The recent crisis rocking the pan-Igbo socio-cultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, over the registration of a splinter group is regrettable. Although the Ohanaeze Ndigbo has witnessed some crises since its inception in 1976, everything must be done to prevent the fragmentation of the organisation. The crisis in the organisation must have been ignited when on June 22, 2020, Igwe Nkeli Nzekwe, the traditional ruler of Igbariam community in Anambra East Local Government Area and one Basil Onyeachonam Onuorah and others reportedly formed a splinter group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo General Assembly. The splinter group was registered at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC).
This is apparently the first time that Ohanaeze Ndigbo is witnessing this type of challenge in its 44 years of existence. Following strident criticisms over the registration, the CAC promptly announced the withdrawal of the certificate which was presumably issued in error. The purported registration of the splinter group should not have arisen in the first place because there are constitutional means of effecting a leadership change within the organisation. The splinter group should have exploited these constitutional channels to change the leadership instead of the ignominious attempt to dismember the apex Igbo cultural organisation. Assuming there are things that the current Ohanaeze leadership is not getting right, those who are championing the splinter group ought to have waited till the tenure of the present leadership is over so that they can use a constitutional means to effect the change. No matter the imperfections of Ohanaeze, the present leadership under Chief John Nnia Nwodo has eloquently defended the Igbo position in any national discourse. He has also spoken against Igbo marginalisation, the need for a Nigerian president of Igbo extraction, and other issues that affect the Igbo. As the 2023 general election is fast approaching, we believe that this is the right time for the Igbo to speak with one voice and act as a group to achieve their collective destiny. This is not the time for acrimony, blackmail and subterranean attempts to destroy Ohanaeze Ndigbo and by extension Igbo unity. For the Igbo, this is the time for consensus building, patriotism and concerted efforts to achieve their collective objectives. It is the right time to develop and not destroy Igboland through crass individualism. Ndigbo believe in Ohanaeze and will resist any attempt to disorganise it by some people acting on behalf of some outside interests. Having a splinter group in Ohanaeze will not augur well for Igbo unity and progress. The present Ohanaeze leadership must be commended for championing the Igbo cause. Only recently, the body, in conjunction with South- East governors, set up a 50-man steering committee on Alaigbo Stabilisation Fund to drive the development of the region Therefore, it is unnecessary for anyone or group to engage in any action that will retard the progress made so far by Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
We urge elders and prominent Igbo leaders to speak against the veiled attempt by some individuals to destabilise Ohanaeze Ndigbo and also Igboland in the name of registering a splinter Ohanaeze. They must also take decisive moves to ensure that all divisive tendencies in Ohanaeze Ndigbo are jettisoned forthwith. We urge the warring groups to sheathe the sword and work together with the current Ohanaeze leadership in the overall interest of Ndigbo. This is the time for unity and not for needless wars and wrangling that will lead Igbo to nowhere. No sacrifice will be too big to make for peace and unity to reign in Ohanaeze.
The crisis in Ohanaeze is needless and will no doubt spell doom for Ndigbo if allowed to fester. The founding fathers of Ohanaeze envisioned a strong, virile and cohesive organisation that will champion the Igbo cause in Nigeria and the Diaspora. Dismembering it now will vitiate the goals of its founding fathers. Therefore, we urge the splinter group to withdraw all pending court cases on the matter. Let the group desist from unnecessary comments on the issue. Let the issues that led to the crisis be resolved amicably.