Newly-elected President General of pan-Igbo sociocultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof. George Obiozor, has declared that Ndigbo was not at war with Nigeria. Obiozor, a former Nigeria’s Ambassador to the United States, stated that Ndigbo has nothing pending before any institutional authority either in Nigeria or internationally that demands a separate existence from Nigeria.
“The Igbo nation is not at war with the rest of the country and there is nothing that demands our separate existence from Nigeria,” he said. He cautioned the leader of pro-Biafra group, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Nnamdi Kanu, to listen to voice of reason and avoid all actions or utterances that will put Ndigbo in “present and imminent danger or harm’s way.”
Obiozor spoke yesterday while addressing his maiden press conference in Enugu after the Ohanaeze election on January 10 that produced him and other executive members. The Ohanaeze president told Kanu that Ndigbo are builders and not nation destroyers.
“Nnamdi Kanu is one of us and he must listen to some of us for several reasons. The fact and reality are that the issues of Biafra are above and beyond his capacity to decide. “He must listen because he is one of us and we are all in this dilemma together. And our mutual and collective responsibilities are sacred and must be respected.
“We must also under stand what Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu meant by ‘the bones shall rise.’ He didn’t mean conflict, violence and war. Definitely, the bones have arisen, reincarnated or resurrected, but in Ojukwu’s idea, the mission is creative and constructive. Ndigbo are builders and not nation wreckers/destroyers,” he counselled.
While outlining the goal and mission of Ohanaeze Ndigbo under his leadership in the next four years, Obiozor, a former Director General of Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), said that Ndigbo would continue to place high premium on security, restructuring of Nigeria, economic development of the zone and excellence in education. He said that the irreducible minimum demand of Ndigbo in Nigeria today are justice, equity and fairness, stressing that “that was exactly what we wish to achieve by restructuring the Nigeria’s political system, by bringing governance to a level playing field to all its citizens.”
Obiozor stated that his desire to contest the position of President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo was not based on self-aggrandizement, personal ambition or self-promotion, noting that since he had outgrown those, his compelling reasons were critical service at one of the most critical times in Nigerian history with dire consequences, particularly for Ndigbo as a national entity. “Generally, not only has governance become both difficult and complex in Nigeria, but downright an existential threat to Ndigbo in particular.
“The Igbo dilemma in Nigeria has finally come home at last and we must take critical, even delicate decisions and those problems need pragmatic solutions and quickly too. And the time requires careful and delicate skilled manager in the relationships between Ndigbo among themselves and other Nigerian nationalities, especially the national power elites,” he said. Obiozor, who thanked all the five South-Eastern governors, well-meaning Igbo sons and daughters as well as Ndigbo in Delta and Rivers states for their support towards his emergence as president general, extended his hands of fellowship to every Igbo in Nigeria and in the Diaspora, as well as those who contested the election with him, saying there is need for collective action and thoughts by Ndigbo to succeed.
He said the security of Ndigbo in Nigeria and beyond as exemplified in Ghana and South Africa, has become a compelling primary responsibility and of serious concern for Ndigbo, as they have become the most vulnerable and victims of violence throughout Nigeria.
“Principally, the goal of this administration is aggregating our individual success into common action that will lead to a collective success. Nothing unites a people more quickly than prospects for success and with a well-known Igbo spirit, this seemingly difficult task can be done. “Our position should therefore begin with efforts to re-integrate Ndigbo into Nigerian political process effectively, significantly and relevantly.
“This requires a serious diplomacy and not confrontation or conflicts. Diplomacy’s great asset is to teach how to make your enemy your friend for specific objective. In fact, in politics and diplomacy, it is the identity of interests that are the surest of bonds between state and individuals in critical circumstances and moments as we are now.
“Nigeria needs re-alignment, restructuring, renegotiation, decentralization or devolution of powers, choose the one you like. It must be done to save Nigeria and we are ready to navigate the Igbo destiny through this precarious time of uncertainty, doubt and general insecurity,” Obiozor, who was surrounded by other members of the National Executive Committee of Ohanaeze, declared.