As Ndigbo Go To The Polls In January

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Ikechukwu Amaechi

“The office of President-General is as important as that of Secretary-General now zoned to Abia State. One of the biggest problems of Ohanaeze is its lack of institutional memory because the secretariat has not been run as it should.

But that will be a thing of the past if Ndigbo entrust that all important portfolio in the able hands of Chief Ireke Kalu Onuma, a Russian-trained historian who hails from Abiriba in Ohafia Local Government Area of Abia State.

I have known Onuma for 20 years and he has delivered not only as the pioneer administrative secretary of Ndigbo Lagos Foundation but also on every other assignment he has undertaken on behalf of Ndigbo. His administrative ingenuity has made the association one of the most successful Igbo associations.

His record keeping ability, which he deployed in digitalising the operations of Ndigbo Lagos secretariat, is incredible. That is exactly what is needed at Ohanaeze Ndigbo secretariat.

On his return from Russia, Onuma served as Personal Secretary and Assistant to the first President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Justice Ezebuilo Ozobu. Since then, he has not looked back in serving Igbo causes, most times spurning political appointments and more lucrative offers from the private sector.

As pioneer administrative secretary of Ndigbo Lagos Foundation, a position he holds to date, he has served under three Presidents – Chief Chris Ezeh, Prof Anya O. Anya and Gen. Obi Abel Umahi – and it has all been praises.

Onuma served as Research Assistant to the Ohanaeze legal team during the Oputa Panel, reporting to lead counsel Chief Anthony Mogboh (SAN) and Peter Umeadi (SAN).
He was part of the research and back-channel team of Ohanaeze Ndigbo during the National Conference convened by former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan.

He served as West African Liaison Representative of the third elected President of Ohanaeze, Ambassador Ralph Uwechue, which took him to Mali, Niger Republic, and the Republic of Benin to establish Ohanaeze chapters in those countries.

Besides, Onuma served as the youngest member of a high powered group of Igbo Elders that met periodically during the fight against Obasanjo’s third term bid. That group included Chief C. C. Onoh, Justice Eze Ozobu, Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, Dr. Offiah Nwali, Adm. Ndubuisi Kanu, Gen. JOJ Okoloagu, and Dr. Uma Eleazu, among others.

He is a founding member of the South East South South Professionals of Nigeria where he served as the Assistant Secretary and is now the Secretary General.

To say that Onuma has devoted his entire adult life to Ndigbo, working on diverse human enhancing projects across Alaigbo, is to say the obvious. There is no Igbo cause in which he has not involved himself since his return from Russia. And he has done so with utmost dedication. His passion for Igbo causes is beyond compare. He is cerebral, technology-savvy and debonair. His diplomatic skills are awesome.

These are all talents that the Secretary General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo need to possess to be effective in a Nigeria that has become so febrile.

And he has put down his thoughts in writing for posterity. He is the author of Igbo Critical Essays, a collection of essays on Ndigbo with a foreword by Prof U. U. Uche.

“I will not just keep your record, I will protect it,” Onuma has promised Ndigbo. That is the way it should be. With him manning the Ohanaeze secretariat, keeping and protecting records, if Ndigbo agree to give him the mandate in January, under the leadership of a President-General not foisted by adversarial forces, the future of Ndigbo is, indeed, bright.”