Chief Solomon Ogbonna Aguene(Udochia), President of Lagos Ohaneze Ndigbo, again, had reasons to address the press on Tuesday, June 30, over allegations of financial recklessness.
However, this is not the first time he would be warding off distractions.
Indeed, since he emerged President in June 2018, his sincere determination to change the face of Lagos Ndigbo has always met stiff resistance from forces that are bent on status quo.
Fearless and dogged, Aguene has unrelentlessly soldiered on, stepping on toes where and when necessary provided Lagos Ndigbo’s course is on the pathway of progress and growth.
Within two years, Aguene and his team have put up a befitting secretariat in Surulere where the over four million Ndigbos in Lagos now congregate to dissect issues that are of common interest. This was unlike the pre Aguene’s era where Ndigbo matters were discussed at beer parlours.
In like manner, Aguene, a business man himself, has elevated the economic bearings of the Lagos Ndigbo through an agreement with Fidelity Bank for seamless transactions and financial supports for Ndigbos home and abroad.
His host government, Lagos State government has, for the first time, found so much comfort with the Aguene’s led Ndigbo in a manner that Ndigbo’s welfare are currently upper most in governor Sanwo-Olu’s considerations even as the Ndigbo are co operating with the APC government for a harmonious living and business environment.
While these have been Aguene’s pre occupations, John Uche, a former President of Lagos Ohaneze Ndigbo went to work, spreading rumour about financial inducement and falsification of certificates.
He said, among other things, that during 2019 elections, Lagos governor gave Chief Aguene N250 million. He also added that Asiwaju Ahmed Tinubu has given him One billion Naira to enlist Igbo’s votes in his 2023 presidential aspiration. He thereafter requested for N40 million as his share from Governor Sanwo-Olu’s N250 million as well as N400 million from Tinubu’s One billion Naira.
Reacting, Aguene said the financial falsehood being peddled by John Uche, is nothing but a calculated attempt to distract the current leadership’s well tailored programmes aimed at moving Lagos Ndigbo forward.
First, he stated that Sanwolu has been his friend even before he became governor. He explained that his supports for Sanwo-Olu during the election were not financially tied, rather the supports were based on his ideology and promise to ensure Lagos Ndigbos are not treated as second class citizens in Lagos. “I have no regrets doing so given how the governor has oiled the enterprising wheels of Ndigbo widows since he came to office through financial supports. The records are there for anybody to verify,” he said.
On Tinubu, Aguene stated that he has never met the Asiwaju one on one in his life, adding that the politician has also not discussed his presidential ambition with him. He emphasized that like every other Nigerian, he read it in the papers including Tinubu’s the recent statement debunking his rumoured 2023 presidential aspiration
“I have never received any money from anybody. Therefore, John Uche’s claims are untrue and should be disregarded,” he said.
He however disclosed that during his campaign for the Lagos Ndigbo’s Presidency, Uche John was among the campaign team. At that time, he suggested, to the effect, that a Memorandum of Understanding should be signed that 60% of whatever got to Ohaneze Ndigbo would be shared on 30 – 30 % ratio while 40 % would go to Ohaneze.
Aguene refused to agree to any term of sharing Ndigbo’s money and turned down Uche’s request, claiming that it runs contrary to his mission and vision for Lagos Ndigbo. His refusal was the beginning of problems. Since then, Uche, whose tenure as the first Ohaneze President lasted only six months before he was impeached and excommunicated, began to plot schemes to derail Aguene’s administration.
“I was taken aback with his suggestion. I began to wonder when Ohaneze became a Plc.
Beside, Ohaneze has no allocation, so where do you find the money to share? I simply told him I cannot do that and he told me that we have to.”
“ I am very okay with what God has blessed me with. I have travelled to almost all parts of the world for exhibitions and other businesses. I am very deep in art exhibitions and I have exhibited arts across Continents in the world. I am into Real Estate. I am also into Igbo Cultural Display. My plans for Lagos Ndigbo is to move the organization forward and not to cheat by sharing its money that may come through voluntary donations by members and other good wills,” he said.
Meanwhile, in view of the unsubstantiated bent of Chief John Uche’s allegations, the Ndigbo Council of Elders have excommunicated him with immediate effects through a communique by Ndigbo Council of Elders as reproduced below.
“Ndigbo Council of Elders has taken a decision to excommunicate Chief John Uche, first president of Lagos State Ohaneze Ndigbo, enumerating stringent punishment for any member who flouts the order.
The group in a press conference on Tuesday evening maintained that its decision bordered on a false publication by Uche, where he alleged that Chief Solomon Ogbonna, President of Lagos State Ohanezez Ndigbo tendered a fake academic certificate to get to the helms of affair.
Chief Oliver Akubueze, chairman council of elders while reading the press statement stated that the group would want to state that academic certificate was not a prerequisite for leading Ndigbo. He stressed that Uche must explain to Ohaneze Ndigbo the source of the certificate that was being peddled.
The statement reads, “We want to make it clear that the president of Ohaneze Ndigbo Lagos State does not require an academic certificate to lead Ndigbo in Lagos, which is why Ogbonna never tendered any certificate to anyone or group. What are required are, ability to speak Igbo language fluently, wisdom, intelligence, human relation and altruism. Chief Solomon Ogbonna has given Ndigbo a voice in Lagos. We will not allow the mischief-maker to undermine the reputation of the president and the entire Ndigbo in Lagos”
While enumerating the punishment, which included, not being allowed to attend Ohaneze Ndigbo events, not eating with members, not engaging in business transactions with members, among other conditions, Akubueze maintained that any member who flouts the rule would face the same fate.
While baring his mind on his leadership, Ogbona said that he was more interested in peace and unity of the Igbo socio-cultural organization, stressing that the reason for which he was attacked was because he refused to compromise on some people’s demands.
Chief Everest Ozonweke, secretary of Ohaneze Ndigbo Lagos, said that the action was taken to avoid people taking undue advantage of privileges given to them. He, however, stated that there was still an open space for negotiation, maintaining that even in a state of war, there could be room for discussion of peace. He stressed that he was sure that the council of elders would be available to discuss peace.”