Sunday, 1st October 2023

Ohanaeze decries alleged voter intimidation in Lagos

By Lawrence Njoku, Enugu
14 February 2023   |   3:45 am
Apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has condemned what it described as “ongoing voter intimidation” in Lagos State, urging Igbo to stand up for their rights.

Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide

Apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, has condemned what it described as “ongoing voter intimidation” in Lagos State, urging Igbo to stand up for their rights.

National Publicity Secretary, Dr. Alex Ogbonnia, stated this, yesterday, while reacting to a remark purportedly made by the Baale of Igbara community, Jakande, in Eti-Osa Council of Lagos State.

The Baale was quoted as saying: “Only residents who have their Permanent Voter Cards (PVC) and are ready to vote for the All Progressives Congress (APC) would be allowed to do business in the community.”

He reportedly added: “You want to vote for Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or Labour Party (LP)? Not here!”

Ohanaeze Ndigbo recalled that in 2015, the Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akiolu, was quoted as threatening Igbo in Lagos: “Anyone that fails to vote for the governorship candidate of the APC would perish in the lagoon.”

Although the Police have said the Baale would be invited for questioning, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, nevertheless, called on the APC presidential candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, the Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and lovers of democracy in Nigeria to caution the Baale.

“The Baale should be made to understand that Nigeria has gone beyond such careless and inciting rhetoric. In decent climes, the said Baale should be arrested and detained until the election is over,” Ogbonnia said.

He said cautioning the Baale would serve as deterrent to ethnic chauvinists, crisis entrepreneurs, hoodlums and low opportunists.

He recalled: “A few days ago, hoodlums in Lagos State attacked supporters of LP, said to be on their way to Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), the venue of the party’s presidential campaign rally.

“The hoodlums were said to have targeted the supporters to prevent them from attending the rally. Some of them had their cloths torn to shreds, while others sustained varying degrees of injury. The report further indicates that lives were lost. This is one of the outcomes of the Baale’s incitation.

“Most recently, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC) in Lagos State, Mr. Segun Agbaje, stated that the reason the Igbo in Lagos cannot have their PVCs is that they are from the South East of the country, inferring that they are immigrants.”

Ogbonnia said: “How can the head of the umpire be the echo of the unreasonable voice of street touts against Igbo? In Segun Agbaje’s mindset, the Igbo aren’t citizens of Nigeria in Lagos, but immigrants who must be denied access to rights of citizens in Lagos.”

He added: “One would expect that soliciting votes in a democracy requires the greatest public relations skill, such as persuasion, entreaties, lobbying and the likes. Nigerians are informed that there is this spirit that emboldens and stirs the passion, soul, and ‘tigritude’ of the average Igbo, which once it is sufficiently provoked, becomes irrepressible.

“In other words, self-esteem, achievement motivation, resourcefulness, hard work, forthrightness, tenacity, friendliness and cosmopolitanism are the hallmarks of the Igbo persona. But to threaten the Igbo is to embolden them to the contrary. Intimidation is not only antithetical to democratic norms but a source of allergy to the natural Igbo reflexes.

“In spite of all the orchestrated conspiracy, machinations and deprivations against the Igbo, and now the LP and Mr. Peter Obi, the initiated will easily realise that there is a mystic wind blowing across the land; a wind that does not recognise the rigid human barriers of ethnicity, religion, gender, class or creed; a wind of redemption from poverty, corruption, inequity and other pathologies that have held Nigeria down for several decades; a cosmic wind that attracts the virtuous as it overwhelms the vicious.

“In the words of the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo of blessed memory, ‘only the deep can call to the deep.”