Last year, at the World Igbo Summit convened in Enugu by Igbo Awareness Movement, I posed the following question to Ohaneze Ndigbo: An Ohaneze Ndigbo that deals only with the “Eze” and ignores the “Oha”, is that one Ohaneze?
Ohaneze is meant to be a union of both Igbo leaders and Igbo masses. However, what we see with Ohaneze Ndigbo is Ezeneze, Oha is never involved. I stand to be corrected.
When John Nwodo recently emerged as the president of Ohaneze Ndigbo, there have been whispers and talks that, perhaps, this one will make a difference. He has been vocal about the marginalisation and injustice against Ndigbo in Nigeria. Quite commendable. But, apart from media and govt houses, we are yet to see the Ohaneze president in any public gathering of Igbo masses that make up the “Oha” in Ohaneze he leads? I have not seen any reasonable effort by the leadership of Ohaneze to reach out to numerous Igbo groups for a harmonious Igbo nation. Maybe I missed it, but you can refresh my memory…
Yes, he has been acknowledging the marginalisation of Ndigbo publicly and loudly, unlike his predecessors, but words alone is not enough, action speaks louder than words☆
As it stands now, there is a huge disconnect between Ohaneze leadership and Ohaneze/Igbo masses. This is a fundamental flaw in the composition and body of Ohaneze. For Ohaneze to command and enjoy the followership of Igbo masses, the common people; this fundamental flaw must be addressed pronto. And the earlier Igbo leaders realized that they cannot communique away the anger and frustration an average Igbo person feels against Igbo leaders and Nigeria, the better for the unity and progress Ndigbo crave, whether as independent nation or a nation within Nigeria. You cannot desire Nigerian govt to commence consultation and dialogue with Nigerians when you don’t see the need to consult and dialogue with the masses of Igboland you claim to lead.
The current Igbo masses can no longer tolerate the idea of an Ohaneze whose leadership dances to the dictates of bank alerts; a leadership that answers only to those who bomb their bank account with huge kpakam!
So let Ohaneze first address the concerns of her followers (if they have any followers) before condemning their agitations to avoid the potential class and ideological war brewing right now in Igboland. We already have a lot being thrown at us by Nigeria and Nigerians, we cannot afford a divided and disunited Igbo at this crucial time in our history. Internal sabotage is not part of our republicanism.
Larry Iloh writes from Brighton, UK