Nwodo’s failed presidential ambition blamed on faulty PA system

As the funeral rites of former Minister of Information and presidential aspirant of the National Republican Convention (NRC) Dr Joseph Nwodo, commences, the reason he failed to nick the party’s ticket in 1993 has surfaced.

According to the National Chairman of the NRC at the time, Chief Tom Ikimi, Nwodo was widely expected to pick the ticket at the national convention organized in Port Harcourt but he lost the opportunity to properly articulate his programmes.

Speaking during an evening of tributes to the late academic icon, on Sunday, in Abuja, the former foreign affairs minister recalled that just as Nwodo mounted the podium to unleash his oratory and grammatical eloquence on the expectant crowd, the public address system packed up, making it difficult for him to marshal out his well-articulated manifesto.

He said: “Nnia Nwodo was an epitome of excellence, during his presidential campaign in Port Harcourt. They muddled up the microphone so that people will not hear what he was saying. If he had been allowed to marshal his points, he would have won that presidential election.”

Nwodo lost the NRC ticket to Alhaji Bashir Tofa who went on to lose the election to Chief MKO Abiola, the candidate of the Social Democratic Party (SDP).

Ikimi further disclosed that when Nwodo was also about to be elected as the pioneer governor of Enugu state, the government of General Ibrahim Babangida disqualified him for security reasons.

According to him, Nwodo returned to his office in tears, even though he was given the opportunity to appoint another candidate, which led to the emergence of his younger brother, Okwesilieze, as governor in his stead

Ikimi, who spoke on behalf of the defunct NRC and flanked at the event by Chief Stephen Lawani, the then Deputy National Secretary of the party said: “Joe was a great orator and had all the pedigree to emerge victorious at that election. His major rival was Hyde Onuaguluchi but he was disqualified by the military government of Ibrahim Babangida for security reasons.

“After his disqualification, he came to my office weeping and I asked him to bring anybody and I will make him governor. So, he brought his younger brother, Okwesilieze and I made him governor.

“He had no tax certificate then but I told them to ignore it. So Okwesilieze was the governor but the real governor was Joe Nwodo.”

Also speaking, the National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Uche Secondus, recalled that he met Nwodo as state publicity Secretary of NRC.

While likening Nwodo’s oratory skill to that of former US president, Barack Obama, Secondus, stated: “Joe’s rhetoric was next to none, he can convince everyone in one minute. His speech was spellbinding and all of us were convinced that he was the next president of this country.

“Joe was a manager of people per excellence. He knows the right word to put across at every moment and he will catch your attention. He was a great manager of human beings.”

Also in his tribute, Senator Ibrahim Mantu who was the chairman of the occasion described Nwodo as a great man with so many caps, an excellent administrator and a political icon.

Mantu said that his brief encounter with the deceased was a confirmation of his humility despite his great wealth of experience and political sagacity.

Minister of Science and Technology and pioneer governor of Abia State, Ogbonnaya Onu, said that there is no honour that can be given to Nwodo that will be enough because he was a unique personality.

He added: “If he had contested that election in 1991, he could have been my colleague, serving in Enugu while I was serving in Umuahia.

“Joe Nwodo was a man of great ambition and his command of the English language was excellent, his ideas were unique. He was interested in finding expatriates to reactivate the coal mine in Enugu which at that period was going into extinction.”

The President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Professor George Obiozor, in his tribute described Nwodo as a man full of life and he enjoyed great thing, loved the world and made friends across the board.

He added: “His life was charity to all, enemy to none. He was a great academician and a genius, he was a great soul.

“Today the country is in crises, we are even afraid if we can get home but I believe that the spirit of Joe Nwodo will intervene. We missed a talented icon both in leadership and in law.”

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, in his tribute said that Nwodo was the best presidential material for Nigeria which we never had.

He accused NRC of refusing to give the presidential ticket to Nwodo, adding that if it were in the present dispensation, all hell will be let loose if it were the All Progressives Congress (APC) that had denied him the party ticket.

“He was a friend of the masses, he was not materialistic had a very good upbringing and showed a good example, politics did not change him, any money he had, he shared it to all,” Ngige said.


Nwodo’s failed presidential ambition blamed on faulty PA system

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