Before the advent of democracy in Nigeria, Igbos had instituted their own style of government at the smallest unit, called Town Unions. This was sustained above clannish or nepotic interest, an attribute that worried the colonial masters who had observed that it was difficult to manipulate the people and resorted to divide and rule. With this unique quality, Ndigbo were better prepared for the Biafran, Nigerian civil war which lasted 3 years (1967-1970).
As it were, the town unions and socio-cultural groups provided rallying point for the people, hence fostered cordial relationship even amongst the minor clans in Igbo land. One would not be wrong to say if the town unions and socio- cultural groups in Igbo land at that time were polarized as some of them are now political offshoots of some desperate politicians, we may not have survived the civil war.
Suffice it to state that every society has a culture that must be preserved with dexterity. Those who attack such culture for political gains are the true enemies of the people. The leaders of these socio-cultural groups must shun any form of gluttonous enrichment of self by bastardizing such platforms that unify the people beyond political affiliations.
What Governor Rochas Okorocha did when he took politics to the door steps of traditional rulers and balkanized the town Union is already a pointer to the unfortunate disaster that has befallen our once cherished self-help and communal effort government system which has hitherto, been a vehicle through which development got to nook and cranny of Igbo land. It is no longer news that after the civil war, such groups became instrumental to the reintegration and rehabilitation of our people. The people through the town unions and socio-cultural groups addressed the infrastructural decay arising from the civil war and also motivated themselves.
Not deviating from the crux of the matter which is the reason for this piece, permit me to state that what has happened to Ezuruezu Mbaise is not different from that of the once very formidable Orluzurumee Youth Assembly and Ohanaeze Ndigbo. The unions goofed and may not survive the antics of desperate politicians if their leaders fail to purge themselves of greed.
I do not intend to join issues with anyone. I only express my views on how not to be a socio cultural group because I have once been saddled with such responsibility. To succeed as a leader of such group is not without sacrifice. However, it is challenging to overcome such mouth watering offers to do the bidding of politicians but exceptional leaders with knowledge of what a socio-cultural group is will surely overcome, such temptations or inducement.
Those who followed my days as henchman of OYA, would have noticed that even though I had opportunity to be appointed as commissioner and even a party chairman, I turned down such offers as long as my tenure subsisted. Watch it! From what has happened to these groups, we may soon sing their requiem mass if a drastic measure is not taken to address these issues and rebuild people’s confidence amongst members and stakeholders.
What else would have prompted leaders of such groups to trade with a socio cultural group if not for greed and avarice? It is so sad that our people have failed to differentiate politics from family unity. Politics in Africa does not encourage unity. It is better put, “A sword that has been used to divide the people, same way religion has worsened the African unity. Those who realized this on time, drew a line and clearly defined at what point to call a spade a spade”.
Those who followed my argument when the youth group in Orlu zone pitched tent with a governorship candidate can now see why I condemned such decision. If I never led a socio cultural group, I may not be better informed of how politicians selfishly want to ride on the backs of such groups to ascend to power, not minding the continual existence. This they do without qualms as long as it serves their self driven interests and purposes.
Ezuruezu Mbaise, like Orluzurumee Youth Assembly were known to be very formidable organizations until they were dragged into the murky waters of politics. Come to think of it, not every political leader is clannish.
One would ask, “did you not endorse a candidate during your time?”The answer is yes but the scenario was never the same. At the time, Orlu had one governorship candidate. Since the group was for Orlu people, we threw our weight behind the governorship candidate after extensive consultations and he emerged, though not publicly done. The rest is now history.
I totally fault the idea of endorsing a governorship candidate by Ezuruezu Mbaise, if every other socio-cultural organization should resort to endorsing a son of the soil as governor, the idea of zoning and rotational presidency will remain a pipe dream. For God sake, let us eschew clannish or tribal sentiments in choosing the next governor of Imo state.
What is important is the candidate who has the capacity to correct the ills, conduct government business according to civil service and international set standards, give good accounts of himself by ensuring accountability, transparency, prudence, application of fund and ensuring that all Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) are remitted into government coffers and fulfilling the statutory financial obligations and not one, who would dispense government largesse to individuals like the hateful free education of Rochas Okorocha, that captures only students of IMSU and Imo ploy while other tertiary institutions can’t afford school fees, hence drop out of school.