The president-general of the Igbo socio-political group, Ohaneze Ndigbo, John Nwodo, has distanced the body from the endorsement of the candidature of Babajide Sanwo-Olu as governor by the Lagos State chapter of the association.
The Lagos chapter of Ohaneze Ndigbo, led by Solomon Ogbonna on Monday announced it is backing Mr Sanwo-Olu, the candidate of the ruling party in the state, the All Progressives Congress, ahead of the governorship election on March 9.
According to Mr Ogbonna, the group is, in turn, seeking six slots in Mr Sanwo-Olu’s government if he is elected.
But in a recorded video sent to PREMIUM TIMES by Mr Nwodo on Tuesday, the Ohaneze leader condemned the action of the Lagos State chapter, and told Igbos resident in Lagos that Mr Ogbonna does not have the support of the national body in their action.
“What he (Mr Ogbonna) did in Ohaneze’s name did not have our backing. We never asked him to pick who the Igbos will vote for in Lagos. He did it a terrible thing, don’t listen to him, listen to your hearts,” Mr Nwodo said in the video in which he spoke Igbo.
“Both Jimi Agbaje and (Babajide) Sanwo-Olu are good persons, whoever your heart accepts, please vote for him.”
It was not the first time the pan Igbo group is distancing itself from the action of its members.
Last January, some members of the group denied it had endorsed Atiku Abubakar after some of its members threw their weight behind the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate.
Mr Nwodo, however, urged the Igbos to vote for a candidate who supports the restructuring of the country.
“Our people that were chased away during the election, and those that were wounded, is any of them behind it? If any of them is behind it, don’t vote for him.
“The person who is threatening you with heavy taxation, that you will be told to leave, don’t listen to him. The end will justify the means. We have those who will stand for you in the courts, nobody will touch you.
“If you go to America today, a black man has been president. If you go to America today, the Igbos and Yorubas have become mayors. But it’s not their land. In the UK, both Igbos and Yorubas are members of parliament. Nobody asked them to leave. Whoever is telling you to leave is insane.”
Mr Nwodo, a former minister of information, said it was unfortunate that since the threat issued to the Igbos in Lagos, no leader in the country including the present and past ones in Lagos, had come out to condemn the threat.
“It’s very bad,” he said.
“The person going to cast a vote is like someone going to confess before a priest, only yourself and God and the priest knows what you said. Go there and do what’s in your heart.
“This vote will change the future of this country and the forthcoming generation, don’t play with it. The first election is yet to be concluded, but this second one will show that anywhere that was rigged in the first one will be exposed in this one. But if you refuse to come out, it will be difficult to prove that you came out the first time. So it is important that you vote.
“If anyone threatens you, don’t run, stand so he knows a man is facing him. But don’t attack.”
Mr Sanwo-Olu seeks to succeed outgoing Lagos governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, who lost in the APC primaries. His closest challenger is Jimi Agbaje of the Peoples Democratic Party who is believed to enjoy the support of Igbos resident in Lagos.