7 October 2000

Nigeria: IGBO DAY [2] We Just Want to Do Like Others - Hon. Iyke Ihegazie


Lagos — The second in a series polling views on Igbo Day

Actually, I think constitutionally he could not have stopped it. This is so because the constitution grants freedom of association.

At the same time, it is not the first time of hearing about such event in Nigeria. Sometimes ago, people from the Northern part of Nigeria organised their own under the aegies of Arewa Consultative Forum. And if you go down to the South-west of the country, the Oodua Peoples Congress (OPC) had similar thing and are presently organising another forum.

So, stopping the Igbo Day is not an ideal thing. There is no basis for him to stop it because from my own understanding, the Igbo Union has been in existence since the 60's. They have been gathering together to articulate the well being of their people, a situation that is not applicable to only them.

You recall that the Yorubas have even been marking June 12 in memory of late M.K.O. Abiola and others that died in the struggle for its (June 12) actualisation. It now becomes incomprehensible how President Obasanjo would stop the Igbos from remembering or immortalising their loved ones during the war.

It is on record that some of the key actors in the war have gone round to plead for forgiveness and expressed their willingness for us all to move forward.

Now that all those who played active parts in seeing to the death of all those people have pleaded, it behoves on the Igbo people to bid those their lost ones rest in peace.

The Igbo Day will also even assist the president to carry to the grassroots his policy of reconciliation as well as make him abreast of the generality of the Igbo race.

It is to Remember that Igbos are Human Beings - Labour Leader

I look at it as if Igbo insistence on having the Igbo Day is just a question of having that day to remember that they are human beings who are supposed to be part of the system.

What the Igbo need most now is to come together whether Ohaneze, MASSOB etc as people who have a common cause, who are being threatened and be able to harmonise their various views and aspirations with the aim of achieving the common goal which all of us aspire to.

What I will however, like all these our groups to do is to create some fora to enlighten Nigerians and the world about the cause they are fighting. People tend to misunderstand them and that is giving rise to different perceptions.

The Igbos are undoubtedly fighting a good cause by which it requires good enlightenment. It is wrong for them to think that people will just buy the idea. The arrangements must go with radio, television and newspapers' enlightenment all over the world.

I know that a great number of Igbos even want revolutionary change from the situation into which we find ourselves in the Nigeria today.

So, the essence of the day cannot be underestimated. It is important because it is a forum where the Igbos will look back at their own history, look back at their own image, then reform, whether the Igbo man is still the Igbo man we used to be in the past.

The forum will provide opportunity for Igbos to look at the situations that caused the war, whether they are still there. It will also look into how far the Igbo man contributes towards the progress of his fellow Igbos.

Even though I didn't want to believe the reported alleged response to an Igbo delegation in which the president was said to have told them that Igbos should not raise their heads till 200 years, if he stops the Igbo Day, it will mark a confirmation of that event since he has not come out to tell Nigerians what actually happened that day.

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