By ONYEKACHI JET
As the Igbo nation holds the 2014 Igbo Day celebrations, the Chaiman, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Lagos, Mr. Fabian Onwughalu, has disclosed that the successes achieved by the Igbo nations after emerging from Nigeria/Biafra civil war forms the focal point for this year’s celebration.
As the nation, which forms the Southeastern part of Nigeria celebrates, she will be inviting the world to come see what has become of a nation that emerged from the harsh realities of a civil war where the people were brutalised and left with paltry twenty pounds per person, irrespective of what they had in their bank accounts. Again, as the people converge on September 29 to celebrate, they will take stock of how they have fared among the committee of nations that make up Nigeria.
Ohaneze helmsman in Lagos made these disclosures during the group’s recent visit to The Sun corporate headquarters in Lagos. The visit was a sympathy visit to condole with the newspaper house over the death of its Vice Chairman, Pastor Dimgba Igwe. A hit-and-run driver had killed Igwe, who was former Deputy Managing Director (DMD) of The Sun, on September 6, 2014, while he was jogging.
Apart from the condolence visit Onwughalu said: “We are here to inform you that the Igbo nation wants to celebrate. We want to celebrate our continued existence in Nigeria as a nation. We want to celebrate and we want to thank God for keeping us together, for sustaining the Igbo nation after the civil war. We want to thank God that, a nation that was marked out for extinction is still surviving and going higher.”
“We want to thank God that a nation that her citizens were given N20 (pounds) after the war is able to do wonders with that 20 pounds. So, we are thanking God for our lives and the life of our nation. The celebration is coming up on September 29, 2014.”
Describing the annual feast, as a unique celebration in the history of the Igbo nation, he disclosed that on the slated day, it is expected that all the markets across the country will be shut down to enable all Igbo celebrate our nationhood.
“September 29 is unique in the life on the Igbo man. On that day, all the markets in Lagos, in Igboland and everywhere else will be shut down for us to celebrate our nation. We’re also urging all the offices, owned and manned by Igbo people to shut down and come to the national stadium.
“So, it is our intention and the desire that all Igbo should close their shops on September 29 so as to celebrate their nation, to celebrate their existence in Nigeria because we are a tribe, a nation that was marked out for extinction during the civil war. But, by the grace of God, we survived. And even after the civil war, we were given paltry 20 pounds to start life. And all our money, all millionaires, all billionaires, their money was rendered useless. And everybody started with 20 pounds. And today, we can see what 20 pounds has done in our lives. That is part of what we’re celebrating.
“We’re also celebrating our sons and daughters who have excelled in their various fields of endeavour, who have done our nation proud? Not only the Igbo nation, but Nigeria. We will be celebrating them.”
Speaking on activities of programme, he hinted that a special highlight is a public lecture slated for Friday, September 26. The lecture, he said, was designed to X-ray programmes of President Goodluck Jonathan and how it impacts on the Igbo people.
Onwughalu speaks. “We’re going to have a public lecture that will come up on Friday, September 26, at the Nigeria Institute of International Affairs, in Victoria Island, Lagos. The theme of the public lecture is the impact of the transformation agenda on the life of Ndigbo. The other part of the agenda that do not favour us, we will also, criticise them. We are going to have a full critic of the transformation agenda.
“We know that we have fared better in the administration of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan than in previous administrations. We know that he has really done much for the Igbo nation. But, we feel that we have not really got our fair share. It is not an issue of the Igbo nation being an Oliver Twist. But, it is an issue of equity and justice. We know that in any competition or in any arrangement, the Igbo nation does not come last. But in the scheme of Federal Government investments in all the geo-political zones, the Southeast is almost last.”
However, the Ohaneze state chairman noted that since after the end of the Biafran war, only the Jonathan administration has made conscious effort to the Igbo lacerated by the civil war. For this, he submitted that the Igbo show immense gratitude to Mr. President.”
Nonetheless, he stated that the Igbo nation was full of more expectations. “These are some of the things we’re going to look at. We’re also going to thank Mr. President for expediting action and completing the Onitsha – Owerri Road, which had always been a point of politicking by previous administrations.
“We will thank him too because he is really trying to implement the three ‘Rs’ that is usually applied after every war that is, Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Reintegration. We will thank Mr. President. At least, in the area of reconstruction, he has done much. But, still, much needs to be done.”
Still enumerating Jonathan’s good deeds for the Igbo, he was emphatic that people of the Southeast do not welcome the construction of the second Niger Bridge under Public Private Partnership (PPP).
He continues: “He has upgraded the Enugu airport into an international airport. That is done to help our people, who are mostly traders, who travel round the globe to have access to nearby airports. So, we’re grateful for that. We also, thank Mr. President for flagging off the second Niger Bridge which has also, been a point of politicking in the past.
“But, we will let him know that using the project to undertake an experiment on the PPP is not desirable. We are not really comfortable with that because we know that there is no bridge in Nigeria that was constructed by Federal Government on PPP. And our people say what you cannot see in t the adult goat, if you see it in the infant goat, it is an abomination.
“So, we want him to have a rethink on whether the Federal Government can sponsor the project instead of undertaking it on PPP. We will thank him for the Ala Oji Power Plant. We will also, urge him to ensure more federal government investment in the zone.”
He provided more hints on the public lecture. “The guest lecturer is Dr. Chulkwuemeka Ezeife, former governor of Anambra State. We also expect Governor T. A. Orji of Abia State. We’re expecting Mr. President also to be there. We have invited him and he has indicated his interest to be there and we’re going to have a roundtable conference, dialogue within our leader; dialogue with the leader and President of Nigeria on the way forward; on how we can get our fair share. We’re not asking for what is more that our share.
“We will also honour our sons and daughters, who have actually done much for the Igbo nation and Nigeria, who have excelled in their various fields of human endeavours; who have used their skills and talents to touch lives; who have used what God endowed them with to enhance the economy of the nation. We will honour them.
“One of our sons that we are going to honour is a traffic warden, a police traffic warden that finds joy in his job. The police traffic warden that is a point of reference; a police traffic warden that everyone acclaims, as the best traffic warden in Nigeria. He happens to be an Igbo man. The contributions he is making to the society, he is lifting the Igbo nation high. And so many other people. We’re not only just going to honour the big men. we want to use that opportunity to appreciate some of the newspaper houses, especially, the Daily Sun, which we know is our own daily newspaper.
The sun Publishing Limited is on the list of persons and organisations that will be honoured at the event. Whether anybody believes it or not, the Daily Sun is our own. Yes, we hold it tenaciously to our hearts. And no day passes without Igbo people, reading Daily Sun in their various offices,” adding that the day holds a lot in stock for the people of the zone.
By ONYEKACHI JET