I will start by congratulating the entire Igbo race in every geopolitical zone of Nigeria, those in diaspora and Ohaneze ndi-Igbo for the success of the recent election for the office of the President General of the apex sociocultural body.
I also congratulate Dr. John Nnia Nwodo in particular for his emergence as the President General of this all important Igbo organisation. I do this first and foremost, as an Igbo man (my being a Christian and Pastor notwithstanding, I am a Christian, but also an Igbo man, and so, I am interested in the affairs of my earthly race. I pay attention to issues that concern them, especially if that has to do with the leadership of the sociocultural body that represents and projects their political interest at the highest level).
Now, let me go to the subject of this article, which is the role of money in the process and politics of choosing the President General of Ohaneze ndi-Igbo. From what I read from the interview that Dr. ABC Nwosu, who was the Chief Electoral Officer of the election, granted the Sun News Paper, I understood that there was campaigning by those who sought to lead the apex body.
And also, that the contestants were made to pay a non refundable fee of =N=500, 000 for the purchase of the Intent Form. I am of the view that it’s a noble thing for one to aspire to lead ones race at the highest level of leadership, such as Ohaneze, but what has made me apprehensive in all of this episode is the dangers of money politics in any system, setting or organisation, be it in the normal democratic governance, Church leadership, Town Union or any other institution.
While there might be nothing wrong with democracy, I feel Ohaneze should have adopted a different system for choosing who leads the group like obtained in other tribes. We the Igbos, a tribe who prides itself as Jews should know that the Jews of chose their national leaders by theocracy and age. So, we should realise that the kind of role money played in the recent election of Ohaneze may have set a bad precedent for the future. Let’s be careful not to create a situation where the leadership of our apex sociopolitical and cultural body is for the highest bidder.
The danger of this is that it will come to a time when moneybags, would easily high jack the process and buy up delegates, and emerge winners irrespective of their antecedents, whether they are men of honour and integrity or well known dupes and criminals, and even in some cases may be working for external interest and forces.
This scenario will prove right, the long standing false impression that everything about the Igbos is all about money. While in the true sense of it the Igbos has one of the most sound, profound and upright culture that respects morals, dilligence, honesty and integrity, and frowns at acts of easy viruses, more than other Nigerians who have labeled and attributed everything evil to the Igbos.
The moment democracy and money was allowed to become the major factor for choosing kings in Igbo land, and other places the process was compromised. Choosing kings in such towns and villages was now seen by King makers as an avenue to enmerse wealth, which criminals began to take advantage of to the detriment of the society.
Today, it’s on record that some church organisations that adopted democracy and money politics in the process of choosing their leadership are paying dearly for it. Senior ministers, who jostle for this offices have resorted to blackmail, campaigns of calumny, threats and in some cases diabolical means.
Churches like Foursquare Gospel Church and the Assemblies of God Church are example of churches, where democracy and money politics have brought the body of Christ to disrepute in people’s quest for leadership positions through democracy, instead of theocracy which is a more biblical principle, both in the old and new testament.
The last election that ushered in the current leadership of this two organisations were marred by intrigues, character assassination, blackmail and the worse kind of dirty and desperate politicking, by the contending ministers. In fact, that of the Assemblies of God Church has taken a more scandalous proportion leading to series of litigations and counter litigations in the circular courts. All this are happening notwithstanding the scriptural injunctions to the contrary.
This are all thanks to democracy.
The undisputed Ijaw national leader is Chief Edward Clarke, he was a former National Commissioner, he is educated, and also comfortable, all these attributes and coupled with the fact that he is about the oldest person among their political elites is what has earned him that position as the undisputed Ijaw National Leader.
For the Yorubas, from when I became politically aware, and began monitoring political events, their political leader and head of Afeniferi was Pa Michael Ajasin. Pa Ajasin was a retired Principal and a former Governor of old Oyo State. He was educated, have held political office at a very high level as a former Governor, so, when he became the oldest person among the political elites of the Yorubas he was made the leader of the Afeniferi, the Yoruba equivalent of the Ohaneze.
I could still remember that then his country home at Owo was a mecca of sort as every political meeting of the Yoruba people was held at his home in Owo. When he died the mantle of Afeniferi leadership fell on Pa Abraham Adesanya, a Lawyer and Senator, the most senior among the political elites.
From then on Afeniferi meetings were held in his house, I think this Yoruba idea of holding political meetings in the home of their national leader is a mark of respect and not for lack of alternative venue. I am not saying that the Ohaneze should be taking their meetings to the home of their President General, I just sited this examples so we can know what is obtainable in other places.
I can go on mentioning the names of men who have led Afeniferi, and till now that patern has not changed. It has been experience, integrity, political or other career attainments and above all, age that have determined who leads Afeniferi, not democracy and money politics.
I am of the opinion that Ohaneze should jettison democracy and money politics in choosing it’s President General. Even when Former President Obasanjo and some Yoruba leaders formed another sociocultural and sociopolitical body known as Yoruba Elders Council, YCE, it was not democracy and money politics that was used in choosing their leader, they still followed the same patern, age, experience, and integrity.
I am of the opinion that Ohaneze Ndi-Igbo should drop the title of President General for it’s leader and adopt a name like National Leader. I also believe that Dr. Nnia Nwodo has done well for himself, he is a success story and a man of integrity and, has what it takes to lead any organisation and race.
But notwithstanding, I believe that a man like Dr. Alex Ekwueme or Chief Emeka Anyaokwu based on age should should be the leader of Ohaneze ndi-Igbo. If we don’t jettison democracy and money politics in choosing the leader of Ohaneze we wouldn’t be able to have the kind of loyalty and affinity needed to whoever is the leader of Ohaneze. Anything that comes through politics remains political.
In fact, why I feel we should do away with democracy and politics completely in choosing the leader of Ohaneze is because I don’t know how possible it will be to use democracy in choosing the leader and still not involve politics and money.
If that can be done, then I have have no problem with democracy as the means of choosing the leader of Ohaneze ndi-Igbo. Ndi-Igbo, let’s not reduce everything to politics, somethings are better done following natural and moral values. In my place, the head of every Umunna is always the most senior, and I believe Ohaneze is the highest Umunna group and gathering of ndi-Igbo, and so above everything else, age should be a criteria for choosing the National Leader of Ndi-Igbo, and by extension Ohaneze Ndi-Igbo.
Raph McJulius Enechi, is a Prophet, Peot, Author and the Senior Pastor of THE BALANCED CHURCH, Lagos, Nigeria. He can be reached on Email : firstname.lastname@example.org or 07089911773.