…says Igbo are no secessionists
Igbo’s mainstream socio-political organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, on Thursday in Owerri, the Imo State capital, bared its position before visiting President Muhammadu Buhari, as it denied insinuations that Igbo people are incurable secessionists.
But the body also urged the President to restore serious sense of belonging and revert to Nigeria’s founding father’s dream of ‘one nation, one destiny’, to restore the confidence of the Igbo of Southeast and partly, South-south Nigeria.
Principally, however, the Ohanaeze demanded for a devolution of power to Nigeria’s constituent units as the most credible escape route, out of the country’s plethora of crisis.
These positions were delivered for the Igbo race by the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Professor George Obiozor.
Obiozor, a former Nigerian Ambassador to the United States, stated, “Mr. President, nothing is more important to the Igbo in Nigeria today, more than the restoration of serious sense of belonging and the spirit of Nigeria’s founding fathers based on one nation, one destiny.
“And we believe this is possible through Devolution of Power ensuring a sense of balance in our political system.”
He added, “The consistent perception that the Igbos are separatists and secessionist agitators is a historical fallacy.
“Indeed, if the truth must be told, Ndigbo are the most federating unit among all Nigerian citizens. Generally speaking anywhere in Nigeria you don’t find the Igbos, run away, something is wrong there. Igbos are market people and travel adventurers.
“Consequently, what defines the Igbo character is propensity for friendliness and harmonious peaceful coexistence and spirit of universalism of mankind.
“This is who we are. Our Igbo adage says ‘Ojemba Enwe Iro’, literally translated – A traveller makes no enemies.
“Also, another misconception of Ndigbo is that Igbos cannot speak with one voice; ironically, that is another fallacy, (as) there are more things that unite Ndigbo than divide them.
“But the Igbo spirit defies conditions that are obstacles for the expression of their individual or group opinion. This sense of egalitarianism is what defines the Igbo system of governance based on liberal democracy and social justice.”
In what might be a veiled reference to the secession bids by Igbo separatist groups of which Nnamdi Kanu-led Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) is a front-liner, 79-year old Obiozor told Buhari, “Mr. President, in spite of all the threats of secession or separatism facing the country, there is no doubt that no secessionist element can succeed in Nigeria, provided there is good governance based on equity, justice and fairness to all the citizens.”
He, nonetheless remarked that “the most urgent and imperative need of Ndigbo today is security”, adding, “The security of Ndigbo in Nigeria and beyond has become a compelling primary responsibility of serious concern for (the) Ndigbo.”
“Regrettably our South-East zone has recently become a theatre of conflict, negating the peace-loving nature of our people.
“In this context, Ohanaeze Ndigbo calls for the establishment of a zonal and state police apparatus to support and complement the existing federal security architecture.
“It is in this same vein that Ohanaeze Ndigbo appeals to you, Mr. President, to see to the release of Igbo youths detained by various security agencies across the country,” he further demanded.
Obiozor, however, thanked the Buhari administration for the ongoing construction of the 2nd Niger Bridge.
He said the endeavour symbolised “the unity and bridge across the various regions of the country.”
“However, the South East zone is in dire need of more infrastructure sponsored by the federal government; among these are roads, bridges, railways and ports.
“It is the considered view of Ohanaeze Ndigbo-one that is also shared by the Igbo people, that federal investments in these critical areas will revitalise the economy and will have the tangential effect of dousing the youth restiveness and unemployment in the zone,” he appraised.