The lessons Igbo In Yorubaland Should Learn

By Oladoyin Odebowale, Phd

In response to a comment from his former student who claimed to be “Obidient” and Igbo Defender.

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Victor Ifeanyichukwu Ajufo, I thank you for reminding me that I taught you GES 101, Use of English. I can’t remember teaching GES 103 since I was given the privilege to teach in 1994 till I concentrated on main Classics.

I must also not fail to commend your admonition on “oneness”. I must, however, hasten to assert that you are preaching to a wrong person. I believe in humanity as an indivisible entity. I cannot hate anyone. I certainly hate people’s faults while I acknowledge the frailty inherent in the human condition. We strive towards perfection.

I have been to most parts of the Igbo-speaking part of Delta State. I visited Ibuso several times. My friend Charles Okonkwo, Charlie Coupe, is from there. I was there for his father’s funeral. I know My way to Ugwashi Ukwu, Ubulu-Ukwu, Nsele Ukwu, Udumuje Uno, Udumuje Ugboko, Okpanam, Asaba, Agbor, Ummunede, among others. I had visited all of these places on several occasions in the past.

They may be Igbo-speaking, the Igbo in the hinterlands regard them as Ika-Igbo. They have Obi, not Eze. I have equally traversed all the five States in the South East. I stopped visiting because of the mindless killings of innocent people by cowards.
We will dwell more on this later.

As you were born in Oluyoro Catholic Hospital, Ibadan, you will agree that nobody has ever treated you as a stranger in Ibadan. My Ogechuckwu, a friend of 43 years, is from Udumuje Uno. She was born in Lagos almost 60 years ago. All her siblings are Lagosians. I am a member of that family. I am invited as of right to all family functions. It is, therefore, laughable for me to read the charge of tribalism levelled against me on account of certain useless elements bent on creating confusion in Yorubaland.

I would be stupid to equate the egregious foolishness of these vermin with the cultural expression of a people. I am educated not to tow that line of stupidity and destruction. I know the advantages of inter-ethnic cooperation based on mutual respect and understanding. I have benefited from genuine friendship from my friends from Delta and across the River Niger. I will continue to cherish that level of cordiality.

All the foregoing will appear to be of no moment for now. The criminal elements masquerading as supporters of Peter Obi will be confronted headlong. Our place is reputed for tolerance. We encourage infinite multiplicity of ideas. That is why we are different. We do not fight over religion. We do not maltreat strangers in our midst. Our space is indeed a lesson to many communities in this regard. We are not perfect. We condemn the bad ones regardless of the degree of affinity. We do not condone evil perpetrated by our people. This is the practice which these elements try to destroy. We will resist it with all vehemence.

It is interesting you harp on oneness without which there can be no progress. You accuse me, wrongly, of being happy that some Igbo people were attacked in Lagos during the Presidential and Governorship elections. The Labour Party won the presidential election in Lagos. The Gubernatorial election took a new dimension because of what appeared as deliberate attempts to destroy our heritage. You mentioned Chinedu (Gbadebo) Rhodes Vivour as Yoruba who was denied because his mother is Igbo. That is not correct. That is not who we are. The mother of a former Governor of Osun State, and the current one, is (was) from Abia State. The fact is not hidden. It has never been a problem here.

That young man was rejected, rightly, because of his antecedents as an IPOB operative and destructive personality. He took part in the destruction of Lagos. We will NOT forgive him for that transgression. He has never worked in his life, yet a State like Lagos was going to be given to him on the platter of ethnicity.

The people of the South East have been under siege for years now. Many INEC offices were burnt before the elections. Many politicians were beheaded. They said there would be no election. That was the grand deception, well-coordinated from the top. Nothing like that happened throughout the period of the elections in the South East. Nobody was attacked except those who wanted to vote for the opposition candidates.

You did not condemn it. You celebrated the “landslide” victory of the character called Peter Obi in that shambolic process. You can abuse Tinubu but I cannot talk about Obi.

You destroyed your cards at home but came down to the South West to determine our political leadership. That is fraudulent. You proclaim that the land of our ancestors belongs to no one when nobody is permitted to buy land in your place. What do you call that? What ought to be our attitude to this unabashed display of unwarranted hostility?

Nobody will ask the Igbo people to leave anywhere. The Igbo too must learn to respect people. Stop abusing people for their choices. That is the path to peace.

Odebowale is a teacher of Classics, a lawyer and a public servant.

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