Igbo love themselves, they’re together. But spare Arthur Eze!

By Sunny Igboanugo on 18/07/2020

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Arthur Eze

The republican nature of the Igbo society, has become a notorious fact known to goat and fowl. The Igbo society is not a monarchical enclave. No part of it is governed by a fiat and power has never flowed from top to bottom, but otherwise, bottom-up.

Let me illustrate. If a mad man, I mean, stark, raving mad, enters the meeting in an Igbo setting, as long as he is qualified either by birth or association – that is – he is a member of that kindred or community, he is never chased away, provided he doesn’t disrupt the meeting or constitute any sort of danger. He is allowed to sit through the meeting and gets all privileges including food and drinks served, as of right and not privilege.

If in the course of the meeting he raises his hand to speak, even though, all the while his eyes had been darting in different directions as mad people do and he had been muttering to himself, he would be given his privilege to speak. Even if the chairman of the meeting tries to ignore him, there would always be someone at that meeting that would call his attention to mad man and insist on his right to speak.

Supposing the same man is the one that comes up with ideas critical and germane to the solution being sought, nobody discountenances him on account of his state of the mind. That idea is allowed to carry the day and he would earn his accolades legitimately without anyone feeling diminished that a mad man proved more potent, regardless. That is the Igbo society for you!

Two principles lead to this – onye kwu o uche ya and uche bu akpa, onye obuna nya nke ya. (Every man is allowed his views and ideas are like the bag, every man carries his). The Igbo man believes that you could throw ideas away, but not those who project them. In other words, the Igbo practice the true essence of not throwing the baby away with the bathwater.

Ndigbo also believe that every man should bring what he has and that nobody is completely useless. They believe that the footprints of a single individual do not cover a compound and a tree does not make a forest. So, in a society, the importance of the palmwine tappers is as crucial as billionaire industrialists. Both must live together.

In intelligence gathering, for instance, it is the village drunkard, whom ordinarily people would write off that are most effective at some points, because they are the ones that would easily mingle with their mates in distant places where vital secrets reside. So, you want to gather the latest gist in town, whose wife is sleeping with whom, who fathered whom, who is to attack whom, who did what and when – make the drunkard your friend and the information is at your fingertips. So, in a way, it comes down to one reality – everyone has his value.

It’s with this mindset that I have approached one of the most recent sensations in the media today, regarding the comments of Arthur Eze. Yes the one and only Ezenukpo and Ozoigbondu of Igbo land.

I have heard many people questioning his to speak about Ndigbo, the way he did a few days ago. There have been series of attacks. Instructively, both sides are right. Of course he has the right to say his mind in the same manner his critics have the right to evaluate him. That is the Igbo society for you. Arthur has all the rights as a bona fide Igbo to speak and speak in the manner he chooses.

What the Ozoigbondu cannot do is to project his thoughts as official in any capacity. Those thoughts are not the Igbo position, but nobody would harass or stone him for expressing them either.

Why is it so? Just as I explained earlier, just like the stark, raving mad man, could be participate in a meeting, he cannot stamp his feet on his views. Nobody does.

Even the chairman who aggregates all the views must revert to the people for a clean copy of decisions. Ndi banyi, okwa ihe anyi kwuru (My people, is this what we have agreed?). Either a general chorus the matter returns to the table.

Thus, Arthur’s place is his full right as a floor member of the Igbo society. Once his views are defeated he is not only in the minority, but powerless to change anything. But he cannot also be denied his rights to grumble.

So, his present grumbling is in order and consistent. He has always been in the minority as long as Igbo issues are concerned. Yet he’s not a complete outcast either.

Ndigbo have a certified authority in Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and the President General, Chief Nnia Nwodo. He is the one that speaks for Ndigbo, regardless the faultlines anyone might be contending with. To question this authority or the reality is amusing. It falls into the concept of Oha zuru mee. Nobody destroys what lawyers call the res because the person complaining was not part of the decision in a meeting he is supposed to attend. What failure to attend means is the person has ceded his representation to others and is bound by the decisions thereafter. Not attending Ohanaeze meeting doesn't mean you're not bound as long as you're Igbo. Simlicita!

Ohanaeze was ordained and established by those who went before the people here today. Questioning its essence and existence is like questioning your parents on why they slept together to bring you forth. It doesn’t matter whether they slept on a mat or kingsize bed, or whether they quarreled before the coupulation, your birth has become a reality which you must flow with.

I have also taken out time to explain to those, who in their expletives, as they fume, huff and puff that it is a waste of time, because under its model, Ohanaeze is made up of the Oha and Eze – the General Assembly (Oha) and the Ime-Obi (Eze). None is superior to the other and the two works individually and interdependently to reach the decisions Ohanaeze takes.

 

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I have never failed to tell the naysayers that any and every Igbo man of age, is entitled to attend at least one of those meetings as of right. The way it works is that the Ime-Obi first sits to distill an agenda of Igbo-based issue and presents same to the General Assembly, where the views and endorsement of the people are sought and obtained. Nothing goes out to the public if it is not endorsed by the General Assembly. In other words, every pronouncement made by Nwodo, must go through this rudiment, outside the day to day mundane decisions necessary for the smooth operation of the body.

Now, it is a known culture in Igbo land that the fact you did not attend a meeting, doesn’t invalidate its decisions.  Under the umbrella of Ohanaeze are sub-units of tendencies and opinions from a thousand or even millions of viewpoints articulated by the promoters both as individuals or groups. Be it the Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Igboezue Cultural Association, Aka Ikenga, Igbo Ekunie, etc, no matter how powerful and large the following, the Igbo people know who speaks for them.

Uche Maduemesi, journalist, lawyer and public affairs analyst, therefore, captured it quite succinctly and I agree – there has never been any serious meeting to discuss Igbo affairs where Arthur was present. Not that any time he decides to attend, he would be chased away. Never! In fact, he would be welcomed with open arms. He has never featured in those meetings either as member of Ohanaeze or Igbo leaders of thought, for obvious reasons. He simply has his own crowd. His crowd and tendency are known to everyone. So, his views won’t therefore surprise those who know.

Lamidu Adedibu, of blessed memory and advocate of amala politics, never claimed leadership of the Yoruba and was never seen as on. Even outsiders and those on the fringes know that Arthur is a leader, but not THE leader. They also know who to reach if they’re actually seeking out the authentic Igbo leaders. If anything, they may be hyping him as Femi Adesina, President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman tried to do a few days ago, for a purpose.

Arthur says only God can make an Igbo man President of Nigeria. What he implies is the Igbo will always bear the blame for not producing the President. That statement may not be unconnected to 2023. Hype the popular narrative, so Ndigbo bear the blame of a national conspiracy so that the oppressors are cured of their collective guilt.

But could anyone truly fault the God element, really? Whoever has become President anywhere without the help of God? Who says the Ozoigbondu may be speaking prophetically even if he doesn’t mean to.

After all, did Olusegun Obasanjo become President of Nigeria because of the unity of the Yoruba people? God decided to make him President in spite of the Yoruba, who were even in disarray at that point.

The National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), which brought them together under the June 12 agenda, had become a shadow of its original self – completely dishevelled , decapitated and dismembered that only few of them remained in the struggle. Yet, Obasanjo, one, their own became President.

That is definitely the hand of God. If the late General Sani Abacha had lived, nobody knows what Nigeria would have become. Perhaps, Nigeria would have been another Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe, Uganda under Yuweri Musaveni or Cameroun under Paul Biya. So there is always the God element.

Even Obasanjo did not win his polling unit in the 1999 election. Yet, he won. So, if an Igbo man is going to be President of Nigeria, it is not because of their so-called unity or absence of it as being trumpeted, but in spite of both. So, the issue of disunity doesn’t arise in any way. If anything, it fits into an established conspiracy arrangement.

The postulation that the Igbo do not love themselves is also a complete fallacy. Nothing could be farther to the truth, at least not in comparison their equivalent in Nigeria. Who has proved love for his fellow brother than the Igbo? It is only the Igbo man in this country that goes to the home of his poor brother or village man, picks up his son for apprenticeship and in the end, makes him a millionaire by setting him up along his line of business. Whatever display of love could be more that the demonstrable examples in various villages and communities, where each person’s success is traceable to a particular tree?

This is just one aspect. It is the Igbo that carry the philosophy of onuru ube nwanne agbana oso (he who hears the brother’s cries must not abandon him) like a handbag. So, Arthur is wrong – very wrong.

Regarding President Muhammadu Buhari, Igbo people also have a saying that osita di mma (if the present begets goodies, it’s still early enough.) Should Buhari start today to recognise Ndigbo as part of Nigeria, if he banishes his seemingly unhidden animosity against Ndigbo, all well and good. Who would complain?  It will be a win-win situation, certainly. But he has to earn it, which he has not yet. The mantra we hear today, mainly from his All Progressives Congress (APC) members and supporters, is therefore an example of putting the cart before the horse.

Trumpeting the totally obtuse and even infantile mantra of Enugu Airport and Second Niger Bridge as a prize to blight out what they call “the 16years of the PDP,” is missing the point. All the trumpeters need to do is ask the average trader at Ogbete or Ochanja markets the difference in their lives in the Buhari yeas as against the PDP years.

Is the Ozoigbondu being consistent? Place the name of Buhari where Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha, and Goodluck Jonathan once were and the question will answer itself. I have heard him countless times repeat his philosophy - you can’t fight government.

That attitude is probably why he has been cozy with every government in the last four decades or so. Of course the only exception was Obasanjo. Why.

The little I know dates back to the military era. I think it was under Emmanuel Ukaegbu, the last military administration of Anambra State or Rufai Garba that he went for the kill in the state. It was a deal from the government of the state for the building of the multi-million government house complex, named Anambra Place – a gigantic affair akin to the Three Arms Zone in Abuja that would house the Executive, Legislative and Judicial arms of government.

Though an ambitious and somewhat superb idea, there was however a snag. Under the deal, the state would have to cough out N25million 

I have never failed to tell the naysayers that any and every Igbo man of age, is entitled to attend at least one of those meetings as of right. The way it works is that the Ime-Obi first sits to distill an agenda of Igbo-based issue and presents same to the General Assembly, where the views and endorsement of the people are sought and obtained. Nothing goes out to the public if it is not endorsed by the General Assembly. In other words, every pronouncement made by Nwodo, must go through this rudiment, outside the day to day mundane decisions necessary for the smooth operation of the body.

Now, it is a known culture in Igbo land that the fact you did not attend a meeting, doesn’t invalidate its decisions. Under the umbrella of Ohanaeze are sub-units of tendencies and opinions from a thousand or even millions of viewpoints articulated by the promoters both as individuals or groups. Be it the Movement for the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Igboezue Cultural Association, Aka Ikenga, Igbo Ekunie, etc, no matter how powerful and large the following, the Igbo people know who speaks for them.

Uche Maduemesi, journalist, lawyer and public affairs analyst, therefore, captured it quite succinctly and I agree – there has never been any serious meeting to discuss Igbo affairs where Arthur was present. Not that any time he decides to attend, he would be chased away. Never! In fact, he would be welcomed with open arms. He has never featured in those meetings either as member of Ohanaeze or Igbo leaders of thought, for obvious reasons. He simply has his own crowd. His crowd and tendency are known to everyone. So, his views won’t therefore surprise those who know.

Lamidu Adedibu, of blessed memory and advocate of amala politics, never claimed leadership of the Yoruba and was never seen as on. Even outsiders and those on the fringes know that Arthur is a leader, but not THE leader. They also know who to reach if they’re actually seeking out the authentic Igbo leaders. If anything, they may be hyping him as Femi Adesina, President Muhammadu Buhari’s spokesman tried to do a few days ago, for a purpose.

Arthur says only God can make an Igbo man President of Nigeria. What he implies is the Igbo will always bear the blame for not producing the President. That statement may not be unconnected to 2023. Hype the popular narrative, so Ndigbo bear the blame of a national conspiracy so that the oppressors are cured of their collective guilt.

But could anyone truly fault the God element, really? Whoever has become President anywhere without the help of God? Who says the Ozoigbondu may not be speaking prophetically even if he doesn’t mean to.

After all, did Olusegun Obasanjo become President of Nigeria because of the unity of the Yoruba people? God decided to make him President in spite of the Yoruba, who were even in disarray at that point.

The National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), which brought them together under the June 12 agenda, had become a shadow of its original self – completely dishevelled , decapitated and dismembered that only few of them remained in the struggle. Yet, Obasanjo, one of their own became President.

That is definitely the hand of God. If the late General Sani Abacha had lived, nobody knows what Nigeria would have become. Perhaps, Nigeria would have been another Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe, Uganda under Yuweri Musaveni or Cameroun under Paul Biya. So there is always the God element.

Even Obasanjo did not win his polling unit in the 1999 election. Yet, he won. So, if an Igbo man is going to be President of Nigeria, it is not because of their so-called unity or absence of it as being trumpeted, but in spite of both. So, the issue of disunity doesn’t arise in any way. If anything, it fits into an established conspiracy arrangement.

The postulation that the Igbo do not love themselves is also a complete fallacy. Nothing could be farther to the truth, at least not in comparison their equivalent in Nigeria. Who has proved love for his fellow brother than the Igbo? It is only the Igbo man in this country that goes to the home of his poor brother or village man, picks up his son for apprenticeship and in the end, makes him a millionaire by setting him up along his line of business. Whatever display of love could be more than the demonstrable examples in various villages and communities, where each person’s success is traceable to a particular tree?

This is just one aspect. It is the Igbo that carry the philosophy of onuru ube nwanne agbana oso (he who hears the brother’s cries must not abandon him) like a handbag. So, Arthur is wrong – very wrong.

Regarding President Muhammadu Buhari, Igbo people also have a saying that osita di mma (if the present begets goodies, it’s still early enough.) Should Buhari start today to recognise Ndigbo as part of Nigeria, if he banishes his seemingly unhidden animosity against Ndigbo, all well and good. Who would complain? It will be a win-win situation, certainly. But he has to earn it, which he has not yet. The mantra we hear today, mainly from his All Progressives Congress (APC) members and supporters, is therefore an example of putting the cart before the horse.

Trumpeting the totally obtuse and even infantile mantra of Enugu Airport and Second Niger Bridge as a prize to blight out what they call “the 16years of the PDP,” is missing the point. All the trumpeters need to do is ask the average trader at Ogbete or Ochanja markets the difference in their lives in the Buhari yeas as against the PDP years.

Is the Ozoigbondu being consistent? Place the name of Buhari where Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha, and Goodluck Jonathan once were and the question will answer itself. I have heard him countless times repeat his philosophy - you can’t fight government.

That attitude is probably why he has been cozy with every government in the last four decades or so. Of course the only exception was Obasanjo. Why.

The little I know dates back to the military era. I think it was under Emmanuel Ukaegbu, the last military administration of Anambra State or Rufai Garba that he went for the kill in the state. It was a deal from the government of the state for the building of the multi-million government house complex, named Anambra Place – a gigantic affair akin to the Three Arms Zone in Abuja that would house the Executive, Legislative and Judicial arms of government.

Though an ambitious and somewhat superb idea, there was however a snag. Under the deal, the state would have to cough out N25million monthly, something like N5billion by today’s rating for the project.

Igbo youths commend Prince Arthur Eze — Nigerian Pilot News

The grandfather of it was the payment model. It was to be financed through the infamous Irrevocable Payment Order (IPO). What this means is a document is sitting with the Federal Government to deduct the money direct from the Federation Account and paid directly to the contractors. And who were the contractors? Your guess is as good as mine.

Under this squeaky arrangement, it means that even the state could eke out the money somehow owing the FG, every other project will be abandoned including payment of workers’ salaries.

Yet, despite the hues and cries, the project was signed, sealed and delivered and the money began to flow in the direction it was meant.

However, because, as Emeka Duru would always say, there’s no perfect conspiracy, the mgbamgba – what my Lagos people call gbege – burst from within. Arthur, who secured the deal handed the project over to Chris Uba, one of his boys to control. Have you not heard that it is not a problem to offer the monkey a drink, but to retrieve the cup? That was the case here eventually.

Before Obasanjo appeared on the scene, Anambra was practically asphyxiating and bleeding profusely from the mindless butchery. The glasses continued clinking over spicy fish pepper soup, direct from Ogbaru and special mouth-watering ishi-ewu, ferried direct from Richards Street in Enugu, as the jolly paddy-paddies were at the sharing table. But with Obasanjo, the story changed. Uba, the ubiquitous, Special Assistant on Domestic Affairs, the touted most powerful man to the President, - the Col. Al Mustapha under General Sani Abacha – and very lately, the Abba Kyari of Buhari, came along. And the bubble burst.

Pronto! Chris Uba, became powerful, more powerful than his boss, took it from there, shut out Arthur from the project. And that was how the fight started.

For a long time the two battled the case in court, Andrew Anyamele (SAN), representing Arthur and Afe Babalola (Obasanjo’s lawyer), representing Uba. You can now make the connection.

Now, I don’t know how much of this money Chinwoke Mbadinuju, the first civilian governor after the military paid. His own fight with Chris Uba, had started quite early. I also learnt outside other things, it was one of the bones of contention in the long-drawn battle that almost cost Chris Ngige his job. Of course, Ngige’s historic abduction down to the practical burning down of Anambra State that prompted celebrated writer, Chinua Achebe to reject national honours from the Obasanjo regime are well documented. Of course, with Peter Obi coming on the scene, such an obvious heist was impracticable – a no-go area.

Screwed further, Arthur had to scamper out of Nigeria when the heat coming through Aso Rock Villa, became unbearable. Words had it that that era was the most traumatic of his adult life. Imagine Ozoigbondu, managing a council flat in London.

However, the same history has it that it was from that hellish situation that he was able to strike pure gold once again through his oil well deal with Equatorial Guinea where his Atlas Oranto Petroleum is making a lot of waves.

That was how and why Obasanjo is probably not in his list and that is why you may not he hear him eulogising the Balogun of Owu as he did of others before him.

Interestingly, it is bemusing why he decided to leave the fact that his journey started with the contract to build the Anambra Broadcasting Service (ABS), a turn-key radio and television station under the government of Jim Nwobodo in controversial media outing.

The narrative is that it was Nwobodo, an Igbo man that introduced him to Abubakar Rimi, then Governor of Kano State that began his inroad into the North. Why did he instead prefer to regale his audience with the part that he had no kobo in his hands when he went to the North?

Didn’t he become the famous Arthur N1,000, an alias for donating N1,000 at occasions in the South East before advancing to the North? Of course it won’t fit into the narrative of Igbo hating themselves if he had brought the Nwobodo angle.

There are indeed people who believe that Arthur is a phenomenon that could break the greatest barrier into the seat of power to get what he wants, even those made with fortified steel or concrete walls.

They argue that a man who could worm himself into virtually all military and civilian leaders in Nigeria and who could rise from the ashes of penury, like a phoenix to spring such oil deal in a foreign land, cannot be wished so whimsically and disdainfully.

What this means, they advance, is that Ndigbo, can also co-opt and tap from this talent for the presidency project which they seek so desperately.

All that is needed is call him inside the house and see how he could be goaded to even convince those allegedly using him that there is nothing to fear in an Igbo man becoming the President. They want this done fast enough, lest he did further damages. Good!

Yet, others ask the other obvious questions. Where are his factories, schools and hospitals located as a sign of his own love for Ndigbo, and a sign of the reflection of his immense wealth (He’s said to worth more than $5billion) – and a proof of his philanthropy? Both are right.

But, it could even be worse. Since his last effort was to attract a zonal police headquarters recently commissioned at Ukpo, his home town as one of his biggest achievement from his closeness to the powers that be, his next project, could be to attract the largest prison in the South East. After all, the two ought to go together.

 

Igboanugo, a journalist wrote from Abuja

 

 

 

 

Source Whirlwindnews.com

Posted on July, 18 2020

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