LEADERSHIP IN IGBO SOCIETY: ANALYSIS, CHALLENGES AND SOLUTIONS BY EKWE NCHE ORGANIZATION LAW and ORDER COMMITTEE 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?