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Apex Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo has come down hard on Chief Bode George over his comments on Igbo living in Lagos State.
In a statement by Dr. Chiedozie Alex Ogbonnia National Publicity Secretary, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide which was sent to The Eastern Updates, the organisation noted that Bode George alluded to the prevailing pervasive poverty in the country and in his judgment, believes that destruction of peoples’ property in Lagos is an antidote to poverty.
The statement reads ‘The attention of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide has been drawn to the remarks credited to Chief Bode George as to ‘why the Igbos couldn’t focus on developing their own states instead of Lagos’.
‘George went on to ask ‘what stops Iwuanyanwu from developing the Igbo land instead of developing Lagos? ….And that “given the pervasive problem of wide spread poverty among Nigerians, the subject” chosen by Iwuanyanwu “shouldn’t be the main focus”, etc.
‘Chief Bode George made the above remarks as a reaction to the World Press Conference by the President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Engr. Dr. Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu.
‘In the press conference, Chief Iwuanyanwu stated that when Lagos was elevated as the capital of Nigeria, it attracted persons, groups and governments from all parts of Nigeria and across the world. The Igbo leader pointed out that, Lagos as a federal capital gave rise to multi-ethnic inflow, population explosion and diverse economic activities.’
‘The Igbo leader commended the Igbo spirit of corporate social responsibility by adding values to whichever environment they find themselves.
‘The PG stated very correctly that the Igbo, like every other group, did not acquire their properties in Lagos by brute force; instead were lawfully purchased and evidenced with certificates of occupancy.
‘Any person who knows Lagos will agree with the Igbo Leader that some of the Igbo properties are standing on what used to be swamps. Iwuanyanwu used the press conference to condemn the demolition of properties by the authorities of Lagos State, most of which are owned by the Igbo.
‘Ohanaeze Ndigbo would have ignored such malicious comments by Chief Bode George, but we, however, believe that since silence may lend credence to the unsuspecting minds or may give validity to a whimsical figment of a transactional imagination, this press release becomes very imperative.
‘In the first place, the unsolicited support to the policies and programmes of the Lagos State Government led by Babajide Sanwo-Olu by Chief Bode George is both curious and misdirected. Otherwise, how will an elder statesman in the mold of Bode George query an ethnic group for their loyalty, allegiance, commitment and development of the former capital of Nigeria.
‘The George theory will also query why are other Nigerians are obligated to the development of Abuja to give it the required international status. For Bode George to suggest that the Igbo erred by contributing to the development of Lagos is not only un-statesmanly, bigoted, narrow-thinking and self-serving but stands at variance with the ethics and decorum of a man who has benefited immensely from the corporate existence of Nigeria.
‘Ohaneaeze Ndigbo has watched with dismay, the selective vocality of Chief Bode George; when many parts of the Alaba International Market were destroyed, George was mute. When there was intimidation of voters in Lagos state, George was mute, among several others.
‘Finally, the Igbo will remain broad-minded, hardworking, law-abiding, forward-looking, dynamic and courageous even in the face of daunting challenges,’ he submitted.