The first international colloquium on the â€˜Igbo questionâ€™ in Nigeria began in Enugu yesterday with Imo State Governor, Rochas Okorocha, berating the present crop of Igbo leaders for their inability to unite the people of the region by projecting the Igbo course at national and international levels.
Okorocha spoke as prominent Igbo leaders, including governors of the other four South-east states, members of the National Assembly, ministers among others kept away from the very important colloquium, which is held at the Ohazurume square, near Emene in Enugu.
However, other notable Igbo leaders, including Chief Chekwas Okorie, Dr. Dozie Ikedife, Prof. Mark Odu, Chief Ralph Obioha, Bishop Emmanuel Chukwuma, Prof. Chiweta Ejike, Dr. Max Gbanite, Chief Uka Kalu Uka and Ngozi Chukwu Ugo of the International Criminal Court in the Hague, were present at the event.
The governor said despite huge human and material potentials, the Igbo people were not working towards a unified agenda.
â€œThe Igbo nation is not working, but the Igbo nation can work, and it will take my generation to make it work.
â€œThe problem is not that we donâ€™t have abundant natural and human resources, the problem is not that we donâ€™t have enough educated people, enough business men, enough professors, enough religious leaders; our problem is lack of unity any day Ndigbo become one, something will happen in Nigeria.
â€œOur problem is that there is no unity, state governors are not united, businessmen are not united, traditional rulers are not united, the women, the youths are not united.
Okorocha while calling for a change of attitude among Ndigbo, continued:â€I asked God what we should do to be united. First and foremost, we must ask God for forgiveness, Ndigbo must set aside a date to fast and atone for their sins; on such a day, we must lie down on the ground and cry to God.
â€œAll hope is not lost, the Yorubas have ruled Nigeria, the Hausas have ruled Nigeria, all the other zones have ruled Nigeria, but the problems facing the country are still there, any day an Igbo man occupies the presidency, there will be a total turn around.â€
Earlier in a welcome address by the Coordinator and Chairman of the colloquium planning committee, Prof. Uzodinma Nwala, said the event was conceived by a body of Igbo intelligentsia, clergy, elders and patriots in the light of the current socio-political situation in Nigeria and the debate over her future and in the light of the enormous challenges facing the Igbo people.
Nwala said the event â€œprovides the much expected opportunity for the entire Igbo race to prepare themselves for a national conference and at the same time, to examine ways and means of overcoming the challenges they face both in Nigeria and in the world today.â€