•Stop behaving like conquered people in conquered territory, he warns
From Aloysius Attah, Onitsha
It was the maiden public lecture for Second Republic Senator and one of the founding fathers of Ebonyi State, the late Senator Offia Nwali, who died in 2016 at the age of 74.
On that day, the people of the state together with other prominent Igbo sons and daughters, gathered at the Women Development Centre, Abakaliki, Ebonyi State to begin the step towards immortalisation of Nwali’s name through a public lecture.
As soon as the event kicked off, the guest speaker, the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, provoked the Igbo spirit as he called on them to take charge of their destinies in Nigeria instead of playing the second fiddle.
Chief Nwodo, who was a former Minister of Information held the audience spell-bound as he reminded the Igbo about the stuff they were made of, admonishing them to stop behaving like conquered people in conquered territory.
Nwodo also condemned the harsh bail conditions given to the leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, saying that though the Igbo should continue to remain humble and gentle, such character should not be mistaken for timidity.
He noted that while there are divided voices and different historical accounts about the origin of the Igbo and their link with the Jews, there are no doubt, several unmistaken similarities between the Igbo and the Jews. He enjoined the Igbo therefore to emulate the Jewish people, pointing out that “we are not loved in Nigeria and the reason is because we are hardworking and so enterprising.
Nwodo revealed that the apex Igbo socio-cultural organization is at the forefront at present in achieving an agricultural revolution in Igboland as it was practised during the Michael Okpara era. To this end, he said, the target is to produce five million palm trees in Igbo land in the next five years, noting that when the Igbo man keys into the project, about $300 million could be generated from palm oil alone in Igbo land.
He said that discriminatory practices against the Igbo are obvious, but the stage for lamentation was gone, noting that requisite actions and decisive steps have commenced in a bid to address the situation.
His words: “If you are an Igbo man, re-think Igbo. I have never seen any other tribe in Nigeria that is treated like conquered people like ours.
The Ohanaeze leader said in losing Senator Offia Nwali the Amajim Ameke community in Ezza Local Government Area of Ebonyi State and the Igbos in general have lost their pathfinder.
Recalling Nwali’s educational life, exploits as an educational administrator, the tragedies in his life in 1983, when he lost his wife and six children in the F28 ill- fated air crash and how he bounced back after the incident to marry another wife later on and raise fresh kids, he challenged Ndigbo to live by the standards the late Nwali has set.
The Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State, Dr Kelechi Igwe, who spoke on behalf of Governor Dave Umahi said that the late Senator Nwali displayed exceptional courage in life and contributed immensely to the realization of the creation of Ebonyi State. Also speaking, the Ebonyi State Secretary to the Government (SSG), Prof Bernard Ifeanyi Odoh gave an insight into the life and times of the late Senator and why the government decided to honour him noting that the Harvard University-trained Analytical Computing engineer “stood for the creation of Ebonyi State that we are all beneficiaries today.
Government functionaries in the state that attended the lecture included the Chief Judge, Justice Aloy Nwankwo, Speaker, Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Francis Nwifuru; former Deputy Governor, Prof. Chigozie Ogbu, among others.