IN AN INTERVIEW WITH THE PRESIDENT, OHANAEZE NDIGBO OF LAGOS, CHIEF SOLOMON OGBONNA AGUENE.
Who are you and when did you attained the position of Ohanaeze ndigbo of Lagos?
I am Chief Solomon Ogbonna Aguene, President, Ohanaeze Ndigbo of Lagos, I attained this position on 18th of June 2018, I just celebrated my 2nd year in office.
Why was Ohanaeze Ndigbo formed?
We are pressure group, we pilote the affairs of Ndigbo anywhere in the world, It was formed by …………in 1972, that was after the civil war, Igbo Union was Dispensed by Ojuku and Ohanaeze was giving birth to, Ohana means (people) why Eze means (Traditional rulers)
What is the Strength of the Ibos in Lagos?
The conformed population strength of the ibo’s here in Lagos are 4.8million why the unconfirmed figures are 8million and above
How are you taking your people along?
To tell you how I am taking my people along, I will first of all tell you that this is the first time the Ndigbo are closed to the Lagos State governor, we have always been in the opposition, as the president of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, I told my people that we cannot continue to be in opposition, I told them that no matter how many houses, either skyscrapers, no matter how educated or exposed you are, we are all tenants, we are under our host community, the welfares of ohanaeze matters a lot.
I also made them understand that they should not be deceived by saying (Lagos is a no Man Land), that Lagos is a No Man Land. And that we must support any ruling party any time any day in Lagos State, I also made the effort by raising the hand of Governor Sanwo-Olu in the last general election in 2019.
Coming back to your question on how I have been taking my people along, there are a lot of benefits that I have been able to cornered from Lagos state governor to my people here in Lagos, whatever comes to them, I put them on the table for them. One of those benefit is when the Lagos State governor empower about 100 ibo women with an on refundable cash of One-Hundred thousand Naira each, in the Last December, Lagos state governor, provided us with transport to travel home to celebrate Xmas with our family, since the era of these Covid-19, we have gotten palliatives more than any other tribe in Lagos state and we got more than enough, base on my relationship with the governor and that of the Eze. And the governor really appreciates what we did for him.
I also told my people that Ohanaeze cannot come out as Chairman or Counsellors or Deputy Governors etc, because we are not political parties, we are very serious about ibo’s interest and we don’t compromised that because one thing about Ibo Man is that anywhere we go, we contribute our quotas to have a better life in that community
I also told my people that we should be mindful of what we say because that is what others people will use to George us and see us as an enemy, whereas we are the best people in terms of contribution developing the area we find ourselves, all our people always commend me for always open and transparent because I carrying them along. I put whatever comes to me on the table and we discourse it together, Ohanaeze has no contribution anywhere, it is my friends that are helping me financially to solve some of the issues we meant to have found ourselves.
During elections, the Ibo’s don’t normally vote for their political party like APGA?
In Lagos you can’t have a one party system, even though we also know that in Lagos AC have upper hand in terms of politics, there is no way you can have a one party system because it is not in the constitution, anything that is in the constitution is what is guarding the people in whatever they are doing, what matter most is, how fair are those political parties? What are their achievements? That was why I reaped that in Lagos, we are going to support any political party in power? That was why I reaped that in Lagos, we are going to support any political party in power.
During this time of Lockdown, How have you been able to cater for your people?
We got enough palliative from Lagos State government and it was shared accordingly, we even extended the Olive hand to other tribes, like Edo, Housa. Efik, because we have more than enough so we cannot be eating and our neighbours are hungry.
I want you to talk about your position as the Ohanaeze Ndigbo of Lagos, because some people want you out on the Allegation that you are not friendly?
I want to talk as a Man of God here, In Nigeria the Ibo’s are trying in terms of leadership, there is no Ibo Man during and after independent that have become the President of this country, if we call ourselves the WAZOBIA, The Three (TIGERS) and those people have tested it, they should give us chance to be able to rule and serve this country, the Ibo’s are crying that they have been marginalised in leadership, since after the Biafra war, looking at the contributions we are making everywhere in Nigeria.
Coming back to your question again, I am an Ebonyi Man, since Independent, an Ebonyi Man has never been Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Anambra, Abia etc have all ruled severally, then why can’t an Ebonyi Man ruled? My being here is 70% sympathetic vote, I contested with an Anambra Man and nearly all the Anambra people voted for me as in against their Son, because they stood for equity. Those people that are aggrieved are still imagining that how can an Ebonyi Man be the president of Ohanaeze? Why those that voted for me believe that it is written for an Ebonyi Man to be president.
I can proudly say that I have performed more than President that have been occupying this position from time immemorial,
What are your future plans for Ndigbo’s?
Our future plan is to see that I continue to tele-guard them and also remind them that about what is coming out from their mouth, secondly, is also for Ohanaeze Ndigbo to have a permanent secretariat because as we speak we are still on rent age, so that we can be having various activities, because we cannot plant flowers on someone house or building but we can plant coconut tree on our own house. Because that is one of the things the ibo people are known for.
What are you doing in terms of Education for the Ohanaeze youth?
The first plan for my people is education, because there are level of education we have, we have set up a foundation in Ohanaeze so that we can cater for those that cannot be able to afford education for their children especially the brilliant once, we are planning free education for them, we also want to liberate our people, so that they can always have a good cultural background on like the Yoruba’s. one thing I like about them is that they have never compromise their tradition and culture, they are the type that will never disrespect their elders, those are the things our youths are lacking, in Yoruba, you can’t go to Cambridge and come back to tell your parents that you can’t speak Yoruba again, a Yoruba person cannot go to French country, becomes Professor in French and come back to Nigeria to tell your parent that you don’t know how to speak English
Those are the lives some of the Ibo’s youth are living, (not all of them), those are the areas I was teaching them and I want them to put away in their lives. I call it pride.
If we want to win any war now, we must keep to our strategy, either in a family, community or nation, we are one Nigeria.
We have a lot of brilliant Ibo’s outside the country, what are plans to see that they come back home to impact the country?
These is what our leaders are lacking and that is why I called Bola Ahmed Tunubu my role model, he moves round all the country looking for those that are frustrated already, bring them back home and fixed them up, turning them from nothing to something, he also told that are doing well over there in abroad that what they are doing there is a waist if they cannot impact on the Yoruba land, he will always refer them to Awolowo. But our people from
the east who travelled to abroad will not even give you their contact or their physical report, our people in Ebonyi will say no matter how you built and beautify a commentary in another Man’s land, it’s not meant for a responsible Ibo Man because he must come back home either death or alive, if I have the opportunity those are part of my plans, I have travelled all over the world and I know how some of our people are frustrated and I also know those that are doing well but refused to come and see the relatives they have left for a very long time and when they eventually came they find out that they are not even t=doing well at all.In terms of Ibo Women in Lagos, what are you doing to empower them?
We have been able to empower 100 ibo women with an on refundable cash of One-Hundred Thousand Naira each courtesy Lagos State Government, if I was a bad person, I will pocket the money, I made the effort and the money was given and distributed accordingly,
In the South-West, their government takes care of their Traditional rulers, some buy jeeps for them, why is the governor in Ibo’s not doing this for their traditional leaders?
Some Governor do it, Ebonyi State governor bought jeep for all the traditional rulers, some of them are doing it for political interest, because they needed the support of such traditional rulers, it is like when you are buying me a jeep when I already have 6 (Six) I don’t see it as proper, because you are buying jeep for traditional leaders why most of the primary schools in the State are licking,
How have you rated the Buhari Administration since he came to power?
That is a national issue, I cannot really comment on it, but if you ask me something about Lagos, I will say something, even when we were having issues with the Oba of Lagos in 2015, I went to meet him with the formal Vice President ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,he explained that his proverb was interpreted wrongly,
When did you think the 2nd Niger Bridge will be completed?
These are political strategist of every politician, I do travelled, the one I am seeing is the one I know,
Since I was coming to Lagos, that is the Niger bridge, if there is any other one, I will have told you, until I see it, but for now it is a political strategist, it is part of materials for politics every by year, if they have being truthful with the 2nd Niger bridge even if they are constructing it from Nigeria to America sine when they said they are constructing the bridge the meant have completed it
What is your advice to your people?
My advice to my people all over the world is that they should deviate from blackmailing, they don’t have any issue with the country, they are the one giving themselves problems, they will promise 5 ibo Men presidency and they don’t ask themselves question, the Ibo’s are the problems of themselves that is all.