Igwe JOC Wisdom Onebunne is the traditional ruler of Akwa Ihedi in Nnewi South LGA, Anambra State. He discussed with ADAOBI CHUKWUJEKWU on a number of issues relating to the civil war and the importance of education to Igbo people.
IGWE… Greetings, Sir, can you tell us more about yourself?
I am His Royal Highness, Retired Colonel J.O.C. Wisdom Onebunne, Igwe Ebetete kingdom, Obi II of Akwa Ihedi in Nnewi South Local Govt.
I joined the Nigerian Army in 1965, fought the civil war. I joined the camp as an Army Engineer. I was also involved at Onitsha, incharge of water works and NITEL in the then Anambra State. I was a Director of Records of Product with Nigeria Army School of Engineering, Makurdi.
I assumed this leadership throne in 2010.
Igwe, how were the Igbo people accepted and treated back then in the army?
I condemn the 1966 coup because at that time, Igbos were at the apex, both in position and ranking.
The coup was aimed to install Obasanjo and from that, the Igbos started losing due to counter coups. For me, I blame nobody as the Igbos are the Jews of Africa. We kept on fighting war – remember the Igbos fought for Nigeria’s independence from 1957 to 1960. We were supposed to have it alongside Ghana in 1957 but the northerners said they were not ready. The amalgamation of 1914 brought Nigeria issues.
Igbos should know their stand. It was Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu who said that “if somebody defecates in your house, you do not fold your hands”. After the peace talk in Aburi Ghana, it was not harkened to but we have to defend ourselves.
What is your advice to those agitating?
I don’t blame IPOB because most of them were not born early enough to experience war. When youths are not employed, they struggle to survive. After the war, Igbo worked harder even after withholding their money in the bank. Till date, we are still on top, because of the ‘spirit of Israel we have’ – using education to transform the land.
Without education, we can do nothing. Education can solve a lot of problems. We are rushing into trading and making money which is not all that is needed. We need to go to school and get education because we need brains to manage all the resources and variables.
The way Igbo man pursue money is deceitful to our role. So our females are taking over. We need orientation to disabuse our minds and know that money is not everything. With their money, they can employ a graduate who will ruin and suppress their money with his brain and pen.
The Igbo man is still wallowing in past struggles.
Igwe, why are traditional rulers banning some fashions and some cultures?
Yes, in this Akwa Ihedi land, they are being guided. I have banned masquerades in our community because we now have fake ones who are Indian hemp smokers and even drug users. Also, is the case of ladies on trousers, they are not allowed into this palace. Shabby and skimpy dresses that make a lady almost naked, this palace will not allow it.
What is your opinion on Anambra State and Governor Willie Obiano’s re-election?
Anambra State is ‘Light of the Nation’, showing the standard of leadership. So, ndi Igwe agreed that Obiano must come back in the traditional ruler’s council of Anambra State after the role of ex-governor Peter Obi, practicing zoning.
All the Igwes backed up the zoning system, presenting Obiano to go for second tenure because if another person come into office, it will now be another eight years but with our governor, it will remain only four years and God saw us through. He emerged as the governor elect for the second time to rule Anambra. It will go on revolving until it gets back to central.
What and where would you want Governor Willie Obiano to improve on?
He should improve on what he has already started and be conscious not to defect to another party after eight years. Looking at APGA not as a party but as a pressure group as a ‘Think Tank’.
He should be helping a lot of people through checking allocation system, checking census figures, saying more thanks to traditional rulers who advised their people to vote for APGA.