I’m tired, says Nwabueze, as Igbo search for new leadership

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By Lawrence Njoku,

Last Tuesday, a cross section of prominent Igbo leadership gathered in Enugu with focus on finding ways to rediscover the roots of the people and prepare the race to play more active roles in Nigeria’s current dispensation.
The occasion, which was the 16th annual anniversary of the Igbo Youth Movement (IYM), provided opportunity for the leaders to do a self-reassessment and arrived at the conclusion that this generation of Igbo leaders may not lift Ndigbo from the present political quagmire.

Prof. Ben Nwabueze
Prof. Ben Nwabueze

At the occasion were former Vice-President, Dr Alex Ekwueme, former governor and minister designate, Dr Ogbonnaya Onu, Constitutional lawyer, Professor Ben Nwabueze, Professor Chukwuemeka Ike, Chief Mrs. Maria Okwor, former Secretary-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nduka Eya, traditional ruler, Igwe Azuka Ngoddy among others.

Nwabueze, who broke the ice after surveying the high table occupied by him and others at the event, said that the old generation of leaders have literally expired, stressing that there was not much that should be expected from them at the moment.

Looking in the direction of Ekwueme, he said, “Our generation has passed. I am tired. This is the first time I could stand up to address people in the last two years. Ekwueme is 83 and Professor Ike is about 95.
“All of us on this high table have aged. Leadership is not a small matter. We should look for those in their thirties and forties to support”.

He said that the quest to rule Nigeria by Ndigbo should be kept on the front burner, explaining that should the bid fail in 2019, then 2023 should be another opportunity.

Nwabueze however emphasised that it was time to begin the search for new set of leaders who would take over from them and drive the process of positioning Ndigbo in the scheme of things.

Nwabueze, who broke the ice after surveying the high table occupied by him and others at the event, said that the old generation of leaders have literarily expired, stressing that there was not much that should be expected from them at the moment.

Looking in the direction of Ekwueme, he said, “Our generation has passed. I am tired. This is the first time I could stand up to address people in the last two years. Ekwueme is 83 and Professor Ike is about 95.

He told the youths in the gathering that they must rise to be counted by not only protecting their identity, just as he lamented the loss of value among Ndigbo and their current placement in the scheme of things in the country.

On his part, Ekwueme said that he rose to become the Vice-President during the Shehu Shagari administration basically because he was an Igboman. He said that people of Igbo extraction were highly revered in the country.
He however bemoaned the dying nature of the Igbo language among the present generation of Igbo people, while calling on the students and youths present at the event to embrace and appreciate the Igbo language rather than allowing it to dwindle.

Also speaking at the convention, Onu said that the occasion was significant especially as it served the useful purpose of showing off the rich past and heritage of the Igbo.

According to him, “Today, our society is faced with the danger that the Igbo language may not survive for long. It is sad that most of our children find it difficult to communicate in our native language. The attraction of foreign values has become almost an obsession that has weakened our self-confidence and injured our self-esteem.

We cannot rediscover ourselves if we do not reclaim our cultural heritage. It has become important because a people without culture are a people without self-confidence. If a people lack self-confidence then such a people lose the will, determination and drive to successfully engage the development process in the pursuit of the common good.

I wish to assure you all that the APC-led Federal Government of President Buhari will initiate visionary and sustained efforts to help Nigerians rediscover their rich past. In doing so, such efforts will be guided by the knowledge that cultural re-awakening is an important tool in the economic, social and political development of our beloved country.”

The President of IYM, Elliot Uko said the theme of this year’s annual convention “Ibuli Asusu Igbo” was carefully chosen to encourage and propagate interest in Igbo language, adding that IYM would continue to fight for true federalism, which would restore confidence in the unity of the country as well as give the citizenry a sense of belonging.

Uko said the movement would also continue to support President Buhari’s campaign against corruption and terrorism.

Recognition in form of plaques presentation were given to Ekwueme, Onu, Nwabueze as well as iconic actor, John Okafor (Mr. Ibu) and Professor Ike, a veteran novelist.

Students who participated in an essay writing contest and a quiz also received certificates and cash rewards instituted by former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi. (The Guardian)

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