Igbo leaders canvass Nigeria’s unity, decry secessionists agitation
Laud Uzodimma’s Stance On Igbo Question
Prominent Igbo leaders yesterday in Owerri, Imo State capital, canvassed for the unity of Nigeria and expressed optimism that all issues agitating minds of people of Igbo extraction can be realised in Nigeria.
They specifically called on their people to be patriotic and work hard for the realisation of Igbo presidency, while urging them to shun all separatist agitations.
The Igbo leaders, who spoke at the public presentation of a book, “Reflections on the Igbo Question,” written by Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma in Owerri, included former Senate President, Ken Nnamani; former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Azubuike Ihejirika; former governor of the State, Ikedi Ohakim and President General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, George Obiozor.
Uzodimma charged Igbo people to be forthright in demanding for their rights in Nigeria because Igbo people have no other country and are better positioned to achieve their dreams here.
He declared: “We already have a country. We don’t need another one. We should rise and take our rightful place by unleashing our God-given talents, by working in concert and by being focused on the future, which I believe holds a lot of promise.”
He said, “For Ndigbo, the challenge of our generation is to insist on our inalienable birthright as citizens of Nigeria, who must coexist with other ethnic nationalities as equal partners. This is the rationale for my book that has just been presented to you.
“It is my modest contribution on how the Igbos can overcome the existential challenges facing them today in project Nigeria. This accounts for the sense of fulfilment and the joy that I derive from the presentation of this historic book.
“One thing stands clear here, and it is the consistency of my views on the subject matter, which were expressed before I became the Governor of Imo State.
These views can be aptly summarised in two themes, to wit: Igbos have not had a fair deal from project Nigeria since the end of the civil war. They have continued to cry to high heavens over the sordid dilemma they face in their own country. I believe we have cried enough and it is time to wipe our tears.
“The second is that Igbos are citizens of Nigeria by birth. They should never allow themselves to be cajoled out of their fatherland and inheritance. This is our country and we must stay here and collectively enforce out rights as bona fide citizens of Nigeria.
“This brings me to what I consider the crux of the existential challenge of Ndigbo in Nigeria. It is the urgent need for our self-rediscovery as a people; as the resilient, tenacious and enterprising people that God, in his wisdom, has made us to be. It appears to me that we are gradually losing the true identity of the Igbos that we are. It was that resilient Igbo spirit that helped us to survive the harsh socioeconomic environment we were faced with, right after the civil war. The most cruel of them all is the inhuman decision to pay a flat rate of only Twenty pounds to every Igbo man irrespective of whatever amount of money he had in the bank.
“In our situation, we have been bemoaning the marginalisation of Ndigbo in the Nigerian project. That, to me, is trite. What is cogent is to address a rational and realistic way out of it. That is the essence of this book and our gathering here today.”
Uzodimma urged Igbo youths to appreciate the opportunities before them and embrace it instead of bemoaning the marginalisation of Ndigbo and resorting to violence, which is self-defeat.
He said, “They should come up with pragmatic ways of conquering their fear. I don’t want our youths to think that somebody is holding down their destiny. I also don’t want them to continue to be frustrated by the deliberate policies of exclusion. Instead, I want them to be focused on the larger picture of liberation through technology, trade and commerce through which we can dominate Nigeria and dictate the pace of development.”
The governor noted that when the Jews found themselves in a similar situation such as Igbos of Nigeria, they simply used their talents to force the world to accede to their legitimate demand, noting that through technology and the media, the Jews now call the shots in major countries of the world including the United States of America.
The chairman of the occasion, Gen Ihejirika said, “In truth, I share most of the views expressed by the author, based on my understanding of Nigeria’s political landscape having served for close to 39 years in the military.
“My experience over the years has shown that our greatest weapon as a nation lies in our unity, further enhanced by our diverse culture, population and rich history. My opinion is that the feeling of marginalisation is not peculiar to the Igbo race alone, but a national cry. It must therefore not be seen as a basis for separatist agitation.
“I’m therefore in agreement with the author that this innate desires of our people are better channeled to positive expressions such as technological advancement, industrialisation and entrepreneurship development, which are globally recognised as key strengths of Ndigbo.
“Our continuous desire for an Igbo president, or rather president of Igbo extraction, is a just and inalienable right but can only be realised through strategic alliance with other zones and not by any hostile agitation as emphasised in this book.”
Nnamani, in his submission, said the governor wrote a well-researched book, which addressed vexatious political and economic issues bothering on the betterment of Igbo people.
On his part, the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, who came with the Secretary General, Okey Emuchay, said the book is like an Igbo agenda, which must be at the back of the mind of Igbo, urging stronger voice in the quest for president of Igbo extraction.
Ohakim said there must be “Justice, Equity and Fair play, (JEF) to balance the socio, economic and political equation of the country.”