Chief Barrister Anayochukwu Emeanua(jp) is a titled Igbo Chief, a staunch politician and a former councilor representing Ward A1 Ajeromi
Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo came through me and some other people but principally me. How we came was that, we were looking for a means to mobilize the Igbos,things have improved tremendously now, those days when I was in the Council, which was what brought about the birth of Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo.In 1996/97,I was in the Council at Ojo as a Councilor representing Ward A1 and you know the Ward is very large and so when we come down here and you see this council boys that will go and arrest street hawkers and when they bring them to the Council, they will separate them Igbos and Yorubas and other ethnic groups and before you know what is happening, you will not see any Yoruba man and the Igbos will be the only ones to be charged to the Council Court and many of them will lose their wares(though, this is not happening again now) and the black Maria will take others to Kirikiri.
When I noticed this thing, I was not happy and when I came back, I contacted some of my associates then, though some of them are dead now, people like Chief Nwokeji, Dr Obanye and Ugwumba and others like Cy Eze are still there, Chief Ozor joined us later ,people like Ifeanyi Nwakaibe ya and so many of us like that and we used to meet here in my sitting room.
Later, we sent somebody though late now to Enugu and we realized that at a point, money started getting involved, we decided that Lord Winter should go with him and the number of people joining us continued to swell and we had to move out from my sitting room to that nearby school (pointing to a nearby school to his house)
But later, they said Lagos State government does not want meetings and other activities in schools, we moved to Santa Rosa and most of this time, I was paying with my money for some of these things to support most of the activities and that was how we started.
It was there that I, chief Anayochukwu because people have respect for me that I raised the hand of Chief Dr Mbaamara to be the president of Ohanaeze,so he was the first President and it happened here in my sitting room before we moved to the school and we appointed other people in some other positions and the problem was that at a point when people started coming in ,they started to complain to Prof Nwabueze who was the Secretary General of Ohanaeze at Enugu that there ought to be an election.
Eventually, it was agreed for an election after Dr Mbaamara had ruled for about three years and ironically, Chief John Uche who was supposed to be the Campaign director to Dr Mbaamara won the election. It was John Uche and Mbaamara that knew what transpired but Dr Mbaamara alleged that John Uche used his materials that was to be used for his campaign for himself but when John Uche was announced winner, we gave him our support.
But it is of note that Dr Mbaamara who ruled for about 3-4 years before the election did well but it was for the fact that people who joined us from different parts of Lagos were agitating for an election and we had contacts from even Ibadan,so Chief John Uche became the first elected President of Ohanaeze but Dr Mbaamara was the first president of the group when John Uche was the Surulere local government Chairman of Ohanaeze.
Q: To what extent would you say that Ohanaeze Ndi Igbo in Lagos has been able to live to the ideals on which it was founded?
No, no,no, they have not and that was why I withdrew from that and people were saying chief Anayo why did you leave the thing that you have so labored for and just abandoned the course.
Sincerely I found out that the thing is turning to a different thing, the idea was to mobilize the Igbos to bring them together but some people turned it to a money making machine and instead of fighting with some people, we just stayed away.
Until recently, I must confess to you I just returned to Ohanaeze, so when the present day Lagos President Chief Solomon Ogbonna came here to campaign, I asked people who know him and they said he has a pedigree and described him as having honour and a job he does at hand, because it is the people without job that turn the group as a means of making livelihood and that is why when I was approached, I said alright, we shall give him the support.
I can tell you that Solomon is doing well and I can give you reasons like: all these years we have been doing Ohanaeze, we do not have secretariat anywhere, it has only been either we are at Shell club or we are somewhere there in one beer palour; drink beer and talk Ohanaeze there.
But today, within the short period of Chief Ogbonna,we have a befitting Secretariat in Lagos, again ,over the years, the issue of Ezeship had split the Igbos,the problem started with the Igbo Speaking in Ohanaeze and at the end of it, there was two contenders Eze Omereora Nkume and Eze Nwachukwu fighting over it with politics and everything that went with it but when Ogbonna came,he was able to intelligently bring the two of them together.
Now Eze Hycint Uwazuruike is the undisputed Eze Ndi Igbo and Eze Nwachukwu is now the Chairman of Ndi eze in Lagos state and with this arrangement, everybody has something and nobody is quarrelling and when we go for a meeting ,you see Eze Hycint sitting(OON) and you see Eze Nwachukwu sitting and they break Kola and nobody is fighting and they speak with one voice and with that, the Igbos are going somewhere in Lagos state.
Q; So in Ajeromi, who would you say is the leader of the Igbos
(Hmm)In Ajeromi? Frankly ,it is a very difficult question(….laughing) maybe you are expecting me to say that Bar Anayochukwu is the leader of the Igbos…(long laughs),Igbo people are different species of people…they are difficult people, we live the way our God created us and that is why they say Igbos are Republican in nature.
However in Ajeromi, Igbos have leaders and people have affirmed that Chief Anayochukwu Emeanua is one of the leaders of the Igbos and we pray that God will help us and we pray that God will give us a leader, somebody that will be able to unite all of us in truth, not somebody who will use us to go and negotiate for a position or for money because that is what is killing us here.
Our people do not think of tomorrow but they only think of now. This one comes, they will collect money and the other comes they will collect money and at a point, the two people that gave you money will meet and share diary and this makes people not to trust us because they see us as traders.
We suffer for this after election because the man that won the election has settled you when you collect money from him. Our people should understand, there’s no time that we can do better than the owners of the land and except they give you support, you cannot survive it, no matter how thick you think or anything you believe you are.
Q: The Ezeship tussle, at a time in Ajeromi,they were about four laying claims to the tittle, what is the situation now.
Yes, as you rightly pointed, that was also part of the Igbo problem we are saying. We were having Eze Guy Nwajioffor, also Eze Valentine, Eze Siroko and Eze Okpala(Eze Okpala died June 01 2020) and as it is with me, I cannot be here and romancing another elsewhere, wherever I tell you I am is where I will stand whether good or bad.
At a point because of the crisis that has evolved, Eze Valentine wanted to do something and it was disrupted with police from zone 2.But the four Ezes later met and agreed that there’s no point their quarrelling against themselves. They agreed, one of them be Chairman, another secretary and patron Council of Ndi Eze and they equally agreed that the Chairmanship be rotational.
Eze Guy Nwajioffor became the Chairman and after his tenure, it went to Eze Okpala and now Eze Okpala has left Lagos and is late recently and Eze Valentine is late and may his soul rest in perfect peace..
Therefore I will say by myself that what we have now is two Ezes: since Eze in Lagos is just a way to mobilize the Igbos and it is not hereditary, even in Igboland presently, Eze is not hereditary again in some places, following the creation of autonomous communities, they only meet and decide that it will be rotational in that village, so that peace will reign in that village.
For me, the two Ezes are Eze Nwajioffor and Eze Siroko,I also understand that my son and younger brother, that is the son of Eze Valentine is also saying that he is an Eze, if he had gone to do it, I wouldn’t know but all I know is that his father was one of the Ezes. Every Eze has subjects and his subjects will accept him as their Eze and anytime he calls, we will dress in our attires and answer and support him.
Q; ADVISE TO THE IGBOS IN AJEROMI: These are my personal opinions and wherever they call me, that is what I will say. Out of experience, Igbos should get themselves together and support the owners of the land, we should gather ourselves together and know that there’s no amount of opposition that will be able to surmount the owners of the land here, no matter your number.
You know at a time in the past, I fought, we went to the tribunal and I defeated them at the tribunal and we went to the Court of Appeal and they defeated me. We were the first and the last people that went to constitutional court during the time of Abacha but at the end of the day, I realized that except the owner of the land say you will be, you’re not going to be King.
Now that we’ve invested so much, for us to protect our properties, our investments, we should work with them.
Q: Has politics in any way eroded some of the things Ohanaeze would have achieved especially in Ajeromi
You see ,how many of them are actually in the party they claimed, assuming you are in party ADC and me in party PSP and ADC agree to field ABC and me in PSP in your presence will say THEY’RE OUR people and at night I will call them and they will come, eat with me and anything the other people had told them, they will tell me and whatever we discuss, they will carry it back to you and people will not ask them, how they are getting the information of the opposition if you are not close to them.
Politics has brought part of the division but honestly there is no sincerity in our people , if we are sincere ,the owners of the land needs us because we have the population, but can they trust us, would we not betray them.
Was the appointment of Ben Akabueze at Abuja from any of the Southern States, how many of our people will do that even Engr Joe Igbokwe has been publicity secretary of APC in Lagos state for years and has held several other positions in Lagos. But these people are doing this to show you that they do not hate the Igbos but are trying to draw us closer.