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By Brown Chimezie
The Igbo World Union, a pan-Igbo cultural group under the leadership of Gburugburudum Ndi Igbo, Sir (Amb.) Mishak Nnanta, has taken some crucial steps that have changed the life of Ndigbo for good.
Recently, the leaders of the union, including Dr. (Mrs.) Kate Uzuegbunam, national women leader, Chief Peter Uyaelumuo, secretary-general, Chief (Mrs.) Fidel Orji, North zone women coordinator, and Chief (Mrs.) Jessy Abalogu, FCT women leader, reviewed the activities of the group over the years and declared that the Igbo World Union remained the umbrella body to shelter Ndigbo in their time of need
Until early this year, the name of Sir Mishak Nnanta did not ring a bell in many circles, neither did his group, the Igbo World Union (IWU). If they did, they were unheard. But they gained national attention when they joined others and effectively stepped into the fray and stood in the gap to stop what would have been the most brutal confrontation between Igbos and their northern brethren since after the civil. The patriotic activities of Nnanta and the IWU saved the unity of Nigeria and its continued existence.
Arewa youths, led by Shetima Mustapha, had given the Igbo up to October 1, 2017, to vacate the North. The notice was in response to the agitation by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) for the actualisation of the sovereign state of Biafra.
Before this time, IPOB had called for a sit-at-home protest across the five core eastern states of Abia, Anambra, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, and parts of Delta and Rivers. The strike recorded over 90 per cent compliance, which angered the Arewa youths who asked all Igbo to quit the North.
The quit order, which came with threats, caused anxiety and apprehension within Igbo communities across Northern Nigeria. The fear of a possible pogrom heightened the tension. A gradual but determined exodus of the Igbo and their kit and kin began in the North. Others, for fear of their lives in the possible confusion, also began to leave the North.
It was in this milieu of almost total helplessness and the failure of other attempts at resolving the situation that Nnanta and his group stepped in. It was through Nnanta and IWU that patriotism was taken to a new height at the palace of the Sultan of Sokoto when the Sultan, Sa’ad Abubakar III, declared that those that want to kill any Igbo man must first kill him. That famous statement immediately doused tension across the length and breath of Nigeria and restored amity and peace.
Also, Nnanta went across the major emirates and states of the North visiting and building consensus, from Kastina to Katagum, Biu to Potiskum, Daura to Talata Mafara, and so on.
Apart from the question of peace, Chief Nnanta and the IWU have intervened to change the course and destination of Ndigbo positively.
What is the driving force behind him? Chief Nnanta says he derives his strength and vision from God. According to him, the vision of the group was to unite Ndigbo across the country and to promote peaceful co-existence among them and their host communities outside Igboland. He said the quest to achieve this goals has taken him to the six geo-political zones and to over 20 foreign embassies, where he met diplomats and discussed how Ndigbo could live happily and do their business in foriegn lands unhindered.
When asked about the driving force behind such moves, the Gburugburu Dum Ndigbo explained that because the Igbo reside in all the states of the federation and in the Diaspora, they became vulnerable to all forms of discrimination. He said the humiliation Ndigbo suffer outside their homeland ignited the fire in him to move like the Biblical Moses to reach out to leaders of communities where Igbo men and women reside to discuss with them about the welfare of Ndigbo.
Speaking on one of the most challenging moves he made recently in the interest of Ndigbo, Nnanta referred to the quit notice by the Arewa youths to Ndigbo in the North. He said the threat brought to his mind the pogrom of 1966 and he immediately moved to nip the disaster in the bud.
“We travelled to Sokoto, where we met the Sultan, Sa’ad Abubakar, who immediately assured us of the safety of Ndigbo in his domain. From there, we toured all the seven northern states, where all the traditional rulers promised to talk to their youths,” he said.
Nnanta further explained that the moves paid off when the Arewa youths withdrew the threats and normalcy returned all over the country in October 1. No blood was shed as a result of the quit notice order.
On the foreign front, the group visited Spain, where they attended the Igbo Cultural festival hosted by the then Nigerian ambassador to Spain, Mrs. Bianca Ojukwu.