Governor Rochas Okorocha has said that no reasonable Igboman would support secession or division of the Country, adding that the IPOB leader should be treated as a single individual because reasonable Igbo people have condemned IPOB in all ramifications.
Governor Okorocha speaking Saturday in Owerri at the new Yam festival organized by the State Council of Traditional Rulers headed by HRM Eze Samuel Ohiri, said that everyone that loves Ndigbo has condemned the activities of IPOB.
The Ooni of Ife, His Majesty Oba Adeyeye Ogunwusi, who attended the function said he would not condemn the IPOB elements but would rather asked that they be made to channel their energy positively, adding that he is passionate about the unity of the nation.
Governor Okorocha reiterated “I can see that the unity of Nigeria is today dramatized in the land of Imo State. I say so because growing up as a child, I never knew where I came from because I found myself somewhere in Plateau State as a little boy and the only language I could speak was the Hausa language and I had no choice because that was where I was brought up. So, I grew up being born an Igbo man, but was reared in the North and was made financially buoyant in the South-West.
“So I have declared myself that in no way should I be found as a tribalized Nigerian. I will remain detribalized as long as Igbo gave me parentage and childhood, as long as North reared and nurtured me and for as long as South-West empowered me. My community and my identity is Nigeria” he added.
He further remarked “I want to say that coincidentally all the traditional rulers that have indicated interest in coming for this Iriji festival, for fear of rumours ravaging the whole country, some of them could not make it. It got me worried, and I became a bit disturbed. The question that ravages my mind is that for how long shall we continue with these unwarranted hostilities and speculations and hate speeches which we have gotten from the past generation and we are doing nothing about it in this present generation and intending to transfer it to subsequent generations. That has become my worry and I think this generation of ours owe it to the rest of Nigerians to make this large nation better and united”.
For him “Some of you must have heard of the issues relating to the operation Python Dance and IPOB in Abia and Ebonyi States. That situation there for whatever it is, is a worrisome situation because, while we are talking about the economy of this nation, on how to get out of recession and make Nigeria better, we are busy talking about IPOB, Boko-Haram”.
“Everyone has condemned IPOB in all ramifications and I say that whatever that young man is doing does not have the support of any of us. He should be picked up and treated as a single individual. No reasonable Igbo man is asking for secession. No reasonable Igbo man will support the division of this country. I want to remind all Nigerians that Igbos are the people that fought the last war and if there was anyone so badly affected by that war is the Igbo. After the war, the 1st group of people to run to different ethnic groups and all other tribes for purpose of economic development was the Igbos.
“The Igbos today in their thousands are in Kano, the Igbo today in their thousands are in Lagos, in Plateau and in all nooks and crannies of this country. And wherever you find them, they behave as if they are the owners of the land, even in most cases, they have Ezes in the communities where they find themselves, showing that they believe in the unity of this country.
“The Igbo business men have more real estates and more properties and assets outside Igbo land than in Igbo land. So, I want to dissociate Igbo from this very thing that Igbo want to go for secession. A man that wants to go for secession cannot build mansions in Lagos, Kano, Plateau and the rest of the States.
“I think we should single out this act of this young man from the rest of Nigerians. My worry again stands strongly on the fact that today, the issue of IPOB is being politicized. Today, most of them that never worked with the Buhari-led government is using this as an opportunity to fight the Federal Government. Call those people to order. It’s not far fetched, who these people are. Some of them are busy visiting Kanu’s house and encouraging him. Those people should do a rethink, because they are not doing this nation any good.
“Today, we can see the Ooni and Eze Imo sitting side by side. For our sons and daughters it gives them a sense of unity wherever they are. I want to appeal to all of you to please remain together because we are one and only one nation. An injury to one is an injury to all. Iriji festival should kick-start the language of unity, to tell the world that Nigeria is one. Let’s talk more on what will unite us and talk less of Boko-Haram, IPOB” he stated.
For the Ooni “The unity of our nation is something I am passionate about and something that I don’t joke with. I had so much pressure in the last four days not to come to this part of the country, but I said to myself in the interest of the unity of this country, I will come to Imo State and I will sleep over and over in Imo State. When I arrived, I saw raw-culture, I saw brotherhood, I am feeling our togetherness. It is about time for us to know that we are all cut out from the same cloth. It is one big happy family”.
He Continued “Nigeria is a very unique nation, different culture, tradition and heritage, yet our diversity is our greatest strength. We shouldn’t write it off like that, we should look beyond our different backgrounds. We should look at how to connect the dotted lines. What is common amongst all of us in this country is what we should look for; that should be our focal point as a nation and not the things that divide us”.
He added “I have watched quietly on how we have been entertained with the Omenimo dance by young, talented dancers, because of the sensitivity of this country, they said that there is another dance in Igbo land called python dance, I will not accept python dance. I will rather continue to enjoy the Omenimo dance. Let us look at things that will bring us together rather than things that will further divide us. We must desist from hate speeches, it doesn’t do us any good. We shouldn’t look at our weakness, but we should look at how things will be better for us”.
He further remarked “I have a different perspective towards the IPOB group. I will not condemn them rather let us discuss with them, let us put positive energy in them. They can use their energy for positive things in this country and for the betterment of the entire Igbo land. It is very important for us to draw them closer, for us to actually preach to them that war does not actually help, war does not pay anybody”.
In his speech at the event, the chairman of the Cross River State Council of Traditional Rulers, HRM Etimyin Etim Okon Edet pointed out that the theme of the festival “Promoting National Unity through Cultural Orientation” is apt considering the tension in the land, commending the governor for being an advocate of peace and encouraged all traditional rulers in the country to continue to preach for peace and unity.