Lagos State governor, Babatunde Fashola has been described as a statesman by former Abia State governor, Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu for gracing the Chinua Achebe’s colloqium in far away United States. Fashola braved ethnic sentiments to honour the renowned writer whose new book, ‘There was a country’, was greeted with verbal punches by a cross-section of politicians in the South-west, he said.
Kalu remarked:” Contrary to his age, Governor Fashola did what a lot of elders ignored, bringing the Yoruba and Igbo as close as possible. He stole everyone’s heart with this bold move. That is statesmanship. He reminded Achebe of the larger link between the two groups, instead of reducing ties to political accountancy.” The former governor joined Fashola’s fence-mending moves.”Achebe cannot hate the South-west. He was at the University College Ibadan just like his wife.
The Igbo have so much in common with the Yoruba. Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe and Chief Emeka Ojukwu spoke Yoruba more than some Lagosians. Infact, Zik’s children still bear Yoruba middle names. Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Col. Patrick Amadi joined the army same day. Obasanjo made sure he married his friend’s sister-in-law, an Amadi too, to keep them together,” Kalu added. Going further, Kalu said: “You cannot overlook the links.Take these gubernatorial examples.
Sir Akanu Ibiam married an Olayinka, General Oluwole Rotimi chose an Igbo wife in 1964 and Chairman at the wedding reception was Emeka Ojukwu. Senator Isiaka Adeleke’s mom is from my state Abia.” Kalu also urged journalists to promote peaceful co-existence.” In Owerri, the street that houses major newspaper houses is named after a Yoruba man, Rotibi. We seem to believe that only Igbo boys could move to the Southwest for post -primary studies in the colonial times.
Far from the truth.Professor Oladeinde Ogunbi was a student of Dennis Memorial Grammar School(DMGS) Onitsha,Joseph Adeigbo, Clerk of the National Assembly in 1964, moved from Government College Umuahia to Christ the King College(CKC) Onitsha. Fashola has only reminded us that we are one,not just because his mother-in-law is from Delta State,but because Chinua Achebe also has Yoruba admirers.”