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‘All Igbos Are Under me’ – Ohanaeze Ndigbo Leader, Nnia Nwodo runs his mouth

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By Chief Solomon Ogbonna

Ohanaeze (the people and their leaders) is marching on, as we work to occupy our pride of place in Nigeria. OHANAEZE NDIGBO LAGOS STATE is a unit of the larger family, OHANAEZE NDIGBO WORLDWIDE. Ohanaeze Ndigbo is an apex Igbo socio-cultural group in Nigeria. The group represents all Igbo communities within and outside Nigeria.

Although the group is not a political party, part of its objectives of creation is to foster unity among its members in order to better allow them to be representative within the political scenario of Nigeria.

After the Nigerian civil war, some prominent Igbos including late Dr. Akanu Ibiam gathered to proclaim the need to unify Igbos under a common umbrella body. This initiative was much welcomed considering maximum displacement of ndeigbos during the war and its aftermath. An organizational assembly was created, referred to as the Igbo National Assembly (INA).


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This organization was later banned by the Federal Military Government at the time, probably due to the Government’s fear of a grand suspicious agenda being cultivated by Ndlgbo via the organization; hence, the creation of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, in 1976.

Two eminent Igbo sons Dr Akanu Ibiam and Chief Jerome Udoji were the President-General and Secretary General respectively at inception. Today, the President General of the organization is another eminent Igbo son, Chief Nnia Nwodo.

Lagos State hosts the largest number of Ndigbo outside Igbo land. Lagos is the centre of commerce in Nigeria and Ndigbo controls the commerce in Lagos. Though we are not in control of the industrial sector, the financial institutions (banks, insurance and stock trading/stock exchange), but we control the major market places in Lagos, the drivers of the commerce.

I make bold to say that majority of Ndigbo traders in Lagos would not subscribe to anything that could disrupt the fluency of life and commerce in Lagos in particular and Nigeria in general, as our customers stretch across all nooks and crannies of Nigeria.


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Though, there are many Igbo social clubs, trade unions, town unions and business organisations in Lagos State, but the umbrella organisation is OHANAEZE NDIGBO. So, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has the onerous task of overseeing the wellbeing of Ndigbo in Lagos. It therefore, means that all other Igbo unions are under the watch of Ohanaeze Ndigbo which supports, guides and ensure ethical conducts of Ndigbo; as well as ensuring harmonious relationship with people of other tribes and nationalities in Lagos.


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Every Igbo person, no matter his/her social leaning and association belongs to Ohanaeze Ndigbo. In our respective towns in Igbo land, there are social clubs, age grade unions, village unions and other associations, but the town union is the umbrella organisation for all people of the town. So, all associations and unions in the town are subsets of the town union.

In turn, the town union is a subset of Ohanaeze Ndigbo. Same is applicable to the relationship between all Igbo unions and Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Lagos State. All Igbo social clubs, unions and associations in Lagos state are subsets of Ohanaeze Ndigbo. It therefore behoves all Igbos in Lagos to pledge allegiance and show commitment to Ohanaeze Ndigbo. On same vein, all Igbos across the globe should pay allegiance and show commitment to Ohanaeze Ndigbo.


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All Igbos in Lagos owe allegiance to Ohanaeze Ndigbo and its leadership; while the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos State owe allegiance to President General, Chief Nnia Nwodo and the Igbo council of elders in Lagos State. The same applies to every Ohanaeze Ndigbo leadership anywhere in the world— their allegiance is to the President General and the Igbo council of elders in their respective localities.

It is important to note that wherever Ndigbo found themselves, they tried to acculturate and excel. They were not afraid to mix, to intermarry, to learn the local language and secure a comfortable life. For those given to cynicism, this can-do spirit was more of a domineering trait, a desire to takeover and control their hosts. This might be responsible for the anti-Igbo sentiments that gained traction over decades.

It is the duty of Ohanaeze Ndigbo to dispel such feelings among the people of other tribes, especially indigenes of our host communities across the country. Here in Lagos, we are doing everything possible to build good relationship with the people and government of Lagos State.


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The first step in building good relations with the people and government of Lagos state was our courtesy visit to the Oba of Lagos. Members of my executive were accompanied on that visit by Ebitu Ukiwe (former second in command to Military Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida) and Prof. George Obiozor (former Nigerian Ambassador to USA, Cyprus and Israel).

The visit was to resolve all issues and grievances generated during the 2015 general election. The visit enhanced the relationship between the traditional institution of Lagos state, the indigenes of Lagos and Ndigbo. Another step is the support of Ohanaeze Ndigbo executives to the incoming administration of Sanwo-Olu/Hamzat. Good enough, Ndigbo in Lagos has abandoned the politics of sentiment and emotion to join Ohanaeze Ndigbo executives in supporting the APC administration in Lagos.


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The turnaround was informed by the good quality leadership envisaged from Sanwo-Olu/Hamzat administration as they pledge to run an inclusive government and ensure the safety and security of all Lagosians including Ndigbo.

Sanwo-Olu is a credible leader who promises to uplift the downtrodden masses of Lagos state including Ndigbo. We are confident he will keep his words and accommodate Ndigbo in his administration, thereby giving us the needed sense of belonging. I hereby call on all Igbos in Lagos to support the Sanwo-olu/Hamzat administration, so we can derive maximum benefit from our host community as we partake in the dividends of democracy.

Another step we are taking to ensure cordial relationship between Ndigbo and people of all other tribes in Lagos is the interface with other community leaders including traditional rulers in Lagos and South West. On that note, we recently paid a courtesy visit to the Ooni of Ife.


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These moves have been yielding positive results, as these rulers accord due recognition to Eze Ndigbos in their respective localities. Once again, I call on all Igbos in Lagos to identify with the laudable measures by Ohanaeze Ndigbo executive to ensure peaceful co-existence with people of other tribes and nationalities.

The present executive of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Lagos State led by my humble self was inaugurated in June 2018; and we are working hard to fulfil all our campaign promises including the establishment of a functional and identifiable secretariat; empowering of youths, widows and women; and forging unity among all Igbos in Lagos.

The success story was heralded by the acquiring of functional secretariat for the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos State. This is the first time; Ohanaeze Ndigbo operates from a designated and structured secretariat in over twenty five years existence in Lagos state. The implication is that all Igbos resident or visiting Lagos state can reach Ohanaeze officials through the secretariat. Furthermore, record of the organisation’s programs and activities are readily available through the secretariat. All Ohanaeze meetings hold at the secretariat and no more at make-shift arrangements like hotel rooms or halls.


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The first step in building unity among Ndigbo in Lagos was by pledging allegiance to the council of elders in a meeting held at Ndubuisi Kanu’s house. The next step was to settle the over twenty one year quarrel among Eze Ndigbos in Lagos State; with one of them emerging as the overall Eze Ndigbo Lagos State (Eze Gburugburu— Goddy Ohazulike —Mpume),another as the chairman of council of Ezes Lagos State (C. O. Nwachukwu— Eze Igbo, Isolo) and his deputy (Eze Eneh— Eze Igbo, Ojo).

It is pertinent to note that Ohanaeze Ndigbo, just like many other Igbo socio-cultural organisations, played a crucial role in the creation of the title of Eze Ndigbo outside Igboland. The title has served us effectively as a rallying point in towns and cities outside Igboland. It has helped us in preserving and projecting our culture also.

Our empowerment programs for widows, youths and women are very much on course. We need the cooperation of Ndigbo to achieve the laudable goals and earn our deserved place in Lagos state in particular and Nigeria in general.

At the moment, our secretariat is housed in a rented apartment, but our target is to acquire and construct a permanent seven-storey structure at a strategic location in Lagos. The seven floors represent the seven Igbo States of Abia, Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Rivers.

The condition of Ndigbo today is one in which they are not at ease at home and barely tolerated abroad. Onyeigbo cannot move around anywhere in Nigeria today without “looking behind him,” that is without being extremely cautious. It is a terrible state to be in, at the horns of dilemma, you might say. It is a sign of decadence when a people can no longer plan together and act coherently. This is wrong. Non-conformity to group interest has bred the pull him down syndrome, what some see as a self-destruct impulse, in Igbo engagements. It is most evident among some Igbo elites.


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Ndigbo are quite a boastful breed. Outsiders have accused us of arrogance and pride. These have put us in trouble in Nigeria in some occasions. Igbos are ideologically speaking republican oriented, they allow themselves to be led and governed by elders and village heads; but recent findings based chiefly on lived experiences of the modern Igbo mainstream society tend to suggest that some Igbos are notorious for castigating, insulting, assaulting, disrespecting, dishonouring and blackmailing their elders, their opinion leaders including Ohanaeze Ndigbo executives, their religious leaders, their village heads, their titled men and women and their traditional leaders. The modern Igbo man (talking of some Igbos) prides himself as a know-it-all, I-too-know and imposing type of person. He tends to verbally, psychologically and physically bully others. He readily asks anybody who tries to lead or direct him if he feeds him nay if he is his bread winner ( In’enye m nri?) Hence one readily hears such impolite and arrogant parlance: who are you(onyek’Ibu)?.

Igbos should learn to respect their elders and leaders, no matter how foolish you think those elders and leaders are. Leaders at all time are ordained by God who creates all mankind. So, whenever a leader emerges, there is God hand in it; and He chooses the leader for a purpose. It is God who gives long life, so we must respect our elders and appreciate the gift of life given to them by God. In respecting our elders, we are automatically praying for long life.

Robert Mugabe said to Tony Blair, “keep your Great Britain and allow me to keep my little Zimbabwe.” On same vein, I say to my Know-it-all brother, keep your high profile knowledge and allow me with my common sense and native intelligent. We have to apply the common sense to achieve our set goals in Lagos state.

Ohaneze Ndigbo will continue to be at the vanguard in charting courses that impel the rapid progress of our people, in the cultivation of progressive initiatives and ideas, in articulating, disseminating and promoting Igbo interests at all levels. Our effort is constitutive and inclusive, bringing together mutually re-enforcing connections and means relevant to our objectives. We are integrative in our approach and perform this role like other major ethno-based groups in the Nigerian federation.

God Bless Ndigbo. God Bless Lagos State. God Bless Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Chief Solomon Ogbonna (Udo Chia) is (President, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos State)


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