Emmanuel Ugwu in Umuahia
The President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo, yesterday said the restoration of Biafra was not an Igbo agenda, insisting that restructuring of the polity remains the position of Ndigbo in the ongoing debate about the future of Nigeria.
He made this known in Umuahia in his address at the third inauguration of the state and local government executives of the Abia State chapter of Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
The position of Ohanaeze as expressed by Nwodo is at variance with the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) which is campaigning for the restoration of Biafra through a referendum for self determination.
But the Ohanaeze leader said restoration of Biafra was a tall order given the constitutional roadblocks and would not be in the overall interest of the Igbo in their socio- economic and political relationships with other Nigerians.
“We should forget Biafra and insist on restructuring,” he said, adding that there is no Igbo that is happy with the situation of things in Nigeria but “we must seek for peaceful ways of resolving the issues.”
He said while the youths were justified in expressing their anger at the way Ndigbo were being marginalised in national affairs they should moderate their actions and words, adding that hate speeches would not resolve any problem.
The Ohanaeze leader stated that in their engagement with the leader of IPOB, Nnamdi Kanu, it was impressed on him that he and his members should tone down their words and desist from denigrating people and groups.
He also said Kanu was told that his insistence on Biafra restoration and boycott of the November 18 election in Anambra State were not acceptable to Ndigbo hence he should abandon his rigid position and join in the quest for restructuring.
Nwodo justified the proscription of IPOB activities by the South-east Governors’ Forum, explaining that what the state chief executives did was stop IPOB from engaging in its public activities that were fatal clashes with security agencies.
According to him, without the action taken by the governors of the Southeast the zone would still be engulfed in bloodshed, adding that he would not sit by and allow the youths of Igbo land to be cut down prematurely.
Abia State Governor, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, said Nigeria and the world at large was passing through perilous times hence the need to seek for amicable ways to resolve crises.
“We believe in justice, equity and fairness. I believe in live and let live,” he said, adding that nobody delights in being oppressed.
He advised Igbo youths to learn to respect leaders and listen to advice of elders instead of embarking on agitations to express their frustrations.
Ikpeazu said henceforth youths and any Igbo person or group that has grievances should complain to Ohanaeze which is in a position to take the matter up with the appropriate authorities.
Earlier in his address, the Abia State President of Ohanaeze, Mr. Chimaobim Ajuzieogu, said the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation would “no longer sit on the fence; neither shall we continue to observe as spectators in the affairs that affect us.”
He pledged the new leadership of Ohanaeze in Abia State would strive hard to restore the value system of Ndigbo through massive media campaigns, adding that Nwodo should be commended for the “revivalist strategy” he has adopted.
Elder statesman, Emmanuel Adaelu, who was the chairman of the occasion, called for unity among Ndigbo, saying that the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo should be recognised as the voice of the Igbo and no group should try to usurp that authority.