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15.11.2008 Feature Article

Ikedife & The Question Of Ohanaeze Leadership

When Prof. Joe Irukwu was the President-General of the Ohanaeze Ndiigbo, the now President-General of the pan-Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, was the president of the Anambra State chapter of the body. He had his respect from his members and friends. People were singing his praises more than the requiem for the dead by the church. His status was revered and cherished by many people, which perhaps, was why he was 'chosen' as the next successor of Irukwu when perceived that Irukwu was going berserk with the leadership.

Irukwu started well when he emerged the president of that group, with his intimidating profile. An old man of the learned status, Ndiigbo looked up to him to give Ohanaeze a human face and deliver them of the predicaments they were facing in the Nigerian state, where they have always cried of marginaliztion by the many successive governments in Nigeria. Their voice was heard but little did Ohanaeze show any meek to the always-cries of Ndiigbo by a way of drawing closer those things they saw that made them cry of marginalization to ala-Igbo.

Rather, the Ohanaeze under Irukwu was gracing the pages of the newspapers, frequenting Aso Rock and talking of projects for Ndiigbo that were never executed. Instead of working on executing those projects, he preferred to work in the vine yard of the ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo, using Ohanaeze as a platform to support the devilish and ruinous Obasanjo third term agenda; an act if it did succeed, Obasanjo would have perpetuated himself in the exalted office of the president like a Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe.

Ndiigbo of notable dignity cried fowl and blue murder. This led to fracas in the body. A lot of South-East governors under Obasanjo-led administration supported Irukwu while many brewed a new faction, (like the much touted Integrity Group of the House of Reps, which Integrity is begging for an explanation over the vehicle purchase alleged scam by a Lagos lawyer, Mr. Festus Keyamo) and Ikedife was born to lead Ohanaeze, (not Ndiigbo to say from the look of things).

Ikedife whose tenure of office will soon end, without doubt, like Irukwu, can rarely boast of any meaningful project his-led Ohanaze has attracted or executed in ala-Igbo. The only pride of his, but not to Oha he is their Eze, is the prefix of President-General of Ohanaeze Ndiigbo to his name, which was why many selfish Igbo children are selling Ndiigbo to occupy.

Ndiigbo do not have water in their mouth when they said that they are marginalized in the Nigerian state by many successive governments in Nigeria. But today, that marginalization seems to be very cruel coming from the Ohanaeze itself. This group sounds more political to the cultural protection of the entire ala-Igbo it took an oath of office, bedevilled in the recent times with all manner of atrocities in the many villages and towns. These atrocities ranges from the devilish 'Eze-elect', which any sensible person would always ask when has monarchy becomes democracy. What about the “Land deliverances' going on in ala-Igbo instead of the much needed 'Mind deliverance'? Dupers now use money to buy morality in ala-Igbo ones known for its sacrosanct features, and they are named Eze-elect. Look at what is happening in the Obi stool of Onitsha. What has Ohanaeze done to resolve the Obi tuzzle between Achebe and his fellow? And Professors (who could be questioned where they learnt the Igbo cultures) are now made Kings and Queens, thereby leaving the locals who are grounded in the cultures of the land to ridicule. It is appalling.

When sacrilegious events begin to happen in a land, like the Igbo, morality should be questioned. The occupants of the seats in Ohanaeze, as a group, not as a metaphor for all the Igbo, are now smiling to the banks, like their Nigerian leaders, who loot our money for their egocentrism and publish jobs on the newspapers that were seldom done.

Last time, one writer/activist Nkemjika was questioning the state of health of the fund of the South-East Nigeria Economic Commission (SENEC) initiative, but Ohanaeze instead shrugged from the points the writer-activist was making. Ndiigbo have had much of many groups, like the proliferation of NGOs in Nigeria, but non-seems to rise to the occasion to help Ndiigbo from the dilemma they did not know how it all happened to them in Nigeria.

Who have not heard of the many groups pretending they are fighting the Igbo cause? One was “The Igbo World Assembly, IWA, (the apex Igbo organization representing Ndiigbo in Diaspora?), Aka Ikenga, Igbo Congress, Obi Igbo, Ime Obi, just name them”. All sham!

In conjunction with the Ohanaeze Ndiigbo, these groups are selling Ndiigbo less than 30 pieces of silver, if these groups exist and yet Ndiigbo are not feeling the impact of the democracy, after a joint meeting by Ohanaeze held in many towns and cities of the world. The Igbo World Congress was a jamboree. Was it not a shame that the Oha in the USA fought when Ndiigbo assembled in the USA this year? To the glaring eyes of the world?

Recently in Nnewi Anambra state, the Ohanaeze condemned in complete terms the total neglect of Igbo race in the federal appointment of the present administration. But what followed after that pronouncement? Very slow leg in motion. It is a shame!

In that Nnewi brouhaha called meeting, it was a Dr Nwachukwu Anakwenze who said in a statement issued by the two groups that The marginalization of Ndigbo by previous administrations in Nigeria, according to the group has continued unabated and we note that the trend has assumed disturbing dimensions under the current government of President Umaru Yar'Adua. Ohanaeze and IWA call on President Yar'Adua to look into the situation and institute remedial measures.

That is what they will say. But what action did Ohanaeze take and follow it up when the past national census does not reflect the numerical strength of Ndiigbo? Did this not cheated Ndiigbo in the federal budgetary and national planning matters?

The Oji River Power Station in Enugu State that would have boosted supply in the South-East has been abandoned by the federal government for no good reason, yet Ohanaeze was there?

It is disappointing that even the educated cannot show the difference between wisdom and literacy. What Igbo have are people who use English semantics more than the English, thereby their home burns. Very soon, Ndiigbo will be having another Prof., maybe a Dr. that will lead Ohanaeze, yet there is nothing to show for Ndiigbo. The only show will be Dr. Dozie Ikedife's inaugural lecture on the day he will be leaving office of things he did for Ndiigbo which all knew existed only on that inaugural paper. It is a regret!

Odimegwu Onwumere, is the Founder of Poet Against Child Abuse, (PACA), Rivers State. +2348032552855. [email protected]

Odimegwu Onwumere
Odimegwu Onwumere, © 2008

This author has authored 586 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: OdimegwuOnwumere

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