Why I am Angry with Ohanaeze Ndigbo

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By Mazi Omife I. Omife MON (Mbuze Mbaukwu)

Ohanaeze is one organization I respect highly.

Ohanaeze is to Igbos what Arewa is to the Hausa Fulani, and what Afeneifere is to the Yoruba. Every tribal association has an organization to protect its interest, just as Ohaneze Ndigbo is supposed to protect the interest of all Igbos.

Unfortunately, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has become political. Ohanaeze of today is different from Ohanaeze led by the late Justice Eze Ozobu, former Chief Judge of Enugu State, and different from the dream vision of its founding fathers.

For a long time, I have not said or written anything about Ohanaeze Ndigbo. But I can no longer remain silent while Ohanaeze is heading to make the greatest mistake in its history, and a mistake that will completely destroy Ohanaeze for good.

The ongoing debate about amending Ohanaeze constitution should be based on whether the existing constitution effectively protects the interest of Ndigbos, and I am of the opinion that, as it stands, the current constitution does not protect the interest of Igbos and for this reason, I am in support of its amendment.

I hear some people saying that it is the turn of Rivers State to produce the next President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and I am amazed. Yes, if Chief Iwuanyawu’s tenure has expired and he has reached the constitutional limit of re-election, then he has to step down. But if it is to step down to give power to the people of Rivers State as Ohanaeze President, I say capital NO! You don’t equip your enemy with power because he is only going to use the same power to destroy you.

I have been asking myself why some Igbo are slow to understand. Are we fools? Tell me why on earth they should give power t to Rivers people. Do they believe in Igbos? Ikwerre people in particular? Do they agree they are Igbos? Or are we lobbying them with Ohanaeze presidency for them to agree they are Igbos? To give power to those who don’t believe in us for them to agree to believe in us. Foolish logic.
If they publicly apologize and acknowledge their Igbo root, perhaps we can pardon them. But that is not the case. On the contrary, uptil last week, they are still saying that they are not Igbos.

Have we not read the disclaimer by an Ikwere socio-cultural group, the Iwhnurohna Progressive Organization ( IPO) at a news conference in P.H. last week which was published in several national dailies refuting Iwuanyanwu’s insistence that they are Igbos and rejecting any claim linking them with Igbos.

For the benefit of those who have not read the disclaimer, let me reproduce some excerpts by the spokesman of Iwhnurohna Progressive Organization, Dr Okachukwu Dibia.

”…. the claims that Ikwerre people as classified by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo and it’s President Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu is totally wrong and rejected.

“….it was not true and can never be true that all the ancestral communities in Ikwerre originated from Igbo.

“…. For the avoidance of doubt, the Ikwerre people are a distinct ethnic nation recognized in Nigeria and the United Nations. Ikwerre language is one of the recognized languages in Nigeria and the United Nations.

“…While Ikwerre is our political name. Iwhnurohna is our native name and both refer to the same people: the Ikwerre Ethnic nationality’

This is not all. The current President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Rivers state, Chief Lucky Ekeji, has been under heavy attack by Ndigbo Community in Rivers state, since April this year, who called on him to resign as President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Rivers state.

The Igbo Community said this is ” predicated on heinous sins you have committed against the Igbo people which clearly shows that you do not have the interest of the Igbos in Rivers state at heart.’

These are the ones some people want us to give Ohanaeze President-General to.

None of the past and present Ikwerre political leaders believed in Igbo either from Peter Odili and Celestine Omehia to Rotimi Amechi and Wike and others.

The few Ikwere that agree they are Igbos, do they have a say or influence in Ikwerre land? The few Ikwerre in Ohanaeze are the ones pressuring and begging for Ohanaeze President only to use it to make money and nothing else.

Let it be said loud and clear that Ohanaeze is
not for rehabilitating anybody or any group. Let all Ikwerre people agree they are Igbos before giving them power. As you can not give your enemy gun to guide you so shall you not give Ohanaeze President to people who have rejected you to use it to negotiate on your behalf.

If you give Ohanaeze President to a person who says he is not an Igbo man how do you expect him to negotiate for the release of Nnamdi Kanu for instance? What is his own stake?

After the civil war, the Fed Government of Nigeria showed some sympathy to the Igbos, by giving everyone twenty pounds each. I said twenty , not twenty thousand
Some other good Nigrrans showed some good will to Igbos who were forced to leave their homes and properly and escaped to the East before the war.

An instance was my late father who abandoned his house in Zaria and handed it over to his friend. When my father went to Zaria after the war to know the fate of his property, his friend Alhaji Danjuma handed him his property intact and to my father’s greatest surprise, along with the rent from the tenants during the period of the war.

But our so called fellow Igbos in Rivers state seized all the houses belonging to Igbos in Rivers state and declined them abandoned property till today.

A few months ago, Wike destroyed a muliti billion property belonging to an Igbo man in Abuja describing Igbos as court scammers who are known for obtaining cash and carry court orders.

The same Wike was allegedly fingered for the mass killing of Igbo youths in Oyingbo during his tenure as governor of Rivers state. The same Wike is being fingered as the brain behind forcing Peter Obi out of the PDP prior to the2023 elections and for sabotaging Peter Obi’s victory in Rivers state during the elections.

So what am I saying? What I am saying and begging is that we should never give power to our enemies. We should not make the kind of mistake we made in 2011 when political sentiments made us regard Goodluck Jonathan as an Igbo man and went ahead to rename him Ebele Azikiwe and voted him en masse as President. At the end of the day, what did Igbos get from presidency? Your answer is as good as mine. What role did he play after the elections about Peter Obi? Again your answer is as good as mine.

If it is six states that believe and agree they are Igbos,let us go with the six states. You cannot compare Rivers state with Delta state. From time immemorial , Delta Igbos have never minced words about their Igbo roots, much less deny it. From the time of former Premier of Midwest Region, Chief Dennis Osadebay till the penultimate governor of Delta state, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa , all the Delta Igbo leaders have openly and proudly affirmed their being Igbos.

During the war, they fought on the side of Biafra, and were among the most gallant top commanders of Biafran Army including Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu, Com. Achuzie ( Air Raid) , Col Odogwu, name them. It was alleged that it was because of the strong role Delta Igbos played in Biafra during the war that their young men were massacred en masse by the Federal Government toops.

From Nigeria earliest political history, Delta Igbos have consistently acknowledged and asserted their Igbo origin, from Midwestern Igbo to Bendel Igbo and now Delta Igbo.

Unlike the Igbos in Rivers state who changed their Igbo names of their Igbo communities and streets by inserting one prefix or suffix here and there, changing Umu to Rumu, Munachi to Manuchi, Nwike to Wike, Obi Akpo to Obiakpo, Chidinma to Chiburuoma, Nwa to Now, Ezenwa to Ezenwo, Umu Okoro to Rumuokoro, Iwuoha to Iwhnurohna, Umuobiakani to Rumuobiakani and so on.

For goodness sake,don’t give Ohanaeze presidency to these sworn enemies of Ndigbo. That will be a political hara -kiri for Ndigbo.
Once beaten, twice shy.
I rest my case.