President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo, alongside other prominent Igbo stakeholders have agreed that the marginalization of the Igbo in Nigeria can only be overcome through diplomacy, not by gun or street protests.
The Igbo leaders reached this resolution in Abagana, Njikoka Local Government of Anambra State, during the 2018 Igbo International Leadership and Good Governance Retreat.
The retreat, which was organised by the World Igbo Leadership Council and the World Igbo Information and Communication Network was the third in the series.
The Abagana event, which was hosted by the President of World Igbo Assembly, Dr. Nwachukwu Anakwenze, the traditional prime minister of Abagana was the third in the series. It was attended by renowned Igbo scholars from Abia, Anambra, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo and Rivers states.
Speaking at the event, Nwodo commended organisers of the annual retreat and argued that though it was not in doubt that Igbo, as a people, are facing large scale marginalisation in Nigeria, the way to win was not by waging another civil war, but by adopting peaceful means and dialogue with the opposition.
Citing the manner in which states and local governments were created in Nigeria, he stressed that correcting the shortchanging of Ndigbo can only be done through dialogue and ensuring that other ethnic groups see the need with Igbo for equity and justice in the Nigeria project.
Nwodo said, “The military created states and local governments and gave the North the highest numbers, not because our population was smallest, but just part of the marginalisation process. But, we should be patient and continue to do what we have already started, knowing that the battle is no longer the type that will be fought with guns but using intelligence.
“We have suffered so much and that is why we should apply diplomacy. One of such diplomatic moves is the planned handshake across the Niger in which Igbo leaders will dialogue with Yoruba leaders in Enugu, in the coming week.”
In his speech, former Ohanaeze coordinator of chairmen in the seven Igbo-speaking states, Dr. Chris Eluemunoh, said having fought in the Nigeria-Biafra war, he would not like another generation of Igbo to experience such war, insisting that what the people should be fighting for was the restructuring of Nigeria in a way that everybody would be happy.
He pointed out that Ohanaeze had nothing against the Indigenous People of Biafra, IPOB, but was against their approach to the issue of Biafra.
Eluemunoh recalled that the leadership of Ohanaeze invited IPOB leader, Nnamdi Kanu on several occasions for dialogue, but he failed to use his brain and rather resorted to insulting everybody.
“What the Igbo people want is restructuring because if you restructure properly, it is as good as being independent in your country. You cannot declare independent in an enemy territory and expect him to allow you to go just like that.
“What Ohanaeze is saying is that it is restructuring that will give us what we want. Our people are doing business in all parts of the country and in a restructured Nigeria, Igbo will have a good base. We learnt our lessons during and after the civil war and we would not like our people to make another mistake,” he stated.
On his part, Special Adviser to Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State on Igbo Affairs, Prof. J. I. Okonkwo said: “Igbo have so much to do to get to their desired destination. We embrace education, but we lack knowledge. We are not following the right steps that will help our cause and until we do that, we will continue to complain in Nigeria.”
The first Igbo International Leadership and Good Governance Retreat was hosted at Ibusa, Delta State by Professor Pat Utomi in 2016, while the second was hosted by Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu last year at Uburu in Ebonyi State.