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Fr John Odey Knocks Promoters of Ikwo/Izzi Crises

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A fiery Roman Catholic Priest Reverend Fr. John Okwoeze Odey says those who are promoting crises within the Izzi/Ikwo clans and by e tension the Abakaliki bloc who are popularly known as “Umuekumenyi” were defeating the dreams and essence of the patriotic people of Ebonyi State who saw the creation of the State as a good opportunity for them to use the state creation to re-write their history.

Fr Odey who disclosed this in a statement he personally signed and circulated in the social media maintained that with the current wave of crises within the bloc were gradually becoming mere wishful-thinking contrary to the huge expectations of sons and daughters of Ekumenyi.

He went down memory lane to recast his earlier position on what he termed as the plight of Abakaliki people in the midst of other Igbos, saying the current crisis between the two brothers and sisters of Izzi and Ikwo clans should make every Abakaliki person to shudder.

Read details below;

*Dear brothers and sisters of Abakaliki, the sons and daughters of Ekuma-Enyi, below is what I wrote in 2014 in one of my books, EBONYI STATE AT THE CROSSROADS: WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE, about the plight of Abakaliki people in the midst of other Igbos. The current crisis between our brothers and sisters of Izzi and Ikwo clans should make every Abakaliki person to shudder. It is my hope that after reading this short statement taking from pages 99-102 of the book, we, the people of Abakaliki in general, will intensify our effort to ensure that the crisis is quelled once and for all and that we do not give our detractors reason to believe for ever that Abakaliki people are savages, brutes, murderers and cannibals_.*

In 2003 Rev. Fr. Emmanuel Mbam wrote his stunning masterpiece, Chief Nwiboko Obodo, and graciously asked me to write a foreword to it. In the foreword, I recalled what I read in the December 22, 1997 edition of the Newswatch magazine, how a team of journalists led by Wale Akin-Aina and Tobs Agbaegbu seized the opportunity of the death of Shehu Musa Yar’Adua in Abakaliki prison yard to ridicule Abakaliki and everything Abakaliki. In their article, they claimed that Yar’Adua “died uncared for, in a remote prison yard at the guinea-worm infested town of Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.”
Describing Abakaliki as a guinea-worm infested town was not enough for them. Too eager to prove to the rest of Nigerians that Abakaliki is more uncivilized than anybody can imagine, they opened their spleens wide and continued: “To call Abakaliki a town is charitable…Most of the houses are built with mud. Named the capital of the newly created Ebonyi State a little over a year ago, Abakaliki made international news in 1995 when FIFA cited outbreak of guinea-worm and cholera as part of the reasons it refused Nigeria’s permission to host the under-20 World Cup competition.”
It was General Sani Abacha that kept Shehu Musa Yar’Adua in Abakaliki prison. No Abakaliki man was a part of the conspiracy that kept him there. If his death was not natural, if that conspiracy was responsible for his death, I am sure that no Abakaliki man was privy to his death. The offensive and scornful description of our own capital town had nothing to do with Yar’Adua’s death. But the journalists who put the story together saw it as a good opportunity and cashed on it to tell the world how uncivilized Abakaliki has remained since the days of Adam.
Peeved to the marrow by that unnecessary insult on Abakaliki and Abakaliki people, I wrote the following in that foreword: “In what has become a trendy Igbo phraseology, Abakaliki has been derogatorily dubbed the wawa di wawa n’ime (the most backward of the backward people). The entire people of Abakaliki have never taken it kindly to this backwardness, be it purported, real or imposed. If nothing else, they are convinced that they owe no one any apology for being a part of the vast geographical entity called Nigeria. They owe no one any apology for being who they are. Above all, they are happy and proud of who they are. No one likes to wear the badge of wounded self-esteem. And the people of Abakaliki cannot be an exception.”
Abakaliki people are generally regarded by some other Nigerians as savages, brutes, murderers and eaters of human flesh. I have often met people who expressed a big surprise that when they came to Abakaliki or met some Abakaliki people somewhere, they found out that they display a lot of civility. To demonstrate how idiotic some people rate anybody and anything Abakaliki, at my age and exposure, I have often met people who were surprised that I can understand clearly and speak fluently what we call central Igbo. When I was the Administrator of St. Theresa’s Cathedral, I was once told by somebody in a plain language that I cannot be an Abakaliki man. The reason for that, according to him, was that I used to preach so well in the Church that he took it for granted that I must have come from Anambra or Imo State.
I was once accosted in Port Harcourt after delivering a paper to a large crowd by someone who wanted me to be honest by telling him that I am a priest serving the people of God in Abakaliki Diocese but not an Abakaliki man. The import of all these is that Abakaliki is the present-day Nazareth and that nobody in his right senses should expect anything good to come out of it.
I have on several occasions heard from those who fought for the creation of Ebonyi State and those who claimed to have done so, that when they were struggling for the State our brothers and sisters from Anambra and Enugu States told them that Abakaliki people are not capable of ruling themselves if left on their own. They were told that after they must have succeeded in having a State created for them, they would settle down and kill themselves, having remained age-long savages, brutes, murderers and eaters of human flesh. Whether we accept it or not, every Abakaliki man carries with him the stigma of Chief Nwiboko Obodo saga and the Mkpuma Akpatakpa syndrome.
I know how deeply hurt I feel each time I hear people talk about Abakaliki and Ebonyi State in general as if all the people living in it are products of Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, just trying to come out of the chimpanzee stage to the human stage. I do not know how other people from Ebonyi State feel about the same issue. All the same, the way we feel about it is not so much the issue. What matters more is whether we can practically prove to those who denigrate and underrate everything Abakaliki that they are making a mistake.
Beginning from the ravages of the Ezza/Ezillo crisis to the bloody war currently taking place in almost every nook and cranny of Abakaliki, can the people of Abakaliki truly convince anybody that we are civilized enough and that we can rule ourselves well to the shame of our detractors? I doubt.
Personally, I am happy and proud that I am an Ngbo man, an Abakaliki man. I will remain happy and proud of it until I die. Nevertheless, it will be foolhardy for me to be happy and proud of what has been happening in Ebonyi State since the creation of the State. As I said earlier, the patriotic people of Ebonyi State saw the creation of the State as a good opportunity for us to use and re-write our history. But that has remained a wishful-thinking.

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