Iwuanyanwu be careful na express you dey go
Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu has defended his word calling Yorubas political rascals by letting us know that one of his daughters is married to a Yoruba man and is blessed with four children. He has made numerous efforts to narrate how his businesses and friendships with the Yoruba and the other tribes had flourished.
This a testament that a united Nigeria is beneficial if we allow justice, equity, and fairness to reign. However, the context in which Emmanuel referred to the Yoruba as political rascals were wrong, defensive, and divisive, falling short of someone leading a pan-tribal organisation in a multi-complex setting like Nigeria.
Iwuanyanwu claimed his words were misinterpreted. Some reports claimed he never said that the Yoruba are political rascals. However, we should ignore Emmanuel’s comments and live in love and peace with one another. Emmanuel tried effortlessly to amend his error or slip of the mouth or brain. We should know that to err is humans and to forgive the divine.
Thank God and goodness that it was the Yorubas, the most tolerant tribe, that was being referred to. Otherwise, we might be dealing with the killings of innocent Igbo traders if it was in some other parts where violence can be fuelled with a few litres of a word.
Iwuanyanwu pleaded and wanted ‘all men of goodwill to arrest the situation his unguarded reference may cause if his statement is interpreted in the same context he made it. As an elder statesman, he should be mindful of the context of his word before releasing it to light fire he might never have the capacity to eliminate.
Ten years ago, a famous Fuji musician, Abass Obesere, sang ‘Egungun be careful na express you dey go. Metaphorically, the song warns the elated masquerade to be alert and not dare go into the motorway. Obesere’s allegorical theme is to warn people not to do things they cannot control out of mere emotion.
Ten years later, the song became trending on social media, affirming its evergreen nature and that words are immortal. If words are eternal, our tribal, religious, and political leaders must avoid unwanted consequences of what they say and think through their utterances.
That is where education beyond business knowledge is vital. The awareness of people’s personalities, cultures, and preference is critical. More important is the belief that we are created equal and should accept one another, especially in a diverse nation like ours.
I agree with Chief Iwuanyanwu on inter-tribal marriages. Beyond that, we are one irrespective of our tribe. I have three Igbo proteges by tribe, but they are my mother’s children.
We are no longer friends but blood brothers in the way we relate and in our interests in the emotional and mental well-being of one another. One of them is of particular importance to me. I was at his wedding, not as a guest but as an elder brother with numerous responsibilities.
I receive in return love, respect, and friendship from the Igbo as much as I love them as people and tribes. Anywhere I meet with an Igbo person, at home or abroad, I am proud to inform them of my chieftaincy title (ezingbo madu 1 of Ejikonye) and showcase my elementary knowledge of Igbo language with the best of the best mispronunciation. I explain how I was given my title by a woman whose children I influenced as a young banker in Onitsha.
What if what? What if the Iwuanyanwu statement was interpreted to mean a word against the ancestral fathers of the Yorubas or the traditional religion of Lagos? What if the Yorubas were not tolerant and reacted the way it was done in Kano or Borno years back? I would have been in trouble as a Nigerian. I would have feared for the safety of my friends and family, which cut across the tribe and the petty sentiments we were expressing.
Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu is a good man and has contributed to his people and Nigeria. He owns the famous Iwuanyanwu football club and makes his marks in football. I believe such a man should be more careful in his allusion and utterances, especially those that can inflame conflicts and tribal supremacy.
If he moves all his wealth to Togo or Ghana, he cannot claim that he would not move elsewhere if the indigenes of the land demand so. Instead, he would work for the peace of the land and prevent tribal wars that could make people hate their fellow brothers and sisters.
Nigeria has been divided in the last eight years more than before. The election did more with Peter Obi and the Labour Party riding on the Faultline of Nigeria’s politics. Influential people should not make it worse with their words. I can understand how damaging and problematic for Emmanuel to come out and openly apologise for using the word ‘political rascals’. We should all accept his explanations.
A leader’s word is powerful, and he must consider the context and content before letting it out. As a public speaker, I know that mistakes like this can be caused by stage pressure. This is one of the stage pressure mistakes; it cannot be the real intention of Emmanuel to cause problems for the Igbos in Lagos. Lagos, as a no man’s land, has context, and we should be careful in using it in inappropriate content that will offend the sensibility of the indigenous people.
For our peace, let’s accept the explanation of Alex Ogbonnia, Ohanaeze national publicity secretary, that Iwuanyanwu’s speech was twisted. Honestly, it cannot be the intention of Iwuanyanwu, whose grandchildren have Yoruba blood flowing in them.
The response from Afenifere (or Afenibebi, given some dilutional and unconfirmed comments from the group on Tinubu’s victory), Femi Fani-Kayode and the rest of the others are commendable. It shows Nigerians are ready to be one and live together, except for the political leaders and some over-enthusiastic tribal leaders who benefit from and massage their egos with divisive tactics.
•Written By Babs Olugbemi