It is not true that the Chairman Ohaneze Ndigbo Council of Elders, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, referred to the Yoruba as political rascals.
But a group, styling itself as the Tinubu/Southwest Media Veterans Support Group, differs.
In a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Femi Odere, it quotes Iwuanyanwu as saying, “I want our people in Lagos to know that on Wednesday, I called a meeting of the Ohaneze Council of Elders worldwide and we x-rayed the events in Lagos…We have resolved that never, never again can we allow anybody to take the life of an innocent Igbo person. All of us are going to fight the person. Never again. We are going to fight the person.”
“We are in Nigeria. And we have invested in Nigeria. Our investments are so much. We are not going to take the pressure of people telling us to go. We are not going anywhere. And I want to tell those in Lagos to realize that there’s no war between us and Yorubas. Yorubas are just political rascals. And we’re going to handle them.”
But in a statement, Dr. Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, the National Publicity Secretary, Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide, said, “This is a typical falsehood, fabricated by social media entrepreneurs, decorated with wings, expanded with venoms, injected with ethnic nuances, and propelled to fly to various corners, fronts, and heights in order to create inter-ethnic mistrust between the age-long partners in the social, cultural, religious and economic development of Nigeria. Indeed it is a lie from the pit of hell.
“Speaking in Awka, Anambra State on Saturday at the event to mark the one year in office of Professor Charles Chukwuma Soludo, the governor of Anambra state, Chief Iwuanyanwu drew the attention of the audience and the general public to the fact that Ndigbo and Yoruba people are neither quarreling nor fighting, implying that the Yoruba are a friendly group of people.
“According to Iwuanyanwu “I want to tell those in Lagos to realize that there is no war between us and the Yoruba”, adding that “those who attacked Ndigbo in Lagos recently are rascals who should be arrested”. This has mischievously been twisted to imply that “Yoruba people are political rascals and that we will fight them”. This is quel dommage!’ It is from the insidious minds that wish to create a rift between the Igbo and the Yoruba ethnicities.
“At any time in history, there is often a tug of war between two major groups; mostly the good people with conscience on one hand and the devious insidious minds on the other.
“However, the moral force of the godly will always countervail the unconscionable. This helps to keep the world in an ontological equilibrium. So, as much as some mischief makers will twist the speech by Iwuanyanwu, the truth remains that Ahaejiagamba holds the Yoruba in very high esteem and he used the Awka event to express it. The emphasis is that we must not attribute the ugly event in Lagos to the good people of Yoruba ethnicity, rather, it was the handiwork of rascals, hooligans, spivs, charlatans, miscreants, and dregs of Lagos society.
“It is important to highlight that Chief Iwuanyanwu is a renowned patriotic detribalized Nigerian. He enjoyed the fidelity, confidence, solidarity, and support of the Yoruba when he was in active business and politics. He would recall with deep emotional attachment the cordial relationship he had with the Yoruba when he contested for the presidency of Nigeria in 1992; similarly as an Executive Chairman/Publisher of Champion Newspaper Limited, Chairman of Oriental Airlines Limited, Chairman of Oriental Shipping Lines Ltd; among others.
“Iwuanyanwu in all his private and public discussions has often commended the profound Yoruba cultural values, intellect, and hospitality. He applauds the cordial relationship between the Igbo and the Yoruba, citing that several Igbo are an integral part of various Yoruba communities. The depth of the roots of the intermarriages that have taken place between the Igbo and the Yoruba is transcendental, eternal, and can no longer be uprooted.
“The successful marriages of Yoruba daughters by frontline Igbo sons; Chief Emeka Anyaoku; Asagba of Asaba, Professor Joseph Chike Edozien; Professor Vincent Ike, Professor Okey Ndibe, etc, and vice versa, exemplify the irreproachable similarity in the Igbo Yoruba cultural values and cosmology.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Ohanaeze Ndigbo will resist any attempt to paint the 2023 presidential election with an ethnic tar. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of the All Peoples Congress (APC) and Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) enjoyed the support of eminent Igbo sons and daughters. It is also on record that the emergence of Peter Obi and the success he recorded in the presidential election was by Nigerians of all ethnicity, class, and creed. This accounts for why the Ohanaeze was about the last to adopt Peter Obi as a presidential candidate of the Labour Party. Ohanaeze rather re-affirmed and indeed reaffirms its stand on the position of the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF) led by Chief E K Clarke and Chief Ayo Obasanjo.”
However, the journalists’ veteran group said, “Although it is tempting to go toe-to-toe with Chief Iwuanyawu in what we believe was a deliberately made provocative, irresponsible, and condescending statement in our response, which would also have disparaged the entire Igbo people. But we won’t.
“We would have blamed Chief Iwuanyanwu’s outburst on some cheap whiskey taken at the event where he made this negative, utterly annoying remarks. Or perhaps his morbidly obese body constitution could be the culprit as this might be affecting his capacity to think clearly and speak intelligently. But we wager that what happened at the Soludo event was another one of those predetermined, calculated attempts to draw the ire of the Yoruba people in order to create an unstable sociopolitical atmosphere in the polity to achieve their pathological fixation for an Interim government. We’re too discerning to fall for that bait.
“The invective of Chief Iwuanyanwu, and by extension, his Ohaneze Ndigbo clan against a people whose only sin is the fact that they are too loving and accommodating for their liking (because they lack these virtues) should be seen within the context of someone having a withdrawal symptom after working himself into a frenzy for so long that his candidate would win the recently concluded presidential election without any empirical and intelligent political permutations to justify his delusion.
“We should therefore brace ourselves for more of this senseless and idiotic vituperation as the inauguration of President-elect Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu draws closer.
“We urge our people to resist any attempt to be provoked because their overarching game plan is to create a crisis atmosphere so that our democracy can be truncated. They know that their court case is wooly at best. Let us continue to take the insults and abuses from the likes of Chief Iwuanyanwu and his Igbo travelers while Asiwaju and his team concentrate on an inauguration that will usher in a new dawn of unprecedented accomplishments across the country as he did in Lagos, which gave them the platform for their much-touted and overdramatized investments,” towards a more perfect nation.