The Ohanaeze Youth Council and the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra on Tuesday reacted to former Abia State governor, Orji Kalu’s assertion that the Igbo people are better traders than politicians.
The groups, which spoke in separate interviews with our correspondent in Enugu, differed in their reactions to Kalu’s statement.
The Ohanaeze Youth Council, the youth wing of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, asked the former governor to immediately apologise to the Igbo people and also retract his statement.
But the Movement for the Actualisation of the Sovereign State of Biafra maintained that Kalu said the truth.
The Editor-in-Chief of The Interview magazine, Mr. Azubuike Ishiekwene, in a statement on Monday, quoted Kalu as saying, in a recent interview with the magazine, that the Igbo were not as good in politics as they were in trading.
“The Igbo have no discipline in terms of politics. They are very good traders; they’re good in anything they do, but they don’t understand politics,” Kalu was quoted to have said.
Reacting to the statement, the President, Ohanaeze Youth Council, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, described Kalu’s statement as unbecoming of a two-term governor who was seen as an Igbo leader.
Isiguzoro said, “Orji Kalu should immediately apologise to Ndigbo for insulting the great Igbo nation.
“During the First Republic, Igbo people like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Michael Okpara and others were at the forefront of the independence movement. In the Second Republic, Igbo people like Dr. Alex Ekwueme were also at the forefront of national politics.
“It was when people like Kalu came to power that the Igbo began to lose ground, because he (Kalu) and his likes introduced traders’ mentality into the politics played by the Igbo at the national level.”
He added, “The statement, which is ridiculing Ndigbo, was not expected from somebody who was a two-term governor. Was Nnamdi Azikiwe a trader? Was Michael Okpara a trader? What of Odumegwu Ojukwu, Mbonu Ojike, Jaja Nwachukwu? Were they traders?”
Isiguzoro said Kalu had an opportunity to become a national political leader, like the All Progressives Congress national leader, Chief Bola Tinubu, but wasted it.
“When Tinubu was controlling only one state, Kalu was controlling two states. How did he (Kalu) lose the two states? It’s because of his poor management skills. Ohanaeze youths don’t want to insult him because he is an elder, but he should apologise to Ndigbo.
“If he refuses to apologise, if he fails to retract that statement, we will put him in the dustbin of history and he will have no more relevance in Igboland,” Isiguzoro said
But the pro-Biafra group, MASSOB, insisted that Kalu said the truth. MASSOB spokesman, Samuel Edeson, who spoke with our correspondent, said the Igbo people were not good in politics.
Edeson said, “What Kalu said is the simple truth, there is no doubt about it. In politics, the Igbo are bad; there is no unity of purpose.
“For example, the Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party but at the same time he always defends Tinubu, who is of the APC. Fayose defends Tinubu because he knows that, as a fellow Yoruba, they are brothers.
“In politics, you should always be on the side of your brother, unlike what happened when Alex Ekwueme and Jim Nwobodo contested the PDP presidential ticket with Olusegun Obasanjo at the convention in Jos. Nwobodo went there and began to speak Hausa.
“The Hausa/Fulani man cannot do that to his brother, a Yoruba man cannot do that to his brother. What the former governor (Kalu) said is the truth.”