The need for Eze Ndigbo in the Diaspora for leadership and peaceful co-existence between the Igbos and their host communities became a sin qua non at a time there was several cases of intimidations and destructions of lives and property of Ndigbo in many climes. Though many question the rationale behind what today is prominently known as Eze Ndigbo in the Diaspora, such questions are better answered by the various developmental strides and peace initiatives brokered by Eze (Dr) Christian Uchuchukwu Nwachukwu, the Eze Ndigbo of Lagos. CYRIACUS NNAJI writes.
Also known as the Chairman, Igbo Council of Ndieze in Lagos, Eze (Dr) Christian Nwachukwu with his array of charismatic characteristics, peace-loving mien and connections have not only brought peace among the Igbos, their hosts and other non-indigenes in Lagos, he has as a result ensured sustainable development among the Igbos.
Indeed the Igbos being highly mobile, extensively travelled business people, rich in wealth, deserving a cordial and conducive environment for their business to thrive, needed a father figure and leadership wherever they are to carry out their daily business transactions unhindered, especially in a highly volatile environment such as Nigeria in general and Lagos in particular.
Before the appellation Eze Ndigbo, especially in Lagos the Igbos were harassed and their properties always the very first points of call for destruction by miscreants and their mentors. They provoked the Igbos and in events of retaliation the bad eggs of the society and their senders would loot and destroy livelihoods of the Igbos bringing impoverishments and agony to such families and their beneficiaries.
When Alaba International was being established, it was war, same as Trade Fair, Ladipo, just to mention a few of the landmark locations where the Igbos domicile their businesses and where there have been various forms of intimidation and harassments which called for the attention of the Eze Ndigbo.
Through Igbo Ezeship in the Diapora several Igbo lives have been saved and property and businesses worth trillions of naira have been saved.
With the Eze Ndigbo there is less harassment of Igbo people in Lagos, because they have somebody, a royal father to call for quick and amicable settlements in case of misunderstanding.
Of course it is obvious many don’t know that others have paid for the peace they are enjoying. Such is the case of Igbos in Lagos. Many do not know that the Eze Nwachukwu has made sacrifices that have brought peace which they enjoy. Some of them talk in manners undeserving of a recipient of good gesture.
With various peace efforts, cultural activities taking place at his Igbo Community Centre and palace, Chief (Dr) Christian Nwachukwu is an enigma, a clinical traditional man, social integrator and mobilizer, who has done for Ndigbo in Lagos what cannot be quantified in monetary terms.
Humble in all ramifications, Nwachukwu have rarely claimed ownerships of his gargantuan achievements, he goes about doing what is right for the benefits of Ndigbo in Lagos. His all time wish is for the Igbos in Lagos to align themselves with the ruling party in the state, Lagos being their place of abode and business. According to Nwachukwu such will fertilize business environments and bring more prosperity to the people of Igbo extraction in Lagos.
Many ask, though erroneously, why Nwachukwu is giving supports to the government of Lagos State through the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos. The inalienable truth is that there is no traditional ruler in Nigeria who does not have soft spot for one party or the other. We have heard traditional rulers instructing their people on whom to vote.
In the case of Nwachukwu, this writer wants to assume that all that he is doing is to align his people whom he leads, to the centre to optimize all the benefits derivable from association with the ruling party in Lagos. He believes in the axiom that you cannot bite the finger that fed you: Lagos government is the host, and there is need for Ndigbo to support them.
The latest in array of his interventions was his support for the change of leadership of Ndigbo in APC in Lagos. He noticed that a lot was going wrong, that the occupant was not taking the grassroots along and he supported change of leadership which favoured Hon (Dr) Jude Chukwuemeka Idimogu, the lawmaker representing Oshodi/Isolo in the Lagos House of Assembly. The stakeholders, of course, believed that Idimogu, being a humble and down-to-earth politician would mobilize the Igbos in Lagos for APC, thereby bringing dividend of democracy to his people.
Speaking at the endorsement ceremony at Igbo Community Centre in Okota, Eze Nwachukwu noted that the endorsement of Idimogu as the Apex Leader was because of the need to give Igbos the relevance they deserve in the political structure of the state.
“We will not allow an individual to give us a bad name in APC, we can see in Jude Idimogu humility, self respect and dignity, and we irrevocably guaranteed that a new leader has emerged, we said it; we believe it and will defend it, because we need restructuring in Ndigbo APC Lagos state,” Nwachukwu noted.
On why Igbo Community endorses APC candidates, Eze Nwachukwu explained that the decision was based on the fact that Igbo Community leaders and the Yorubas in Lagos State had enjoyed a cordial relationship and had been working together since 1999; “we started with AD, AC, ACN and APC till date.
“More so, when the National Leader, HE Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, was the Governor of Lagos State, the party appointed Igbo people as Commissioners, General Managers and so on. This time around, Sanwo-Olu has emerged as the candidate of the APC. He promised that his leadership as a Governor of Lagos State would be inclusive of our people; that whatever we need in Lagos will be given to us” he said. Eze Nwachukwu stated that with such assurance and commitment, the Igbo Community agreed to support all the APC candidates from Councilor level to the Federal level for their own interest.
He said “We only want a governor that can harness and stabilise the economy of the state, whereby Ndigbo will do their business without any harassment, intimidation and when there is any issue, Ndigbo will go and knock on his door and he will answer.”
When traders at the Ladipo Auto market had problems with Lagos State Government in 2006, they appealed to Nwachukwu to intervene. Nwachukwu urged the Lagos State government to re-open the Ladipo market to enable them carry on with their legitimate means of livelihood while discussions with the government continued. Today there is peace.
It was then President of LASEC, Nze Celestine Okoronkwo, who led a 21-man delegation of associations’ chairmen of LASEC to the palace of Eze-Ndigbo of Lagos State, Dr. Christian Nwachukwu in Okota.
In culture, Nwachukwu has carried the mantra of Igbo cultural heritage to the peak, making the Iri Ji ceremony an annual festival in his palace at Okota. During this time a lot happen and non-indigenes are invited to witness the bouquet of colorful culture presented by Ndigbo in form of masquerades, dance, attire, food, historical renditions and many more.
In one of his outings, Nwachukwu said “The lgbo in Lagos have been celebrating the new yam for some years now. We want to use the opportunity the occasion offers to talk about certain important areas concerning the lgbo.
“The lgbo, wherever they find themselves are very industrious and peaceful. They believe that everywhere is home to them. That is why they take active part in the developmental drive of their host communities. This assertion is made manifest in the actions and activities of Ndigbo who live in Lagos.
“They believe that Lagos is their home and therefore should be part of the development of the state as stakeholders. They are peace-loving and law abiding.
“We also thank former governor of Lagos state, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu for his contributions towards peaceful coexistence among the diverse ethnic nationalities in the state.”
In the area of Security, Nwachukwu has played key roles in nipping in the bud what would have resulted to mayhem between the Igbo and their hosts.
For instance, during the 2019 General election there was an alleged misunderstanding between Igbos and Yorubas within Okota, but Eze Nwachukwu, in collaboration with the Osolo of Isolo, Oba Kabiru Adelaja Agbabiaka and Nigeria police, the trio intervened and called on residents to sheath their swords. That fracas would have claimed lives and properties, and possibly bring enmity between the visitors and hosts.
In collaboration with representatives of the people in government, Nwachukwu has been able to bring developments in form of road construction and rehabilitations to residents.
Politics is defined as a game of who wins what, how and when, it is also defined as an authoritative allocation of resources, therefore; if you don’t support a ruling party, especially in Nigeria, there is a chance that your zone would be remembered last in the scheme of things.
A critical and unbiased look at where the Igbos live or do their businesses in Lagos, you hardly see good roads and it is attributable to opposition stance to the ruling party. Many have come to realization that there is need to align with the ruling party and that appears to be in tandem with the vision of Eze (Dr) Christian Nwachukwu.