• Says, they are our children, we can’t hurt them
The apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has waved the olive branch to the leadership and members of the pro-Biafra group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), following recent public altercations between the two on the propriety of holding a summit on restructuring by the former.
National Publicity Secretary of Ohanaeze, Uche Achi-Okpaga in an interview with Saturday Sun said no matter the degree of provocation, the apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation isn’t going to apply force on members of IPOB. He was reacting to the continuous threat by the separatist agitators to disrupt the proposed Southeast summit of restructuring.
Speaking on how the Ohanaeze was going to handle IPOB to allow the summit to hold, Mr. Achi-Okpaga, said, “once a soldier always a soldier and if you are a youth, you will always behave like one. We are not oblivious of their youthful blood. They didn’t just wake to start the agitation, it is just a culmination of the crucible the Igbo race has gone through in Nigeria, and they say it is time for liberation, and once it is like that, they will always think ahead, without also thinking of the implications – the pros and the cons.”
According to him, an Igbo proverb says, “when you kill an animal, you don’t eat the entire meat, there are some parts you remove, so, when you are strategizing, there some precautions you also take cognizance of.”
He noted that the youths cannot work alone without their elders giving them advice and wise counsel, adding that in the same way, the elders cannot work alone without the youths, stressing that, “we are trying to handle them, we cannot apply force on them, but we still take care of the situation.”
When asked of what the Ohanaeze will do if it becomes inevitable to apply force to have the summit hold in the interest of the Igbo, he ruled out completely, the application of force, and was optimistic on the way the situation will be handled.
Reacting to the insistence of IPOB that it is Biafra they want and not restructuring, the publicity secretary said it is all about understanding, pointing out that “if you create Biafra, you have restructured Nigeria.”
“Yes, anything you thinker with will no longer be the same. That is what we are saying; we just have a communication gap, if they come to the round table with us, we will them give them some tips that will make them rechannel their manner of approach.
“You know the countenance of the Federal Government; they unleashed and deployed soldiers with armoured tanks on IPOB that was unarmed and defenceless, but for Boko Haram ravaging Nigeria, killing and maiming, terrorising towns and villages, nobody has made any declaration against them, with all the deadly guns they are wielding. They are not terrorist organisation, but the IPOB that didn’t bear arms is a terrorist organisation.
“So, you can see the way they don’t want restructuring, is still the same way the Federal Government does not want to hear Biafra. You have to come back and restrategise. God in His wisdom restrategised. At first, He used word to create the world, the second time, He said I won’t use that again, let me send my Son to go and die for the sins of the world. Another style that God uses is that when you die, you go and face judgment.
God Himself changes style, why shouldn’t IPOB change when they see that the style they are using is not bearing fruits.
“Do you know what happened recently in Catalonia, they are still persecuting the leaders, and even the European Union is supporting the Spanish government. So, how would they achieve it, they need more diplomacy and not violence, and you cannot achieve diplomacy with youthful blood, you need the elders to give you wise counsel. If they come to us and we reason together, we can achieve result, but when we go our different ways we cannot succeed. We have to start from somewhere”, Achi-Opkaga said.
Both Ohanaeze and IPOB have recently engaged in altercations following the proposed Southeast summit on restructuring by the apex Igbo body, an event IPOB threatened to disrupt. IPOB has insisted that it is Biafra or nothing, emphasising that discussion on restructuring of the country would not hold in Igbo land.
The group had on February 27, disrupted a gathering of the Eastern Consultative Assembly (ECA), where some Igbo leaders, including the Chairman of Igbo Leaders of Thought (ILT), Prof Ben Nwabueze, and first President of Nigeria, the late Dr. Nnnamdi Azikiwe, were to be honoured.