MEET FRANK OSHANUGOR
By Frank Oshanugor
A pan-Igbo organisation known as the New Coalition of Igbo Youths has described Ohaneze Ndigbo as an elite group that does not command grassroot followership.
In a statement signed by the Acting National Coordinator and Acting National Publicity Secretary of the Coalition, Mr. Jackson Nwaji-Uwa and Mr. Ejimike Osedebe respectively and issued Saturday morning, the organisation said at a time various ethnic groups in the country were looking inward to carry their people along, leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo was distancing itself from its own people.
According to the statement, Ohaneze Ndigbo leadership exists more in the media without any physical contact of its officials with the people they claim to be representing.
The group argued that if Ohaneze Ndigbo truly exists as a socio-cultural umbrella body of the Igbos, why has the leadership over the years shied away from organising town hall meetings at the various Ibos speaking communities across the South-East and South-South parts of the country. “Has the Ohaneze Ndigbo leadership ever addressed the youths at the grassroot,” they asked.
The youths coalition stated that if Ohaneze Ndigbo is not a faceless organisation at the state and local government levels, why are the leaders not known? Why have they not been organising meetings to interact with the people they represent? Why have they not clearly defined who can be regarded as a youth in terms of age since it will be wrong to categorize a 50-year-old man as a youth.”
On the issue of agitation for the sovereign State of Biafra as being championed by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPoB) under the leadership of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu who is currently in detention, the New Coalition of Igbo Youths said it was not just enough for Ohaneze Ndigbo leadership to distance itself from the IPoB agitation without bringing the youths together and advise them on how best to pursue the agitation.
The coalition wondered why Ohaneze leadership would like to speak for all Igbos on such matters as the Biafra issue whereas the leadership does not interface with the people they claim to speak for.
“At what level does the leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo get its input into the decision making process on behalf of the Igbos? Who are those they speak with at the various state levels in the Ibo speaking states?” they asked.
The youths group advised leadership of Ohaneze Ndigbo to devise a method of bringing the Igbos in different parts of the country together and speak with one voice like Afenifere, Arewa and other ethnic based organisations.
They noted that the likes of Mr. Joe Igbokwe who would like to criticize the Igbo Youths and celebrate the arrest of Nnamdi Kanu by the Buhari administration, have not done anything to assist the Igbo Youths in learning how best to conduct affairs of the Igbos within the larger context of the Nigerian state.
“How many times has Mr. Joe Igbokwe gone to his native Nnewi community in Anambra State to dialogue with the youths? Has he ever organised town hall meetings to educate them on the dangers of pursuing the Biafra agitation through forceful means?” the group asked.
The group also in the statement said, “much as the Igbos have the right to ask for the presidency, the youths are not supporting them until Ohaneze Ndigbo and Igbo political class identify with the youths since the youths have greater number of the voting population in elections in Nigeria to attract the winning votes.”