LEADERSHIP IN IGBO SOCIETY: ANALYSIS, CHALLENGES AND

SOLUTIONS

BY
EKWE NCHE ORGANIZATION

LAW and ORDER COMMITTEE

 

INTRODUCTION.

Since the end of the Biafra-Nigeria war in 1970, Ndiigbo have been

subjected to the most brutal, discriminatory and traumatizing treatment

than any people who lost a war in modern times. That Ndiigbo have continued

to survive individually in the face of this onslaught can be attributed to

the tenacity, ingenuity, creativity, will power, and incredibly superior

work ethic of the individual Igbo man, woman and child. These qualities

have resulted in the survival and even thriving of some individual Igbo men

and women. But have Ndiigbo as a group fared well in Nigeria since the end

of the war? Our conclusion is "NOT AT ALL" We leave you to your own

judgment.

Our finding is that leadership has been a major problem for Ndiigbo

since the end of the war. Igbo society rose to its modern glory before and

during the war largely because of extremely efficient, dedicated, visional,

selfless, and inspiring leadership at all levels of Igbo Society. From the

Umunna through Village Assemblies, Town Unions, to Cultural Organizations

like the Igbo State Union, Divisional Associations and Improvement Unions,

Igbo leadership was stellar. Leaders were "chosen" elected by their own

people. They did the business of the people. They raised funds, built

roads, bridges, hospitals, health centers, schools and colleges. They

awarded scholarships to brilliant students and sent them out to distant

lands to be educated. They organized cooperative ventures and provided

capital for young traders and businessmen to start new enterprises and

businesses. Most importantly, they accounted regularly to the people who

elected them and if their stewardship was found wanting at any time, they

were removed and replaced with more efficient and effective leaders. That

was how Ndiigbo took off on a high note of success. Where is all that

today? The Nigerian conquerors have totally destroyed this structure and

replaced it with thrash.

Today men and women who have no credibility in their own villages and

towns, who can not win an election in their own Umunna, village, town or

women organizations, parade themselves in Lagos and Abuja as "Igbo

Leaders". They do so because they have donated large sums of money to

political parties or because they have been hobnobbing with some of the

Northern and Western creeps who have kept us in bondage. They leap over the

stringent hurdles the Igbo have put in place for choosing their leaders.

Then the oppressors in Abuja and Lagos appoint them ministers, special

assistants, representatives etc and Ndiigbo explode in jubilation that one

of their own has been appointed to an important post. But whose interest

are they representing - that of Ndiigbo or the "master" who appointed them?

How much leverage does Ndiigbo have in making these individuals attend to

the causes and issues (agenda) that are important to Ndiigbo? To who are

these individuals accountable? Of course, to the oppressor who appointed

them and bought their souls with money and other bribes. This phenomenon is

the reality at the Federal, State and Local Government levels. Now it is

filtering into Towns and Autonomous Communities with the emergence of the

new breed of big money contractor/supplier "Chiefs" and "Traditional

Rulers", appointed and approved by Abuja. This is one of the reasons why

nothing ever gets accomplished in Alaigbo today. Ndiigbo, you are sinking

deeper into this quagmire.

Today, Southern Nigeria has been fully radicalized ethnically. Thanks

to the ethnic jingoists. How does this radicalization effect

Ndiigbo? Stories we have been reading recently seem to suggest that

militarization of the ethnic groups in Southern Nigeria is seriously

underway and is proceeding at an alarming speed. Ethnic cleansing may be

just around the corner and actually may be just starting. It will be

terrible for Ndiigbo if we don't evolve as a matter of urgency effective,

efficient, trusted, committed, dedicated leadership that will guide the

survival of Ndiigbo in the event of the expected explosion: leadership that

will be accountable to no one but Ndiigbo. Ndiigbo, you don't want to and

you don't deserve to go through another holocaust. No, you don't.


LEADERSHIP

Ndi Igbo, men, women and children, we salute you.

The little boy or girl playing in front of papa's house, the young school

child listening attentively to the teacher in an overcrowded classroom, the

college and university student reduced to 001, 100, 010 feeding schedule,

the university graduate who has been looking for a job unsuccessfully for

five years and who as a last resort has become an Okada cab or wheelbarrow

pusher at the tollgate, the market woman who wakes up before the cockcrows

and toils at her market stall till sundown to scratch out a few naira to buy

food for her children, the man of the house who watches in total confusion

and despair as the business he toiled all his life to build dissolves before

his very eyes reducing him to almost the status of a beggar, the university

professor who despite being one of the brightest minds in the world, knows

painfully well that he cannot drive his dilapidated car because he

cannot afford to replace one burst tire, the trader in Aba, Umuahia,

Onitsha, Enugu, Awka, Nsukka, Abakaliki, Lagos, Jos, Calabar, Port

Harcourt, Benin, Makurdi, Maidugiri, Kano, Yola, Kaduna, Abuja, Sokoto,

Zaria, Lome, Kumba, Cotonu, and other markets who travel all over the

world striving hard to bring goods to his customers, the civil servant

who despite earning subsistent monthly salary that does not last two full

weeks continues to work, the young Igbo man and woman who cannot marry,

rent a flat, buy his or her own car, build a house or even feed himself

or herself because nobody has bothered to provide any jobs for them, the

man who sings the praises of one crook or another, the politician who

constantly tells his people that things are or will be alright, the

traditional ruler who has been busy selling titles to even those who

committed genocide against Ndiigbo, we salute you all, Men, Women, and

children, young and old, strong and weak, EKWE NCHE salutes you all.

EKWE NCHE has spent hundreds of hours studying and analyzing the life of

Ndiigbo in the context of living in Nigeria in the past 56 years. We

asked numerous questions and sought to understand certain things about

Ndiigbo.

For example:

1.) Why did British governments from as far back as the time of Lord

Lugard through the government of Harold Wilson, during Biafra hate

Ndiigbo?

2.) Why have Ndiigbo been the target of violent physical attacks and

looting of property in Jos 1945; Kano, 1953; all over Northern Nigeria,

1966; Western, parts of Midwestern Nigeria and Lagos, 1967; Lagos 1993

and 1999?

3.) Why are Ndiigbo the most willing of all ethnic groups to spend huge

amounts of personal fortune developing towns outside Igbo heartland in

places like Kaduna, Lagos, Zaria, Sokoto, Benin, Kano, Markudi, Jos

building hospitals, schools, hotels, markets, industries, despite the

fact that Ndiigbo are not the wealthiest ethnic group in Nigeria?

4.) Why do they spend so much money developing other peopleís homes while

leaving their homeland undeveloped?

5.) Why are Igbo political leaders the greatest advocates of Nigerian

Nationalism (strong united Nigeria, e.g. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, despite

being the losers for it, while political leaders of other ethnic

groups espouse primarily Ethnic Nationalism, e.g. Chief Obafemi

Awolowo, who never believed in Nigeria and would sacrifice Nigeria for

the benefit of the West; Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sarduana of Sokoto

never believed in Nigeria and would sacrifice Nigeria for the North.

Both were great Ethnic Nationalists who never believed in Nigeria.)?

6.) Why do current Igbo political leaders seem to be going down the same

path of Nigerian Nationalism despite the hardship, suffering and death

Ndiigbo have been subjected to because of their belief in a strong

Nigeria?

These are just a few of the hard questions we have been asking and

trying to find answers to. Why do we consider it important to do this?

Maka na Igbo kwuru si na onye amaghi ebe mmiri bido mawa ya, amagi ama

ebe onyakoro ahu.

From the colonial government into self-government and independence,

Nigerian political leaders have told Ndi Igbo: if you worked hard,

acquired good education, technical skills, were honest, enterprising and

above all believed in the unity of Nigeria, you will be rewarded and you

will be successful and happy. And so Ndiigbo swarmed universities,

polytechnics and colleges in Nigeria, Europe and the Americas and

acquired Western education and technological skills in ways never before

seen in Africa. You joined the civil service in large numbers moving and

delivering letters intact and on time, you became railway engine drivers

and made the trains run often-on time, technologists kept the water taps

running and electricity supply constant, you became teachers and

traveled long distances away from your homes to educate children of

other ethnic origins. Often you challenged British imperialists who did

not want certain parts of the country to be exposed to good education.

You became engineers, technicians and laborers and built roads, bridges

that opened up many interior parts of Nigeria. Often you worked under

very harsh and difficult conditions. You fanned out to all parts of

Nigeria delivering goods and services to people even at the remotest

parts of the country. You took your wives and children with you. You

built schools, hospitals, and industries and employed indigenes of the

communities where you lived to work and earn a living. You learned and

spoke their languages, adopted some of their customs and even married

their women. You did all these things because you honestly believed in

One Nigeria, One Nation, One Destiny. No other ethnic group comes even

close to making the effort to weld Nigeria into one nation as you did.

Did Nigerian leaders reward your noble effort?

You bet they did! By organizing the killing of Ndiigbo and looting of

their property in Jos 1945, Kano 1953. They did by planning and executing

the most barbaric pogrom on Ndiigbo in May, July and September 1966

resulting in the killing of some 50,000 men, women, and children

including the unprecedented barbarism of slitting open the bellies of

pregnant Igbo women and then killing the unborn fetus - the most

abominable crime in human history. They did by chasing you out of the

towns, schools, hospitals, industries that you had built in their

communities. They did by refusing you employment in their civil service

in Northern and Western Nigeria. They did by employing expatriates in the

civil service in Northern Nigeria rather than employing you. They did by

looting your shops and personal effects in Northern and Western Nigeria

and seizing and distributing your houses, land and industries in of all

places Port Harcourt an Igbo land, and other riverine towns to their

cronies and agents. They did by even forcing Igbo in some parts of Igbo

land to declare that they were not Igbo and even go as far as changing

the names of their towns and villages to only God knows what. No they

were not done with rewarding you. They had to pursue you to your country

homes, your villages and destroy even that last bit you had there as well

as starve to death about four million of your innocent women, old men and

children. The Igbo holocaust has no equal in the history of modern

Africa. Then they made sure that you didn't have any money to start life

all over again. They rewarded your high educational achievement by

chasing your highly qualified and efficient administrators away from

higher institutions in places like Lagos and Ibadan. They did by starving

your schools of funds and institutionalizing policies that guaranteed

employment to mediocres, non-skilled cronies and rabble rousers rather

than to those of you who are skilled, qualified and knowledgeable in your

fields. Thus they effectively rendered your education and skills

irrelevant. They have rewarded you by making sure that your sons and

daughters will never rise to certain ranks in the Army, Air force, Navy,

Police, Immigration, Customs etc. If they could, they would have rewarded

you by limiting your movement in and outside Nigeria. They had planned to

do so but couldn't quite figure out how to do it. Oh yes, Ndiigbo see how

Nigeria has rewarded you for your belief in One Nigeria, your educational

attainment, your technical skill, hard work, industry, entrepreneurial

power and your willingness to cast off retrogressive policies and

practices. Ndiigbo, Nigeria gave you these rewards because you were very

good Nigerian nationalists, you believed strongly in One Nigeria, One

Nation, One Destiny.

But what about those who did not believe in One Nigeria for a second?

How did Nigeria reward or punish them?

Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the undisputed leader of the Yoruba together with

his followers believed that Nigeria was a mere geographical expression.

They believed staunchly in protecting the interest of the Yoruba Nation.

For not believing in One Nigeria, the Yoruba Nation has been rewarded

with control of the Nigerian economy, the civil service, scores of

industries, huge infrastructural development in Lagos including

expressways, flyovers, most modern port facility etc., and a large chunk

of the Nigerian army. The AD and Afenifere has made sure that the reward

continues in the current Obasanjo administration. Chief Awolowo and his

followers are Yoruba Nationalists.

Sir Ahmadu Bello, the Sarduana of Sokoto and his followers believed that

North should be for Northerners, West for Westerners, East for Easterners

and the Federation for us all (where ever the federation is). Almost all

the Northern leaders of today are staunch followers of Ahmadu Bello

except the few followers of Alhaji Aminu Kano and J.S. Tarka.

How did Nigeria reward the Hausa/Fulani Nationalists?

Easy! Nigeria gave them gave them control of the army, the police and

other uniformed organizations. Nigeria gave them total control of the

billions of dollars earned yearly from sale of crude oil and natural gas

ironically located in Eastern and Mid-Western Nigeria. They were rewarded

with control of a big chunk of the civil service as well as scores of

industries. They were even rewarded with money printing machines with

which they could print all the money they wanted.

And so Western and Northern Nigeria political leaders who did not

believe in the unity of the Nigerian federation have often been given

control of the instruments of government of the federation while Eastern

political leaders who have been strong believers in the primacy of the

federation of Nigeria has been shunted aside. Is it ironical? Is it

confusing? You answer for yourself.

Ndiigbo, if you pay close attention to what has been happening in

Nigeria in the past 50 years, you wouldn't feel so confused. On many

occasions the north threatened to break away from the federation if they

were not given what they demanded. Each time they got exactly what they

demanded. During the Lyttleton Constitution of 1954, the Northern House

of Chiefs and the Northern House of Assembly passed an eight point

resolution demanding that they be allocated 92 of the 184 seats in the

Federal House of Representatives. They insisted that if that was not done

Nigeria will immediately transform into a confederation or customs union

in which each of the three regions will enjoy almost sovereign status

with the right to make their own laws without approval of the federal

government, maintain a separate judiciary, and public service etc. The

British, West and East governments agreed and the North dropped its

demand for a confederation or customs union. They blatantly rigged the

federal election of 1959 and installed Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa prime

minister. They rigged it again in 1964 and as usual forced Zik to install

Abubakar prime minister. During the constitutional conference of 1966/67

they insisted on a confederation but changed to a federation with a

strong central government when they were advised by the British, to

change their stand since they were already in control of the instrument

of power and government. They did and had their way.

In 1999 after the death of General Abacha, the West made a veiled threat

to break away from the federation if they were not given the reins of

power. The North quickly handed over the government to Olusegun Obasanjo.

When you Ndiigbo demanded self-determination, basic freedom to be left

alone to run your life, in 1967, the North and the West teamed up and

slaughtered millions of you like dogs.

Ndiigbo what has changed for you in 40 years?

Ndiigbo, after the most horrible and humiliating experience of the past

33 years, it is time for you to take a close philosophical and pragmatic

look at the direction you have been going in Nigeria. For being the most

patriotic Nigerians, the greatest defenders of Nigerian unity you have

been discriminated against, your highly qualified sons and daughters have

been pushed out of their jobs, your houses and other property have been

confiscated and given out to cronies as war booty, your wealth carefully

preserved in banks has been stolen by government, your roads and bridges

have been neglected and turned into death traps, your schools and

colleges have virtually collapsed out of neglect, your wives and

daughters have been raped and carried away as booty, your men have been

slaughtered in their millions, your young men have been rendered

uneducated, unemployed and financially emasculated, commerce and

entrepreneurship have been made so difficult that you have to sweat blood

to earn every naira, your society has been pauperized and thrown into

cultural chaos. Hunger, poverty, disease, squalor, insecurity of life and

property, premature death has become your bedfellows. The Igbo who

never begged because it was a thing of honor and pride to be able to pay

for whatever one wanted has become a beggar. Ndiigbo, things have

seriously fallen apart for you. In what aspect of life are you better off

today (1999) than you were in 1965? When people tell you that things are

getting better, ask them "better for who?"; when they say, don't worry, we

are in charge now, ask them "in charge of what?"; when they say, our

political party is in control and has power, tell them that is it not

totally and completely apparent and clear that the Yoruba and

Hausa-Fulani are in control of economic and political power in Nigeria.

When they tell you that power belongs to the political party, tell them

that it is a lie. Tell them that IN IGBO SOCIETY POWER BELONGS TO THE

PEOPLE. Ndiigbo elect their own leaders and tell their leaders what to do

and how to lead them. Ndiigbo have never accepted "rulers", not even when

the British imposed warrant chiefs on them. Think about it. Ndiigbo, it

is time once again to set yourselves on the path of prosperity, progress,

economic growth, commercial and industrial advancement, political and

cultural emancipation and stability, social and economic justice, good

health, abundant supply of food, individual freedom, liberty and respect

of your human rights, intellectual, educational and technological

achievement, the hallmark of Igbo society. Arise, Ndiigbo arise, its

time. Like the Israelites of Biblical times you have been in the

wilderness for more than 30 years. It is time to rise and shine again.

Yes, the people of the rising sun, it is time!!

IGBO IDENTITY:


As we get ready to rise from 33 years of coma, it is important for every

Igbo man woman and child to remind himself or herself who he or she is.

The reason for doing this is that when an individual or a group of people

have been subjected to intense economic, social, psychological trauma and

or deprivation as Ndi Igbo have been, there is a tendency for them to

lose perspective of who they are. They may stop believing in themselves.

They may attack, fight and even kill one another. Worst of all they may

behave like slaves towards their oppressor. This destroys them even more

than the actions of the oppressor and they will continue like that until

someone wakes them up from their psychological stupor. Let us look at our

identity, who we are, from two angles:

1.) How the world sees Ndiigbo.

2.) How Ndiigbo see themselves.

Let us start with how the world has seen Ndiigbo.

Michael Mok quoting a Reverend father in Biafra said of the Igbo, "The

Igbo man never begs. He is much too proud. He wants to pay for what he

gets. The Igbo are wizards at saving money. When one of them gets a job,

he starts saving right away: first for a bicycle, then for a transistor

radio, and next for a bit of land. Then he builds a house on it, gets a

wife and before the first child is born, he is already putting money by

for the kids school fees. The Igbos are mad for education". Well this is

the Igbo man at his best, hardworking, thrifty, and always putting

something away for the future. The creativity and intelligence of the

Igbo man is clearly celebrated in this statement.

"There was a time when it was impossible to have a car break down in

Igboland. You would find yourself stuck somewhere way out in the bush and

the first thing you know three loafers, two of whom had probably never

peeked under the bonnet of an auto in their lives would saunter up to

see what was the matter. In no time at all, using rags and string they

would have you on your way again". - Michael Mok.

John C. Merriam, after working with Operation Crossroads in Africa had

this to say about the three major ethnic groups. The Ibos (Igbo) in

Nigerian history were a relatively insignificant tribe, but their society

had achievement based norms that adapted quickly to Westernization. All

over Nigeria, they formed a merchant and professional class. An engineer

said, "If you are a businessman and you need engineers, you read

applications and you don't look at tribes. Fifteen of the twenty men you

hire will be Ibos (Igbo). The Yoruba fall somewhere in between but closer

to the Ibos (Igbo) than the Hausa. They are literate, they are

politically sophisticated, but they look at life with a grin".

-The Harvard Crimson, Nov. 12, 1968.

John de St. Jorre in his book, The Brothers War captured the essence of

the Igbo spirit in this description:

"....... Why in defiance of all the normal functional laws of the modern

state, life inside Biafra kept going.

Dr. Pius Okigbo, Biafra's chief economic planner explained to him, "it

is the human factors and the context that matter here and they make

nonsense of theoretical economics". St. Jorre then observed,

"improvisation was the order of the day. Electrical engineers and

chemists were making rockets, hand grenades and the famous Ogbunigwe" ....

petrol was rationed but homemade refineries were soon to be put into

operation and low sulfur oil was distilled in huge water tanks set upon

trestles which kept essential transport moving. Ingenious cannibalization

and mechanical miracles surmounted the dearth of spare parts and the

Biafrans made several armored cars out of lorries and bulldozers.

Government offices increasingly decentralized functioned normally. ....

civil servants had adopted themselves to their reduced circumstances ....

they seemed less like stiff marionettes. And what a galaxy of talent in

Biafra. So many of Nigeria's top civil servants, diplomats, soldiers,

academics, technicians .... the envy of undermanned Black Africa ....

Outside the hospitals and refugee camps, life really did appear

deceptively normal. Water, electricity, and even telephone functioned, if

somewhat erratically. There were no beggars, people did not complain and

there was an extraordinary feeling of togetherness. The natural vivacity

and quick-witted charm of the Ibo (Igbo) people shone through their

terrible adversities. There was a strong determination not only to

survive, but also to survive with a flourish - to show the outsiders and

themselves that life would go on .... In Biafra virtually everything was

in short supply, everything except human energy, ingenuity and an

extraordinary collective and relentless will to struggle on".

Edward C. Schwarzenbach writing in the Swiss Review of World Affairs

spoke of the Ibos (Igbo) thus: "The Ibo (Igbo) of the East have always

spoken the most progressive language in Nigeria and been more or less

leftist oriented. Precisely for this reason, they were of no long-range

political interest to Moscow. To the Igbo with their egalitarian society,

free of hierarchical structures, communism is by no means attractive and

they are not susceptible to Soviet propaganda." Schwarzenbach predicted,

"Now that the Igbo have been overpowered and the North armed by England

and Soviet Russia has defeated Biafra, the Yoruba of the Western part of

the country may soon find themselves in trouble."

Even people who hate Ndiigbo sometimes truthfully acknowledge the

sterling qualities of Igbo men and women. One such person is Lord Lugard

who in a foreword to the book, African Women by Leith-Ross, said: " ...

the essential characteristics of Igbo womanhood are little changed. She

is ambitious, self-reliant, hardworking, and independent. Her interests

are centered in love of her yam field coupled with a passion for trading

and the desire to grow rich. She claims full equality with the opposite

sex and would seem indeed to be the dominant partner. The women's

councils, approved and trusted by the men enact laws for the protection

of crops, and enforce them by suitable penalties including ridicule. The

alacrity with which they will abandon old ways for new is evident in the

popularity of hospitals, courts of law, schools and post offices. And

though they show little deference towards Europeans, they are intensely

eager to obtain the education which Europeans have brought as a means of

getting rich."

Describing the political philosophy and organization of the Igbo, Cronje

in his book The World and Nigeria stated as follows: "In the East

indirect rule failed altogether. There were no big chiefs, emirates or

empires which could be adopted to the needs of British administrators.

The Eastern people lived in village groups administered by councils which

were presided over by senior men who held office by virtue of their

personal ability as much as by age or lineage" [Cronje, S. 1972, The

World and Nigeria, Sidgwick and Jackson, London]

Reporting on the position, status and influence of chiefs and natural

rulers in the Eastern Region of Nigeria, G. I. Jones stated as follows:

"The usual patterns is for public matters to be discussed at a general

meeting at which every able bodied male who is a full member of the

community has a right to attend and to speak if he so wishes. ...the

community particularly in the Ibo(Igbo) area is not prepared to surrender

its legislative authority to any chiefs, elders or other traditional

office holders..."

G. I. Jones (1957)

Report on the position, status and influence of chiefs and natural

rulers in the Eastern Region of Nigeria, Government Printer, Enugu.

Chief Obafemi Awolowo speaking of the Igbo and Ibibio stated: "The Ibos

(Igbo) and Ibibios cannot tolerate anyone assuming the authority of a

chieftain over them." Obafemi Awolowo (1947) Path to Nigerian Freedom,

Faber and Faber.

Jack Shepherd, senior editor of Look had this to say of Igbo:

"....The Biafran struggle centers on regional and economic rivalries

that reach beyond the fighting. Ibos (Igbo) from Eastern Nigeria burst

quickly into the 20th century developing as doctors, lawyers, engineers,

and competing with (perhaps overwhelming) less educated Nigerians

especially Hausas and Fulanis in the North. The rivalry and jealousy

intensified. Ibo (Igbo) aggressiveness and ambition in commerce, public

utilities and the civil service made them a hated people. They were

called the Jews of Black Africa." Look, Nov. 26, 1968.

In a special article on the Nigerian Civil War, Time described the three

major ethnic groups in Nigeria thus: "To the North living on flat

grassland that backs up to the Sahara sands dwell the Hausa and Fulani,

haughty, devout Moslem peoples governed locally by feudal emirs. The

Western Region is the home of the Yoruba, a tribe known for its profusion

of gods (more than 400) and its joie de vivre. To the East where they are

now trapped, the ambitious and clever Ibo (Igbo) people thrived. Brought

forcibly together under colonial rule, the three regions developed the

hatreds and jealousies of totally different culture. Most hated of all

and most envied by other Nigerians were the Ibos (Igbo), quite possibly

Africa's most capable people and by force of energy and intellect, the

dominant tribe of newly independent Nigeria. Within their tribal culture

lay unique seeds for Western-style self-improvement. Unlike many other

tribes, they had no autocratic village chiefs. Instead, they were ruled

by open councils of what sociologists called high achievers... successful

yam farmers, warriors, public speakers. The titles a man earned were

buried with him and his sons were forced unlike most Africans to make

their own reputations. The Igbos welcomed missionaries because they

brought schools and books. Before their secession from Nigeria the Ibos

(Igbo) of Eastern Region were spending 40% of their public funds on

education. Villagers often pooled their resources to send the most

promising boy of college age off to study in Britain.... those who stayed

at home eagerly absorbed the mechanics of industry and government from

British colonials who came to rely on willing Ibo (Igbo) hands to do

their work... They became Nigeria's most cosmopolitan people whose

traders and technicians spread throughout the country building factories,

hospitals, and their inevitable cooperative self-improvement

associations. After the British left, the Ibos (Igbo) in effect inherited

the controls of modern Nigeria from civil service posts in the government

to engine driver jobs in the railway." Time, August 23, 1968.

In a report to the United States Senate (called the Goodell Report)

Senator Charles Goodell who sponsored and led a study mission to Biafra

and Nigeria stated thus: "Biafrans and particularly Ibos (Igbo) were

previously dispersed all over Nigeria. They stood out among inhabitants

of West Africa in literacy, percentage of youngsters admitted to

institutions of higher education and devotion to learning. Indeed many

foreign observers have felt that envy was generated among Nigerians as a

result of the high degree of education of the Ibos (Igbo). Their

occupation of a high proportion of the professional and managerial

positions as a result of their education level was one of the

psychological factors responsible for the civil outbreaks in Northern

Nigeria in May - September, 1966." On governance in Biafra he remarked,

"What is remarkable and frankly surprising about the Biafrans is their

sense of organization and their commitment to orderly procedures, both

governmental and private in their current situation. The administrative

or executive branch of Biafran government is departmentalized and

functionally organized top to bottom .... The central government relates

more or less well to the provincial government offices, and the various

departments of the central government cooperate with and sometimes oppose

each other in the manner familiar to those who knew the Nigerian

governmental procedures before the war, or for that matter, in the manner

of most governments. The Consultative Assembly referred to earlier is a

group of provincial and village leaders selected by their people and

answerable to them for their decisions and recommendations."

Goodell Report, Congressional Record, S 1985.

Times, commenting on the democratic credentials of Biafra stated thus:

"For a country at war, and life and death struggle at that, Biafra is run

in an amazingly democratic and efficient way. He (Ojukwu) runs Biafra as a

war time democracy, frequently seeking the advise of Ibo (Igbo) elders.

Biafra also has a functioning judiciary, a ministerial executive

government and civil service. There will be no military dictatorship here

he (Ojukwu) says. Times, August 23, 1968.

We have been listening to how other people see and regard Ndiigbo. The

other part of the equation is how Ndiigbo see and regard themselves.

Let's review some of the things we know about Ndiigbo. Philosophically,

Ndiigbo maintain a very delicate balance between INDIVIDUALISM and

COMMUNITARISM. Very early in the socialization process the Igbo child is

taught that he is the master of his destiny. He learns that success in

any task which he or she undertakes is his responsibility and that he

will equally take personal responsibility for any failures. He is

instructed to strive for excellence, success and status and is taught

that his status in society will be the result of his personal

achievement and not the result of any ascription. His individual efforts

are reinforced and encouraged and gradually he realizes that even among

his age mates he has to compete for power, status and respect and that

his social condition will depend almost exclusively on his individual

efforts. Through encouragement and the abundance of modeling, he learns

that failure is only a temporary set back which should provide even

stronger motivation to overcome the obstacle. The philosophy of

individualism is also transmitted to the child through Igbo philosophy.

Central to this individualistic philosophy is the concept of CHI or

personal God. Broadly conceptualized, it is the totality of the

individual's being, his past history, present activities and future

result. This destiny, fate and other factors collectively shape his life

and his activities during his lifetime. The importance of this life force

is captured in the Igbo proverbs which emphasize the complex interaction

between the individual and his CHI. A few examples will help to

illustrate this point: "Onye kwe, Chi ya ekwe" If one agrees, ones Chi

will also agree. This proverb epitomizes personal responsibility and

individual self-determination. It almost implies that one can bargain or

negotiate with ones Chi for favorable outcome of events. "Onye nya na Chi

ya n'ije, ukwu adi akpo ya". One whose Chi is present in ones journey

does not strike ones toe against a rock. "Onye ka mmadu ka Chi ya." He

who is greater than another is greater than his Chi. "Ofu nne n'amu mana

ofu Chi adi eke." The same mother can give birth to several children but

each of them has a different Chi. "Okuko adi akpanye n'afo efi." A chick

does not put food in the stomach of a cow.

This pattern of socialization helps individuals clearly establish their

self-defined identity. In a rather paradoxical way Igbo Society also

emphasizes COMMUNITAL relationship. Within the family children learn to

support each other. In the neighborhood community children of different

families learn to play together, to share food and simple chores like

cleaning the village square or village stream.

Soon they organize themselves into age mates preparatory to organizing

themselves into age grades later in life. Irrespective of the economic

status of their parents, they learn quite early that everyone needs

everyone else for successful existence. When they organize themselves

into age grades, they undertake community projects such as building

roads, hospitals, civic centers, health clinics etc. All these are meant

to emphasize to the individual the indispensability of the group, the

community to their survival. The community is not seen as just a

collection of individuals. It is seen as a unique relationship in which

the survival and happiness of the individual is intricately interwoven

with the survival and happiness of the community to which the individual

belongs. Beginning with the family and extending outward to Umunne

(extended family), Umunna (kindred), Village (Ogbe) and town (Obodo,

Ala), Igbo society is seen not as a collection of individuals each with

his own rights and liberties in an atomistic manner but rather as

collections of individuals in groups that systematically and

progressively become enlarged. The structure can be likened to concentric

circles that expand outward in a systematic manner, the larger circles

containing the smaller circles and yet allowing them to maintain their

identities and structures and at the same time using the identities and

structures of the smaller circles to maintain the integrity and strength

of the larger circles in a rather symbolic manner. Just as symbiotic

relationship in living organisms requires careful maintenance of this

delicate balance for the survival of each organism, Igbo society

require careful maintenance of this delicate balance for her survival.

The importance of group affiliation in Igbo philosophy and worldview is

captured in Igbo proverbs and idioms. For example, "Ofu osisi adi eme

ofia." [A tree does not make a forest.] "Ofu onye nie onwe ya aka ya

aputagi ukwu aputa." [If a person buries himself, one of his hands or

legs must show above ground.] "Onye gbara umu nna ya mgba isi n'ebu ya

aja aja" [He who wrestles with his kindred folk will have his hair covered

with sand.] "Onye kwulu so ya, ijiji atagbue ya." [He who stands alone

will be devoured by even flies.]

How is this apparent contradiction between individualism and

communitarism resolved?

Individualism provides the philosophical base for individual achievement

and the strive towards excellence, while communitarism acts as a

counterweight to the temptation so often abundant in selfish, survivalist,

individualistic, ascendancy-inspired activities (survival of the fittest

philosophy) to trample upon and possibly destroy others including

relatives and friends in the scramble to get to the top.

Because an individual sees himself as an integral part of the community,

he or she feels obligated to protect the welfare, integrity and honor of

that community by not engaging in any acts that will be prejudicial to

the good of the community, and by doing those things that will promote

the welfare and survival of the community. The community on the other

hand spreads its wings of protection and care over the individual, but

wastes no time in calling an erring member of the community to order. On

rare occasions it imposes such harsh sanction as ostracism or even

banishment on an erring or recalcitrant member. This socialization

enables an Igbo child early in life to develop the all important

principle of self-control in their daily activities.

The delicate balance serves two purposes:

1.) It preserves the integrity of the community by shielding it from

external and internal intrigues and acts of sabotage aimed at

destroying that integrity.

2.) It protects the individual from destructive behaviors of other

people as well as their own propensity towards self-destructive or

community-destructive activities.

Thus the community protects and preserves the individual just as the

individual protects and preserves the community.

COLLECTIVE LEADERSHIP IN IGBO SOCIETY.

To fully understand political behavior and especially leadership in

Igbo society, we have to go back to the smallest group, which is the

family. The father is seen as the head, voice and shield of the family.

He takes direct charge and responsibility for whatever happens in his

family and will not accept dictation from even his father. Thus he is

seen as "di bu uno", the man that carries the household. I am sure that

some of you will ask, how about the woman? The woman or mother is seen as

the heart of the household, the pillar which provides emotional

nurturance for the family as well as ensures that material nurturance is

available on a daily basis for the family. She is a moderating influence

in emotionally charged, explosive situations and is usually her husband's

confidant and adviser in most matters affecting the family. If the family

becomes involved in discussion, negotiation or conflict resolution with

the (Umunne) extended family, (Umunna) kindred, his primary

responsibility will be to protect the rights and privileges of his family

and to ensure that the voice of his family is duly heard during the

discussion. In such situation, he will be expected to consult with his

wife and grown children to figure out what position he should take on the

issues. If the family suffers injury, injustice or disability as a result

of his failure to protect their interest, he will be roundly blamed by

his wife and children and depending on the severity and frequency of the

incident could face revolt and challenge to his authority by his adult

sons especially the eldest son. That scenario is rare but it happens.

In matters affecting the Umunna (Kindred) every family is represented by

adult males from each family. However leadership of the Umunna is vested

in the eldest male in the Umunna who is called Okpara, opara, onye ishi,

diokpa etc. The diokpa keeps custody of the Ofo, the sacred stick, which

symbolizes the legitimacy of his authority as well as his commitment to

justice in all his decisions and rulings. The authority of the diokpa is

not imbued with dictatorial power as he must consult with all the family

and possibly obtain consensus on the issue at hand before making a

ruling. He also cannot enforce a ruling without the explicit mandate of

the extended family.

If the Umunna is involved in a negotiation, consultation or conflict

resolution with other groups at the level of the village or town (Ogbe,

Ama, Obodo), the diokpa becomes the spokesperson for his Umunna.

Consultation with members of his Umunna will precede all-important

decisions that he will render. If he is requested to render an opinion on

the spot by the Obodo (Town), or if he suspects that the opinion he is

about to render will be regarded unfavorably by his Umunna, or if he is

faced with a totally new development, that he was not prepared for, he

will immediately request leave of the Obodo to consult with his Umunna

through a procedure called "igba izu or izuzu", before rending the

opinion. During the izu, which is usually done standing up in a circle a

good distance away from the Assembly, all the members of the Umunna will

have an opportunity to air their views on the issue at hand. The

discussion goes on for a few minutes and quickly they arrive at a

consensus on what their leader should present as their view. When they

get back to the assembly the diokpa or some other person delegated to

present their view renders their opinion as clearly as he can. He will

usually end by looking back at his Umunna who may be standing or sitting

behind him, and intoning in a clear voice: "Okwa nu ya ibe anyi nu" or

"okwa ihe unu kwuru" (is this what you resolved). And all the members

will answer in unison, "iyaa obu ya" (yes it is). And they salute him by

his traditional name. If he missed a point, they will take a quick glance

at one another and a member of his Umunna will quickly interject when he

asks the question "okwa ihe unu kwulu", "ka m nwelu gi aka" (let me help

you). And he will add the point missed by the diokpa. If he says

something totally different from what they had agreed to, a member of the

group will quickly call his attention to it and immediately effect a

correction. During the izu, the Umunna does not usually strive for

unanimous agreement on the issues. Rather they seek to establish

an acceptable majority. And once this majority has been established, it

becomes the consensus and all opposition ceases as everyone is expected

to stand with the group. This is why Ndiigbo have the saying: "onye

Umunna ya gburu adi agbe mmee" (whoever is killed by his Umunna does not

shed any blood). The diokpa maintains his authority , power and status by

virtue of his credibility, good judgement and excellent performance. He

does not expose his umunna to ridicule by engaging in corruption,

immorality, or injustice. He does not let the Umunna suffer humiliation,

injury, injustice or other form of disability at community deliberations.

He will do anything and everything within legal limits to protect the

interest, rights and privileges of the Umunna and to ensure that their

voice is not lost at the Community Assembly. If he does this, his Umunna

will be very proud of him even when they lose a case. If for any reason

the diokpa consistently exposes the Umunna to ridicule, injustice,

humiliation, injury or other forms of disability, the power and authority

given to him could be taken away by the Umunna and handed over to another

person, who the Umunna believes is capable of protecting their interest.

Usually, it will be the next oldest person, but sometimes it could be a

younger person who may have proved his capacity to represent the Umunna

effectively. If the diokpa commits a minor infraction, or engages in

behavior unexpected of his elevated status, the Umunna will reprimand him

respectfully.

This same procedure of representation is repeated at the level of the

Town Union or Community Assembly. Each town is made up of several

villages. The Town Union government is made up of officers elected from

all the villages. Each village elects a stipulated number of

representatives to the Town government. In electing the representatives

to the town government, each village makes deliberate effort to have at

least one representative from each Umunna where possible. These

representatives know that it is their responsibility to project and protect

the interest of the village at the level of the Town government. They take

this responsibility very seriously aware that if they fail to project the

views of the village, they will not only be recalled but may also face

severe socio-psychological sanction such as shaming or even economic

sanction such as a fine. In addition to representing their village, they

are aware that they are ambassadors of their Umunna. Therefore they

strive very hard to avoid any actions that could portray their Umunna in

bad light e.g. taking bribes, being a drunk. Because of the importance

which Ndiigbo attach to the "representative" function or duty, they adopt

very stringent parameters in choosing these representatives. Such

parameters include demonstrated wisdom, knowledge, honesty, oratory, and

other achievement characteristics like bravery, wealth, titles, valor in

battle. It is important to emphasize that unlike what happens in Western

democracies where money and affluence seem to be the determining

characteristics for election to representative office, in Igbo culture,

the value or quality of a person is not determined in dollar and cents or

naira and kobo. It is determined by the individual performance on the

assigned task. Therefore money and material possession do not constitute

supreme parameters in selecting an individual to represent his Umunna or

Village. Because an individuals wealth or financial status does not play

an overwhelming role in determining an individualís suitability for

election to representative office, the group the individual is

representing does not feel overawed or intimidated to recall the

representative any time they conclude that he is not living up to their

expectation. In a similar way, the deference and respect accorded an

elder in the socio-political arrangement in Igbo Society is not seen as

willy-nilly obedience to the elder. No. The elder strives at all times to

earn, maintain and therefore retain this respect through exemplary

conduct at all times. Failure to do so might result in loss of respect,

status and withdrawal of this authority by the group.

HOW IS POLITICAL DISCUSSION ORGANIZED IN IGBOLAND?


In traditional Igbo Society it is extremely important for ones voice to

be heard. To deny an individual the right to have his or her voice heard

is the equivalent of social death or at best the status of a slave. It

can be interpreted to mean that the person does not exist. An Igbo person

will therefore protest and fight with utmost vehemence if this right is

infringed upon and may not give in until this right is restored. If this

humiliation continues, the individual will "cry" to his Umunna who will

take umbrage at this humiliation of one of their own and demand that the

degradation stop immediately. One of the worst things that could happen

to a man is to make this appeal and be ignored by the Umunna. It can be

interpreted that the Umunna regards such a person almost as a living dead.

From the extended family (Umunna) to the Town Union, discussions are

usually frank and forthright even as individual presentations are laced

with idioms and proverbs. Honesty, frankness and forthrightness are seen

as great virtues while rigmarole is often regarded as evidence of

weakness and cowardice. At an assembly each person is expected to

indicate their intention to speak by clearing their throat, raising their

hand, standing up or using any other such as saluting the last speaker.

Then the person chairing the meeting will recognize his presence. Should

two or more people indicate their intention to speak at the same time,

the chair will recognize them according to their chronological age

beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. Sometimes titles

such as Ozo, Onyeishi (in the areas that take these titles) can enhance

an individual's recognition to speak at an assembly. To attract optimal

attention at ones presentation, an individual may begin his speech by

saluting the Assembly; Kwenu! Yaa! As the discussion progresses, members

present at the assembly will have a feeling as to which point of view

has the greatest support. Once it becomes clear which view has

overwhelming support, the chair will declare that, and close the

discussion. Henceforth all opposition to the prevalent view will cease

and even the losers though unhappy, will be bound to go along with the

majority, satisfied that at least their "voice" was heard.

In Igbo Society, each Village of Community, sees itself as autonomous,

sovereign, and would not accept dictation from any other group. In most

traditional Igbo Societies, the entire village or community acting as

Amala, Oha (Community Assembly), makes the laws. In such communities

there are no special law making bodies. More recently, in several

communities, a small group elected from and representing all the villages

or Umunna is mandated to make laws which are then presented to the

Community Assembly for ratification. Such law-making bodies go by various

names in different communities: oti-ekwe, oji nkpo, Town Union Executive

etc. Communities often enforce the laws through these bodies, which act in

judicial capacity, adjudicating cases, handing down judgments, imposing

sanctions and other penalties. In more traditional settings however, the

entire community also acts to enforce the laws using Umunna, Age grades,

Okonko and other small social units to enforce the laws. The community

also assesses taxes and levies for the purpose of executing development

projects. Once the Community Assembly has determined the qualification

for taxation, every Umunna provides the list of its taxable adults to the

village representative who transmits such to the Town Union. There are

procedures in place to crosscheck for undercounting. Besides since

everyone knows that the same list will be used for sharing any amenities

and benefits that might come to the town, the motivation to undercount is

undermined.

A close look at this organizational structure shows that in relation to

the village assembly, the Umunnas act like federating units, exercising a

significant measure of autonomy on most issues in their relationship to

the village and yet subjecting its members to the authority of the

village on other matters. The same relationship exists between the

villages and the Town Union. There is probably no better definition of a

federation than what we see in Igbo social organization.

LEADERSHIP QUESTION IN IGBO SOCIETY.

Every honest Igbo man or woman who has visited and moved about

extensively from Ehamufu to Opobo, and from Ezaa to Kwale, will agree

with me that there is a very serious

problem in Igbo society today. If you look at the millions of unemployed

young men and women, the hundreds of vicious armed robbery incidents, the

thousands of miles of unpaved roads, thousands of primary, secondary

schools, and universities, dilapidated, decaying and in ruins, thousands

of Ndiigbo who have become hangers on and now openly beg for money to

marry, wed, build a house, and even to eat, the thousands of young men

and women in their thirties who die prematurely everyday from stress

related illnesses, the near absence of meaningful health care to take

care of the sick, etc., etc. If you think of these people and situations

you will agree with me that Ndiigbo are facing very serious problems. It

has never been this bad in Igboland. If you refuse to be deceived by the

sprinkle of wealthy people in Igbo society today and seriously look at

the big picture, the masses of our people, you won't help but experience

panic about the plight of Ndiigbo in Nigeria today and the future of this

ethnic group of people called Ndiigbo. IT SHOCKS US WHEN ANY INTELLIGENT

IGBO MAN OR WOMAN MAKES A STATEMENT LIKE: "Oh things are alright." "We

are in charge in XXX political party and things are going well for

Ndiigbo." IT IS EVEN MORE SHOCKING WHEN THE PERSON MAKING SUCH A

STATEMENT IS ONE OF THOSE WHO BRAND THEMSELVES "IGBO LEADER".

In 1940's, 1950's and 1960's Igbo leaders did a lot to improve the

quality of life of every Igbo person. During this period, Igbo leaders

like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Dr. M. I. Okpara, Dr. Akanu Ibiam, Dr. Dennis

Osadebe, Dr. Nwafor Orizu, Maazi Z. C. Obi to name a few did concrete

things that propelled Ndiigbo above every other ethnic group in Nigeria.

Azikiwe, Orizu, Osadebe and others saw the value of good education as the

ladder to economic progress and pursued the provision of educational

opportunities for Ndiigbo with such vigor that in a few decades, Ndiigbo

leapfrogged over every ethnic group in Nigeria in educational attainment

thereby positioning themselves to take over much of the administrative

machinery of the state at independence. Okpara, Ibiam and some others saw

the need for food sufficiency and industrialization and pursued

agriculture and food production with such zeal that by 1965, the

government of Eastern Nigeria undertook publicity campaign to urge people

to eat more meat, chicken and eggs and drink milk. Farm settlements and

agricultural extension programs were so successful that Malaysia came to

Eastern Nigeria to learn the secret. At the same time major industries

were being established at Port Harcourt/Calabar, Enugu/Emene/Nkalagu,

Umuahia and Onitsha. These industries were superbly successful and formed

the backbone of the industrialization of Eastern Nigeria.

Even during the Biafran war, the tenacity, foresight and sacrifice of

people like C. Odumegwu Ojukwu, Philip Effiong, Tim Onwuatuegwu, and a

host of other heroes guaranteed that Ndiigbo were not wiped off the face

of the earth. THESE ARE IGBO LEADERS, THEY ARE THE HEROES OF NDIIGBO.

Note that they were not the richest Ndiigbo during their time. Actually

none of them would qualify as a rich man then. In fact, Dr. M. I. Okpara,

the premier of Eastern Nigeria did not even have a fancy country home

when he died. These were dedicated, selfless Igbo leaders who had the

interest of the ordinary Igbo man and woman at heart. WE SALUTE THESE

GREAT MEN AND WOMEN!

Yet like mortals, they had their weaknesses and made some mistakes but

you could never accuse them of stealing Ndiigbo blind, embezzling

millions of dollars meant for electricity or water for their people,

colluding with those who want to destroy the ordinary Igbo man and woman.

NDIIGBO CHOSE THEM AS THEIR LEADERS. Their allegiance was to the ordinary

people who chose them. They were accountable to those common folks who

chose them as their leaders and they knew it. As a result, Ndiigbo

prospered.

At the end of the Biafra-Nigeria war, enemies of Ndiigbo, rulers of the

Hausa-Fulani and Yoruba oligarchies decided to appoint rulers over

Ndiigbo. They chose people who betrayed their brothers and sisters. They

made them rulers over Ndiigbo. NDIIGBO DID NOT ELECT THEM, NDIIGBO DID

NOT CHOOSE THEM AS THEIR LEADERS AS IS THE TRADITION IN IGBO CULTURE. NO,

THEY WERE IMPOSED ON NDIIGBO AS RULERS JUST AS THE BRITISH IMPOSED

WARRANT CHIEFS AS RULERS OVER NDIIGBO before independence and just as the

Fulani Oligarchy imposes Emirs and Village Heads on Hausas and other

ethnic minorities in the North and Yoruba princes impose Obas on Yoruba

people. These rulers did not owe allegiance to Ndiigbo because they knew

that they were not elected by Ndiigbo. They did not care what happened to

the ordinary Igbo folks because they did not derive their power and

authority from the ordinary folks in the traditional election process

that characterizes the selection of leaders in Igbo society. Therefore

instead of the Igbo philosophy of "Onye aghana nwanne ya", "Nwanne di na

mba", they adopted the feudalistic philosophy of "Onye ube ruru, nya

rarama". Thus it did not matter to them if every Igbo man and woman ate

from the garbage can or starved to death so long as their masters, the

Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba Oligarchy were happy with them. And that became

their guiding philosophy throughout their reign. Hence they put in place

policies that virtually emasculated the Igbo. These evil policies have

remained in force to this day.

But that wasn't the main tragedy. The major tragedy is that probably

because of the psychology of defeat, NDIIGBO DID SOMETHING THEY HAVE

NEVER DONE IN THEIR HISTORY. Ndiigbo bowed to traitors, started crowning

these traitors, these agents of the destruction of Igbo society as kings.

Ndiigbo started bestowing high traditional titles to them, Ndiigbo made

them "Ajie", "Onowu", "Odu", etc. Ndiigbo made them governors, chairmen

of Boards. Ndiigbo made them "rulers". Thus Ndiigbo who were shooting

Ndiigbo on the battlefield, Ndiigbo who were touring the then Soviet

Union claiming that nobody was killing Ndiigbo in Nigeria, Ndiigbo who

were overtly sabotaging the efforts of Ndiigbo to survive a terrible war

of annihilation were made chiefs, given traditional titles and appointed

"rulers" by the same Ndiigbo they wanted to exterminate. A terrible,

terrible irony. A monstrous mistake. Can you imagine that happening among

the Yoruba or the Hausa/Fulani?

To drive this point home, imagine for one moment that your town and

another town fought a terrible war over a piece of land. Hundreds of your

town's folks were killed, women were raped, children starved to death and

virtually all the houses in your town were burnt by the people of the

opposing town. During this war three of your sons joined the opposing

town to wreck this havoc on your (also their) town. At the end of the

conflict, these three traitors came back to your town and you made them

Eze Ani, President of the Town Union and Traditional Ruler of the town

respectively.

What do you think will happen to your town?

How will the youths of your town behave henceforth?

What values will you have taught the young people of your town?

This has been the main tragedy that has befallen Ndiigbo since the end

of the war. That is not all, Ndiigbo went further. They crowned the

monsters who raped their women, gouged open the bellies of pregnant Igbo

women and killed the unborn fetuses, raped young girls and wives before

their fathers and husbands, handed over young Igbo girls to lepers to be

ravaged in leper colonies, starved about four million of their children,

old men and women to death, razed their houses and looted everything of

value thus pauperizing them. Thus Obasanjo became Eze .... of Igboland

for commanding the troops who continued to kill able bodied young men and

women after the war had ended in January 1970. Murtala Mohammed was not

only Eze ... of Igboland, he had his bust proudly displayed at a

strategic location in Enugu the political capital of Igboland as a token

of Igbo appreciation for the slaughter of thousands of unarmed Igbo men

and women in cold blood in Asaba and the surrounding towns and another

three hundred unarmed worshippers in a Church in Onitsha. The list is

endless, Babangida became Eze .... Ndiigbo. We are waiting the day T. Y.

Danjuma will be crowned Eze .... of Umuahia. Do not be shocked if you see

or hear of such a thing. At the rate Ndiigbo have been going downhill,

it will only be a matter of time before one traditional ruler crowns

Danjuma Omemma 1 of Umuahia. However, we wish to issue one challenge to

the traditional rulers who have been selling these titles to these

Nigerian murderers. Here is the challenge:

1.) Carry a picture (5x8) of Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu and display this

picture on your chest openly and publicly for one hour while walking

about in any of these towns Kaduna, Zaria, Sokoto, Maiduguri, Kano,

Jos, Minna, Yola, Katsina, and Ilorin. If your head is still on your

shoulders at the end of this parade, you get a cheque for one thousand

dollars.

2.) Suggest to one of your Yoruba friends, the ones who love you so very

much that you have a statue of Emmanuel Ifeajuna, the 1957 Commonwealth

Games gold medallist, which you want to donate for installation at the

Liberty Stadium, Ibadan. If you get a positive response and actually

have the statue installed in Liberty Stadium, you get a cheque for five

hundred dollars.

Yet these responses are not altogether unexpected. Try putting a statue

of Hitler anywhere in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem or even New York City and see

if you will come out alive.

This destruction of Igbo culture and values has continued unabated and

is actually gathering momentum. Titles in Igboland have been so badly

degraded that they are now worth almost nothing. The bastardization of

respected Igbo titles both at home and in the United States,

praise-singing by Igbo musicians, militarization of Igbo society by the

noveaux riche who have easily metamorphosed into "war lords" with

devastating consequences for several communities (Aguleri - Umuleri) and

general social order [Anambra House of Assembly Vs the Governor, Enugu

State House of Assembly Vs the Governor] etc., and the dangers these

issues pose to the survival and stability of Igbo society and culture

should be a major source of concern to every sensible Igbo man, woman and

child. Ndiigbo, Igbo culture, Igbo identity and Igbo Society is under

siege. Ndiigbo, when the ambition of an Igboman is to be called Sarduana

dollar of Awka-Etiti, Adamu dollar of Mbaise, Dantata of Umuahia, Owolabi

of Adaziani, Abiola of Achalla, etc., for example, something is definitely

wrong. Why do we not hear of Azikiwe of Akwete, Okpara of Nkanu,

Mbazulike of Item, Ibiam of Umunede, Nwodo of Nnobi. Who has ever heard

of Ironsi of Gusau, Mbadiwe of Otta, Ojukwu of Katsina, Ikoku of Ijebu

Ode, Osadebe of Sokoto, Nzeogwu of Yola, Onoh of Maidugiri, Ani of

Bauchi, Ekwueme of Jos, etc. It has become fashionable for some Igbo men

to call themselves Alhaji this and Alhaji that even when they are not

moslems. Have you asked yourself, how many Yoruba or Hausa/Fulani you

hear address themselves as Nze this or Nze that. No, you will not hear

it. Because they know who they are. These days we hear Igbo musicians

boldly telling us "Ana enwe obodo enwe."

Who is propagating this outrageously foolish anti Igbo philosophy?

Since when did individuals start owning Towns in Igbo Society?

Are the inhabitants of these towns slaves owned by these people?

And yet we don't stop to ask what impact these things have on our society,

social order and especially the behavior of our youths.

What are we telling our children when we indicate that our main aspiration

in life is to be like those who have vowed to destroy us?

What are we telling our children when we show them that these

are our heroes and then relegate our authentic heroes to nothingness?


CONCLUSION:

Our dear brothers and sisters, we have pointed out these problems

because we believe that in order to establish a renaissance Igbo Society

we need to take a very critical look at the state of Igbo Society since

the end of the Biafra - Nigeria war. Our goal is not to castigate or

malign anybody. It is not to exclude anybody from participating in the

administration or government of their Umunna, Town/Autonomous Community

or Igbo Society. Our goal is to draw your attention to some obvious

structural and process problems prevalent in Igbo Society today -

problems that have severely limited and undermined the ability of Ndiigbo

to actualize their potential for economic, social and political

advancement. Our goal is to refocus your attention at those values,

beliefs, practices, and philosophies that propelled Ndiigbo to giant

heights of economic, social, political, technological success in the past

and mobilize all Igbo men, women and children to strive for excellence in

all and every field of human endeavor. To achieve this success, we need

SOLID leadership.

To begin, we want to draw a clear distinction between "RULERS" and

"LEADERS".

We believe that Rulers are those people who just give orders

and directives and insist that they be carried out willy-nilly. Their

authority and power cannot be challenged or questioned. They are not

elected by ordinary men and women like you and us. They are appointed by

some authority somewhere over whom ordinary men and women do not have any

control. They are not accountable to those ordinary men and women like

you and us. The people they are ruling cannot disagree, challenge,

discipline or remove them from office. Therefore, they can drive them

like goats down a bottomless pit and no questions will be asked.

Leaders on the other hand are elected by their people to guide them

towards a defined and agreed goal. They derive their power and authority

from the people they are leading. The ordinary people reserve the right

to question any and all their decisions and actually do so often. They

are accountable to the ordinary people like you and us. Whenever the

ordinary people feel that the leaders are no longer leading them towards

the desired goal, they disagree, challenge, discipline or even remove the

leaders and elect others to replace them. As a result, their leaders

cannot lead them like goats down a bottomless pit.

Ndiigbo, ibe anyi, which one of these two do you want - "RULERS" OR

"LEADERS"? Every member of EKWE NCHE, worldwide has voted and the

unanimous choice is "LEADER". How do you vote? If your vote is for

"LEADER", EKWE NCHE ORGANIZATION salutes and congratulates you. If your

vote is for "RULER", we are saddened that you are still suffering from

the "Nigerian Disease". We pray that you recover soon, failing, your

autonomous community should seriously consider keeping you as far away as

possible from their Leadership.

Because Leadership is of such critical importance in the renaissance

of Igbo Society we strongly suggest that you do the following things:

[1] Leadership at any level in Igbo Society begins from your Family

and Umunna, to your Village, Town/Autonomous Community and Igbo

Society. Therefore those men who do not care about their family, Umunna,

Village or Town but jump out to Abuja to claim to be Igbo Leaders must be

rejected. Their Umunna, Village, Town/Autonomous Community must inform

Ndiigbo that such a man or woman has no credibility in their Umunna,

Village or Town. He or she neither respects nor cares for the interests

of his/her people and so will not care for the interests of Ndiigbo. He

must be rejected.

[2] You must insist that the people you elect as the leaders of your

Umunna, Village or Town are men and women of integrity. They have

shown at Umunna, Village and Town meetings that they are very

intelligent, are not criminals or crooks, are not autocratic, care about

people and have a vision of where they intend to lead the people. Their

honesty and integrity must be transparent. A man who is building palaces

and driving expensive cars when he neither has a steady job nor a

permanent market stall must be rejected and cast aside. He is likely a

crook, possibly a thief. You don't want your leader to be a thief, 419,

crook or con man. He will destroy your Community.

[3] You must never again accept money or any other bribe from any

politician and indeed anybody in order to vote them into office. Have you

ever wondered why a politician will give you money to vote for him and

thus make him your servant. Yes, a leader is actually the servant of the

people. The reason is this, once you accept bribe from him or her, you

loose your moral authority to question anything he or she does including

stealing money set aside for community development and the payment of

government workers. So, next time someone offers you money for your vote,

remember that if you accept the money, rice or beer or any thing, you have

thrown away jobs that would have been created for millions of young Igbo

men and women from yours and other villages and towns in Igboland or when a

politician starts throwing around money in a crowd, you should ask why

he/she is not building or investing in industries to create jobs for

his/her people. You have sold out any industries, roads, bridges,

airports, hospitals, health clinics, schools, colleges, etc that would

have helped your brothers and sisters, sons and daughters. You have

created more unemployed young boys and girls in your own village. More

importantly, you have sold your 'mouth' and don't have 'mouth' any more.

[4] Local Government Councilors and Chairmen must be elected from

leaders of Town Union/Autonomous Communities, which make up the Local

Government. They must not be people who flew in from Lagos, Abuja,

America, etc with a planeload of political party big wigs who have never

been to your local government and can't even pronounce the name of your

town, but have a truckload of money to distribute. They must not be

people who have never attended your Umunna or Town/Autonomous Community

meetings. Such fraudulent money-bags must be rejected because they are not

your leaders. They want to be your Rulers.

[5] People who want to represent you at the State Assembly, House of

Representatives, Senate or to become your Governor must be people elected

by their Town Union/Autonomous Community to run for such posts. They must

be familiar with all the Town/Autonomous Communities in the constituency,

senatorial district they want to represent or the State they want to

serve as governor. They must present themselves to each Town

Union/Autonomous Community Assembly at least once during a Town Meeting.

During the Town Meeting you must question them intensely for several

hours on their understanding of the problems of your Town, Constituency,

Geographical Area, as well as the problems of Ndiigbo in general. You

must question them seriously about their personal life including their

history, their integrity, honesty, commitment to public welfare, and the

agenda of Igbo survival and progress. Representatives and Senate

Contestants must clearly specify what projects e.g. International Airport,

Dredging the River Niger to Onitsha, River Port at Onitsha, Oguta,

Arochukwu, Federal and State Highways, Hospitals, Schools, Colleges,

Industries, Water Projects, Erosion Control, Agricultural Development,

etc they promise to bring to your constituency, district and to Igboland

and how these projects fit into the total picture of the Igbo Collective. You

must question them seriously on how they plan to improve education, and

tackle the huge unemployment of young men and women in your constituency,

district and Igboland. You must ask the same questions of candidates for

governor. They should be even more detailed about how they plan to govern

your State. That will include such issues as how they will generate

revenue to run the government, pay civil servants and teachers,

industrialize the State, develop agriculture, trade and commerce, improve

transportation, check crime and stop corruption among public servants,

government functionaries and contractors. Your Town Union will keep a

record of these promises made by the candidates to see how many of the

promises they will keep as the months go by. You will have something to

tell them when they come around during the next election.

[6] Electing someone in whose hands you will trust your future, the

future of your children, your Umunna, and Town/Autonomous Community is

very serious business and must never be taken lightly henceforth. Never

permit any candidate to organize women, men or children's dances when

they visit your Town Union meeting. Nor should parents ever allow

teachers to send school children to stand by the roadside and inhale the

deadly dust raised by the cars of a visiting candidate or government

official. This practice exposes the children to all kinds of diseases and

illnesses. Besides, someone begging you to elect him or her as your

leader should come to you with humility not arrogance.

[7] You must reject any candidate who tries to intimidate your

community by coming to your Town Meeting with a bunch of thugs most of

who are high on drugs. Such a candidate does not deserve to be your

Councilor, Chairman, Representative, Senator or Governor.

[8] Whenever you are about to elect someone to represent your Umunna,

Town/Autonomous Community or State, never say or think, "Let us send that

rascal or crook. Let him go there and fight with other rascals and

crooks". This is very wrong. Remember that it is your life and your

future that they are going to decide. Vote to send the best and most

responsible person in your community. You must also not let how much

money a person has or is able to distribute determine your choice of who

will represent you at any level of government. Money does not equal

intelligence and integrity. Always remember that it is your future they

are going to decide.

[9] Leadership begins with the family. In most societies all over the

world, unmarried people are rejected for high public office. In the

United States, for example, an unmarried person contesting for the

presidency will be wasting his or her time as he or she is sure to be

rejected. A person who cannot manage a family will find it very difficult

to manage a Community, State or Nation. Therefore take a candidate's

marital history into serious consideration when considering them for

leadership.

[10] You must reject the "W.I.M.P" politician. The WIMP politician

actually means: "Whoever, (it is) I Must Please (am)" politician. The

WIMP politician is like a prostitute. He has no conviction, no moral

character, no values, does not stand for anything, believes in nothing

except Money. His maxim is: "money for hand, back na ground". The only

reason he is in government is to make more money for himself and to be in

power. He will fight for nothing and nobody except that which his master

wants. Typically he has been in every government for as long as anybody

can remember. For example the profile of this hypothetical WIMP may read

like this: He was in the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa government and advised

the Prime Minister on moves to quell the Western Nigeria Crisis of 1965.

He was in the Aguiyi Ironsi government and was a policy adviser on decree

34. He was in the Yakubu Gowon government and was a member of the

advisory group that prevailed on Gowon to renege on the Agreements at

Aburi, Ghana (The Aburi Accord) that Nigerians are clamoring for today

and the unilateral decision to split Nigeria into 12 states. He was in

the Murtala/Obasanjo government and was a major adviser on political and

economic matters. He was an important member of the Shehu Shagari

government and was an economic adviser. He was a prominent adviser in the

Buhari/Idiagbon government and preached fiscal discipline. He was a

prominent adviser in the Ibrahim Babangida government where he helped to

formulate the smoke and mirrors program called MAMSER. He was a prominent

adviser in the Sanni Abacha government. When General Abubakar became Head

of State, he was on hand as his economic adviser. And now in the current

Obasanjo administration, he is an ever loyal politician and economic

adviser. For his loyal services, he has been appointed board member of

numerous companies like West Africa Milk Co., New Africa Holdings,

Ecobank, Tropical Petroleum Products, Dumez, Beecham, GTE, Nigerian

Pipes, Gulf Oil, Philip Morris, Lever Brothers, Krupp Steel and

Engineering, Bendel Feed and Flower Mills, SCOA etc, etc. Such WIMP

politicians have no place in Igbo Society anymore. They must be rejected.

If your Umunna, Village or Town/Autonomous Community has a WIMP

politician who is like this imaginary politician we just described, make

him feel ashamed of himself by rejecting him. He is neither a solid man

or woman nor a man or woman of conviction. He or she is just a chameleon.

In conclusion, we have taken a very critical look at LEADERSHIP

in this discussion. We have examined LEADERSHIP at all levels from the

Family through the Town/Autonomous Community to the State and Nation. We

have noted that LEADERSHIP played a very important role in the progress

and prosperity of Ndiigbo in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. You will agree

that in those days Ndiigbo elected their own leaders, held them

accountable for their actions, criticized and praised them according to

their performance and even removed them from office when they became

ineffective or started leading them astray. As was pointed out by many of

the authors we cited, Ndiigbo never put their destiny in the hands of one

man or woman dictator who exercised absolute power and who they could not

challenge, control, or remove from office. Since the end of the

Biafra-Nigeria War, the situation has changed. Rulers were imposed on

Ndiigbo by the Hausa/Fulani/Yoruba Alliance, in the same way the British

colonialists imposed warrant chiefs on Ndiigbo. However, unlike our

fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers, who stoutly resisted

warrant chiefs and thus conquered British colonialism, we accepted and

succumbed to the Rulers imposed by Nigerian imperialists. This is why we

have been suffering terribly for thirty years. The time has come to cast

off the yoke of Feudalistic Rulers because Igbo achievement-oriented

democratic social system is superior to and more efficient than the

ascription-oriented Feudalistic Emirate and Obaship kingdoms. We must go

back to the Republican system of government that made Ndiigbo great and

run far, far, far away from the feudalistic system of Kings and Queens

that is now being consigned to the dumps of history all over the world.

You can do it! I can do it! Yes, we can do it!!! We are of the great Igbo
civilization of Africa, the people who are divinely endowed with extra ordinary
gifts; it is up to us to make maximum good use of them.

ARISE! ARISE!! NDIIGBO ARISE!!!

EKWE NCHE ORGANIZATION N'EKENE UNU. NDEEWO NU.

 

EKWE NCHE ORGANIZATION

LAW & ORDER COMMITTEE