There is nothing Igbos hate as when they find out that one of their own is playing a saboteur.
And once they brand you a sell-out, it is very difficult for them to forget or forgive you.
When you are on the side of Igbos, they will do everything and go to any length to reciprocate it.
For one thing, Igbos never forget.
Before independence when Zik (Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe) was arraigned in court by the colonial masters over the management of the defunct African Continental Bank, K. O. Mbadiwe, who with his friend, Kola Balogun had earlier led the ‘Zik Must Go’ campaign in the NCNC (National Council of Nigerian Citizens) and was then perceived as Zik’s political enemy, rallied round Zik and convinced his brother, Mbonu Ojike as the lead prosecution witness to play the hatchet man’s job that saved Zik from conviction. Igbos never forget.
Again, in 1979, when then FEDECO (Federal Electoral Commission) wanted to disqualify Zik from contesting the presidential election under the (defunct) NPP (Nigerian Peoples Party) over tax issues, thousands of Igbos including civil servants abandoned their jobs to come to the court every day the case was tried until the case ended in Zik’s favour. Igbos never forget.
When Jim Nwobodo was arrested in 1983 by the military junta under Muhammadu Buhari, during his trial at the Awote panel, all the markets in Enugu closed for the day as Enugu residents trooped to the Enugu House of Assembly venue of the trial every day the case came up to show solidarity, and even escorted him back to the prison yard in the Black Maria. The day he was sentenced to prison by Awote panel, the whole Enugu including touts and beggars lined up the entire Okpara Avenue and Enugu prisons road to cheer him and show solidarity. Igbos never forget.
When Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu went into self-exile towards the tail end of the civil war, at the end of the war, numerous Igbos of means continued to visit him at Ivory Coast all through his stay, while Igbo politicians led by the late Chuba Okadigbo fought relentlessly for a State pardon for Ojukwu and eventually succeeded. The day Ojukwu returned to Enugu from Ivory Coast in a chartered plane, there were more than 10 million Igbos in and around Enugu Airport to welcome him, the largest crowd ever in the history of the Coal City. Igbos never forget.
When M. I. Okpara returned from his own exile some years after the war, Igbos rallied round and built a house for him. As Premier of then Eastern Region before the war, he had no house of his own which made him one of the most honest and transparent leaders Igbos ever had to date. Igbos never forget.
Recently, when Nnamdi Kanu was arraigned in court over IPOB, Igbos trooped out in their numbers on each hearing day to show solidarity with their hero. Igbos, led by Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, rose to the occasion and raised the required one hundred million naira to secure Kanu’s bail with Senator Abaribe as surety, which has made him a hero of Igbos to this day. Ditto for Ralph Uwazurike when he was arrested by DSS, Igbos led by late Senator Uche Chukwumerije rallied to his rescue. Igbos never forget.
During the controversy between Ojukwu and the Lagos State Government over the ownership of Villaska Lodge in Lagos, every day, Igbos in Lagos would join Ojukwu as he sat in front of the estate to establish his ownership of the property. Igbos never forget.
At a certain time when the DSS came to Enugu in a special chartered aircraft to take Ojukwu to Abuja on the invitation of the DSS over an alleged statement, the entire Enugu surrounded Ojukwu’s residence at Independence Layout and prevented DSS from taking Ojukwu away. The DSS was forced to leave. Igbos never forget.
Even in those days when Orji Uzor Kalu made a cash donation of twenty thousand naira to a northern military government which was later found to be a pack of paper labels, Igbos rallied round him to save him from criminal prosecution by insisting that the crime was committed by Orji Uzor Kalu’s driver. That was before Orji Uzor Kalu began to unmask himself and turned his back on his own people. Can Igbos ever forget?
As former Governor of Abia State, Orji Uzor Kalu made people to believe that he was fighting former President Olusegun Obasanjo because of his anti-Igbo policies. He said because of the failure of Obasanjo’s government to repair the Enugu-Aba-Port Harcourt express, he would mobilise boys to dismantle all the toll gates in his State’s portion of the express road. Two weeks later, Obasanjo gave order to dismantle all the toll gates but people did not know that the whole idea was to destroy the 9th Mile Toll Gate management contract of which late General Abacha’s government awarded to Emeka Ojukwu as a way of providing support for the old war veteran. Can Igbos ever forget?
When the late Dr. Alex Ekwueme came out to contest for the presidency for the second time, reports alleged that the day he came to Umuahia to see Orji Uzor Kalu, Ekwueme was kept waiting for more than one hour. But the time Ibrahim Babangida came to Umuahia during the primaries campaign, Orji Uzor Kalu took him to his Igbere country home. He did the same thing for Buhari. Can Igbos ever forget?
Orji Uzor Kalu openly boasted on camera how he used Igbos to raise campaign money for Obasanjo during the presidential campaign when all Igbos were rooting for Ekwueme as the founder of the PDP through the G-34. Can Igbos ever forget?
During the Egwu Eke military operation at Nnamdi Kanu’s county home and subsequent disappearance of Nnamdi Kanu, it was Orji Uzor Kalu who quickly announced to the Federal government that he knew Kanu’s whereabouts. Igbos can’t forget!
When Igbo youths were complaining about the menace of Fulani herdsmen and threatened to pull out of Nigeria, the Arewa youths threatened to expel Igbos from the Northern region. Orji Uzor Kalu called a meeting with Arewa Youths where he apologised to them on behalf of Igbos, without consulting Igbo leaders or Ohanaeze. Till date, nobody can tell what agreements Orji Uzor Kalu reached with the Fulani youths. Can Igbos ever forget?
When the Daura Emirate of Katsina State conferred Orji Uzor Kalu with an ordinary chieftaincy title of Danbaiwan-Hausa and turbaned him as one of their own, Orji Uzor Kalu made it such a fanfare by inviting all the media houses in the country. There and then, he relinquished and abandoned the clothes he came to the ceremony in, and day and night, for one month, he donned his new Fulani insignias.
I cannot remember seeing Orji Uzor Kalu for once adorned in typical Igbo or Igbere cultural attire complete with long cap and neck beads. But now and then, Orji Uzor Kalu junkets from one Fulani politician to another in his turban until they made him a chief whip. One year later, they jailed him.
• No Igbo to speak for him.
• No Igbos to welcome him back from jail.
• Very soon, a rented crowd will be hired to give him a rousing reception.
• Just like the recent visit to him by the Senate President and some Senators.
• The old trick we all know too well.
Dee Kalu kaa, there is no place like home. Remember, Igbos never forget.
Taa bu gboo!
Mazi Omife I. Omife