Among the Igbos of South East Region, there is great reverence to the aged and sage while great respect is accorded to elders and leaders hence in any form of government, their wise counsel, criticism and admonition are usually sought hence the Igbo aphorism that “(Okenye anaghi ano n’ulo ewu amuo n’obu)”, that is, it is not proper for the elder to be at home and allow the goat give birth while in tethers. Another wise saying states that “seeing evils and not talking is what kills the elder but talking without the child listening is what kills the young man. The Holy Book therefore enjoins elders and fathers to continue constantly advice and admonish the youth ceaselessly.
This is where this column for some obvious reasons intends to share the onerous duty and task affected by the recent letter written to the country’s Head of state, President Muhammadu Buhari by his elder colleague, predecessor, veteran and former Head of state, President Olusegun Obasanjo. Many Nigerians, groups, institutions and even federal government have reacted differently to the letter and it’s contents but the issue is that the elder statesman has exonerated himself from blames of heinous dereliction of duty. He has absolved himself of any form of compromise or complexity. We commend Obasanjo for speaking out on his perceived ills of the society and his observed deficiency in public administration or governance. Of course, he has always done this with past and present administrators.
It is on this premise that one makes bold to ask if there is no such elders, sages, past leaders or former rulers in our dear state. Our leaders, traditional and religious, elders counsels, captains of industry, Ohaneze Ndigbo, are they not awake seeing the rats eat their property. Are they not concerned by the number of atrocities, abominations, sacrileges and illegalities committed in our land? Abomination that calls for the cleansing of the land! Sacrileges that call for the condemnation of the elders and high priests of the land!! There may have been a lone voice and a lone group like the state branch of the Nigerian Bar Association but where have the elders of the land been all this while? We have no intentions to castigate or cast aspersions on our elders or show disrespect to our revered royal natural rulers or fathers but we are asking where are the “Aha eji aga mba, Onwa Imo, their imperial majesties of the ancient kingdoms in Orlu, Okigwe and Owerri? Don’t they agree with the gospel musician, “Okwe” that “Ihe emebiwo”?
We expected these revered and respected elders like Chief Engr. Dr. (Sir) Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu (OFR, OON), Aha eji aga mba ndi Igbo, Hon. Chief Christopher Achike Udenwa (Onwa Imo), HRM Eze Tom Obiefule (Okaimo) and Ezes and their fellow elders to speak out or write to their son, “Governor Owelle Rochas Okorocha as he lives to be called on his excesses and arbitrary rule and style of government more so in a democratic system. When did an Imo son and leader assume or become Eze onye agwalam? Where are our erudite professors, maverick politicians and retired generals and former governors, military and civilian? The state economy has been ruined and all our citizens completely impoverished with all their sources of livelihood highly destabilized with a promise to restructure them in few months time.
Artisans, workshops and mechanic villages are being demolished. All the markets in the 27 local government areas are steadily being demolished beginning with the bloody demolition of Ekeukwu Owerri against court order by a government that sings an anthem to stand on the “rule of law”. Individual and community lands and personal properties are being acquired with executive fiat. Public funds have being spent without financial formula. Public jobs or contracts executed without plans and professional advice, in addition to contractors, workers and even elder statesmen being denied of their legitimate and hard earned entitlements while bailout funds are disbursed by non-career civil servants or ill-equipped and half baked professional accounting officers. Churches, shrines and holy places have been destroyed or desecrated with impunity and people’s privacy are still invaded with impunity and nobody raises a voice.
Are these our fathers, sage, elder statesmen, technocrats and former leaders comfortable with the present style of government? If it is so they should write a letter of commendation, if not they ought to take a queue from Obasanjo and speak out now.
Could it be true, about the speculations and insinuations in certain quarters that our leaders have either compromised their elevated position and are involved in clandestine complexity and romance with Okorocha for selfish reasons just to deprive the masses the dividends of good governance, rule of law and provision of state security and social welfare of all things? People of the state are presently denied access to common public water supply especially in the urban and rural areas whereas water is a natural gift to mankind but now the most expensive commodity in Imo state. What a shame?
Since it is given to the elders to speak out and the youths to listen and adhere to act these elders and sages, they will have no moral justification to speak or call to order when the youths, their wards and colleagues take proper action in the face of multifarious provocations. We are all ears to hear of the correction, condemnations or praises of the present order from our so-called revered elders. A stitch in time, saves nine.