Emma Chidi Ofoegbu commends the fence-mending style of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State in his novel approach to the welfare of Igbos in the state
Ohanaeze as a socio-cultural organization of the Igbos worldwide, stands as the biggest umbrella right from its inception as Igbo State Union, that protects the Igbo interests in diverse contexts.
In 1935, when Sir Francis Akanu-Ibiam, the first Igbo medical doctor, returned from Europe after his studies, He and a few energetic Igbo leaders initiated the effort to form a union that could bring all Igbos together, through the representative of villages and clans in the city of Lagos. A Pan-Igbo movement with the aim of advancing the cause of the people, especially in the field of education. The Igbo union was doing very well, giving scholarships to indigent students and helping members in their business interests.
At the inaugural meeting of the Igbo union in 1936, the leader of the movement stated: “Brethren, this is the day and the hour when the Igbo of Nigeria should come together and sink all differences – geographical, lingual, intellectual, moral and religious – and unite under the banner of our great objectives, which are unity, cooperation and progress of all Igbos”.
When Chief Solomon Ogbonna Aguene indicated interest to lead the Igbos in Lagos State under the platform of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, some of us who are close to him, and have done one or two things with him in business and educational circles, came out convincingly to campaign for him. At one of the meetings we held at the time, one “Onye Eze” in one of the local governments in Lagos State told me he thought I was Solomon Ogbonna’s Campaign Manager. I was not, but was so strategic in my campaign activities that will make one to think I was even the one contesting the leadership position, based on my experience as a former Ohanaeze Alimosho Local Government Area Chairman; and Lagos State Ohanaeze Chairmen Forum Secretary, among other responsibilities as a member and secretary of executive in Ohanaeze Lagos state.
I was doing that because having known him and had contacts and interactions with him, I saw in him a man that is humble, peaceful, considerate, has a lot of love in his heart, and willing to assist anyone he came in contact with, to move out of despondency into a better life. I saw in him natural intelligence, I observed in him ability to critically analyse issues in contexts that demonstrate he knew what he is talking about; bringing into perspectives his experiences- native , local and international, and vision of the future, and how to get there. I saw in him a good natured man, an interesting personality and one, somebody can joyfully work with; yes, a man that is willing to listen to advice and ready to correct himself. A man that is so appreciative and thankful for anything you do for him. A man anyone who understands what leadership is, can easily identify as a great leader and astute manager of men and their psychologies. A man of peace and love. Let it not, when his history will be read by generations and after his tenure, be mentioned or said that an Igbo man or woman was expelled from Ohanaeze during his time as President of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Lagos State. His disagreement with Chief John Uche, Ohanaeze Lagos State first President, is an issue that does not require much time to settle and this article serves to announce that the issue has been resolved peacefully. We had a similar case after the election that threw up Barrister Fabian Onwughalu. At the chairmen forum, I was the one who initiated the idea of post election conflict resolution committee to look into all the grievances that wanted to tear Ohanaeze Lagos State apart. The chairmen accepted my proposal and appointed me secretary of the committee. We did a great work and all court cases were withdrawn. We did not recommend that anybody should be expelled. That statement is not the voice of Chief Solomon Ogbonna Aguene and will forever not be.
His relationship with the Lagos State Government under the leadership of Babajide Sanwo-Olu is not a mistake in every consideration.
The current Lagos State Governor, in the person of His Excellency Babajide, Sanwo-Olu seems to have undergone a tutorial on Igbo psychology, to understand that the Igbos in Lagos State should be respected and treated like stakeholders not strollers. A clear departure from the era of political blackmail, intimidation, arrogance and false claims in South-west ,particularly by members of APC in Lagos state; who thought they can intimidate the Igbos through sponsoring attacks against them, their shops, their properties, and propaganda that creates a situations where Igbos see them as continuing the Nigeria- Biafra war in Lagos State during elections, and as such do not have any other choice than to oppose them and defeat them at their various polling units, and be ready to fight back in the markets, at the bus stops and at polling units during elections. And hiring one or two Igbo sons, who Igbos do not recognize as leaders, to abuse us.
Because of this approach by the Governor and his relationship with the Ohanaeze president, his concern for the welfare of the Igbos particularly the widows in Lagos State, and his listening ear, those of us who worked in the past and have the ability to deliver our polling units, wards, and constituencies to PDP, will now transfer this political power, to support Babajide Sanwo-Olu APC platform ;and support everything he is doing in Lagos State – politically, socially and economically. We shall go back to tell those our members, that recognized us as their leaders, to vote for APC government under Babajide Sanwo-Olu. We will tell them we have found another friend in him ‘ and have accepted him as one of us. We will tell them the Governor has worked to become “Nwanne di na Mba” (A brother in Diaspora). We will tell them we have seen a man who has demonstrated through his numerous supports for the Igbos in Lagos state, that, he is respectful ,reliable, have high regards and consideration for the Igbos; and treat Igbos as friends and good neighbours not weeds.
The current Lagos State Governor, in the person of His Excellency Babajide, Sanwo-Olu seems to have undergone a tutorial on Igbo psychology, to understand that the Igbos in Lagos State should be respected and treated like stakeholders not strollers. A clear departure from the era of political blackmail, intimidation, arrogance and false claims in South-west ,particularly by members of APC in Lagos state; who thought they can intimidate the Igbos through sponsoring attacks against them, their shops, their properties, and propaganda that creates a situations where Igbos see them as continuing the Nigeria- Biafra war in Lagos State during elections, and as such do not have any other choice than to oppose them and defeat them at their various polling units, and be ready to fight back in the markets, at the bus stops and at polling units during elections