Njiko Igbo: The True Story

 [ Masterweb Reports: Yahaya Ezeemoo G.K. Ndu reports ] – It has come to my notice that a group led by Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu [ a former Governor of Abia State] is parading itself as Njiko Igbo and the group’s objective was the actualization of a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction, come 2015.

 

I beg to use this medium to explain the origin, mission , vision and operations of the NJIKO IGBO cultural Organization which I founded and has been effectively operating with since 1983 . I also wish to use this medium to appeal to well meaning Igbos to prevail on Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu to please leave Njiko Igbo alone and rather look for another name to further his political aspirations in the interest of peace.

 

I have absolutely nothing against the emergence of a Nigerian President of Igbo extraction in 2015,afterall, I myself contested for the presidency of Nigeria in 2003 and again in 2011. Incidentally, on both occasions I did not bring the Njiko Igbo into the partisan struggle as my idea in establishing the organization was not to use it to oil any partisan political machinery but for some deeper course.

 

PREAMBLE

 

I was born in Jos the Plateau state capital in 1957 and was therefore 10 years of age when the genocide against Igbos termed civil war started and witnessed first hand the most inhuman pogrom in the history of black Africa,  if not of the whole world and of all times.

 

When the war was said to have  ended in 1970, I continued to witness the continued atrocities meted out against the Igbos. In 1976, I gained admission to read law at the University of Ife [now Obafemi Awolowo University] and had become passionate about researching into the life and times of the Igbo race from time immemorial to the present day and with an unquenching desire to hazard their future.

 

I read about King Jaja of Opobo[1821-1891] and of other prominent ibos such as Olaudah Equino  and was surprised that there were no organized establishment in Nigeria dedicated to the study of Igbos , their culture, history and civilization.

 

Incidentally, the motto of the University of Ife is For Learning and Culture. NJIKO is an Igbo word and Njiko Igbo is an Igbo phrase meaning the unification/unity /union/fraternity of the Igbos and as such could be said to be existing as a phrase ever before the birth of either my humble self or Orji Uzor Kalu, but the circumstances surrounding the Njiko Igbo cultural organization as well as its relationship to Orji Uzor Kalu is such that I am of the considered opinion that every and all fair minded human beings, whether Igbos or not whom are privileged to know the facts will to say the least appeal to Orji Uzor Kalu to leave Njiko Igbo alone and look for another name for his group and aspirations.

 

The NJIKO IGBO Cultural Organization was founded by me in 1983 at Enugu at No.61 Owerri Road, Asata, Enugu and was formerly inaugurated at the Prince Palace Hotel, Enugu on Thursday  20th April 1989 in an public function which was witnessed by many prominent and regular Igbos from all walks of life. One very prominent Ibo who was also there was Chief[Dr]B.U.Nzeribe,the Ekwueme of Orlu.and the proprietor of Palm Beach Insurance and Palm Beach Tourist Village , Awoommama, in Oru East local government of Imo State.

 

At the said inauguration event, Dr. B.U.Nzeribe openly there and then expressed his gratitude for the initiative and invited me to  Awomamma [his home town]  to discuss further on the organization, its objectives and plans and on how to make it a real beacon for Ndiigbo.

 

I accepted his invitation and traveled to Awomamma where details were accordingly discussed. It was decided that other prominent Igbos especially those who were passionate about the projection of Igbo culture, traditions and civilization should be involved. Two of such people were Eze Ahurukwe Madukwem Unaka,the traditional ruler of Abba, and his West Indian wife,lolo Unaka.

 

I therefore travelled to Abba, and with a letter of introduction from Dr.B.U.Nzeribe dated that day-25th ,April,1989.I met with and held discussions with the said Eze Ahurukwe Unaka and Lolo Unaka at the Eze’s palace in Abba,Imo state. In the course of which both the Eze and his wife were intimated  on the next meeting scheduled to hold at Awommamma on the 1st of May, 1989.

 

On the 1st of May, I set off from Enugu early in the morning in the company of Mr. Simeon Onuora and Mr. John Ezerim, the later was driving us in his Peugeot 504 saloon car, The three of us drove straight to Abba and picked up Lolo Unaka since the Eze was unavoidably engaged elsewhere.

 

On getting to Awommamma, the scheduled meeting was held at Harambe lodge at Palm Beach Tourist Village, on the ground floor. It was later moved upstairs, after lunch. At the meeting, Chief [Dr] B.U.Nzeribe announced to all that he has donated the major hall in his Palm Beach Resort to the Njiko Igbo Cultural Organization [ the hall was hitherto called and known as Odinkenma Hall] and that he would wish the hall to be known as and used as Igbo cultural Research Centre. This was initially agreed upon until a better name was suggested. His name later suggested was Institute of Igbo Culture and Civilization.

 

All were informed at the meeting of another meeting convened by Mr. F.C.Ogbalu of Igbo intellectuals and scheduled to hold at the University of Nigeria ,Nsukka and it was further greed that moves be made to move the Ogbalu meeting to the Palm Beach Tourist Village, Awommamma so as to further water the grounds for the Njiko Igbo Cultural Organization to more effectively serve Ndiigbo.

 

I was mandated to represent both Dr.B.U.Nzeribe and Eze Anurukwe Madukwem Unaka at the F.C.Ogbalu’s meeting and was driven to the meeting by the personal driver to Chief Nzeribe[by name Celestine].The F.C.Ogbalu meeting received my message very happily.

 

CENTER FOR IGBO STUDIES[CIS] AT THE ABIA STATE UNIVERSITY [ABSU]

 

I was invited by Prof.Godfey N. Uzoigwe[the pioneer Director of the Center for Igbo Studies at the Abia state University and the then President of the Historical Society of Nigeria] to the opening ceremony of the First Annual Conference of the centre on the theme: The Igbo and the tradition of Politics, that held on the 11th July,1991 at the University auditorium. I participated actively at the event and was later made an Associate fellow of the centre.

 

After attending the event, I persuaded other members of the Njiko Igbo Cultural organization that rather than dissipating and duplicating efforts in trying to establish another Center for Igbo Studies and civilization, that since there was already an existing   Center for Igbo studies at the Abia state University, that if our intentions were truly to serve the Igbo race, that it would be better for us to channel our energies towards ensuring that the center at ABSU was better equipped and funded to discharge its functions effectively. My appeal was heeded and I thereafter initiated communications with the authorities of the university for this purpose.

 

After scores of meetings and travels from Enugu to Uturu/Okigwe, eventually on August 17th 1994 an agreement was signed between myself and the Abia state University for the organizing of an endowment fund for the Centre for Igbo Studies of the university.

 

Throughout  this period, the Njiko Igbo Cultural Organization was receiving maximum publicity in the news media, especially in Abia state. The TSM [the Sunday Magazine] of December 4,1994 for instance had a lot to say on both the Njiko Igbo Organization and on the endowment fund project of the centre for Igbo Studies . Its story was entitled: In Search of Igbo Ancestry. So also had the National Ambassador newspaper of Thursday 18-Sat 24 December,1994, on an article entitled: Clues to a Cultural Future-How Njiko Igbo is

 
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