By CHINEDU NWAFOR
GOVERNOR David Umahi of Ebonyi State has urged all the people spearheading Nzuko Umunna, an Igbo sociocultural group to resign from politics if they wish to achieve the desired objectives.
Umahi who stated this when the leadership of Nzuko Umunna led by Chief Executive Officer of Capital Oil, Ifeanyi Ubah, paid him a courtesy call at Government House, Abakaliki, noted that only when the people involved resign from politics that he would identify with the group.
“For this programme to succeed, all those who are involve must resign from politics. For instance, you cannot come to my State and attend a party rally and castigate me and even if you are there and you are not speaking and somebody is speaking but you are taking pleasure in that. How do I believe you, how do I say you are a member of Umunna. For this to succeed, everyone connected to it must be apolitical and that is when Dave Umahi will come in,” he said.
The group had visited Governor Umahi to inform him of a meeting organised by them that would be holding in Enugu aimed at x-raying the past, present and future of Igbo and Yoruba relationship for a better understanding.
But Umahi faulted the group for not informing him on time, knowing that he currently chairs South East Governor’s Forum and should be involved in the planning.
He also frowned at the exclusion of Ebonyi people in the programme, saying that Ebonyi would participate in future when they must have corrected the mistakes.
“I take your apology for coming to us late. One thing that you do not know is that the story of Ebonyi has been re-written. It is no longer the same. I have gone through your programme; probably you do not have any Ebonyi person that is qualified to be your member.
“You have to think twice because this is not Ebonyi of yesterday. If you have not heard, probably we have to take you round. Let it be in the mind of every Igbo man that Ebonyi state is no longer what it used to be. It is when we have respect for each other that we can say, we are Umunna. So, I am tempted to say we cannot come to Enugu. I am the Chairman of South East Governors’ Forum for crying out loud, and this programme should have started with South East Governors and Ohanaeze.
“I think we are not happy and it is not the first time. We have never been taken very seriously and we have never been counted. Tomorrow is the event and what do you want us to do, to stop everything we are doing? We will be joining your next programme”.
Umahi regretted that when South East Governors proscribed IPOB, they expected Igbo sons and daughters and groups such as Nzuko Umunna to support and encourage their action towards averting the looming war but everybody was silent except very few persons and the apex Igbo sociocultural group, Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
“When we proscribed IPOB, we saw it as the right thing for us to do to save the Igboland and the entire country and to also safeguard the property and lives of those in the land vis-a-vis other Igbo living outside the region. But after we did that, my phone was ringing every seconds, because, people were calling and sending text messages, abusing us. And we expected the support and encouragement from our illustrious sons and daughters but it never came.
“We are still talking today because, the President general of Ohanaeze and the Deputy Senate President, Ekweremadu stood their ground and they courageously did that. This issue of anybody coming up and want to speak for the Igbos when you do not know your linage and cannot define how your father came to be is very appalling”.
Umahi also used the occasion to urge Igbo’s sons and daughters not to mix business with politics in order to make meaningful progress.
“Let me tell you something disturbing. I have told you a couple of time that it is only in Igboland that we have our illustrious sons and daughters, technocrats, highly gifted; we have our influential leaders jumping from one political party to the other.
“In other regions, you do not see their big men joining political parties. They are there supporting any government at the centre and in power. That is why when you mix politics and business, they will come after you. And it is very degrading and eroding.
“This platform should advice our people. Those who are successful in business should separate themselves from politics. When you are doing business support the government at the centre and that is what the likes of Dangote and Otedola are doing”.
Earlier, Ambassador Humphrey Orjiako who spoke on behalf of the group said Nzuko Umunna is a think-tank Igbo sociocultural group that came up with a new strategy and approach to reposition Igbo people in the context of global Nigeria.
He said the programme, tagged” Handshake Across the Niger”, organised in Enugu, was aimed at bringing Igbos and other ethnic groups especially the Yorubas closer to each other for better understanding of each other.
He said, “The Igbos have sometime now approached their problems with a kind of emotional angst in a country we help to build more than any other ethnic group. So Nzuko Umunna is thinking of a new approach. “We recognise that in this country which Nnamdi Azikiwe led the march for independence, the Igbo’s seem not to be getting what is their due. But sometimes, we think it is the approach rather than the genuineness of our demand that is standing on our way. Nzuko Umunna has come up with a new strategy and approach to reposition our people in the context of global Nigeria”.