There is nothing Ndigbo have done to deserve the ugly treatment they are receiving in Nigeria, President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, has said for the umpteenth time, again vowing to reverse the situation.
It was indeed a day of passionate appeal from number one Igbo man, to his compatriots in Lagos at the weekend, where he urged them to buy into his project of rekindling the Igbo spirit in order for the people to take their pride of place in Nigeria.
Nwodo, who spoke at a meeting with Igbo leaders in Lagos at the Kofo Abayomi Victoria Island secretariat of Ndigbo Lagos, listed a comprehensive programme through which the Igbo people could rediscover and redeem themselves from the foggy belly of fish, where they have been forced like the biblical Jonah to endure for years now.
Vowing that he would do everything to redeem the situation, including sacrificing his own life, if need be Nwodo pledged specifically not to sit on the fence or speak tongue-in cheek on any issue concerning the people in his four-year tenure, but argued that the people to be on the same wavelength with him for success to be achieved.
“We must build an Igbo nation where our culture must take its pride of place. We must build an Igbo society where young men and women must respect the elders and where the elders must not do anything that will lower their esteem in the eyes of the youth.
“We must recreate ala-Igbo were the strong must pull the weak up. Any society that doesn’t care for the weak is finished. We must recreate the value of scholarship and take education seriously and lead as we have always led in this country. We must bring back the think-home facility and ensure that our place becomes the China of Nigeria. What are we doing to recreate what we have in other parts of the world in Igbo land. These are the things that we must do and urgently too,” he told the crowded meeting.
He said his leadership had already set up a committee to liaise with the South-East governors on how to exploit the economic potentials of the area, including developing electricity capacities, gas pipelines and other facilities that would fire industries to boost the economy and give employment to the people.
Nwodo spoke at the forum where top Igbo personalities like business mogul, Dr. Paschal Dozie, esteemed scholar and economist, Prof. Part Utomi, renowned scholar, Prof. Anya O. Anya and Chairman of the US-based World Igbo Congress (WIC), Dr. Joe Eto, were present, said his team would ensure that Ndigbo were not only unified but spoke with one voice.
This is the only way they could face their present situation squarely and hope for a reversal adding that at no time since the end of civil war had the people experience the type of ethnic tension prevalent in Nigeria at the moment.
Hear him: “We don’t feel that they we are part of this country. The statement I made earlier was not my thinking alone. Every part of that statement was scrutinised line by line by members of the Ohanaeze executive and we agreed this was the situation before it was issued.
“How can we be comfortable in a country where no Igbo man is heading any of the security services in this country? Not the army, not the navy, not the air force, not the police, not the customs, not the immigration, not the National Intelligence agency, not the SSS, not the Road safety, not the civil defence. The impression we have been given is that we are not trusted enough to put as the head of any security agency.
“Fashola has just told us that in 17 months it will be ready. Nobody in the South East believes him, because we have been told this over. And if you go to the books of the National Assembly, you do not see the funds that are likely to finish it within a clear space of time.
“Now, if you drive to East, we are like a conquered people. In every major town, you go into, there is military checkpoints. They call it Python Dance. If they screened you for arms and ammunition, I will understand that it is national security imperative. But they collect money from you. We are forced to pay. Between Enugu and Onitsha, there are 17 police checkpoints that I enumerated on one trip.
There are police checkpoint, some police and army combined. The commercial vehicle drivers drop the money on the ground. They do not care whether the Inspector General is coming in an oncoming vehicle or that they are being photographs. It does not happen anywhere else in this country. And Nobody cares. I said it at the 82 Division and I was arrested, I have said at every public fora anytime I have the opportunity.
“Now, let me say something about our sons and daughters in IPOB and MASSOB, who are being killed everyday. Who wouldn’t agitate if you were in their shoes? I did so when we went to war in Biafra. The pogrom was a catalyst for war. And no civilisation murders people in a way to solve political problems.
“I fought for Biafra in 1967. I see the same condition the condition that propelled Biafra existing now. I see the children restive and even threatening us their fathers that they cannot subsist under this present political situation. I am their father. Their grief is my grief. Their struggle is my struggle. Even though I do not agree that it is necessary to waste Igbo lives now, I believe that Nigeria is going to be restructured in a manner that every part of Nigeria can be developed on its own momentum with a reasonable sense of fiscal independence.
“I think that what is being done to these boys has exacerbated them and increased their capacity for violence. Boko Haram is a military force. It has conquered some territories, even though some have been recaptured. It has installed local authorities, it has installed traditional authorities, it has planted its flag. Nothing could be more treasonable. OPC moves like motorcade in South West and are saluted by the police.
“The other day there were demonstrations in Lagos, in Abuja and Ijebu Ode and the police were protecting the demonstrators, but they demonstrate in Aba and they are mowed down and killed. Nobody investigates. Between Enugu and Anambra States, there is a river, 20 bodies floated in that river for two months and they were supposed to be MASSOB bodies, nobody cared and nobody investigated till today.
“In Port Harcourt the other day, in solidarity with President Donald Trump, they demonstrated and 11 people were killed. According to them the police said one person, I called for an inquiry – find out how many were killed and why they were killed, nobody has listened to me. Do you belong to such a country which is deaf to the sanctity of life?
“Time has come for all of us to join our hands. My cap is on the ground. This journey you have sent me, it is your choice to make if you will leave me to die in the wilderness and the wild animals to feed on my corpse. But if not so, join hands with me to redeem our people.”
Published by IPOB writers
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