“How can they ban Ohanaeze, a body that is widely embraced and respected by the majority of the Igbo? I wonder why the media in Nigeria give them publicity”
Magnus Eze, Raphael Ede, Enugu, Obinna Odogwu, Abakaliki
A close ally of Nnamdi Kanu, leader of Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Dr Chukwuma Egemba, has described as arrant nonsense and sheer arrogance, the recent threat by the group to disrupt any function organised by the Ohanaeze Ndigbo in any part of Igboland.
IPOB in a statement signed by its Director of Media and Publicity, Emma Powerful, last Wednesday, said that it had proscribed the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation and declared itself the actual representative of Ndigbo.
The group claimed that the alleged total compliance of South easterners to its sit-at-home order to mark the first anniversary of the military invasion of the Afara-Ukwu, Umuahia, Abia State country home of their leader was a clear manifestation that the people had conferred on them the mandate as their authentic representatives in the region.
But Egemba, a co-Director of Radio Biafra in a telephone interview from his London base yesterday distanced the Coalition of Pro-Biafra Groups from such affront on Ohanaeze; a body, he said, enjoys the legitimacy and support of the majority of Ndigbo.
He said that it was this kind of unguarded utterances and actions by the Kanu-led IPOB that had continuously aggravated the condition of the Igbo in Nigeria as an endangered species and which had led to loss of many innocent lives; while business opportunities were destroyed.
His words: “I had restrained myself from commenting on this because it’s arrant nonsense. It was this sort of sheer arrogance by the Nnamdi Kanu-led IPOB that has brought us to where we are today. These people have killed businesses in Igboland and continued to make the region unattractive for investment with their frequent calls for sit-at-home.
“How can they ban Ohanaeze, a body that is widely embraced and respected by the majority of the Igbo? I wonder why the media in Nigeria give them publicity,” Egemba said.
But, the National President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide (OYC), Mr Okechukwu Isiguzoro, said that his group would rather wade into the matter by meeting with IPOB, parent body of Ohanaeze and the South East Governors Forum.
He disclosed that OYC has a cordial relationship with IPOB, MASSOB, and other pro-Biafra groups, and, therefore, would not support any action that would shatter the peace and tranquility being enjoyed in Igboland.
He said that if efforts to broker peace failed, OYC would not hesitate to protect its parent body.
“We don’t have any issue with the leadership of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra. We have cordial relationship with IPOB. Last year, we endorsed the leader of IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, as our leader.We don’t have any issue with them, but the fact is that they are having a running battle with the parent body of Ohanaeze Ndigbo. But the issue of disrupting the activities of the Ohanaeze parent body will be unacceptable.
“They said that they have proscribed Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the South East Governors’ Forum. We want to disassociate ourselves from any proscription order issued by the leadership of IPOB to Ohanaeze and the South East Governors’ Forum.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo remains the mouthpiece of Igbo people all over the world. Based on that, we are not going to join issues with IPOB with regards to the proscription order they pronounced. We should also advise them to restrain actions that might heat up the polity in Igboland. They should not take actions that might bring about violence and political crisis in Igboland such that the public peace we are enjoying would be a thing of the past.
“Ohanaeze Youth Council would wade into the matter with a view to bringing peace. We have a cordial relationship with IPOB led by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and MASSOB led by Mazi Uchenna Madu,” he said.
Also, the Special Assistant on Media to Chief Nnia Nwodo, Ohanaeze President General, Chief Emeka Attamah, said that the body was not in popularity contest with the IPOB.
According to him, while Ohanaeze recognized IPOB as a pressure group agitating for the same cause of liberating Ndigbo from the shackles of oppression, “the present leadership of Ohanaeze has always made it clear that out of the two options of confrontation and dialogue, it chooses dialogue.
“There is, therefore, no ambiguity or contest between the two as to the leadership of Ndigbo. A father cannot be in contention with his son. So, the issue of leadership of Ndigbo does not arise”.
Meanwhile, the Igbo Civil Society Coalition (ICSC) has urged Ohanaeze Ndigbo to reconcile with the IPOB.
The group said that Ohanaeze could do that by distancing itself from the governors of the five South-East states and demand the government to account for and stop the killings in Igboland.
The National Coordinator of ICSC, Prof Obasi Igwe, who spoke to Sunday Sun on telephone on the IPOB’s threat also said that the Igbo apex body should ask for the whereabouts of the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu and his family, and then “start pursuing Igbo, not Southeast cause.
“This remains the demand of all enlightened Igbo, not only IPOB. Otherwise, nobody will persuade the IPOB to change its opinion on Ohanaeze”.