By Chuks Ibegbu
I read with displeasure the effusions of my friend Joe Igbokwe on the above issue and I feel highly disappointed. Though some of his arguments may appear plausible, his language and the manner he put it is to say the least regrettable. He already found his Igbo people in Akure guilty without making effort to investigate the issue on ground.
This is the way some Igbo elites who do not have touch with their people or who always ingratiate themselves to their external masters curry favour and openly demonise their own people.
Agreed that sometimes there is a wasteful tussle for the leadership of Igbo organisations outside Igbo land but it is not an Igbo phenomenon alone. The language Joe Igbokwe used against his own people, no matter the situation on ground is to say the least unbecoming.
For me, the Eze Ndigbo issue is not and should not raise uproar in Yorubaland. Igbos have been living in peace for decades with their Yoruba hosts and not even a newly coronated Oba in Akure, a pharaoh that does not know the Israelites can alter that. The Deji of Akure cannot maltreat an Igbo leader in his palace and believe he can get away with it. The constitution of the land protects all Nigerian citizens in all parts of the country and nobody can tell Ndigbo what to tag their leaders in foreign lands. We have Oba of Yoruba in Owerri, Onitsha and other Igbo towns. Maybe the Afenifere Renewal Group which claimed that Ndigbo may be planning expansionists agenda has not taken time to investigate this issue. Ndigbo have never had such tendencies but have done much to develop all parts of Nigeria.
If Joe Igbokwe had only called for the Eze Ndigbo title to be restricted to the states and not local governments, it will make sense to me. I support one Eze Ndigbo in any state outside Igboland and in the local governments we should have Onyishi or Onyendu Igbo. No Oba or Baale should tell Ndigbo what to call their leaders, inasmuch as Ndigbo must respect the culture of their hosts.
Yes, some elements may be tarnishing the image of Igbo institutions outside Igboland but that is not why Joe Igbokwe in his bid to satiate his Lagos and western masters should generalise his industrious people who have been developing all parts of Nigeria as 419ners, etc. We know he gets his porridge from Lagos and the West but must that be to the detriment and pillorying of his people? There is nowhere in theNigerian constitution that it is stated that a people cannot choose the title of their leaders. Eze Ndigbo is a mere title that ends in the host states. Once such personalities cross the Niger, they drop it and cannot challenge their traditional rulers at home. It’s symbolic to give Ndigbo outside their homeland a sense of traditional egregarity and nobody can stop it just as no Igbo can stop any Yoruba from answering Oba Yoruba in Umuahia but not Oba of Umuahia. What we have is Eze Ndigbo in so so…… state and not the Eze of Akure or so so so….state. His jurisdiction is only on Igbos and no more.
The way the Afenifere Renewal Group took the matter is surprising and disappointing. Ndigbo and Ndi Yoruba will continue to live in harmony and no Oba, or Obi can stop or threaten that.
We are glad that the Governor of Ondo State has intervened to end the crisis and it should end there. For Joe Igbokwe and his types who take any little opportunity to vilify his own people, he must be reminded that not even those he ingratiates himself to will take him serious when the chips are down. He can caution any of his erring people without a blanket condemnation on the pages of newspapers.
Chuks Ibegbu (e-mail: email@example.com) (Source: Masterweb Reports