Elder statesman, Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu says members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) are endangering the lives, investments and properties of Igbos in Igboland and across Nigeria by their unguarded and provocative comments and actions.
Speaking when the leadership of the Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL) conferred on him the award as its grand patron in Owerri, the Imo State capital, Iwuanyanwu decried the collateral damage done to the Igbos and their businesses over actions of IPOB and its leader, Nnamdi Kanunin recent times.
He lamented that most times, IPOB members had taken responsibilities for actions they knew nothing about, thereby endangering the lives of the Igbos.
“Igbo youths must avoid circumstances that they do not understand. What IPOB did during the #ENDSARS protests was very heinous. Their leader went about taking responsibility for issues and destructions they knew nothing about.
“He also ordered his followers to kill some people in Igboland. If you give orders for another person to be killed in your place, don’t be surprised that your people will be killed also. There is no place in Nigeria that you can’t find an Igbo man. So, ordering the killing of anyone in your community is endangering your people. Apart from the fact that most of our population live outside Igboland, Igbo investment outside Igboland is over $2trillion,” he said.
Iwuanyanwu advised the IPOB leader to follow the footsteps of the late Biafra leader, Odimegwu Ojukwu, reminding him that before the beginning of the Biafra War in 1967, Ojukwu did not declare secession on his own, but was called upon by all to do so.
He however said currently, Ndigbo are not talking about secession but are demanding the restructuring of the country to allow for equity for all Nigerians.
Iwuanyanwu said, “Ojukwu did not ignore elders and he never declared Biafra on his own. It was the people from all walks of life – the academia, businessmen, civil and public servants that called upon him to declare the state of Biafra and become its leader.
“That was why Ojukwu was able to hold Nigeria for three years without rebellion. Most of us who fought the war were intelligent, but we had to join and fight the war. We’re very proud that we fought that war.
“You (Nnamdi Kanu) can’t come on your own and declare Biafra and ask me, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, to follow you. Even in a monarchical system, people’s opinions are sought. What do you have that you are declaring war here and there? You are only endangering the lives of your brothers, the youth who you claim to lead. You have to come and seek advice from Igbo elders. They’re the people that will guide you.
“All we’re asking for in Nigeria is to restructure Nigeria, which Gowon agreed but his people rebuked him. Gowon also tried his best to fulfill most of the things that were agreed before the end of the war,” he said.
On why he took over Prof. George Obiozor’s campaign ahead of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo election, Iwuanyanwu disclosed that some challatans were about securing the endorsement of Governor Hope Uzodimma for the position of president general.
“I’ve sacrificed my life fighting for Ndigbo. I revived Ohanaeze Ndigbo in 1988 when I was running for Nigeria’s president. The reason for that was because of my desire for Ndigbo to speak with one voice.
“I wrote the Constitution of Ohanaeze which makes the position of the president general rotational and states that every state should produce a consensus candidate for the position.
“I know that if left alone, a challattan would have gone to convince the governor to endorse him. That’s why I convened a meeting for us to select someone that has intimidating credentials and Prof. Obiozor came tops. I must admit that others were qualified but not a match for Obiozor. People said I collected money from Buhari to support Obiozor but, I haven’t seen the president since he came to power. The problem of this generation is money,” he said.
He assured the youths that the current leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo would give young people the opportunity to groom them.
Iwuanyanwu, who promised to mentor the youths, expressed happiness that some Igbo youths were still thinking positively.
President general of COSEYL, Hon. Goodluck Egwu Ibem told Iwuanyanwu that their decision to confer on the award as their grand patron was predicated on his meritorious achievements anchored on his exemplary leadership qualities towards meeting the yearnings and aspirations of Ndigbo and Nigeria in general.