Uzodimma advocates national unity at Iwuanyanwu’s 80th birthday lecture

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BY BRIGHT JACOB

Uba Group

Governor Hope Uzodimma of Imo State has advised the Igbo not to be tired of pursuing national unity in Nigeria as their past and current antecedents indicate they have always shown the way for others to follow as regards a united country.

The Governor spoke on Saturday at the Concorde Hotel Owerri at a lecture organised by Imo State Correspondents’ Chapel of the Nigeria Union of Journalists in honour of Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu’s 80th birthday.

The theme of the lecture delivered by immediate past president of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, John Nnia Nwodo was ‘Igbo Quest for Nigeria’s Unity.’

In his remarks at the lecture that looked like a mini conference because of the presence of leaders of ethnic nationality groups in Nigeria, Governor Uzodimma said the Igbo have demonstrated fidelity in the Project Nigeria, both in the past and now, hence it is not in doubt they love Nigeria passionately and will always love to be part and parcel of the country.

Governor Uzodimma who described the theme of the lecture as apt and cogent said he was confident the lecturer would do justice to it.

He referred the audience to the thought he espoused in his book – Reflections on Igbo Question – and insisted that what the Igbo have in abundance in terms of skills in different spheres of human endeavour they lack in the power of negotiation.

“I will begin by recalling that the lecture topic resonates with my latest book – Reflections on the Igbo question. In the book, I set out to showcase the numerous contributions of Ndigbo to national unity while interrogating the challenges they face in their quest for a just, fair and equitable Nigeria.”

Governor Uzodimma explained that past and present day Igbo leaders like the late Nnamdi Azikiwe and the celebrant, Iwuanyanwu believed and still believe in the unity of Nigeria, and that the experience from the civil war which affected the Igbo adversely as well as the impact of the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine does not suggest that the path of violence to achieve a set goal by any group should be a better option to adopt.

He explained: “Let me submit that the truth of the matter is that in spite of obvious misinterpretations and misrepresentations, Igbos love Nigeria passionately and the evidence is overwhelming. There is no part of Nigeria, no matter how remote, where you will not find Igbos living happily with their host communities while contributing to the growth and development of the area. I often ask this question: Can a man live in a land he loathes? Can a man feel at home in a land he abhors? Will the gods of a land allow the business of a man to thrive in a land he does not wish well? I believe the answers to these questions are obvious, CAPITAL NOS. You can now fill in the gaps for the Igbos.

“Since 2011, when I was elected to the Senate, I have taken time to explore this topic and the complexities inherent in them. I have had cause not only to interrogate the question of suspicion among the various ethnic groups in Nigeria but also the issues that gave rise to it. This is against the backdrop of the fact that naturally the ordinary Nigerian does not have a problem living and working together for the peace and progress of the
country.

My findings are contained in my book, which I referred to earlier. The conclusion is that the Igbos love Nigeria, fervently; with all their hearts and all their souls and with all their might as well. However, by an inexplicable irony, the Igbos somehow believe that Nigeria and Nigerians do not reciprocate this love, at least not with the same passion. This is the paradox that has continued to define the Igbo quest for national unity.

“What the Igbos seek from the country is accommodation, not domination. What they seek is acceptance and not rejection. What they seek is friendship and brotherhood, and they are also willing and able to offer the same. There is sufficient and irrevocable evidence from Nigerian history that Igbo leaders have never been found wanting in advocacy, backed by action, for Nigeria’s unity,” the governor said.