By Dennis Agbo
A former President of Ohanaeze in ImoState, Prof. Chidi Osuagwu, is a Professor of Biochemistry, who has taught in many universities around the world. In this interview, Osuagwu, who is one of the aspirants for the position of President-General in the forthcoming Ohanaeze election, speaks on the intrigues foreshadowing the exercise.
Can you maintain the height the out-going leadership of Ohanaeze attained if elected as President General?
Yes, I think so. But a challenge Ohanaeze has had is that the linkage to the grassroots, the town unions was not there. If that particular problem is solved, you can have effective leadership at the top.
What will be your main focus if elected?
If one understands the Igbo people, their culture, their great civilization and their potentials, it is easy to see that we are not living our lives. The Igbo life has been well defined, particularly in the writings of Olaudah Equiano. My mission is to get into the position to help the Igbo go back to what I call Equiano’s indigo Igbo world.
It was a world that was ideal, in which you didn’t have beggars, drunkards, prostitution, prisons and so on. I don’t know if people really stop to think about how Igboland was 500 years ago. For instance, compared to the world, there was no society like Igboland before it was destroyed by foreign destructive forces. We have to go back to Equiano’s picture of Igbo world. This is my main objective.
What are you going to do about Ohanaeze always taking positions in presidential elections the way it did in 2015 and2019?
The people that play this game are thosewho really don’t understand the Igbo. The Igbo are a unique African people and they were recognised as such in 1791 by the Pan African Congress, which took place in a forest in Haiti in 1791.
At the forum, the Igbo were declared a great people. This is a great historical fact and we had started leading on the continent but the imperialists marked us out for destruction. Trying to compare Igbo with some other tribes is not fair. The Ooni of Ife buttressed the point last year about Igbo leadership in Africa.
Will Ohanaeze be political under your leadership?
That should not be a priority. Did you read what Financial Times wrote on Wednesday about Nigeria? It said that Nigeria is a failing state because a state is designed to secure the people, their lives, their property, and ensure their well-being but Nigeria is not doing that. I think the duty of the Igbo again as mandated in 1791is to help the black race get out of this.
Talks of the presidency and Biafra are distractions. It is the survival of the black race which the Igbo have the mandate to ensure happens that matters. For the presidency, it can be rotating among the Nigerians. It should be the turn of the Igbo now. I will support that, but we are in a very difficult situation now as a country.
Why did the endorsement of one of you raise dust?
Ohanaeze is a communal organization in which members of the community can belong to different denominations. When the Umunna gathers and shows preference for members of a denomination, what do you think will happen to the members of the community? Whatever will happen to that community which is disintegrating will happen to a communal organization like Ohanaeze that begins to fiddle with matters? Ohanaeze should set an Igbo agenda that no matter the party you belong, Igbo people will support you.
Is it possible for the five of you tohave a consensus before the election?
Well, a consensus will be a consensus around ideals and not around persons. Different people have different ideals. I think that we will proceed. It is the reaction of the people in terms of their assessment that will decide what happens going forward.
How will you handle Biafra agitation?
Whether it is Indigenous People of Biafra, IPoB, Movement for Emancipation of Niger Delta ,MEND, Oodua Peoples Congress ,OPC, or Boko Haram, they are symptoms of the dysfunctional Nigeria state. Therefore, concentrating on talking of symptoms instead of the disease, which is the dysfunctional Nigerian state, is a distraction. I believe that if I become the President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, I will work hard to ensure Nigeria is a functional state.