Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide says Igbos did not want former Governor Bola Tinubu to become Nigeria’s president. However, it says Igbos have confidence in Mr Tinubu’s capacity to lead the country following his victory in the February 25 presidential election.
During the last presidential and governorship polls in Lagos, Igbos were a particular target of violence and ethnic slurs.
The Igbo sociocultural group also called on Mr Tinubu, leaders across the country and other Nigerians to support Igbos against ethnic profiling and threats to their lives and property.
Ohaneze president Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu made the call at a news conference on Thursday in Abuja against the background of attacks on Igbo and a trending letter asking Igbo people to leave Lagos.
Mr Iwuanyanwu said although Igbos are not all angels, as there are good and bad ones, just like other tribes, the law was there to address the issue of good and bad people appropriately. He said when Mr Tinubu was Lagos governor, he was good to Igbos, and there were no complaints or reports of maltreatment of Igbos in Lagos.
“Tinubu is now the president of Nigeria. We did not support him during the presidential election, but that did not in any way undermine our trust in his capacity to lead the country,” said the Igbo leader. “Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in his favour, His Excellency President Tinubu can rest assured that Ohaneze Ndigbo will recognise, respect and be loyal to him as the president of Nigeria.”
Mr Iwuanyanwu added, “What Igbo require is peace, fairness, justice and equity. We will demand what is our share be given to us. We believe in one united Nigeria where people of different tribes, creeds or ethnicities can move with pride and confidence and get what they rightly deserve without any hindrances.”
Mr Iwuanyanwu called on Igbo people to be law-abiding citizens and not build illegal structures or build in the wrong places that would be demolished.
The Ohaneze president-general advised Igbos to comply with all legislations and local regulations to avoid demolition of their property in Abuja and other parts of Nigeria.
“It has been brought to my notice that many families have been thrown into serious difficulty due to the demolition in Lagos. The Ohaneze Ndigbo will establish an Ohaneze Relief Agency to be controlled by top Igbo Leaders,” Mr Iwuanyanwu promised. “Ohaneze Ndigbo will, through this agency, support Igbo citizens in distress; we will also support other Nigerians when the need arises in the spirit of brotherhood.”
Mr Iwuanyanwu said long before the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorate by Lord Lugard in 1914, the Igbos lived in Lagos peacefully and established a good relationship with the Yorubas.
“However, a Lagosian wrote a letter recommending that the Lagos state government should close down all the markets in Lagos where Igbo traders are in the majority. This writer wrote very unprintable things about Igbos,” Mr Iwuanyanwu. “The good news to my dear Igbos is that this letter does not reflect the good relationship that existed between Igbos and Yorubas.”
He added, “Therefore, as your leader, I am assuring you that there is no cause for alarm. You don’t have any reason to panic. Please continue to live in Lagos and other Western states. Continue to go about your normal business. There is no fear.”
According to Mr Iwuanyanwu, Igbos have been peaceful in Lagos, established businesses, made investments, built houses in Lagos, and lived as law-abiding citizens.
He added that properties owned by Igbos were legally purchased from the owners according to the laws of Lagos and Nigeria.
The Igbo leader added, “I must say that Igbo carried out the same investments to other parts of the country, including North, East and West. In spite of many setbacks suffered by the Igbos after the civil war, we have risen from the dust of hatred and frustration to reinvest.
“The ugly signs of hatred for Igbos have started rearing its head in some parts of the country, and I, as a leader of Igbo people, most humbly appeal to all Nigerians in the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja to rise to the support of Igbos. Nigerians need to support Igbo people against this ugly experience of wrong profiling and threat to Igbo lives and property.”