However, last Thursday, a bold move was made to put the different tendencies in the Igbo nation together at a gathering that had some of the foremost leaders to have come out from the region.
The gathering under the auspices of the Unity Forum was an opportunity for the Igbo nation to articulate a common position on issues that have recently challenged the people as a race and their patrimony within the Nigerian state.
At the gathering were some outstanding names from the professions, traditional rulers, political leaders including some who have retired. The list of attendees included Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State, Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Mrs. Cecilia Ezilo, the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prince Eze Madumere, and the host Governor, Chief Rochas Okorocha. Also present were a former chief of general staff, Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe, former Nigerian Ambassador to the United States Dr. George Obiozo, founder of Diamond Bank and MTN chairman, Dr. Paschal Dozie; former chief of naval staff, Rear Admiral Allison Madueke, former governors including Chief Emeka Ezeife, Chief Jim Nwobodo.
Also present were Chief S.N. Okeke, Prof. Anya O. Anya, and the Chairman of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief Enwo Igariwe. The Ohaneze Ndigbo leader could hardly hide his joy at the gathering of Igbo leaders coming together under one roof noting “We have never had it like this in coming together to proffer solutions to the nagging Igbo problems.”
It was an opportunity for the various leaders to articulate views on the state of the Igbo nation and what could be done to better position the race.
They said: We won’t complain of marginalization again — Alison Madueke Madueke
Anything we put our minds and strength in as Igbo, we can achieve it. Igbos are the only people that built an airport on their own without federal government’s intervention. We won’t complain of marginalization again.
We’re a proud people — Commodore Ebitu Ukiwe
We need not talk so much about our past because most Nigerians do know that if there is any group of Nigerians that can make a change in their life, that group is Igbo. Therefore, there is nothing to complain about our pride. We are a proud people.
If we were not a proud people, we would probably have been carrying our books in our hands going around to beg but begging is not in our culture. Those who came here after the civil war, if they come back in most cases, they can’t recognize the place. This is because the Igbos are focused, hardworking and they can change any place to a better place. We have met today and discussed, we are not playing politics, we are facing issues. Issues that concern us as a people and the nation at large.
What I will tell every Igbo man or youth is to be focused. We cannot plead or beg. Every Igbo must change his status, change what others may think is a terrible thing for us, we must not be intimidated by anybody. We are not going to beg; we will persevere and change our lives.
This is an Igbo affair and therefore many of our traders, industrialist and academicians are not in the east here. They are in all parts of the country, developing those lands at the detriment of theirs.
We have to attract our sons and daughters back home; we have to transform this place as it is part of our traditional home. We should confront the difficulties facing us than talking about it. Concentration must be in industrializing the Igbo region.
We’re a people of destiny — Chukwuemeka Ezeife
We the Igbo are a people of destiny and no human being born by man can change our faith and destiny. We depend on the Almighty God for everything we do.
This is only the beginning, I will call on the governors of Abia, Enugu, Anambra and Ebonyi to help with precious time for us to redefine the Igbo leadership that will dramatically develop the Igbo homeland so that a migration form here will not be as a matter of economic necessity.
Our future is here — Paschal Dozie Dozie
Our future is here. Why do I say that, because the leadership of the Igbos not only has decided that the past shall never return, the past of despondency, the past of self re-ordination and pity.
We are now moving forward forgetting the past and looking forward to the future. Again, one of the things that really also interested me was that in that meeting we redefined the concept of Igbo leadership, taking it back to what it used to be, even our governor re-echoed the refrain that the original concept of the Igbo leadership has to be maintained and the value system needs to be rekindled into our system or else we go nowhere. Therefore, today is just the beginning of a new dawn.
Our experience should be our guide — Prof Anya
This is the time for the sons of Issachar, your assignment is clear, to help our people chart a new course in this very dangerous times. We are faced with uncertainty; we are faced with doubts and even fear. It is not surprising then that in this doubt and uncertainty we could lose our focus, we could lose our confidence in ourselves, and we can now pursue new and emerging ideas… re awakening from our past, hence we need to have a quick thank into our history, ancient and modern.
It is important that the redemption and rebuilding of ala-Igbo will not come from outside Igbo land, it will not come from Abuja, it will not come from Lagos, it will, however, need a paradigm shift in our approach to the problems of Nigeria.
Our experience as a people should be our guide. Ndi Igbo will not flourish in the Nigeria pseudo-federation until federalism with mandate resolution of power is restored. With this, our initiative can become unchained for the benefit of our country and our compatriots. This is why we need to support the ways of democratic opinion insisting on restructuring Nigeria.
We must act now — Rochas Okorocha
A nation or people that are faced with extreme danger like Ndi Igbo should seek the wisest course of action and not of sentiments and complains. Thank God that the Igbo are now complying and not complaining.
We must act quickly and now too under the present ugly situation which our terrible condition points out to us, if not, we might be destroying the psyche of the generation of Ndi Igbo yet unborn. There is no better time for us to unite than now.
A few years ago, we sang the song of grief, marginalization, and we were looking frustrated looking for who can help us but thank God we have realized that no amount of complaining against the marginalization if Ndi Igbo will bring succor to our children rather we shall all rise and take our rightful position and sing a new song.
Conduct and character Before we join the bandwagon of complaining, little do we realize that Igbo are different and distinguished in both conduct and character, hence passion for success like no other tribe in the world.
No one nation even the entire world can marginalise Ndi Igbo. The Igbo’s marginalization is an apparent marginalisation which does not reflect any practical reality. Take an Igbo man, leave him in the desert, give him nothing and give him two years he will make something out of nothing. Why then must we depend on help, from where?
This is the time for us to think outside the box. This is the time for us to encourage our youths and give them hope. Let us break the jinx of disunity caused by politics because what unites us is far more than the political parties that divide us.
We shall know the points to speak about politics and time to speak as ndi Igbo. Let us know when to play politics and when to be ndi Igbo. This is the wisdom that underlines us.
We’re bringing hope to our people — Enwo Igariwey Igariwe
Today Ohaneze speaks with one voice. Some people have been complaining rightly, but that is not why we are here today. I will tell you a simple story that reflects why we are here today.
When the civil war ended nearly forty years ago, it was not a magic that we recovered with the pace with which we did, when the Red Cross, CARITAS were sending relief materials to our people again in the refugee camp because our people by their adventurous nature had gone to fetch for themselves, that is the Igbo spirit, that is the can do it spirit.
We are going to bring hope to our people; our people will no longer cry because as a people we can solve our problems. There is nothing we put our minds to that we cannot solve, when you see Lagos the way it is, highly developed environment, the Igbo contributed about 30% of that development, the same in Abuja that means that if we redirect our energies, we can build Abuja in Igboland. That means we can build Lagos in Igboland, and that is our new direction now.
What we want is that our people should not see any person as being responsible for any situation we find ourselves in. We will only be there if we accept it. We will put our feet down and put our heads up; we will rise to the occasion to solve our problems. Hope has come, that is the message we are bringing.
Our future is in our hands — Lolo Cecilia Ezeilo (Dep Gov Enugu State)
What we are telling ourselves is that our future is in our hands. What we are telling ourselves is that we did it before during the time of Michael Okpara and we can do it again. Igbo people are known for entrepreneurship, and hardworking spirit, patient people.
There is change in Imo — Simon N. OKEKE – Ex-chairman PSC
It is only in Imo State that the APC change mantra is effective in a very positive way through the total turnaround of the state by Owelle Rochas Okorocha.
This is a new dawn — Gov Ikpeazu Ikpeazu
Love for the Igbo nation must be encouraged as any tribe that does not unite will lose its rights, we must unite to get our rights. This a new dawn in Igbo land as Ohaneze through the magical vision of Owelle Rochas Okorocha has united us as one and we will henceforth speak with the full backing of the governors and leaders of the Igbo nation.
The period of govt by intimidation is over — Amb George Obiozor
Just recently some Nigerian leaders discovered that Nigeria unity is non-negotiable. Well, I have an answer. The reality is after so many years, in spite of all efforts, past and present, Nigeria’s unity has not been guaranteed, at best it has been an aspiration, not an achievement.
Let me be frank with you, throughout the history of this country, no generation of Nigerian leaders civilian or military had created an atmosphere of credibility to ensure Nigeria’s claim to political future of oneness. What do Nigerian elites do? None of the Nigerian political groups was able to involve a unified national ideology that other people accepted. This is true.
What we see is ethnic nationalism which is not about to disappear certainly not in Nigeria no matter how we may want to wish it away. Ethnic nationalism is still a potent force. The period or era if government by intimidation, coercive integration is over. No one group again can own the nation. That denied justice may have no interest in peace. (Vangaurd)