Ohanaeze, IPOB and the southeast interest

The choice of Ambassador Professor George Obiozor as the President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide remains the singular most important decision taken by Igbos across all lines and leanings, ONWUASONYA JONES writes.

It is not just because of his background as a renowned political, diplomatic and historical scholar, but also because these experiences and expertise knowledge have been further honed by the dynamics of grey hairs, which we are told in the good book of Christendom is “a crown”. Igbos have a saying that a great traveler could be a lot wiser than the aged, but we seem not have fathomed that a great traveler could as well be a great scholar and yet be blessed with old age. Those are the triple blessings Ndigbo have in the person of Obiozor. He has traveled the world, becoming exposed to the cultures and histories of different people, the few places in the world that he couldn’t reach with his feet, he had seen through the many books he has read and on top of that, he has been blessed with old age, enabling him to combine his explorations in books and many travels with the wisdom that can only come with old age.
It is this enviable background coupled with his indubitable love for his Igbo people that have helped the living sage in navigating the Igbo through the tumultuous currents of the present Igbo reality. He appreciates the peculiar situation that Ndigbo have found themselves in and he must be in tune with Oliver Gottschalg and Mauricio Zollo’s “Interest Alignment and Competitive Advantage” theory, which supports the alignment of individual and collective interests to generate sustainable competitive advantage. Prof Obiozor understands the influence of tacitness, context-specificity and casual ambiguity in determining different types of motivations and disparate ideologies, and aggregating these disparate motivations towards achieving a collective success for Ndigbo.

It is only someone who is ignorant or deliberately insincere that would dismiss the far-reaching influence of the Indigenous People of Biafra on the Igbo nation. The group has gripped the Igbo consciousness, and its effect on the thinking of the average Igbo is like that of an addictive narcotic. While the Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide has made it clear at different times and fora that Ndigbo do not support some of the methods adopted by the group in ventilating their justifiable grievances against the Nigerian political class and the obvious marginalization of Ndigbo in the political scheme of things, the Professor Obiozor led NEC of Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide has continued to take deliberate steps to reach out and impress it upon key players in these groups on the need to align their energy, passion and ideas towards achieving the best possible outcome for Ndigbo. The President-General also takes special pains to educate these groups and any Igbo who cares to listen on the need to consciously guard against allowing external mercenaries to hijack the struggle and aid in destroying Ala Igbo or reversing the enviable successes we have recorded since after the civil war.

The Indigenous People of Biafra are mostly driven by young men and women; intellectuals, diaspora businessmen and women, artisans and indeed, every class of the Igbo society, who are disenchanted with the leadership provided over the years at various levels of the Nigerian political leadership system. This is not a group you can take for granted or ignore if you really want to make any headway with any Igbo focused leadership. No matter how wonderful your ideas for Igbo liberation are, these ideas may be stillborn if you try to implement them in alienation of the highly influential IPOB leadership, their rank and file and the millions of Igbos who may not necessarily be members of the group, but have become openly sympathetic to the group. This is why Professor Obiozor is leaving no stone unturned in his efforts to bring everybody on board in his agenda for Igbo liberation and development. And members and sympathizers of IPOB are central in this regard.

As a father and leader of the Igbo nation, Professor Obiozor appreciates the palpable disconnect between the masses and the elitist class, and he is working assiduously through different people-focused and youth-driven initiatives to bridge this gap and bring the people on the same page in the advancement of the Igbo agenda. For him; “As long as you genuinely have the interest of Ndigbo at heart, you are a partner.”

Many people never believed that the IPOB could have any meeting point with the leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide, given the obvious divergences in the operational methods of IPOB and Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide. Ohaneze is a parent and the current leadership especially, understands that every child must not behave in a particular way, and that no good or responsible parent rejects a child or group of children because they have adopted strange or dangerous approaches to pursuing its goals.

Professor Obiozor has determined to continue to engage the IPOB and indeed every group that proclaims itself pro-Igbo. The aim of this engagement will not be to get them to abandon their struggle or discard their beliefs, but to share ideas with them on how they may refine their strategies to become more effective and serve the Igbo interest better, with less collateral damages to Ala Igbo. Ohaneze will not also assume an all-knowing posture, but would be willing to listen to these groups and see ways we can marry their ideas and strategies with ours for the advancement of the larger interest of Ndigbo.


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