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Rivers ready to Produce next OHANAEZE President -General

 

Uche Okwukwu, Lawyer, Social Activist, Politician, former Secretary General Ohanaeze Ndị-Igbo Worldwide, beared to his mind to Summitnews Reporter, Chukwudi Ejimofor on the ragging issues of Ikwerre people in (Rivers State identity), the tribe they come from. He also harped on the January 2025 Ohanaeze Ndị-Igbo national election expected to be hosted by Rivers State.*

Question.
*What do you make of the disagreement between the Dr. Emmanuel Chukwuemeka Iwuanyanwu MFR President General of Ọhaneze Ndị-Ịgbo and Dr. Ọkachịkwu Dịbia?*

Answer.
Yes, me as an Ikwerre man, I know we have Ogbakọ Ikwerre, we have Ikwerre Development Organization. So, we don’t have anything called Iwhunrohna Progressive Organization or IPO. So the young man Dịbia wanted to score a point by issuing a statement to challenge Chief Iwuanyanwu, Ahaejiagamba. I wish him good luck. That is what I will say in that regard.

*Question.*
*But Okachikwu Dịbia is the President of Iwhunrohna Progressive Organization?*

Answer.
You are a Journalist, have you heard about that name before? He needs to be asked some questions. First and foremost, his name is Dibia; that is what he said, and he wrote a book published in 2011, which I have. In that book, he said there were pressure on him to change his surname but (he said) he did not charge it because he allowed it to remain as Igbo relic . But the truth is that he is an Igbo man; his DNA and his blood is Igbo. I have said time without numbered that the Ikwerre are Igbo, they have at different for a from Henry Willink’s Commission asserted that they are Igbo.

Ikwerre land is Igbo language. The Dibia wanted to become popular by issuing a statement challenging Chief Iwuanyanwu. For example, if Ango Abdullahi says something, and somebody wants to reply to him from Igbo land or Yoruba land, it should be a known name. So, who is this person and what organization does he represent?

*Question.*
*But Dibia who is an Ikwerre man is saying that Ikwerre is not Igbo. Do you agree with him?*

Answer.
I want it to be on record very well, the Ikwerre people are Igbo. If you say something that is not predictable on fact, either circumstantial or real, it is neither here nor there. The Portuguese got to Ikwerre land in 1400AD. Now, go and look at people from Southern Nigeria, by Amaury Talbot, volume 1, page 238. The Portuguese got to Isiokpo the headquarters of Ikwerre local government area today; the got to Amaafa, the name which now Emuoha was answering. They recorded that the people were there with these names.

Now, the Ikwerre people claimed they left Benin under the reign of Oba Ewuare, and Oba Square came to power in Benin kingdom in 1430 AD. That was after the Portuguese has visited Ikwerre land in 1400 AD. Assuming without conceding that Ikwerre people came from Benin, it then means the Ikwerre people who came came from Benin met people here (Ikwerre land). The people has been here when the Portuguese came.

Again, the Oba of Benin wrote a book. titled ”Yes, my obedient servant”. The Oba of Benin I am referring to is Omo N’Oba Akpolokpolo, Oba Erediauwa. He served as an Assistant District Commissioner in Ahoada Division in today Rivers state between 1954 and 1965. In his book titled ”Remain, sir, your obedient servant’ published in 2004, Omo N’Oba Erediauwa Akpolokpolo wrote it.

He, Erediauwa said that Ikwerre and the Etche are typical Igbo. Also the Willink’s Commission in 1957, the Ikwerre presented their position through their leaders from Port Harcourt to Onitsha was Igbo land, and when Willink published his report in April 1958 he made it very clear Ikwerre were Igbo. He went to the point of stating in black and white that Port Harcourt was an Igbo town. It is there in black and white!

Now, let us go to human beings. Illustrations Ikwerre sons, more prominent that Dibia, he stated clearly that they were Igbo. Chibuike Amaechi, the former governor of Rivers state, former speaker of Rivers State House of Assembly and the first Nigerian Minister of Transportation says he is from Igbo.

The question I ask is why are people not reporting it? Now, they are giving front page headlines to Dibia. The first Ikwerre Principal of college; saint John’s college Diobu, the first Provost of Rivers state college of Education, now Ignatius Ajuru University, and the first Ikwerre Minster, Chief Emmanuel Aguma, said he was an Igbo man. The first Ikwerre Poet, Okogbule Wonodi, who was a one-time registrar of University of Port Harcourt said he was an Igbo man. The first Ikwerre Senator, first Ikwerre to obtain a PhD, first Ikwerre commissioner, and the first Ikwerre member of the constituent Assembly, Constitution Conference, 1975 and 1977, Dr. Obi Wali said he was an Igbo man. The question I will ask Dibia is, why did you say you are not an Igbo man?

*Question.
*What do you think may have made Dr. Okachikwu say the Ikwerre people are not Igbo people?*

Answer.
Well, he knows what made him to say so, I don’t know. He wrote a book tilted “The challenge of Ikwerre Development in Nigeria” published 2011. From page 146 to 147 of that book, this Dibia talking; he said “Ikwerre names that are Igbo have remained unchanged because they were left as part of Ikwerre historical relics. They have no other meaning than that. For example, my name, Dibia, does not in any way assist in defining my personality despite the pressure to change it. I had decided to retain it to remember what Ikwerre people passed through in the past, representing the experience needed to rebuild Ikwerre”

Now, the question you ask him is why has he not changed his name. Dibia means in Igbo a knowledgeable person and a healer. A Professor can be called Dibia of History, Dibia of Law, Dibia of Journalism or a healer. So, let him change his name, because he has no other answer. We are not Iwhnurohna people; we are Ikwerre people. He used the word “Iwhnurohna”. Let the people be bold to change all the organizations’ names from Ikwerre to Iwhnurohna, and they will lose their bearing and relevance.

*Question.
*What do you mean?*

Answer.
Of course, if you change your surname today, you will lose you track. Why is it that the Afro-Americans are still insisting that are still Africans? Why are they not saying that they are Spanish? Why are they not saying that they are Germans or British? Why are they still insisting that are Africans? Blacks and Afro-American have their roots in Africa. This because it is the identity that defines their mission and purpose and that they are blacks and Africans.

The Ikwerre are Igbo, and from time immemorial, the Ikwerre have remained in Ohanaeze. From 1939, the Ikwerre were members of Igbo state union which existed from 1939 to 1966 when the military proscribed it. Since the formation of Ohanaeze Ndị-Igbo in 1976 with Akanu Ibiam as the President and Jerome Udeorji as the first Secretary General, the Ikwerre were member of Ohanaeze.

I have served as the secretary general of Ohanaeze Ndị-Igbo; many prominent sons and daughters of Ikwerre have served as Ohanaeze members. Chibidom Nwuche , former Deputy Speakerof House of Representative from Ekpeye is is a member of Board of Trustees of Ohanaeze as am taking to you. His father, the late C.C Nwuche, once served as the chairman of Ohanaeze’s Elders’ Council. The late Senator Francis Ellah of Ogba, the most outstanding Ogba man living on earth; he was a district commissioner, he was the Registrar of Rivers state University at that time, he was Secretary to the Government, he was a minister, and remained Ohanaeze till he died.

So, I don’t where the likes of Dibia are coming from. If he knows the people that sent him on an errand, he should tell them that the Igbo will not surrender Ikwerre to anyone or tribe; and I want to be recorded; any attempt to remove Ikwerre land from the will be resisted. No nation n a modern history will want his side to be shrunk. That is the whole crisis in Kremia and Ukraine, Russia said you cannot remove Russians from us.

*Question.
*Why do you think Ikwerre land is important to the Igbo?*
No nation will want itself to be cut off from the sea. Ikwerre land is tongue of the Igbo nation to the sea. The Ohanaeze President General, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu is coming to Rivers state in January 2025, because constitutionally, it is the turn of Rivers state to produce the next president general of Ohanaeze. So, the likes of Dibia are on a mission to undermine the Ikwerre in Ohanaeze. He should tell those who sent him that they have failed, because some of are still alive.

*Question.
*Some have said that the reason why some Ikwerre people are claiming that they are not part of Igbo and Igbo land is because of an alleged expansionist tendency of Igbo people. What is your take on this sir?*

Answer.
Who is expanding to where? Under what constitution, where are they expanding to? Nigeria is an indivisible and indissoluble country under section 2 of the constitution. Local governments have been created. Nobody from Ebonyi state will rule Enugu state; nobody from Rivers state will rule Delta state. The clannish nature of Nigeria is so high that that you cannot be a Councillor outside your village. Even in Yoruba land, you cannot not come from Oyo state and be a Councillor in Osun state.

So, I don’t know who is expanding to where. Is anybody controlling a local government except the Chairman who is from there? Rivers State was created in 1967, almost 60 years ago. So, the Igbo came back to Rivers State after the war as non-Rivers indigenes and struggled for survival. Rivers people are in Lagos state as non-Lagosians struggling for. Anywhere you find yourself in Nigeria, you struggle for survival as a non-indigene. You battle; if you go to university, you pay different school fees from the one those from the state pay.

So, which expansionist tendency are these people talking about? If you go anywhere, you buy land with your money; nobody dash you land. You are in Lagos today, if you have money to buy land you, you buy from the natives. The Lagosians go to Ogun state and buy land. Even the Ijebu people buy land in Ijebu. Tell those saying this to tell us where we are expanding to. It is just a case of calling a dog bad name to kill it.

*Question.
*What will be you advice to those unwittingly try to distort history over the current controversy on the identity of Ikwerre people?*

Answer.
If something is not your name, you change your name. For example my name is Uche Okwukwu. If I find out that it is not my name, I change it. Go to court, do affidavit, publish in a newspaper. So, some Ikwerre people who are saying that Ikwerre are not Igbo should change their names.

*Question.
*The Reporter cut-in… but some are saying the language is not enough to determine where a person comes from?*

Answer.
Dibia is saying that he is retaining his name as Igbo relic. Now you are saying that name is not important.

*Report cut-in. No some people said it, not me.*

Answer.
Let me quote what Olive Wendell said in 1866 about language. “Every language is a temple in which the soul of those who speaks it is enshrined. Language is by its very nature communal. It expresses never the exact thing, but a compromise that is common to me, you and everybody”. Now, language is very important. That is why the very Yoruba of Kogi, Kwara and Edo states are still saying they are Yoruba. This is because of language and name. If you say the Igbo should change their names. How? How can that kind of influence be there that the person does not retain anyone.

It’s important I also give you this source; the femous Benin historian Julius Egharevba, wrote a book, he said that the earliest migration people out of Benin was in 1440, by which time the Portuguese had already visited Ikwerre and met the Ikwerre people. Remember that the Portuguese where here by 1400. So, I don’t know where they are getting their facts from. You must be armed with history to make a statement; you doing just say things and when they bring you out of national Television, you can’t defend it.

*Question.*
*Igbo women are said to always tie two wrappers and that is also one of the ways a person can be determine who am Igbo woman is. What’s your take on that assertion?*

Answer.
These days globalization has made people open open their Noses, open Ears in five different spots. Some almost go naked, which the government is fighting against in all higher institutions. I know that Ikwerre women tie two wrappers. You must visit with your camera and take snapshots. We wrestle like the Igbo and our women tie two wrappers.

*Question
*Ohanaeze Ndị-Igbo will likely have a new president general next year and it said that the position will go to Rivers State. How ready are you people to take the position?*

Answer.
This is the same question they ask when it comes to politics. What is the qualifications to become president of this country? Is it not school certificate? Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was the first Nigerian president that went through the university. So didn’t those that ruled before before him do well? The Igbo-specking people in Rivers state; the Ogba, the Ekpeye, the Ndoni, Ikwerre, Etche, Obigbo; don’t they have people? Is Amaechi not an Ikwerre man? He has said he is Igbo.

Are you saying a man who who has run presidential primary cannot be Ohanaeze’s President General? Are you saying that Chibidom Nwuche who was deputy speaker of House of Representative is not qualified to be Ohanaeze President General? Are you saying I am not qualified as a Lawyer to become president general of Ohanaeze. I have also served as Secretary General. Are the qualifications of president general and secretary general different? It like saying Prof. Yomi Osinbajo cannot be president of Nigeria even when he has been vice president of Nigeria.

All those things are cheap blackmail. The Rivers people are very prepared. We are prepared. Constitutionally, it is only people from Rivers state who can contest the position of the next president general of Ohanaeze. It is zoned to Rivers state, and after Rivers state it will go to Abia state….End

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