By Tony Nwankwo
Chief (Mrs.) Evelyn Okere Onyung is Publicity Secretary, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos Chapter. An entrepreneur, she is CEO Rose di Omimi Couture, CEO St. Eve West African Fashion Week, and former vice presidential candidate, Alliance National Party (ANP) in the 2019 general elections. In this interview, she speaks on the failing fortunes of Ohanaeze Ndigbo in Lagos and other national issues. Excerpts:
Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos Chapter is in crisis. You are the elected publicity secretary of the body. What happened?
When last we campaigned in Lagos, our desire was to build a strong body for the eastern states to create a spirit of belonging. We zoned the leadership to the eastern states and it eventually fell on Ebonyi State, where Chief Solomon Ogbonna was chosen as President. However, we have had problems with that leadership to the extent that the presidency of Solomon Ogbonna is now under police investigation.
One of the issues is the flagrant abuse and flouting of the constitution of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Lagos, to the extent that he is trying to kill the spirit of Ohanaeze. The constitution says there must be a general meeting once a month, yet, for the past one year since he was inaugurated, we have not had a general meeting till date. Ohanaeze is a socio-cultural organisation, intended to care for the Igbo, providing a platform for the people.
However, the current leadership is not interested in these, rather they are more interested in their own personal gains. If I had the kind of information that I have now, I wouldn’t have gotten involved with that leadership, so efforts must be made to stand up and remove the incompetent leadership. the leadership has no clue what they are there to do.
You are part of the executive of the organisation, have you brought this position to the body and what was their response?
Yes, I have told them several times. I am the one challenging the leadership. They have had problems with me. He (Solomon) thinks of me as a woman he can intimidate, but I am not that kind of person. They have tried to alienate me.
The only way we can go about it is for the Vice President to call me and say, disseminate information for a meeting in his name, because everybody in Ohanaeze Lagos knows that the secretary and the treasurer are comprised. They are under investigation. We would want them to do the needful. We had a meeting in April, and since then, I have not heard anything again. That is not how an organisation like Ohanaeze Lagos should be run.
As an Ohanaeze chieftain, how do you react to the RUGA agenda of the Federal Government?
The problem I have with the Federal Government is the insincerity I see. When you want to do RUGA, you should start from somewhere in the North. You show the world how the project is developing the geographical area where they are positioned. Afterall the North has more landmass than the South. So, you start from there. How come they now think the South-East has a larger expanse of land than the North. How come, Buhari becomes president and now we are hearing about AK47, AK49 by herdsmen. Now you have a group of breeders having a unanimous voice than people in government. They threaten and cajole everybody.
What is Ohanaeze doing about Igbo presidency?
I think an Igbo presidency is inevitable. If Nigeria wants to be fair, like President Buhari cried about his presidency, he drummed up sentiment, and people said, let’s try him. Igbo should do the same to check the cries of marginalization and Biafra. It is hoped the Igbo will put themselves together and have an Ime Obi meeting to interview the people they think have the clout and the popularity to contest and win.
What is your take on IPoB?
As a politician, you cannot pretend that something does not exist. You cannot do like Nigeria’s Information Minister and pretend that things don’t exist. IPoB is an organisation with a lot of popularity and it comes at a time of marginalization.
They have used their Biafra sentiment to win a lot of followership, so they have become a force you have to recognise. Even if I am not supportive of the methods they are using, I am with them in the heart in the cry of marginalisation of the Igbo man. And I am also with them in spirit of Biafra. No matter what happens in 2020, 2050, you can’t take Biafra away, it is in the soul of the Igbo man. Even the next generation will hear about Biafra. We were not born at the time, but we have heard about what happened, or have seen videos, its just like the Hitler pogrom of the Jews. You cannot tell the Jews not to have sentiment from that which happened in the 2nd World War. So Biafra is what is in the soul of the Igbo man.
Immediately, you say it, you whip up that side of the Igbo man, because the people, their brothers, their fathers, their sisters, their uncles had been killed for something they knew nothing about.
And blood had been spilled over time. The video we have seen, the hunger, the massacre, is something that you can’t wish away. And when you come from that part of the country, you start to hurt, because its like if you had been there, you could have been a victim too.
So, IPoB came up at a time when we had heard about MASSOB, the cry of our people being harassed, maimed and killed in the North, so it came at a time the Igbo needed it, but the methodology they are using, is where I have a little problem, their methodology I have a problem with. Kudos to Nnamdi Kanu because it takes a lot to come out and do what he is doing, some of us can’t do it, and when somebody comes out to speak vehemently about his people, you must give him kudos. But his system and the way he talks does not show maturity by insulting leaders. He has a very good spirit. His fight is right.
Whether he is using the platform to prosper himself or enrich himself is another kettle of fish. That is what they should investigate, because you have to be sure. IPoB is right, just like you have the OPC in the West and Arewa in the North.