A former Secretary of the Board of Trustees (BoT), Ohanaeze Youth Council, (OYC), Comrade Zulu Ofoelue has described the President of Ohanaeze Youth Council, Igboayaka O. Igboayaka, as a “jobless” youth leader who earns a living by openly eulogising corrupt politicians.
Speaking on the origin of OYC, the former BoT Secretary of the Council discribed Igboayaka and some other leaders of the youth group as jobless beings.
He alleged that most youth leaders would not hesitate to swallow their pride and engage in altercations, all in their bid to feed from the crumbs that fall from the tables of politicians.
Ofoelue, who spoke to journalists when explaining the difference between OYC and Ohanaeze Youth Wing, (OYW), pointed out that while the Council was created to be an independent organisation, OYW was from inception, is a part of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, as contained in Ohanaeze constitution.
“The Youth wing is appointed and directly answerable to Ohanaeze leadership. On the other hand, Ohanaeze Youth Council is an independent organization which has been working closely with Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide for many years. The level of closeness of the Youth Council usually depend on the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo at any point in time.
“This is an important question that would help clarify some issues in respect to the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo youths. The straight answer to your first question is that Ohanaeze Youth Council (OYC) is not the same as Ohanaeze Youth Wing. The Youth Wing of Ohanaeze was created by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Constitution the same way the Women wing was created.”
Giving insights, Zulu explained that:”When the late Justice Eze Ozobu was President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo with Prof. Ben Nwabueze as Secretary General, the late Nnamdi Nwokocha, aka Camel, was the leader of Ohanaeze Youth Council, in fact he was the founding leader. Camel made attempts at getting Ohanaeze to adopt the Youth Council as the youth wing of Ohanaeze Ndigbo but the Ohanaeze leadership refused to do so.
“They didn’t accept them as the youth wing and also did not constitute a youth wing. There was vacuum. So anytime Ohanaeze needed to work with the youths, they had no option but to reach out to Nnamdi Nwokocha and his team to mobilize the youths. Ohanaeze Youth Council was the most outstanding youth body in Igbo land.
Speaking further, he regretted that some of the Igbo youth bodies had outrightly derailed from the original vision of the organisation, hence protecting and promoting the interest of the race with focus on the youths.
He lamented on how these youths have offered themselves as willing tools in the hands of political profiteers to perpetrate mischief thus dragging the body ‘through the mud’.
“But probably because OYC already had its own structures and even adopted name “Youth Council”, Ohanaeze Ndigbo felt they could not work together. Maybe they thought the Council would be too independent or envisioned it could be used for some mischief or for political purposes, as some of the youth bodies are doing presently, mischief that Ohanaeze would not be proud of.
“But since there was no alternative for the many young people who wanted to be part of Ohanaeze but had no platform to do so, everyone joined Nnamdi Nwokocha in OYC.
OYC continued until the death of Nnamdi Nwokocha in 2009. From that moment, some members of the OYC made efforts to sustain OYC and so conducted its first election and elected persons to hold the positions for two years with a maximum of two terms.”
According to him, the OYC also followed the pattern already used by Ohanaeze Ndigbo of rotating the Presidency among five South East states plus Delta and Rivers State, hence one Francis from Abia State emerged as the National President.
He recounted that the then President of the youth body had bluntly turned down efforts to relinquish power but, however, was subsequently ousted by the electoral team, under the leadership of Comrade Chilos Godsent, in 2014.
“Francis served for two years. When it was time to conduct an election for his succession, he tried to stop it. He wanted to remain in power. But the electoral team led by Chilos Godsent went ahead and conducted the election in 2014 in Owerri with Chukwudi Anachuna emerging as President.
Explaining further, he said: “In the same year, Chief Gary Igariwe who had been elected President General of Ohanaeze, wanted to form the Youth Wing of Ohanaeze. He would be the first PG to create that room provided for in the constitution. He got some persons to form the wing, mostly among people who were part of OYC. Most of them were already overaged but they accepted the idea and mobilised others. But they felt threatened by the popularity of OYC. So they connived with some politicians to stop the inauguration of Anachuna. It was more of a battle which involved the police, the courts, politicians and the likes.
“OYC’s idea was that the two bodies should exist side by side since there was no guarantee that Ohanaeze Ndigbo would still maintain the youth wing in the future. There was also no talk of OYC enjoying independence as it had done without being under Ohanaeze Ndigbo. But the youth wing advocates did not want any other youth body to have the appendage “Ohanaeze” in their name. It would question their authenticity.
“However, Anachuna was inaugurated and he became OYC president. Igariwe also appointed Okechukwu Isiguzoro from Abia State as leader of Ohanaeze Youth wing. So for the first time, there were two bodies with claim to leadership of Ohanaeze Youths. After Isiguzoro’s term, and I learnt he had lots of faceoff with Igariwe, another leader was appointed from Anambra state. But Isiguzoro refused to step down and has continued to claim leadership of Ohanaeze Youths, only recently claiming he is the Secretary of another faction of the main Ohanaeze at the moment.
“He uses it basically to seek political relevance and support for his political principals. Even the man from Anambra whose tenure has also expired continue to lay similar claim till date. After Chief Igwariwe, no other Ohanaeze Ndigbo administration has formed a youth wing but you will find several news item purporting claims to leadership of Ohanaeze Youths.
On the extant insinuations as regards the perceived blunt refusal of the current president of the Council, Comrd. Igboayaka O. Igboayaka to hand over power, having served out his tenure, he disclosed that Igboayaka’s tenure ought to have lasted for a maximum of four years, but regretted that the latter had assumed the office as a life time source of income.
Hear him: “Around 2016, Chilos Godsent led OYC to elect Igboayaka as President. Anachuna’s administration was basically ineffective and he did not resist succession like his predecessors in OYC and peers in Ohanaeze Youth Wing. Igboayaka was supposed to serve for two years or four years at most. But you can see how he has made it a full time job. He was never even reelected. It now appears as if he has made it a lifelong position.
Zulu who asserted amidst an aura of disappointment, that the present leaders of the duo of OYC and OYW had aligned themselves with some overzealous politicians, bemoaned that virtually the entire stakeholders of OYC has lost confidence in what he described as “these so-called Igbo youth leaders.”
“The truth is that most critical stakeholders of which I am one, are rather tired of the overambitious character of most of these so called Igbo youth leaders, and have begun to overlook OYC and Ohanaeze Youth Wing. You will also notice that their relevance have also waned in recent years. Each time you read them in the news, they are singing in the voice of one political sponsor or another.”
“It is clear that their activities are now merely support for politicians. Igboayaka does this so openly and shamelessly using Ohanaeze Youth Council. While some people would criticize Ohanaeze Ndigbo main body for sometimes getting involved in politics, they will be saints if the crop of individuals involved in Ohanaeze Youth wing and the Youth Council should take over Igbo leadership in the future.
“Go and verify, some of the youth leaders including Igboayaka, have no other source of income but praise singing politicians and surviving on peanuts received from them.”
Furthermore, he used the medium to argue that persons identified as youths vary between the age of 18–30, outlining that; “a man of 50 years and above should not be a member of any youth body. Even in church, after 30 years, you should not be counted as youth. You should become an elder and not a youth because it is expected that you have your own children.”