Former President Goodluck Jonathan has restated that the Igbos have remained in the forefront of Nigeria’s unity and development since independence, adding that it they deserve recognition.
He made the remarks at the 80th anniversary of Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu organised by the Correspondents’ Chapel of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Imo State Council yesterday.
The anniversary was attended by President-General Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Chief Nnia Nwodo; Secretary General of Afenifere, Mr. Shola Ebiseni; former President of the Senate, Senator Adolphus Wagbara and former Inspector General of the Police, Chief Mike Okiro, among others.
Speaking at the anniversary yesterday, the former president noted said that the incoming elections should not be geared towards dividing the unity of the country.
Jonathan expressed delight of joining political associates and friends of Chief Iwuanyanwu whom he described “as a father, a man of many parts, a role model and meticulous businessman.”
He, Chairman of the occasion, said Iwuanyanwu has contributed immensely to the progress, development and unity of the country.
Citing quotes from the founding fathers of Nigeria, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa and Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, Jonathan stated that it showed that from the beginning, Igbos stood for the unity of Nigeria.
He said: “The Igbos hold an important place in the history of Nigeria; they have made enormous contributions to the progress of our country, primarily through trade and investment.
“They are known to be excellent industrialists and entrepreneurs and scholars. They epitomise resilience amid adversity and fortitude in times of despair; these are the virtues we need to emphasize now more than ever, given our nation’s challenges.”
In his remarks, Nwodo observed that Jonathan’s humility was the reason Nigeria did not go to war in 2015 when he willingly handed over power to Buhari.
Nwodo, who was the guest lecturer at the anniversary, said that Iwuanyanwu remained a collossus having contributed to the economic, social and political development of the country.
He said Igbos no doubt dominated the overall sector of the economy, be it in trade, economy, sports, entertainment industry, oil and gas, education, computer wizardry, international engagement, etc.
“We have lost Igbos in the diaspora as most of our diasporans are well-to-do in their various countries of habitation, thereby denying their fatherland because of marginalisation of the Igbo. Iwuanyanwu gave his all, abandoned his wife to defend his fatherland during the Nigeria – Biafra war.”
In his welcome address, Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma said Iwuanyanwu dedicated his life to the service of God and humanity has to be eulogized.
Uzodimma described him as a man that regard Nigeria as his constituency and therefore requires commendation from Nigerians.
He observed that Igbos “love Nigeria more than the other regions, hence Igbos are in every part of the country contributing their quota to national unity and development.”
On the poor outing of Igbo politicians who aspired to the presidency, the governor blamed lack of unity, intolerance among the political leaders of the Igbo, as the cause of their poor showing.
He, however, called for national peace among the regions of the country in order to remain proud Nigeria.
Ebiseni, who represented the leader of Afenifere, Pa Ayo Adebanjo at the anniversary, said the 1999 Constitution made it impossibly for Igbo not to be the President of Nigeria because of the flaws in the local government creation.
According to him, there is no way such marginalization can remain so.”