Mainstreaming the Lower Niger Movement: Ohanaeze PG Confers with US Igbo Diaspora in Chicago on Self-determination & Restructuring
The President General of Ohanaeze Ndiigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, led his top executive officers to a deliberative meeting sponsored by One Hundred Igbos Organization (OHIO) and coordinated by Americas’ Diaspora Igbo (ADI) Organizing Committee on May 11-14, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Conveners’ primary interest was to delineate the ways and means of making the Igbo apex sociocultural organization more accessible by many Igbocentric associations that wish to closely interface with the Ohanaeze goals and operational agenda. Equally of concern was deriving robust funding channels to empower the apex group enough to assure its nonpartisanship, irrespective of who is the helm of Ohanaeze at any point in time.
President of 100 Igbos USA, Inc, Mazi Jideofor “Jay” Orji (Ugwuaro), kicked off the session by stating his “firm conviction that if the current leadership of Alaigbo, guided by Ohanaeze, can find a viable answer for this question of constitutional model (for today’s Nigeria), it would have addressed this most debilitating factor against the development and peace of Igboland”.
Continuing, he posited that “the least the Igbo Leadership can do now is to, on the one hand, bridge the gap of trust between the older Igbo generation cum leadership and the restive younger generation, and on the other hand, to propose a settlement plan to the central government to address intractable and rapidly expanding Biafra imbroglio”.
Mazi Oji concluded that the “gap can be bridged and the settlement plan can be offered, if the Igbo leadership collective makes a demand today that the Igbo question in Nigeria, 50 years after the 1967 escalation that became War, and now framed as “Biafra Agitation” by a younger Igbo generation, be referred to a general Referendum of the people since it is basically an issue of Self-determination which the global community settles by the mechanism of referendum in our 21st Century”.
The deliberations broached elicited popular support for engendering a robust movement towards the aggregation of all the Self-determination initiatives in Eastern Nigeria, into one Referendum Campaign. If a demand is made soon by the Igbo leadership, such as the Ohanaeze by referring the Igbo question to a Referendum at this time, it will dovetail into the much-needed regional consensus which will force a fair resolution of the issues of equitable mutual coexistence for Ndiigbo within Nigeria or outside of it. That movement already has a formal presence here in the United States. Leadership of 100 Igbos USA, Inc, individually and collectively, expressed their preference and support of the Lower Niger Congress (LNC) model as the flagship platform for that aggregation. LNC-USA is the arm of the Lower Niger Movement in-charge of coordinating its US Diaspora operations.
During his address to the Chicago gathering, Chief Nnia Nwodo, started by commending 100 Igbos USA, Inc., in conjunction with Americas Diaspora Igbos (ADI) Organizing Committee, for putting together a meeting of US Diaspora Igbo targeted essentially to discuss Ohaneze Ndiigbo and how they can make contributions, intellectually and materially, towards making the Igbo apex group a more effective organization in fulfilling its onerous duty of championing the Igbo cause. Accompanying the Ohaneze PG to the Chicago meeting were Dr. Sylvanus Ebigwei, National Vice President (Delta) and Dr. Peter Chukwu, State President of Ohaneze (Imo).
“Our generation has very difficult and sacred duties to bear on behalf of the Igbo people. Our duties will include restoring dignity of our people, securing for them a more respectable place in the comity of nations, maximizing our God-given potentials by economically transforming our native land and restoring pride and usage in Igbo language”, said the Ohanaeze PG. Declaring that his leadership team in the Ohanaeze is ready to serve, Chief Nwodo said, “with all humility, I offer myself to be used by all Igbos in this arduous task. I come with a firm belief that this meeting will provide a solid foundation for the work we are all about to embark on”, remarked the Ohanaeze boss.
Chief Nwodo encapsulated the current dilemma of the contemporary Igbo thus:- “Both organizations (MASSOB and IPOB), no matter how divided they appear in public, are basically motivated by the same sense of outrage and bitterness (against the unacceptable status quo). Our young men and women can no longer tolerate a second-class status in their own country. They can no longer forgive the President (Buhari) for arguing before he came into office that Niger Delta militants were meekly treated and tolerated by President Yar’Adua while Boko Haram was harshly treated by President Jonathan whenever his law enforcement agents literally open fire, maim and kill MASSOB and IPOB members. They see how returnee Boko Haram members are absolved and rehabilitated while leaders of MASSOB and IPOB are incarcerated or mercilessly murdered. In their rage, they are becoming uncontrollable as they pass a vote of no confidence on us, their parents, describing us as cowards and compromised. Because the older Igbos have seen civil war and its devastating consequences, they naturally hesitate to support any military action against the Nigerian state that might waste their children. Because the Igbo elite business class is heavily invested in Nigeria outside Igboland, they fervently believe in a united Nigeria, even if marginalized politically”.
The preceding led the Ohanaeze boss to surmise that “a polarization of Igbos between proponents of Biafra and proponents of Restructuring of Nigeria exists. Both sides agonize in futility given the lukewarmness of the Nigerian leadership to either of their wishes. This is a thickening time bomb!!”.
In conclusion, Chief Nwodo vows that “as President General of Ohaneze, I intend to extend my warm hand of paternity to IPOB and MASSOB. They are my children. I shall never desert them. Their struggle is my struggle even if we do not completely agree with their methods. In warfare, there are two types of approaches – coercion and diplomacy. I completely favour diplomacy. The hand of fellowship which Mr. President (Buhari) has extended to Ohaneze gives me immense confidence that we can tame the rising tempers”.
Present at the plenary session of the Chicago meeting are Dr. Ejike Obasi, Vice President, 100 Igbos USA, Inc. The following are members of the Americas Diaspora Igbo (ADI) Organizing Committee:
Chief Ted Obialo, Dallas, Texas)
Mazi Jideofor “Jay” Oji, (Dallas, Texas)
Dr. Martin Nwankwo (Detroit, Michigan)
Dr. Nwachukwu Anakwenze (Los Angeles, CA)
Dr. Eddy Agbo (Washington D.C.)
Dr. Ejikeme Obasi (Chicago, Illinois)
Clifford Iroanya, the head of the Biafra-agitation wing of IPOB which have since embraced and boarded the Lower Niger Referendum train. Paschal C. Ukpabi, Esq., a Detroit-based legal practitioner, is the Executive Director of Lower Niger Congress – USA, Inc. (LNC-USA).