AN ADDRESS PRESENTED BY AMBASSADOR PROFESSOR
GEORGE OBIOZOR, PRESIDENT GENERAL OHANAEZE
NDIGBO WORLDWIDE AT THE OCCASION OF THE VISIT OF
HIS EXCELLENCY, PRESIDENT MUHAMMADU BUHARI,
GCFR, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
TO OWERRI, IMO STATE, ON THURSDAY, 9TH SEPTEMBER,
Mr. President your visit and presence today in Igboland and
Owerri, Imo State in particular has more than political significance. In
manner of symbolism, this visit has thrown light into the cloudiness
and doubts surrounding the perception of the relations between your
Government and Ndigbo. Your presence reassures us that there is still
reason for optimism for Nigeria and Nigerian unity.
I feel very pleased in my capacity as President General Ohanaeze
Ndigbo Worldwide and on behalf of the galaxy of Ndigbo leaders
gathered here today, and the entire Igbo Nation, to welcome Your
Excellency wholeheartedly to Igboland. It is also our firm belief that
this visit will mark the beginning of a new chapter of dialogue,
cooperation and understanding between Ndigbo and your
Mr. President, after all Nigeria has gone through in its nearly sixty
years of chequered history of crises and continuity and the
spectacular patriotic role of Ndigbo to ensure its unity and survival,
the consistent perception that the Igbos are separatists and
secessionists agitators is a historical fallacy.
Indeed, if the truth must be told, Ndigbo are the most federating unit
among all Nigerian citizens. Generally speaking anywhere in Nigeria
you don’t find the Igbos, run away something is wrong there. Igbos
are market people and travel adventurers. Consequently, what
defines the Igbo character is propensity for friendliness and harmonious peaceful coexistence and spirit of universalism of
mankind. This is who we are. Our Igbo adage says “Ojemba Enwe
Iro”, literally translated – A traveler makes no enemies.
Also another misconception of Ndigbo is that Igbos cannot speak with
one voice, ironically that is another fallacy, there are more things that
unite Ndigbo than divide them. But the Igbo spirit defies conditions
that are obstacles for the expression of their individual or group
opinion. This sense of egalitarianism is what defines the Igbo system
of governance based on liberal democracy and social justice.
Mr. President, in spite of all the threats of secessionism or separatism
facing the country, there is no doubt that no secessionist element can
succeed in Nigeria provided there is good governance based on
equity, justice and fairness to all the citizens.
Ndigbo are committed to Nigerian unity and there is news for those
trying to push us out of Nigeria. Ndigbo in Nigeria are like fish in the
ocean, no matter how rough the storm is, it cannot drive the fish out
of the ocean.
Mr. President, it is in this context, that we see a new dawn in your
distinguished presence in Igboland and believe that on your return to
Abuja the significance and substance of this visit will form a new
foundation of a platform for meaningful dialogue on critical issues of
concern to the Igbo Nation.
Your Excellency, the most urgent and imperative need of Ndigbo
today is security. The security of Ndigbo in Nigeria and beyond has
become a compelling primary responsibility of serious concern for
Ndigbo. Regrettably our South East Zone has recently become a
theatre of conflict, negating the peace-loving nature of our people. In
this context Ohanaeze Ndigbo calls for the establishment of a zonal
and state police apparatus to support and complement the existing
Federal Security architecture. It is in this same vein that Ohanaeze
Ndigbo, appeals to you, Mr. President, to see to the release of Igbo
youths detained by various security agencies across the country.
Mr. President, we appreciate the infrastructural work being
undertaken by the Federal Government in the South East such as the
nd Niger bridge. It symbolizes the unity and bridge across the various
regions of the country. However, the South East zone is in dire need
of more infrastructure sponsored by the Federal Government amongst
these are roads, bridges, railways and ports. It is the considered view
of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, one that is also shared by the Igbo people that
federal investments in these critical areas will revitalize the economy
and will have the tangential effect of dousing the youth restiveness
and unemployment in the zone.
In conclusion, Mr. President, nothing is more important to the Igbos
in Nigeria today, more than the restoration of serious sense of
belonging and the spirit of Nigeria’s founding fathers based on one
nation, one destiny. And we believe this is possible through
Devolution of Power ensuring a sense of balance in our political