- By Dr. Ndukwo Onwuka
A long-held assumptions that the Abiriba people in Ohafia Local Government Area had a rich and deep rooted culture of communalism is particularly evident in the lives of the people wherever they are found.
Being our brother’s keeper is ingrained in our culture. However, this culture was done with utmost wisdom, swag and panache with awesome significance and symbolism.
Abiriba Communal Improvement Union (ACIU), whose responsibility it is to preserve our heritage and development is now superintending or moderating the drifting away of these core values as self and primordial considerations are now beginning to take the centre stage, as opposed to communalism. The corollary is that the umbilical cord that linked Abiriba indigenes to communal fraternity gradually is beginning to break.
It is pertinent that we revisit some of the activities of the ACIU, as some of them are now being detrimental to our communal interest. Examples are the ACIU position published on ThisDay newspaper on the 3rd of May, 2023, page 15, titled: “Sen. Orji Uzor Kalu And His Cheap Linkage Of the Abiriba People With IPOB” and the letter excommunicating Mr. Agbai K. K.
Interestingly, most of the focus has been on the political battle between our brother, Hon. Nnamdi Iro Oji (Opotoyom) and Senator Orji Uzor Kalu.
ACIU engaging in a political war against Senator Orji Uzor Kalu through publications on national dailies and the use of other divisive approach has elicited many reactions —and — it is certainly becoming a joke taken too far.
Passions are understandably very high at the moment with regards to some of the decisions of the ACIU. ACIU posturing sanctimoniously, as the moral beacon of the community. This is particularly the case with those who support the current leadership who, in turn, sees themselves, not without justification, as the repository of the sovereign socio-cultural authority, of the Abiriba nation. Curiously, that is the source of the problem: ACIU’s authority is socio-cultural, not political. The ACIU leadership was never intended to usurp the role, of political parties, to openly canvass for votes, in a purely partisan fashion. Those who take this line of argument have a strong point, for several reasons.
ACIU is supposed to act as father, to every Abiriba person, no matter where the person lives or what interest group, the person belongs. Excommunicating Mr. Agbai or engaging Senator Orji Uzor Kalu politically is clearly insensitive of the ACIU. Put bluntly, neutrality confers on the body, the moral authority to legitimately expect those in dispute to enthusiastically submit to the organisation’s adjudication. But when the body takes an overtly partisan posture as it has done, it subverts its own authority.
Yes, Opotoyom is our own, he is currently at the tribunal challenging the declaration of Senator Orji Uzor Kalu and the APC. Why not allow the judiciary do its job— as well as other Abiriba sons and daughters in the APC enjoy their rights to association. It is completely worrisome for the ACIU to shame some of our sons who are members of the APC. Is it that the ACIU was not aware of the atrocities committed by members of the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) in Ohafia Local Government Area? Can they show us any statement from them condemning their activities against the state; or is Abiriba community now in support of non-state actors?
ACIU must understand that partisan politics would expose them to all sorts of indignities, given that politicians are not known to be too economical with disparaging language. To be in politics is akin to entering the boxing ring, for a fight: Once in, you cannot hide; you throw and take punches and your opponent may not respect your height or status. We must rekindle the Abiriba spirit of communal development and pragmatism devoid of emotional sentiments. We must reinvent the Abiriba of Nnanna Kalu, Echeme Emole, Kalu Ogba, Ikwan Onwuka, Jona Ndukwe Kalu, Ebitu Ukiwe and others — and not the Abiriba of APC, Labour Party, APGA, and PDP.
How did we get to the stage where we are fighting the politician who tarred most of the roads in Abiriba in support of a proscribed group who made Ohafia the epicenter of its hotspot?. You are free to accuse me of anything, but my conscience is clear— and I did clearly saw the inhumane activities of IPOB in Ohafia on social media — including posters where they warned voters against coming out to cast their votes. As a community, this is where I expected ACIU and other prominent sons and daughters of our community to come out strongly and condemn them. ACIU should concentrate strongly on community development and allow politics for politicians as Abiriba is not at war with Igbere or Senator Orji Uzor Kalu. ACIU should stop aiding the drifting away of the Abiriba spirit.
Dr. Ndukwo Onwuka writes from Atlanta, USA.