Eze (Dr) Christian Uchechukwu Nwachukwu, the Eze NdigboLagos State and more recently member Intertribal Traditional Leaders of Nigeria, and Eze Ndigbo no nu uzo ije (Ezes in Diaspora) of which he is the Treasurer; he has paid his dues in peace building in Lagos State in order to ensure the Igbos live harmoniously with both hosts and other ethnic communities. In this interview with CYRIACUS NNAJI, Eze Nwachukwu told the world how he became Eze Ndigbo, the struggle for peace, the rivalry, how his photo was misinterpreted, and other national issues.
Welcome to Igbo Community Centre. I am Eze Ndigbo of Lagos State, His Highness Eze (Dr) Christian Uchechukwu Nwachukwu, you are welcome.
Some Igbo people in Lagos tend to misunderstand Eze (Dr) Christian Nwachukwu, but they don’t know the price you have paid in peace building in Lagos State, can you tell us some of these peace efforts you have put in place that have ensured peace in Lagos State?
1998, I was given the mandate of the leadership of Ndigbo, Odumegwu Ojukwu told me in particular that the war has ended, and we cannot fight war again. And His Royal Highness Eze Nri told us, in a function that we should carry our bullet which is the voter card in our hand as bullet, not Biafra, that war has ended, that the only thing we can use now is to use our voters card as a bullet to vote the candidate of our choice. And since then I have been preaching peace, I have been maintaining peace; I have been fighting for peace in Lagos State. Asiwaju, Bola Ahmed Tinubu also assured us of peaceful coexistence among all the ethnic communities in Lagos State and he created a forum where we meet from time to time. And since then I have been orgainising yam festival every year out of my own personal resource. All this is to promote peace, promote tradition and promote our culture in Lagos State.
But there are some elements, characters who want to get this position for doing nothing while they are doing all sorts of businesses in Lagos State, of which we know them. And these characters are the ones who want to destroy the institution which Ojukwu kept which Ndigbo supported and His Royal Highness Oba of Lagos who consented to it, and issued certificate for it, means well to our people, all this is for the unity and integration of both ethnic nationalities to come together and live in peace in Lagos State, which is the paramount role of Lagos State, peace.
A video trended that you knelt before an Emir in Kano, what actually happened?
The same characters are trying to find fault, create fault where there is none and use computer as photo trick to cause confusion everywhere. A case in question is my last visit to Kano. Before Kano we visited Kaduna, in Kaduna we met and conducted election which was free and fair and credible, which I was made to be the treasurer of all the Eze Ndigbo Home and Abroad. It is called Eze Ndigbo no nu uzo ije (Ezes in Diaspora) in Kaduna State, the election was done.
Recently we built an association of Intertribal Traditional Leaders of Nigeria which Ganduje, the Kano State Governor was the sponsor, the Emir of Kano, our father was the Patron, Sultan of Sokoto who was the Chairman of the occasion and incidentally he is the chairman of Council of All Traditional Rulers in Nigeria and Chairman Council of all Islamic Religious body in Nigeria was the Chairman of the occasion and he was the person inaugurating all the 36 states leaders in Kano State which I was one representing Lagos State.
On that inauguration there was a led down rule, all of us followed, my own was not different. When it got to my turn I went there majestically and greeted the Emir, but when the Emir spoke Igbo language to me, it sounded great to me and I wanted to have a tete-a-tete with him, then I bent to hear him because the loud speaker was too high, I couldn’t hear him well, then I bent down to hear him well and then have a quick conversation on things I needed from him, plus appointment with him in Sokoto, which we discussed and it was fruitful, and he also was appreciative of that discussion.
All of a sudden, social media was saying that I bowed down, I went there as a hungry person, I went there to beg for something, I went there to sell Ndigbo, I went there to discuss Nnamdi Kanu issue, and none of these was not in the discussion, it was not in the picture at all. But mischief makers whom I know are based in Lagos here who have suffered humiliation, defeat in various areas of our struggle now went in buying social media to blackmail. But I don’t see how they can use it to degrade Nwachukwu from doing a good job I am doing for the government, party and my people Ndigbo in Lagos, and at the same time a new relationship between Ndigbo and North, in particular Sultan of Sokoto.
So I end it there, but what I am saying is that, the Bible says those that kill by sword shall also die by sword, those who kill by eating people’s money will also suffer death penalty in taking people’s money or eating people’s money, and those who blackmail others will also suffer the same fate in their own coins. And those who are buying it without seeing it and they are saying it, they will all suffer the same fate because they were not there, those things they are using to relate to me that are fake, that are lies will affect them.
I want you to explain something here, by so doing enlighten Ndigbo in Lagos, they say Nwachukwu is Eze Ndigbo, the same with Hyacinth, Ohamadike, but there was a time you told me how the whole Ezeship of Ndigbo in Diaspora all started in Lagos. Two of you are still using that nomenclature interchangeably, and I learnt that those that brokered peace between two of you in the past allowed two of you to use the name Eze Ndigbo to maintain peace, why are people still worried about this?
People can be worried because when you built a house in a sandy hill the house has to collapse and when you are walking in a sandy hill, as you walk it will draw you down, those who build by deceit always crash. We needed peace and somebody suggested peace, yes, we agreed on the peace, but the peace is what the man now used to defraud government, defraud Ndigbo and walking as if he is a powerful man in Lagos State.
And the issue of Eze Ndigbo, yes, at that earlier stage I was the only man crowned by the Oba of Lagos and consented by Odimegwu Ojukwu and the Council of Traditional Rulers of South East led by Eze Ilomuanya, he consented to it, also a clan in my town Eze Naze also, Eze of Umudim Town also, so in Lagos here my king, Osolo of Isolo was my mentor, so how can somebody who was not crowned by anybody, who crowned himself can come and want to challenge me? When the matter came up, I reported him to Council of Traditional Rulers in Lagos State; he ran away to Abuja, he was doing the business with PDP, so when PDP crashed he too crashed. That is the position as of now. But I am still with my people, APC, I am still with government and party, I am still with my Ndigbo Community, I am still playing my role, maintaining peace and order when it concerns tribal problems.
I can still recall the role you played during the Okota crisis, Ladipo crisis, Alaba International crisis, among others, can you still tell us how you provided for platforms for peace in those areas?
That is part of my effort in peace building. There at Alaba International it was between Yorubas and Igbos, we moved in, with Ndubuisi Kalu and we quelled the problem, today those Igbos and Yorubas are together leaving well and having meeting together and doing a lot of things in common. In Ladipo Market when Government came and closed the market as a result of dirtiness, when the thing became out of hand, we moved in to the government and told government the importance of opening the market because if they leave this thing under lock and key these boys will enter the street and start stealing, and when that thing started happening government had to look at what we are saying and they opened the market.
During election Obi and Vice President here, it was a serious war here, the miscreants were giving bottle injury to my women in this area and when we tried to control them, they were out of hand, that thing nearly made somebody to lose his life, but God shelved that problem. But when the leaders who sent them were not relenting in our position to bring about peace, I had to invite the Federal Police and I had to invite the state police, and the whole police came and blamed them, peace came. So all these are attributed to Eze Ndigbo, Nwachukwu here, but this other so called acclaimed such don’t do anything than extortion, money from here and there, which is illegal money, they are after money. Ours is not about money, it is about working, but those who are after money; you have seen where they have landed themselves. They can longer move, and they can no longer move from Lagos to anywhere without Nwachukwu, it becomes you are illegal, because God is trying to rearrange the situation for good. It is all about God, If God doesn’t use you, you don’t use yourself, if you do, you are forcing yourself and you will have problem, many of them will start having problem now because the position is not their own and they cannot get it by trick. That is the situation.
What are those challenges Ndigbo are still facing in Lagos and what are you doing to help surmount these challenges?
Your brothers Ndigbo are not helping matters, people who are greedy for money, greedy for this, greedy for that cannot, and they don’t reason before they talk. Also the situation now is that let everybody go back to moral way of life, in business, relationship, anything you do, your moral standard is key. That is my take on that.
Though a traditional ruler, but in as much as you are a major stakeholder championing Igbo Interest in Lagos, in your estimation, have our hosts carried Ndigbo along in the socio- politico economic activities in Lagos?
Our hosts are trying but those who are in the corridors of power are those usurping the goodwill to themselves and don’t see to the welfare of Ndigbo who are resident here. A few people who are in the corridors of power are those usurping the gesture of the Lagos State Government, so we are going to reach them to stop that situation where they are now using to make sure that something that meant for the people are for just few. Time has come, time is numbered.
Considering the contribution of Ndigbo in the political, social and economic growth of Lagos, is it not time to consider Igbo ripe for deputy Governor position or at least three commissioners in any administration of Lagos State?
That is only when the Igbos are together. It is only when the Igbos are together and they work together, and they tell themselves the simple truth, but now Igbos are money, money, money everywhere. None of them is seeking political position anywhere; it is all about what they can grab. If Igbos are ready they will think how to go into elective positions, that is the only area you can talk about Deputy Governor position, have you seen Igbo man or woman seeking to be Deputy Governor? If you don’t seek, you don’t get, they should seek before they can get, rather than pursuing money that fly everywhere, so that is the position.
With what is happening, it appears that history has exonerated you when you and other well meaning Igbos wanted a change in APC Apex leadership, what the occupant is doing before and now has not changed, and Igbos are complaining, that issue is still hanging.
It cannot change because when you are born bad, you are a bad man, if you are born wicked you are a wicked man, if you are born greedy you are a greedy man. So such a man born by those explained cannot change. So by way of me being the Eze Ndigbo of Lagos, I presented Honourable Jude Chukwuemeka Idimogu, this is a man God made in Lagos State, he is a very humble man, a Christian person, and he is a man who is humble down to earth, that is the kind of person the host community can entrust anything and that thing will be useful, utilized the way they want to use it to help the people. That is why we elected him as the apex leader, Joe was a claimer, a claimant, he is just claiming something people did not give to him because he doesn’t merry it at all standard, he does not merit it.
Your son is coming out as flag bearer of APC in his ward, what are his chances?
Well it is a test mic, election is 24th July, until after election, we will be able to talk again.