|Igbo Chiefs on a recent visit to Buhari|
A core foundation upon which International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law-Intersociety was founded in 2008 is for the recognition, respect, preservation and protection at all times of right to ethnic identity of all ethnic groups in Nigeria particularly the Igbo race. The right to ethnic identity under reference is such that must be recognized and respected during national elections, formulation and implementation of national policies and allocations of national political appointments. Our concept of right to ethnic identity, which is also in line with international standards; is the right of every ethnic nationality and citizen in Nigeria to live and prosper side by side with another member of Nigeria’s ethnic nationality and citizenship without emasculation and magisterial lordship. Nigeria’s present first class and second class citizenship is frowned at, at all times and must be fought to a stand-still.
One of the negative effects of the Nigerian Civil War on Igbo Race was survival of the fittest among its surviving sons and daughters leading to lowering of its age-long value system. It threw up renegades and brigands who cabalized its socio-political system. The Igbo noble class was overpowered for years with alacrity until recently. In 1999, the nouveau riches of Igbo extraction made an inroad into the then new civilian administration and occupied most of the elective and appointive offices meant for the Igbo race. These socially tainted sons and daughters of Igbo extraction had earlier served as military apologists and contractors in the inglorious military era. A number of them also served as illicit drug couriers for the military ruling cabal. While other Nigerians of good conscience picked up pen-arms against the military rule, these stained citizens conspired and supported the military to elongate their unconstitutional stay in office.
One of the disastrous legacies of the referenced dark era in Igbo race was the creation of “Eze Ndigbo” corrupted title in Diasporan Igbo communities or non sedentary Igbo communities. The Nri & the Arochukwu Kingship popularized red-caps were imported in containers-load and every nouveau riche of Igbo extraction became a red-cap chief overnight and by crook. A number of home communities in Igbo land were invaded and their traditional stools desecrated and dethroned. Thousands of villages were balkanized and made autonomous communities overnight particularly in Imo and Abia States with the referenced criminal class taking charge. At a point, most of the elective, executive and appointive public offices in Igbo land were in control of the referenced nouveau riches of Igbo extraction.
For records, in Igbo traditional institution and system, the primus inter pares of traditional titleship is membership of Nze Na’ Ozo Title. The Nze Na’ Ozo Title is a highly revered and sacred title meant for Igbo noble class. By order of seniority and sacredness, nobody is qualified to be called a traditional ruler or an Ichie (a member of traditional ruler’s or Igwe Cabinet) without being a member of Nze Na’ Ozo Title. Same thing applies to other sacred and respected high offices like Onowu (King maker or deputy), Akaji Ugo (the most senior member/head of Nze Na’ Ozo Title), etc. On the same token, the “Obiship” is older and holier than the “Igweship”. Whereas “the Obiship” represents the first son dynasty embedded in Nze Na’ Ozo dynasty, the Igweship is usually associated with colonially instituted “warrant chiefdom” and corrupted kingship.
The bestowment of traditional titles on rich individuals and political heavy weights comprising the good, the bad and the ugly without linking them to Nze Na’ Ozo title membership is totally political and ceremonious. In the original concept of Igbo traditional institution, it is strange and alien. Same thing applies to installation of wealthy and educated Diasporan Igbo natives with Eze Ndigbo title. It has been found that most of the so called Eze Ndigbo title holders are not members of the Nze Na’ Ozo title in their ancestral communities. Some of them have ancestral stigmas making their families to look leprous in their original communities. Before Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s magisterial pronouncement restricting the so called Eze Ndigbo title holders to their Diasporan communities; the holders of the referenced corrupted tile had become a threat to and constituted community nuisance in their ancestral communities. Some held parallel traditional events like “Ofala” or “Iwa Ji” (new yam festival) and caused security breaches in their communities with impunity.
The late Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, for instance, held numerous traditional titles outside his Nnewi Community including the famous title of Eze Igbo Gburu Gburu (the Commander-In-Chief of the Igbo race); a famous title bestowed on him by the ancient Nri Kingdom, which had its first traditional ruler installed as far back as 1043 AD. The Benin Empire was founded three hundred & ninety seven (397) years after (1440-1897). Yet, the late Ikemba preferred being addressed as “Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu”. The word “Dim” expressly signifies his membership of Nnewi Nze Na’ Ozo Title; while “Ikemba” is a politico-ceremonious title from his Nnewi Community. Other common Nze Na’ Ozo titles are “Umeh”, “Ezeh”, “Okpala”, “Dunu”, “Diokpa”, etc.
Therefore, the mercantilist and parasitic activities in recent times of the referenced tainted red-capped Igbo natives are shocking, though not unexpected. These soiled individuals of Igbo extraction have continued to operate as merchants of Igbo miseries. When the two million Igbo registered voters residing in Lagos State were denied permanent voters cards and voting rights by Prof Attahiru Jega and company, they sided with electoral enemies of their race and said nothing. But when other registered Igbo voters with PVCs elected three of their sons and daughters as well as three other non Igbo citizens as new members of the Federal House of Reps under the platforms of PDP and Accord parties in Lagos State during the March 28 National Assembly poll, the referenced soiled citizens turned the historic victory into political merchandise. They red-capped themselves in Idumota and Alaba markets and rushed to the palace of the stranger-Oba of Lagos to trade off the ethnic identity rights of the Igbo race for blood cash leading to historic death threats against the latter by the former.
As if that was not enough, they have turned the President Elect’s Daura Home into Mecca and Medina. Instead of visiting the President Elect to seek for presidential patronage including protection from being held criminally liable for their mountainous socio-economic crimes or for protection of their crooked business interests like oil wells; they have resorted to the use of Igbo interest to cover their selfish and mercantilist cause. They have also turned themselves into Igbo leaders overnight. While other Nigerian public figures are busy studying the new political calculations occasioned by the ethno-religious emergence of Mr. Muhammadu Buhari as the President Elect for the purpose of collective social, economic and political benefits/developments for their people and landscapes, these charlatan red-capped individuals of Igbo extraction are busy wangling their ways to Daura, looking for what goes into their pockets using misleadingly Igbo interest as bargaining power.
While we bear no grudges against those who have now relocated to Daura on account of Mr. Buhari’s highly divisive presidential emergence, we totally frown at the use of Igbo interest or Igbo leadership to further their selfish desires. The likes of Engineer Authur Eze, an oil mogul; who vowed to bury himself alive should the late Gen Sani Abacha failed to transform himself into a diarchist; is one of the newest Daura hajji makers. Others are leprous former generals of Igbo extraction who obviously went to seek for the protection of their military era crooked investments. Where we found them goofed is collective impersonation using Igbo interest and Igbo leadership to cover their mercantilist trip to Daura.
However, one of the visits that is fairly reasonable is that of Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State. While his pledge of his administration’s readiness to support the President Elect’s administration for the interest of collective development of Anambra State; likewise his resolve to remain in APGA is commendable; his claims of speaking on behalf of Igbo race are totally rejected. It is important to state here that no political office holder or known individual figure in Igbo land is empowered to make utterances or promises contrary to recent collective electoral decisions of the Igbo race. The people or public’s collective speechlessness ends during elections. Once they have spoken in an election, their speech becomes irrevocable and non negotiable.
Finally, the President Elect does not need to be begged or reminded to run an all inclusive democratic administration in a multi ethno-religious society like Nigeria or be reminded to effect across board political appointments. This is because he can never act outside the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and its subsidiaries including Section 14 (2) (a) (b) and (3). The hallmark of a statesman in the country is his ability to congregate and aggregate divergent electoral decisions by the peoples of Nigeria and have them embedded in his democratic and governance policies and actions. Anything short of the foregoing is an invitation to democratic anarchy.
One major challenge facing the Igbo reawakening in Nigeria is the ability of the emerging noble and intellectual class of the race to sideline and contain the charlatan Igbo natives and their merchandise in politics. One of the best ways to ensure this is by refusing to recognize or seeing them as Igbo political leaders. There is also need to change Igbo political leadership guides and entrust political leadership in the hands of middle class intellectuals and members of the Igbo re-emerging noble class. We have resolved never to fold our hands and watch the right to ethnic identity of Igbo race or any other race in Nigeria being bastardized by sedentary and pastoralist political charlatans with their external collaborators.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman
International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Barr Uzochukwu Oguejiofor-Nwonu, Head, Campaign & Publicity Department