Sycophancy of Eze Ndi-Igbo Title

By Odimegwu Onwumere

Whether it is on the Internet or newspapers I set my eyes on Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko's news-article I make sure I read it. What have gingered this interest were the too many good articles on human rights he has written when he was heading the (National Human Rights Commission), if I am not mistaken. Today, Onwubiko said he heads the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), and he is making great impacts.

As a friend and comrade in the course of Human Rights activism (myself heading the Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), I didn't find pleasure while reading Onwubiko's article in a national daily recently, entitled, “Is title the Igbo problem?” because of the many misleading opinions which the article was made up of. And if my friend Emmanuel has been exhibiting this mischief before, I wouldn't have bothered calling him to order. I think, he was hypnotized at the time he was putting pen or papers for the article, he was on a gun point to write that jaded article, or phe has turned a hack writer. But, let God forbid! So, I decided to exorcise him of anything that might have eluded him to write that article, least expected of a comrade. And I think he will read my rejoinder in good fate, because a friend is he who looks directly into a friend's eyes and tell him or her who and what he or she is. To appease his own choice of “Eze”, in the person of “Eze” Ibe Nwosu, who leads the Igbo community in the Federal Capital Territory, and the embattled “Eze” Nwabueze Ohazulike, who leads Igbo in Lagos, Onwubiko brought his Royal Majesty Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, chairman of the South-East traditional rulers' council, to a near ridicule.

Hear Onwubiko: “Our researchers found out it's a misplacement of priority for Eze Cletus Ilomuanya to waste public finds in the sponsorship of newspaper adverts, hosting of meeting of different traditional rulers from outside the South-East to urge them to ban the use of the appellation or title of “Eze Ndi-Igbo” by the chosen leaders of the Igbo communities in the domains of these traditional rulers in the North, South-West and outside the shores of Nigeria”.

Much as I don't subscribe to the use of Eze-elect in Igbo-land, which born Eze Cletus Ilomuanya, I don't subscribe also to the Eze Ndi-Igbo in the Diaspora. Eze-elect's emergence was born out of the 419ners episode of craze for power under the General Ibrahim B. Babangida-led Military regime, due to their humiliating tactics of their communities with their ill-gotten wealth and their high-tech-connections to the power that be. The subscription of Eze Ndi-Igbo in the Diaspora doesn't make sense in the traditional institution of Ndi-Igbo.

Like I have read in many newspapers the statements by Onwubiko's “Eze” Nwabueze Ohazulike that the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) registered the Eze Ndi-Igbo in Diaspora; then, why didn't Ohazurike and his surrogates look for other name to register than Eze Ndi-Igbo? Ohazulike making his faded point said that in Igbo-land, people bear “Eze” as name. That is true! But, I stand being corrected to ask, why is it that the presidents of Igbo different communities in ala-Igbo don't suffice “Eze” to their name having the mandate of the people to lead them for a period of four years or so depending on the community if “Eze” is just something you get by blowing whistle?

Coming to the “Eze”, Ohazulike was talking about; parents give their child names, perhaps in their own imagination, that their child is “Eze”. But that doesn't make the child a LEADER of even his immediate family, let alone his extended families. This is the same way we have heard people from the Middle-East answer Jesus, but that doesn't make that “Jesus” the Saviour of the World. If the likes of “Eze” Nwabueze Ohazulike and his cohorts sufficed “Eze” to their names without bearing the status of leaders, let alone traditional leaders (outside Ala-Igbo), I don't think anyone will be talking to them to refrain from answering “Eze”.

When I saw that title, “Is title the Igbo problem? by Emmanuel Onwubiko, my mind raced that the comrade was about addressing an important issue besieging the Igbo-land, but rather he added fuel to the inferior by quoting that, “Chapter four of the 1999 constitution which encompass the fundamental rights provisions which are enforceable and binding recognized the right by all Nigerians to reside and do legitimate businesses in any part of the country and to actively associate freely under a legitimate umbrella for the promotion of the public good”. From the above statement by Onwubiko, I don't think that Freedom of Expression is the same as Freedom of Sedition. No Catholic could bear the name “Pope” to lead any section of the Catholic Church, which I strongly believed Onwubiko is a member, except the one in the Vatican. But a Catholic can answer “Pope” as a sobriquet, not as a leader. So, how come the emergence of Eze Ndi-Igbo in the Diaspora? I think the CAC that empowered these Igbo dissidents should be held responsible for empowering WRONGNLESS to cause nuisance among the Ndi-Igbo.

Tufiakwa! My friend Onwubiko went ahead to slam Ilomuanya, saying, “Our researchers found out that the traditional rulers (in the South-east) of Nigeria have not lived up to the general expectation of their people by refusing to speak out against all traces of oppression and bad governance that have become the unfortunate experience of the majority of the states in the South-East with possible exclusion of Mr. Peter Obi-led administration in Anambra State”.

Now, I ask, when has traditional rulers turned House of Assembly members to speak in favour or against the ills of the government? Or, when has traditional rulers of Igbo extraction turned Board of Trustees of the Christian Association of Nigeria [CAN] to speak against the uncivilized Moslems' ethno-religions Murders in the north against the Christians? I think Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko grew up in the North and perhaps passively know or know northing about the Igbo tradition and their traditional institution.

Before the advent of money changing hands for some Ndi-Igbo to become Eze, Obi or Igwe, Ndi-Igbo don't rotate the traditional stool: Tt rotates in a particular family in a community among the first sons. But today, Money-bags, Professors and Opportunists are grapping the stool by magic or design and Igbo-land has not remained the same. “We want somebody who would speak for us,” Many villagers would say was the reason they needed Professors and what have you to be their Eze. “Whether the person is a criminal, murderer, adulterer etc we don't care”?

However, it will be amounting to foolhardiness if Ndi-Igbo continue to give the likes of my friend, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko “Eze” because they use Human Rights in a place where tradition or culture is fad. And should Ndi-Igbo continue to give the likes of Nwabueze Ohazulike and Ibe Nwosu “Eze”, they would prefer to be banished from their respective villages to abdicate the throne given to them by the Cooperate Affairs Commission of Nigeria (CAC). Is this not appalling?

Odimegwu Onwumere is the Founder of Poet Against Child Abuse (PACA), and a Media Consultant based in Rivers State. 08032552855. [email protected]