EZE IGBO OF IRELAND: A BREACH OF ETIQUETTE By Chris Okafor
The delay in publication of this article barely five months after the shamble coronation of Mr. Mathew Emeka Ezeani as the King of Igbo in Ireland was to give much room for reactions which has been consistent in the media over past few months.
Emeka Ezeani has continuously insisted that he have the support of his people to be crowned the Eze Igbo of Ireland which chronicled the various interviews I had with prominent Igbo men and women here in West of Ireland. The results of that interview demonstrated, to a large extent, a proportionate disapproval of anyone parading and masquerading himself as the King of Igbo in Ireland. However, I could not agree more than one Mr. Obomas assertion in Metro Earean that Igbos has no King and that anybody placing himself as one is doing so without the mandate of real igbos.
While the persistent controversies surrounding the coronation in Dublin continued, a number of unanswered questions keep cropping up my mind: How did it all started? Were the igbos in Ireland really insecure that it is the like of Emeka Ezeani and Steve Orji would give them the required security? What constitutional right does Joe Achuzia as secretary-general of Ohaneze possessed to coronate anybody as a King? Does the igbos have a similar King in England, United States or elsewhere? Do they have the Oba, Awujale or the Oni of Yorubas in Ireland, England or United states? Is there anything like the Emirs of Hausas anywhere in Diasporas? Is there any correlation between Eze in Igbo language to that of Oba, Alafin or Awujale in Yoruba race or that of Emir in Hausa? Is the King in Igboland by hereditary or by election? I am sure that all the parties involved in these scuffle would answer these questions unless they are only out to fool themselves.
That scuffle for meaningless Eze Igbo in Ireland represent a true reflection and extension of what is akin to the igbos in Nigeria today which can only explain why an Igboman can never be the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. You know why? The trust and unity are not there. You need to be trusted in order for somebody to trust you.
By writing this article, I know that some sycophants and hypocrites would respond negatively as the truth is always bitter, until the Igbos put their axe together and stop chasing shadows; they will continue to remain where they are. Politically, everybody is shouting marginalization yet the igbos are busy fabricating and conferring non existent title to themselves. Mr A sees Mr B as inferior and would stop at nothing to thwart his bid to exalted post in Nigeria. An average igboman would rather prefer to play second fiddle rather than see his own brother on the throne.
The theatrical manners under which the said coronation was carried was indeed a huge and significant mockery to all Igbo nation which further portrays the total lack of respect for traditional institutions and values. It is a comic that represent Nigeria Movies Industry continuous exposure on how the title of Igwe or Eze could be gotten cheaply in Igboland.
It is, indeed, true that Igbo has no King (igbo enwe Eze). I grew up in Ogwashi-Uku in the 70s and 80s and even before and after the arrival of Police and to these days, our monarch and traditional ruler remains respected and that respect is total. The same applied to the Benin, the Yorubas, the Hausas race and all the ethnic groups in Nigeria. It is perhaps only in Igboland that someone could easily and without justifiable reasons unseat or overthrow the Igwe or the Eze of a particular community or possibly fashion his own Eze. I want to go home and pay some homage to my King and if possible sit with him and discuss some viable ways that I can contribute to the development of my town not the opposite.
Most associations in Ireland started as far back as 2005 when the Irish government extended their unequivocal magnanimity to give residential permits to most migrants prior to the parentage of Irish Born Child. Majorities of these ethnic groups involved in these meetings have one formidable aims and objectives: to know one another and to promote and project any matter affecting them in a very good light. Depending on the size of the said ethnic group, majority of which have branches in some of the 26 counties in Republic of Ireland. In most cases, they organize themselves and have an overall President of that association despite the President that must have existed in various cities or counties. They have no single need to arrogate or derogate the overall sacred title of their ethnicity back home in Nigeria.
The monopolistic involvement of the almighty Ohaneze Ndigbo is beyond comprehension. Does the general secretary of Aniferefe or Arewa have the moral or the constitutional right to crown someone abroad or even in Nigeria as an Emir or Oba, Oni or Awujale? And by the way, who are the Ohanezes?
They are regarded generally as a child of circumstance, the socio-cultural organisation began to be seen by Igbo people as a veritable platform for common position and common action. Ohaneze became, as it were, a rallying point for the protection and promotion of certain core values which Igbo people hold dearly: respect for truth, respect for culture and standards and the preservation of all of this. This, again, is not entirely true. Comrade Uchenna Madu, Director of Information, MASSOB has this to say about Ohanaeze:“ Who are the Ohanaeze people and what do they stand for? Do you mean those people that hold meetings of Ndiigbo and speak English language all the way? Is it the Ohanaeze that some of the leaders go to look for contract in Aso Rock? Is it the Ohanaeze that cannot have one voice and speak for Ndiigbo? When they hold meetings, some of them would go to Aso Rock to tell them all that happened? When the North are together fighting for the Hausa-Fulani, the Yoruba and the Niger Delta are gaining political mileage and winning all the amenities for their people, our own Ohanaeze would keep mum and watch the emperors in Aso Rock infiltrate their ranks, create disunity and sentence servitudes.
This is the Ohaneze Ndigbo and so one can see from above definition that it therefore became obvious from their self serving activities that some of the mischief makers who cannot go to Abuja to secure contract always found haven to come to Ireland to cause confusion like coronation.
Ohaneze cannot be compared to Arewa Consultative Forum or Yoruba Aniferefe. These groups are socio-cutural groups in Nigeria, they disagree to agree and at all point in time, they have without doubt, presented a common front to the benefit of their people.
The Lagos State government last week, apparently disturbed by people claiming to be Eze Igbo (King of Igbo) has placed an indefinite ban on anybody parading himself as the king of Igbos in the state. Over the years, its proliferation in Lagos became a controversial issue in which more than one person laid claim to the title in the same local government.
In some parts of the state, for instance in Mushin area of Lagos, about three people claimed to be the Eze-Ndigbo. Likewise in Ajeromi-Ifelodun Local Government, the struggle is on for the position between two people
The South-East council of traditional rulers termed the Eze-Ndigbo phenomenon which is being struggled for, as a corruption of a monarchical system of the Ezeship in parts of Igboland and an abuse of culture and traditions.
There are similarities between Eze Ndi Igbo in all part of Nigeria and that of Ireland. The people who got less than €1.00 cap that one can easily buy in the street of Lagos, place it on their heads and lay claim to be the King of Igbo are self-centre individuals that are only interested in using the title for their selfish end. This can explain why the Lagos State government placed a ban on it as they do not truly represent the interest of the igbos.
In contrast, I think I am beginning to get sick of certain phrase which is continuously being used in Nigerian media. The same has surfaced in Ireland in case of the struggle for Eze Igbo of Ireland between Emeka Ezeani, Steve Orji and their gangs. To be honest, I don`t understand who is a successful lawyer and who is a successful businessman and by the way, is there any criteria to measure one success in particular profession? There is a huge different between a successful man in Nigeria and in Ireland. Chief Gani Fawehimi is an erudite and successful lawyer. Beyond endless and celebrated cases he has won in Nigeria federation, he publishes weekly law reports, the same applied to the late legal luminary, F.R.A Williams. Festus Keyamo is young dynamic lawyer whose rising profile in law continues to soar in Nigeria today: he doesn`t need to brag about it.
In Nigeria, arm robbers, drug peddlers, fraudsters, pimps and prostitutes and ritual killers are all classified as businessmen and women and like a reoccurring decimal, the media continue to refer them as businessmen and women even when their real profession is obvious. This is sentimental and praise singer sort of journalism. Should we have something like a successful fraudster or successful ritual killer rather than bending and twisting what one is known for? When you are engaged in one of the above nefarious activities in Nigeria and succeed, you automatically become successful, wherever you go, the crowd would follow, when you cough, about 20 people would answer you; Sir and even when you appeared in a party invited or not, everybody would bow and prostrate for you. The houses or cars you have is bought through your ill gotten wealth as there is no finance or hire purchase facilities in Nigeria.
Compare to non nationals or Nigerians in Ireland, the moment the council gave you an affordable house or you managed to save €15,000 to acquire property through mortgage which is extended to 35yrs, your next bus stop is a car shop; you pick a car made in 2009 and extend the finance to the next 6yrs, then you have finally arrived. For one, if I am involve in legitimate or illegitimate business in Ireland and have the gut to raise between €350,000 to €400,000 cash to pay for particular property or alternatively raised €30,000 to buy a car cash, I will, without doubt leave myself wide open to series of investigation by the authority on where I got the money from.This is the way it works here.
I enjoyed reading Nigeria papers in Ireland but I think that this successful this and successful that would have to stop. According to one of my friends, if you have money; na for your pocket.