. from 1993 till date.
He was also a part time lecturer in Constitutional Law at the Enugu State University of Science and Technology (ESUT) from 1996 to 1999; Chairman, Viva Securities, a member of the Nigeria Stock Exchange from 1998 to 2006 and Chairman, Enugu State Centenary Committee June 2009 till date.
Between 1982 and 1998, he travelled to over 20 countries on international conferences and related official functions. He has authored several publications and delivered several lectures and has been honoured by societies and organisations for the quality of impacts he has made.
Amongst others, he is a Life Member of the University of Ibadan Alumni Association 1993; Honourary Fellow of the University of Nigeria Students Union 1995; Certificate of Honour by Igbo Etiti Students Association 1996; Honourary Award of the Law Students Association (LA WSA), Enugu State University of Science and Technology 1997; Professional Service Award by Rotary International District 9140 in 1997; Merit Award of Excellency by Association of Staff Development and Distant Education Institute of Management and Technology, Enugu 1998; Fellow Common Wealth Journalists Association 1998 and more.