The Apex Igbo Socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, and the pan Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, yesterday disagreed over a recent comment by the Chairman of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Council of Elders, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, over the recent attacks and ethnic profiling of Igbos in Lagos.
Iwuanyanwu who spoke at an event to mark the first anniversary of Governor Charles Soludo in Awka, Anambra State, was reported to have said among others, “I want to tell those in Lagos to realize that there is no war between us (Igbos) and the Yorubas. Those who attacked Ndigbo in Lagos recently are rascals who should be arrested.”
Reacting to the comment which allegedly ridiculed the Yoruba race, Afenifere in a statement by its National Organising Secretary, Abagun Kole Omololu, said “We have since reviewed the video recording of the event and our leadership will be reaching out to the leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo. We, hereby, call on Ohanaeze to warn the Chief not to insult the Yoruba. We are a proud nation.
“We are a hospitable race. All these should not be interpreted to mean weakness. In fact, it is a sign of being civilized; enough of the provocation.
“In line with the Yoruba ethos of Omoluabi, (good upbringing) we are, hereby, urging all Yoruba and indeed all Nigerians, to remain calm and continue to show love to their Igbo compatriots and members of other ethnic nationalities.
“We are one people under one nation and one God. The Yoruba have a long history of association and partnership with our Igbo brothers and sisters.
“Our diversity is one of Nigeria's strengths in the comity of nations and we should not allow politics, religion, ethnicity or anything else to divide us.
“We urge all Yoruba to continue to relate well with all other ethnic groups in Nigeria and abroad.
“Our common humanity is more important than the divisive antics or careless remarks of any individual or group.
“The Yoruba are known worldwide as promoters of peace, unity and orderliness.
“We should hold on strongly to those virtues in the interest of peace, progress and prosperity in Nigeria and the world.”
However, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, insisted that Iwuanyanwu never referred to Yorubas as political rascals, describing the report as a lie from the pit of hell.
Ohanaeze argued that the report was “a typical falsehood, fabricated by social media entrepreneurs, decorated with wings, expanded with venom, injected with ethnic nuances to create inter-ethnic mistrust between the age-long partners in social, cultural, religious and economic development of Nigeria.
In a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Dr Alex Ogbonnia said Iwuanyanwu only drew the attention of the audience and the general public to the fact that Ndigbo and Yoruba people were neither quarrelling nor fighting, implying that the Yoruba were a friendly group of people.
He said Iwuanyanwu only said, “I want to tell those in Lagos to realize that there is no war between us and the Yorubas”, adding that “those who attacked Ndigbo in Lagos recently are rascals who should be arrested”.
“This has mischievously been twisted to imply that ‘Yoruba people are political rascals and that we will fight them'. This is quite damaging from the insidious minds of those who wish to create a rift between the Igbo and the Yoruba ethnics.
“At no time in history, has there is often a tug of war between two major groups; mostly the good people with conscience on one hand and the devious insidious minds on the other.
“So, as much as some mischief makers will twist the speech by Iwuanyanwu, the truth remains that he holds the Yorubas in a very high esteem and he used the Awka event to express it,” Ogbonnia said.
He added that the emphasis was that “we must not attribute the ugly event in Lagos to the good people of Yoruba ethnic, rather, it was the handiwork of rascals, hooligans, spivs, charlatans, miscreants and dregs of Lagos society.
“It is important to highlight that Iwuanyanwu is a renowned patriotic detribalized Nigerian who has enjoyed the fidelity, confidence, solidarity, and support of the Yoruba when he was in active business and politics.
“Iwuanyanwu in all his private and public discussions has often commended the profound Yoruba cultural values, intellect and hospitality.
“He applauds the cordial relationship between the Igbo and the Yoruba, citing that several Igbo are integral parts of various Yoruba communities.
He maintained that there has been successful marriages of Yoruba daughters by frontline Igbo sons, citing Emeka Anyaoku; Asagba of Asaba, Prof. Chike Edozien; Prof. Vincent Ike, Prof. Okey Ndibe and others.
Ogbonnia exemplify the irreproachable similarity in the Igbo-Yoruba cultural values and cosmology.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Ohanaeze Ndigbo will resist any attempt to paint the 2023 presidential election with an ethnic tag,” he added.