By Christopher Isiguzo in Enugu
Notable leaders of the South-East geopolitical zone Thursday in Enugu reviewed the place of the Igbo people in the nation’s present political configuration, lamenting that unless the people came together to take their destiny in their hands, the future looked very bleak.
The leaders who spoke at the Anniversary lecture of Alaigbo Development Foundation, a Corporate body comprising eminent scholars, elders, public figures, clergy, youth and women committed to the rebuilding and development of the zone and the rebirth and advancement of the spirit of her culture and civilisation, delivered by the Arch Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Owerri, Dr. Anthony Obinna, entitled “Religion and Culture in the modern Igbo context: the Chukw-Kriti Dynamic”.
Among the notable leaders who lamented the fate of Ndigbo in the present administration led by President Muhammadu Buhari included former governor of Anambra state, Peter Obi, Secretary General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Dr. Joe Nworgu and the organisation’s former President-General, Dozie Ikedife, Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, the ADC to late Ikemba Odumegwu Ojukwu, Bishop Obi Onubuogu, Archbishops of Catholic, Anglican and Methodist Churches and other traditional rulers.
They expressed dismay that the present administration had relegated the Igbos to the backgroud, noting that in the present arrangement, the people of the zone had been shut out from the nation’s security apparatus especially in the military and paramilitary, a development they insisted portends great danger for the people.
The Archbishop of the Enugu Ecclesiastical Province of the Anglican Communion, Most Rev. Emmanuel Chukwuma said Igbos had completely lost out insisting that urgent steps should be taken to address the anomaly.
On his part, former governor, Obi urged both religious and traditional leaders to come together and find a lasting solution to the myriads of problems confronting the people of South-East zone.
“When I was in office, it wasn’t easy to bring even the governors of the south-east together for our parleys but we achieved it, and for two years since we left, they’ve not been able to come together. Our religious and traditional leaders should come together and proffer solutions to this problem.
“Another problem we have is the fact that our means of engagement is very low. The quality of our politicians is very low and as such they can’t proffer solutions.
For instance, in the senate, we need quality people there. Today, we have very important committees in the senate. Rabiu Kwankwaso, former governor of Kano is heading Planning, Danjuma Goje, former governor of Gombe is heading Appropriation and Wammako, former governor of Sokoto is heading Education. Can you beat that.
“I’m not just talking about political leaders. Our means of engagement is very low. For instance, is Prof Wole Soyinka an elected person but when he speaks, everybody listens. We have such people here but they have refused to be part of the engagement. Igbos need to work together, I’m urging the church to intervene and bring us together. If we have our best in everything we do, it will augur well for us. For me, governance is about service, when I hear people saying different things at the same time, I simply shudder, I passed through the process and we were able to achieve a lot.
“Our means of engagement is very low, not just those elected, even the followers. We have to come out with the voices of quality. We must up our game,” he noted.
On the Fulani herdsmen/farmers debacle, Obi kicked against the establishment of grazing reserves insisting that owners of cattle ought to establish ranches since it remained private businesses.
“People should build their own ranches and stop invading people’s farms, it’s their personal businesses. We don’t even have the land here let alone the one we will give free as grazing reserves,” he noted.
Earlier, the President of the Foundation, Prof Uzodinma Nwala said the mandate of ADF was to provide Research and Planning Support-base including Data Bank for the overall Economic and Social Development of Igbo land, noting that already the foundation is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) and has global membership spread in the continents of Africa, Europe and America.
He said the foundation remained committed to promoting the deepest level of peaceful co-existence and corporation of Ndigbo with their neighbours both in Nigeria and throughout the African continent and indeed throughout the rest of the civilised world.
Other speakers including the chairman of the Enugu State Council of Traditional Rulers, Ambassador L.O.C. Agubuzu, Ohuabunwa, Methodist Archbishop of Enugu, Most Rev. Chris Ede and Onubuogu stressed the need for togetherness in Igbo land notung that the people of the area had great potentials to turn around their situation for the better.