*holds Igbo Day in Abuja Sept 29
By Chesa Chesa
Ohaneze Ndigbo has tasked Southeast Governors to brace up and provide palliatives for Igbo indigenes who are expected to return home from South Africa following their harrowing experience in the recent xenophobic attack there.
President of the Federal Capital Territory chapter of the Ohaneze Ndigbo, Mr. Odozi Nwodozi, threw the challenge on Tuesday in Abuja during a press conference to announce the hosting of Igbo Day 2019 slated for September 29 at the Old Parade Ground, Abuja.
The theme for the Igbo Day is “Nkwalite Omenala Nke Udo Maka Uto Obibi Ndu na Akunauba”; meaning: Promoting Culture of Peace for Socio-economic Development.
Asked how the group could be of help to Igbo sons and daughters expected to be displaced by the xenophobic attacks in which many Nigerians and other foreign national have lost their businesses in South Africa, Nwodozi decried the development, but regretted that the group was not financially able to do much.
He therefore placed the responsibility on the laps of the Southeast Governors, urging then to provide necessary infrastructure that would help ameliorate the condition of the returnees when they eventually come back home.
His words: “With the return of our brothers and sisters, Ohanaeze is not empowered economically to assist but I am sure the states and the federal government must have done things to make sure that those people coming back don’t feel the effect of their unexpected disengagement from South Africa.
“So on the issue of xenophobia, the Southeast governors must put things on the ground to assist those returning from South Africa, the bulk of whom are Igbo people. We call them to use this opportunity to put infrastructure that will cushion the effect of their unplanned dislocation.”
He recalled that “Nigeria in the 70s took responsibility in not only nurturing but empowering those that are today, leaders in South Africa.
“I am also aware that Nelson Mandela in the heydays of his struggle was quartered in Igboland, precisely in the house of Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, the only surviving Minister of the First Republic. For South Africans to at this stage start behaving the way that they are doing, is quite unfortunate.”
On the forthcoming 2019 Igbo Day celebration, Nwodozi said “we are honouring our heroes past and remembering those that are present. Without doubt, a lot of Igbos have contributed immensely not just to the good of Igbo nation but beyond the Igbo nation.
“For a start, the peace we are talking about today the Igbos are the cement that is holding Nigeria together. We are the bridge that connects every parts in Nigeria.”
He listed some names of honourees as Igbo indigenes who had and continue to contribute silently to the development of Igbo land and security of other Igbo in times of crises at and home and, now and in the past
They include Allen Onyeama, the owner of AirPeace; Ernest Azubilo of Next Oil; the first president of the Igbo Community Assembly in Abuja, Mark Okoye; Chief Chyna Iwuanyanwu, and others.
He assured guests of their protection during the event as he condemned the attack on former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, during a similar event in Germany recently, adding that “it is a taboo in the Igboland for a child to beat his father. The Nuremberg, Germany experience was shameful”.
Chairman of the organizing committee for the event, Dr. Kachi Iheme, disclosed that President-General of Ohaneze Ndigbo, Chief John Nnia Nwodo; and industrialist, Arthur Eze, are among prominent guests expected to grace the occasion.
According to him, the Ndigbo Day would showcase and promote and celebrate the opulent Igbo customs and tradition to inculcate the spirit of peace, unity and development among all Igbo speaking peoples.
The event would also help to build bridges of national unity and create a culture of peace amongst Igbo diverse interests and groups in Abuja and beyond, Iheme added.
The celebration which start on 22 September, will include interdenominational church service, symposium, special awards and cultural fiesta.