By Daniel Tyokua and Abbanaobi-Eku Onyeka
The Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF) yesterday described the speech of Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, the Ooni of Ife, on the aboriginality of Igbo civilization in Oduduwa history as a welcome development in the restoration of positive relationship between the Igbo and Yoruba.
The Ooni at the sidelines of an interview during the Aje Festival at Ile – Ife, ascribed the origin of wealth and prosperity of Yoruba people to the ingenuity of Igbo people.
According to Oba Ogunwusi, “a particular race discovered commerce first. And truth be told, the race that discovered it first and really nurtured it is the Igbo.
“The Igbos, through their ancestral background – the lineage of Obatala – first discovered prosperity and wealth in terms of the divinity world. And that is why, today, the Igbo race is very peculiar and has very good expertise when it comes to commerce.
“Igbos are very distinct all over the world. There is no place in the world you won’t find an Igbo man”.
ADF in a statement Sunday by Abia Onyike, Chairman of its Publicity Bureau, commended the Ooni for his strivings to improve relationship between Igbo and Yoruba.
He urged paramount rulers and spiritual fathers in Alaigbo “to reciprocate the goodwill demonstrated by the Ooni of Ife to further improve and consolidate Igbo-Yoruba rapprochement and solidarity”.
Onyike said: “The information provided by the Ooni of Ife was also reflected in the book, titled, The Cradle of a Race: Ife from the beginning to 1980. The book was written by many Yoruba intellectuals and edited by Prof. I. A. Akinjogbin.
“Ndigbo and the Yoruba should always emphasize those cultural and historical links as well as socio-political and economic issues which unite them, rather than those which divide them.
“Let us recall that Ndigbo, under the leadership of former Premier of the Eastern Region, Dr. Michael Okpara, went a long way to heal the wounds inflicted on Igbo–Yoruba relationship during the Azikiwe – Awolowo era by the care his government took of Pa Obafemi Awolowo and his wife, Hannah, while Awo was in Calabar Prison.
“We equally recall with pride how Dr Okpara led a contingent of Ndigbo to identify with their Yoruba allies led by Adegbenro, during the operation Wetie, when the Yoruba nation was fighting for political survival from foreign invaders in 1965”.
He urged Igbo Traditional Leaders to reciprocate the goodwill by participating in the next Aje Festival in Ile-Ife in 2020, as suggested by the Ooni to further consolidate the Igbo-Yoruba solidarity.
“The consolidation of Igbo-Yoruba solidarity and socio-cultural relationship would lay a solid foundation for the inevitable broader solidarity and cooperation among them and other regions in the Federal Republic of Nigeria; we mean those regions which are earnestly in search of political and economic emancipation and self-determination,” he said.