Former Director-General of the defunct National Maritime Authority (NMA), now Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Mr. Patrick John Egesi, opens up to JOE CHIBUEZE and ANTHONY NWACHUKWU on the imperative of reinventing Ohaneze Ndigbo to provide new direction for the Igbo in the Nigerian project. Holding that the socio-cultural body must distance itself from party politics, he clarifies why he believes that Prof. Chiweyite Ejike is the best candidate to lead Ohanaeze Ndigbo. Excerpts:
What is your take on the forthcoming election for a new President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo?
One is delighted that such an opportunity has come again for the Igbo world-wide. It is tempting to lose interest in such an Igbo in*stitution because of its past unimpressive record. We all know that part of its prob*lems was that it was almost, if not completely sucked in by party politics, with the result that the leadership seemed to have forgotten what their mission was.
I just hope that this time, the organisation distances it*self as far as possible from any political party – be it PDP, APC or APGA – otherwise it will lose relevance.
We understand that the presidency has been zoned to Enugu
I suppose this is to give every section of Igboland a chance. While it is a privilege for Enugu State, it is also a duty for them to submit the very best for the election.
Names like Admiral Al*lison Madueke, Chief Nnia Nwodo and Prof. Chiweyite Ejike have been mentioned. Who do you think could do a better job?
All three are good - I must be frank with you. However, if we are talking about dis*tancing the Ohaneze from party politics, we should not be looking for a dyed-in-the-wool politician. So far, I can say that two of the contend*ers have not been politicians in the true sense of the word. While they may all be quite good, I sincerely believe that the Ohaneze should not be perceived as an extension of any political party by the gen*erality of Nigerians.