The leader of Orlu people at home and in diaspora under the auspices of Orluzurumee Cultural Union, Chief Emeka Diwe, is one man that has maintained aviate sterling and unassailable profile in credibility, honesty and diligence. In a chat with newsmen in Owerri the Imo state capital recently, the accomplished agro-business mogul and President General of Orluzurumee made vital clarifications regarding the so-called crisis in the Union.
Sir, in a press statement issued by Orluzurumee recently, a group was described as usurping the identity of Orluzurumee and organizing events and soliciting for funds. What exactly is the situation?
Thank you so much. It is pertinent that I begin by saying that there is no crisis whatsoever in Orluzurumee. The socio-cultural union is one, indivisible and strong, just like a tower which summit never wags. It is, however, regrettable that some persons that are never members of Orluzurumee have been beguiled and conscripted by the expelled former BOT Chairman of the Union, Chief Reuben Okoro. And they go about searching for soft targets to swindle. So, we really don’t consider this a crisis within Orluzurumee. It is simply a criminal matter which the criminal justice system will take care of.
Are you saying there is another faction of Orluzurumee?
You see, factions only arise when some legitimate members of a group, aggrieved for whatever reason, decide to withdraw their support from a single leadership, thereby recognizing another, parallel leadership. In that case, they remain members of the group but pay allegiance to a different leadership. A process of harmonization with some concessions which is often called a political solution will normally lower the factional walls and arrest the situation. The disputations may in some instances be intense that the adjudicatory powers of a law court will be brought to bear. So, this is what it means to have factions in a group. However, in the extant case of Orluzurumee, the situation is totally different. What we have is an expelled member with his band of uninformed and patently ill-intentioned recruits, who corner vulnerable politicians, take advantage of their vulnerability and rip them off their resources. They have done this to a handful of Imo political office seekers who are now licking their wounds. We are on a daily basis inundated with reports to this effect and we have put every machinery in motion to ensure that the culprits are brought to book. It gives us some concern, because Orluzurumee is a sacred institution in Orlu zone and must not be brought to disrepute by a few. This Union has been in existence since 1982. It was a necessity that in no little ways defended our people in the repressive days of military rule. It has fostered the unity of Orlu people, accelerated socio-economic development and propagated and preserved our culture and values.
You spoke of an expelled member of the group, Chief Reuben Okoro, who went and recruited other non-members to appropriate the identity of your group and use same to attain their goals. What really brought about his expulsion?
There are values which Orluzurumee place a premium on. They are basic, fundamental principles which we can never compromise. One of them is integrity, and the other is collective decision making. These principles are adamant and have stood the test of time and circumstances in Orluzurumee. When they are violated, regardless of whose ox is gored, we mete out corresponding punishment. Our discipline is collective. The expulsion of Chief Reuben Okoro, which was effected through a resolution unanimously reached by the Orluzurumee General Assembly, was done on November 1, 2015.
It was published in News point Newspaper of November 6, 2015. The General Assembly, as in all other organizations and associations, is the highest organ in matters of policy, and it is also vested with the power to impeach, suspend or expel any official or member found culpable of acts injurious to the image or detrimental to the objectives of the Union. The issues we had with Chief Reuben Okoro were very weighty and clear, some of which bordered on criminally grievous issues of accountability and integrity. Secondly, how could he have declared in the press that he had solely “collapsed” Orluzurumee into a political party? How could the apex socio-cultural group of all Orlu people be subsumed under a tiny political identity? Who gave him the power to do so? In short, an act like this is sacrilegious to the ideals of Orluzurumee and in total abnegation to our core values. Again, how could he hide some old documents of the Union with the aim of using them to achieve a sinister purpose? Even though those documents he flaunts are now expired and duly replaced with valid ones, it is criminal to be in possession of them. These are weighty charges. Things like these have the capacity of undermining popular confidence in the Union and abbreviating our vision.
So, when Okoro could not defend himself of the charges, the General Assembly voted for his expulsion, and till date he stands expelled. Even thereafter, he never went to any court of whether competent or incompetent jurisdiction to challenge his expulsion. He has never spoken up anywhere nor written anything defending himself. He has totally avoided confronting the issues against him, because, you know, conscience is one human factor you can’t easily write off. He has tried so many strategies aimed at covering his deeds. He once went and hired one McDonald Akanno and promised him that he would make him President of Orluzurumee so as to launder his public image.
When Akanno discovered it was one big fraud, he ran away. The second person was Chime Nzeribe, who quickly abandoned him when he discovered his inclinations and sinister intentions. The latest now is Steve Agbarakwe, who is obviously too naive and is being used by Okoro in things that will bequeath a negative label to him perpetually. He had approached so many other people he deemed financially buoyant, promising to “make” them President of Orluzurumee, so as to milk them dry. But they had declined his offer, even distanced themselves from him, for it is common knowledge that no single person ordains another as President-General of Orluzurumee, not even Okoro. The President-General is elected by all Orlu people in a free, fair and credible contest as was the case with mine which held at the Sam Okwaraji Stadium, Orlu, by Option A4. In fact, there is an axiom now in Orlu zone that anyone who accepts any dubious offer from Okoro, or identifies with him on any platform, or presents himself in any way reminiscent of Okoro is like Okoro, and suffers the same fate and stigma as him. Show me your friend and I will tell you who you are. Reuben Okoro has become a standard for measuring the integrity or otherwise of every Orlu man.
You mean Okoro is now a stigma used in cursing people and wishing them evil?
You have said it yourself. You see, there is one thing Emeka Diwe stands for, and that is Integrity. I staunchly stand to be challenged on it based my actions and inactions, and my antecedents since the fifteen years I chose this sacrificial, non-remunerating leadership of the defenseless grassroots. Given this background, it is impossible for me to fold my arms and remain comatose when I see unsuspecting, innocent, defenseless and disadvantaged people being manipulated, misled and defrauded by a shameless fraudster. Honestly, I throw in all I have, including my life, in such fight. People who know me know this fact about me. It doesn’t matter who is involved.
Yes this brings us to the reason you are never scared of confronting him.
How do you mean? So that he doesn’t kill me? If I die now have I died too early? Listen, if I die fighting a cause like this, so be it. The most important thing is the message. If the message has been effectively transmitted, the singular life of the messenger, as against the multitude of lives saved, becomes actually insignificant. In fact, your deeds will cause posterity to immortalize you, and then you live in perpetuity.
Are Orluzurumee members not allowed to get involved in partisan politics?
Of course, everyone is allowed unfettered right to exercise franchise and hold political views. This is a political responsibility which citizenship demands. No association takes that away from its members and if any does it, to that extent, it defines itself in opposition to the state. So, Orluzurumee doesn’t deprive its members the right to political identification. However, as an entity we are non-partisan and our preoccupation is essentially about the welfare of Orlu zone. The two groups that were the forerunners to the emergence of this Union, which are Orlu Zonal Welfare Association and Orlu Senatorial Consultative Committee, greatly prioritized the need to enhance the welfare of our people through a robust cultural umbrella. So, today, this vision has never left Orluzurumee. The blueprint we drew in 1982 upon the formation of this Union remains what orders our actions. Our success is measured by how much unity, cohesion, peace and development we have brought to Orlu zone. Our unity of purpose has made Orlu the most formidable player in the Imo project. We have designed so many other programmes to engage our youths and make life better for our people. We cannot be distracted by anything or anyone no matter how highly placed.
As the leader of Orlu people, how do you rate the stewardship of the state governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, who also is your son?
Rochas Okorocha is doing the best he knows. But we may leave such for subsequent discussions.