By Brown Chimezie
Recently, President Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos State, Chief Solomon Ogbonna spoke about insecurity and other problems facing the South East and concludes that rather than being confrontational, diplomacy and tact should be employed to curtail the challenges.
What are your views about insurgency in the South East?
The security situation in the South East in particular and Nigeria in general requires God’s intervention, as it appears the human approach is not resolving the issues. By and large, I plead with all citizens of Nigeria to avoid violence and see lives of their fellow human beings as very sacred. If we have beef with one another, dialogue is the best approach in resolving such differences.
What is the position of Ohanaeze Ndigbo on the security crisis rocking the South East?
If you have been following the news, our President General, Prof. George Obiozor and his colleagues at the national executive council has been liaising with the governors of South East and other stakeholders to find solutions to the insecurity. In fact, they are working through a peace committee involving eminent Igbo people to find lasting solution to the problem of insecurity in the South East.
Some people are insinuating the attack on police officers is necessitated by the extortion of innocent citizens by the police. Do you agree?
Two wrongs cannot make a right. If you feel the police are extorting people, you report to the higher authorities. In fact, in these days of camera phones and social media, people should devise ways to record police brutality and corruption, forward them to higher authorities. If they fail to act, upload such recordings on the social media and that will definitely force the authorities to act. Killing of police officers and burning of police stations will pave the way for criminals to run amok in our society.
Do you think there are powerful people, especially politically exposed people behind these acts?
I can’t point accusing finger at any particular group as sponsors of the insurgency, as that would amount to speculation. Sometimes, you will be surprised that the hoodlums have their own motives, quite different from the intentions of other aggrieved groups in the zone. So, these hoodlums could be acting on their own accord. Nonetheless, one should not rule out the fact that some disgruntled individuals in and outside the zone might be fueling the insurgency. Whatever we sow in this world, we shall reap. So, I believe God Almighty knows the people behind the dastardly acts, and will surely reward them negatively.
How do you score Ohanaeze Ndigbo President General in view of the escalating insecurity in South East?
The security situation in the South East is not a popularity or credibility contest, requiring assessment of South East leaders. The problem requires the input of all well-meaning Ndigbo. And our President General, the diplomat is contributing his quota in search for lasting solution to the problem. And if I must assess his contribution so far, I will award him an excellent pass mark.
What is your assessment of his handling of Ohanaeze Ndigbo affairs so far?
It is too early to start scoring him, but so far, so good. In fact, he brought a new dimension to Ohanaeze Ndigbo leadership – the diplomatic approach. And this informed his reaching out to various stakeholders especially the political leaders across the country. I will say, Ohanaeze Ndigbo is in the hand of a diplomatic helmsman, Prof. George Obiozor, repositioning the organisation to chart defined courses for Ndigbo in the Nigerian project.
But there is still division in Ohanaeze Ndigbo, considering the Chidi Ibe faction.
This is family affair and will definitely be sorted out. Our President General is a diplomat and will bring his diplomatic ingenuity to bear on bringing all Ohanaeze stakeholders together. I assure you, arrangements are on to resolve the issue and calm all frayed nerves.
But we always hear statements from the factional Secretary General, Okechukwu Isiguzoro on behalf of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
Don’t worry, everything will be settled. As I said, it is a family affair, and all are clamouring to serve the best interest of Ndigbo. I have never met Isiguzoro for the first time, but by his statements, I believe he has the interest of Igbo at heart. The work to reposition Ndigbo in Nigeria is huge and all patriotic leaders will have more than enough share of the task. So, for those who are striving to serve Igbo, Ohanaeze Ndigbo under the canopy of Prof. George Obiozor will accommodate all interests and shades of opinion.
How do you assess Prof. George Obiozor leadership and that of Chief Nnia Nwodo, the immediate past President General?
Please, I want you to ask me questions about the present leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and not the past. Each leader has his/her style, and each leader does his/her best under prevailing circumstances. Prof. George Obiozor is new in the saddle, but has demonstrated in unmistakable terms that he is out to reposition Ndigbo in the larger scheme of Nigeria affair. He is firm and steadfast in his resolve for Igbo to take its rightful position in Nigeria. He hates gossip unlike some leaders, thereby avoiding anything that could derail his mission. By and large, Prof. George Obiozor is steering the ship of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in the right direction.
As leader of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Lagos State with the largest concentration of Ndigbo outside Igbo land, what is your relationship with Prof. George Obiozor?
We have very good relationship. In fact, we have been very close before he became the President General. And being my principal, our relationship becomes stronger, as I have to look up to him and learn from the master. He is a real diplomat avoiding people who castigate others to curry favour. Though a professor, but he is down-to-earth and communicate with people in simple words they can understand.
What is your advice to Ndigbo at this period of insurgency in the South East?
I advise all Igbo across the world to listen to their leaders, the elected leaders— people they gave their mandate to represent them and speak on their behalf. We should be objective in criticising them, proffering solutions when necessary. The security of Igbo land is the responsibility of every Igbo person and all residents of Igbo land. We must report suspicious movements and activities to relevant authorities.