The attention of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has been drawn to the above vexatious publication in the AdvocateNews of November 1, 2021, which was attributed to Lauretta Onochie, the Senior Special Assistant on Social Media to President Muhammadu Buhari. Her press statement was in response to the well-intentioned appeal by Igbo Traditional Rulers and Archbishops to the Federal Government for the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPoB).
Some parts of her response to the appeal by the Igbo Leaders are stated below: “The statement by the South East Traditional Rulers and representatives of Igbo Archbishops, demanding the release of a Lunatic, is as annoying as it’s insulting to the memory of those who have lost their lives in a needless blood-letting in the South East of Nigeria. These are political neonates who are also, ignorant of the laws of our land. Where is their sense of decency? Where is their shame? Where is the truth that Christianity preaches? When will TRUTH be released from jail?” She went on to add that the Igbo are fixated on “a post Nigeria Civil war grudge which they have passed on to their younger ones…. who in turn have narrowed it to, and are helping to expand it as a morbid hatred of the man, Muhammadu Buhari.” Onochie castigated the Igbo as losers in Nigerian politics and that “today, they are essentially followers and not participating in mainstream politics of our nation”.
She mocked the Igbo, adding that at the Eagle Square, the venue for the PDP national convention, “their political traders were on the sideline, grumbling and depressed with VICTIM SYNDROMEs, yet again. They complained that the venue was littered by posters of those from the North of Nigeria”. Onochie opined that “this is the time when stupidity will no longer help”. She posited that “if you have a megalomaniac for a son, you should call him to order and hide your face in shame”. And that to “call for the release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu is to spit on the graves of Dr. Chike Akunyili, Dr. Lawrence Ezenwa, Dr. Ahmed Gulak, slain traditional rulers, students, virgins, and ordinary Nigerians of Igbo stock who lost their lives on the instructions of this lunatic, not forgetting the security operatives they murdered……” among others. She concluded that “the truth is in jail in the South East of Nigeria. They know they failed their people and Nigerians in general. They should now bow their heads in shame”
1. In the first place, I doubt if it falls within the official circumference or schedule of duties of Lauretta Onochie to respond to a letter of passionate appeal to President Muhammadu Buhari on the release of Mazi Nnadi Kanu and other problems currently afflicting Ndigbo. It is also curious that the response from Onochie came barely less than 48 hours after the letter was dispatched to the Presidency. Furthermore, most people share the views that the Special Adviser to the President on Media, Femi Adesina or Garba Shehu would have been more articulate and circumspect in responding to a letter from the Council of Traditional Rulers, Archbishops and the Clergy from the Igbo ethnic group.
2. Lauretta Onochie is from Onitcha Olona in Aniocha North Local Government Area of Delta State. The traditional ruler of her community is HRM, Obi Christopher Uzu Diji. Onochie knows the reverence and honour that go with the titled men and traditional rulers in all the Igbo communities. Also, as a Christian, Onochie knows that the Clergy are the representatives of God here on earth. Therefore a letter jointly signed by the Igbo traditional rulers and the Archbishops should command the respect of even the most unscrupulous.
3. For Lauretta Onochie to use such uncouth words as “neonates”, “ignorant”, “lack of sense of decency”, “hide face in shame”, “stupidity”, etc, in reference to the revered traditional rulers and the Archbishops is to say the least unreflective, odious, warped, despicable and sacrilegious.
4. The obnoxious role of denigrating one’s kinsmen to be fully ingratiated and assimilated in the other group is as old as mankind. However the entrpreneurs of betrayal have never ended well. Onochie is versed in the Holy Bible, where an apostle of Jesus, by name Judas Iscariot was used to betray him; but Judas lived a life of regrets till his sorrowful death. Several instances of betrayal for a delicious pot of porridge abounds but the Greek mythology of how the crafty Odysseus danced naked in the market place is a pointer to the dangers of destroying your own for a filthy lucre.
5. The letter of Appeal to the President by the Council of Traditional Rulers and the Archbishops is strong enough to attract the attention of Mr. President for a discussion with Igbo Leaders on the way forward about Nnamdi Kanu and other security challenges in the South East.
6. The claim by Onochie that Igbos hate President Muhammadu Buhari is both mischievous and malicious. Igbos by their character are faithful, audacious and cosmopolitan. In other words, they relate freely with everybody. The demands on the Presidency for a better condition for the Igbo cannot not be construed as hatred. The warm reception accorded to Mr.President during his visit to Owerri, Imo State by Igbo dignitaries from all walks of life is a testimony to the Igbo willingness to work with Mr. President. What the Igbos want are very specific and the solutions are within the powers of Mr. President.
7. It is unfortunate that Onochie believes that the Igbos have orchestrated their self-marginalization in Nigerian politics. Any student of history will readily know that no condition is permanent. If the Igbo, like the mythical Phoenix, have resurrected from the ashes and clinched the Nigerian echelon, the Onochies of this world should know that the world does not end in her position as a Special Assistant to Mr. President.
8. It is worth reiterating the ethnic foundations of Nigerian politics and the natural tendency to recognize that every politics is local. Therefore, in 2015 when Dr. Goodluck Jonathan contested with President Buhari, most North voted Buhari as most East voted Jonathan. However, it is on record that several eminent Igbos have worked for President Buhari in all his elections. In the 2019 presidential election, several highly placed Igbos ensured that President Buhari secured 25% votes cast in all the Igbo states. The onus of magnanimity in victory rests on President Buhari. By the way, during the 1979 presidential election, the Igbo voted Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe enmasse just as the Yoruba voted Chief Obafemi Awolowo. At the end of the election, Alh. Shehu Shagari won and was sworn in as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Shagari showed fatherliness and sportsmanship by appointing several Igbos in his cabinet. That is the ideal.
9. The claims that the Igbo are fixated in the “grudges of the Nigerian-Biafran Civil war which they have passed on to their younger ones” is very fallacious and intended to sow hate and suspicion in the harmonious inter-ethnic relations among Nigerians. Onochie should know that the Igbo are fully integrated with other ethnic groups across the country. Perhaps, Onochie as an Igbo woman, is projecting her narrow thoughts and obsolete imaginations in others. For the avoidance of doubt, the Igbo are forward looking, pushful, creative and transactional. To occupy their minds with a war that was fought over 50 years ago is backpedalling and quite uncharacteristic of Igbo entrepreneurship.
10. For Laurreta Onochie to avail herself for a hatchet job against the Igbo pantheon or what Carl Jung called the Igbo “collective unconscious” is an assignment that no Hausa, Fulani, Yoruba, Tiv, Edo, Igalla, Nupe, Ijaw or Efik or any other woman, can in conscience contemplate.
11. The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Traditional Rulers, Archbishops, Governors, Igbo Members of the National Assembly and indeed the Igbos both at home and in the Diaspora conceive the case of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of IPOB beyond a court trial. Nnamdi Kanu is a product of circumstances which in all fairness, did not start with President Buhari. Buhari was not on seat when the Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB) emerged on the scene. This is a prolonged agitation. The essence of the letter in question is to seek political solution and dialogue to the matter.
12. It is worth repeating that the cause of the Igbo agitation is that the South East of Nigeria has the least number of states compared to other six geopolitical zones in the country; the least number of local government areas, the least number of seats in the Senate, the least number of seats in the House of Representatives, the least in the federal budget allocations, least in the distribution of constituency projects, zero representation in the headship of the security architecture of Nigeria, zero minister in grade A category of the ministries, unemployment to Igbo Youths; and indeed obvious conspiracy against the South East in every sector of the Nigeria polity. The major roads passing through the South East, namely, the Enugu Onitsha road, Enugu Port Harcourt road, Oturkpo-Enugu road, etc are death traps. In addition, the Fulani herdsmen roam about with AK 47 rifles, ravage the farms of the Igbo rural dwellers, debauch their women, abduct their men, maim and kill, and no arrest is made by the relevant authorities.
13. The above Igbo marginalization scenario lends groundswell of grassroots support to the IPOB movement, led by Mazi Nnamdi Kanu. The Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, like the Traditional Rulers and the Archbishops believe that President Muhammadu Buhari as the father of the nation is in a position to address some of the issues of concern to the Igbo.
14. The uncultured assertion by Onochie that “truth is in jail” in the South East and that “Igbos should bury their heads in shame” are some of the phrases that only the likes of Lauretta Onochie can use on her royal and spiritual fathers, comprising the likes of Igwe Charles Mkpuma Chairman, Ebonyi State Traditional Rulers Council & Chairman, South East Council of Traditional Rulers, Eze Joseph N. Nwabeke, Chairman, Abia State Traditional Rulers Council. Obi Nnaemeka Achebe, CFR Chairman, Anambra State Traditional Rulers Council, Igwe Amb L. O. C. Agubuzu, OON Chairman, ,Enugu State Traditional Rulers Council, Eze Dr. E. C. Okeke, Chairman, Imo State Traditional Rulers Council, Most Rev. Dr. Anthony J. V. Obinna, Catholic Archbishop of Owerri, Most Rev. Dr Emmanuel O. Chukwuma, OON, Anglican Archbishop of Enugu, Most Rev. Dr. Chibuzo R. Opoko, TFG, DOB, JP Methodist Archbishop of Umuahia, Most Rev. Dr. Valerian M. Okeke, Catholic Archbishop of Onitsha, Most Rev. Dr Uma A. Onwunta, Bishop Obi Onubogu, Rev. Dr. Abraham Nwali, Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), South East Zone.
15. Mention must be made that President Buhari deserves commendation on the Second Niger Bridge, the renovation of the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu, the ongoing rehabilitation of Enugu-Port Harcourt road, some appointments to Igbo sons and daughters, etc; however, the crisis in the South East requires his urgent attention.
16. Finally, we call the attention of HRM Obi Christopher Uzu Diji, the Obi of Onitcha Olona, the kingmakers of the community, the women wing of Ohanaeze Ndigbo and Umuada Igbo to the nefarious activities of Lauretta Onochie with a view to whipping her back to normalcy. Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia, National Publicity Secretary, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide.